Judges 17:1-6 “Micah’s False Worship!”
Thursday, August 30, 2012 Bryan E. Walker
The Old Testament Book of Judges is full of memorable Bible stories from our childhood days in Sunday School and VacationBibleSchool and, at the same time, one of the toughest, most violent, and graphic books in the Bible, where it can be very difficult to see Christ and the gospel in what is written. The final 4-5 chapters are especially challenging as they include gross violations of the Ten Commandments including false worship, graven images, adultery, rape, murder, and just plain indecent behavior. Where is the gospel? The gospel message of these final chapters of Judges is that a lack of sound doctrine and biblical worship leads to sin, chaos, and anarchy which clearly points out our need for a King- Jesus. These chapters hit our current day hard as we, like the ancient Jews, tend to do what is right in our own eyes. We live in a day where there are no standards and chaos is erupting all around. We must look to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is coming soon and has the only solution to our sinful chaos right now with His gospel.
Chapter 17 begins with a story of a man named Micah admitting that he had stolen a LOT of money from his mother thus violating the 5th and 8th Commandments as he certainly was not honoring his mother and he stole from her. As the son restores the money to his mother she blesses him by the LORD and dedicates the returned silver coins to the LORD, BUT, in order to make both a carved image and a metal image, VIOLATING the 2nd Commandment! This shows a clear loss of understanding of the 10 Commandments and the Lord’s prohibitions against idolatry. Lack of sound doctrine will lead to improper worship, sin, and idolatry, despite an emotional fervency towards God. Micah proceeded to make his own ephod, supposedly with which he would seek the LORD, and household gods to place in his shrine, thus perhaps adding syncretism to his sins. Finally, Micah took it upon himself to ordain one of his sons as a priest when there is no indication that he was of the tribe of Levi, thus usurping the role of the priests under the law. Verse 6 describes Micah well, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
These final chapters of Judges, then, describe a situation where there was no scriptural authority, no religious order, everyone just did whatever and believed whatever. Sound doctrine was not being taught and worship was not based upon the Word. This points to our day as we have entire denominations and churches approving of same-sex marriage and preachers “reaching out” to Muslims, saying that we worship the same god. We have a President of the United States whose longtime pastor promotes Black Liberation Theology which is a different gospel, aligned with communism, and racism. We live in a day where the Republican National Convention is nominating a Mormon to the Presidency and people everywhere are affirming that Mormonism is just another branch of the evangelical church. We live in a day where the Democrat National Convention is hosting an Islamic prayer meeting as part of their convention. People will say of this time in American history (if there is an America a hundred years from now!) “In those days there was no belief in the God of the Bible in amerika, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes!”
It would be too easy, however, to just point at the sin problems of amerika today and apply the text in a broad sense. We must look in the mirror and personalize the text for us. The gospel in the text confronts me with my sin and you with your sin. Do I worship the Lord in “spirit and truth” as Jesus says to the woman at the well in John 4? Do I ignore my own breaking of the 10 Commandments because my sins “small” compared with someone else’s sins? Is it convenient for me to make false idols in my heart instead of worshiping the God of the Bible? Do I realize that every time I sin I am acting just like Micah from Judges 17? Am I living as if Jesus is NOT the King over the entire Universe, my own life included?
The only solution to the spiritual chaos depicted in Judges 17:1-6 is to repent and turn to Jesus as your only hope for salvation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.