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Judges 17:18, 1213; 18:3031comment (0)

August 9, 2012

By Douglas K. Wilson

Related Scripture: Judges 17:18, 1213; 18:3031

Explore the Bible 
Dean and Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile


Judges 17:1–8, 12–13; 18:30–31
Spiritual fervor is waning. Judges who were entrusted with civil and spiritual responsibility are demonstrating that human achievement will never rise to the perfection of the true King of Israel. In fact, the frailty of the leaders reveals that they cannot measure up to the standard of Yahweh’s holiness.

The title is an apt illustration of the spiritual malaise that grips the tribes after their settlement in the Promised Land. Rather than reflect the holiness of God as instructed at Mount Sinai (Lev. 11:44–45), Israel is blending in to the sexually minded polytheism of the Canaanites. Leaders who should know better are falling like dominos, and the people are following suit. They were doing whatever they wanted (Deut. 12:8).

Failure in a Family (17:1–6)
Syncretism was commonplace in the family of Micah the Ephraimite. His mother uttered a curse when 1,100 pieces of silver went missing. Upon their return (or replacement), she blessed Micah in the name of Yahweh. Out of gratitude for her prosperity she commissioned an idol to be created and overlaid with silver. She spoke blessing and cursing; she mentioned Yahweh and idols. In her mind they were all mixed together. 

Pressure from outside influences mounts against Christians in the United States, with more venomous remarks aired every day. The Boy Scouts are maligned for their stand on “God and country” and their ban of homosexual scoutmasters, retaining their historic scout oath to keep themselves “morally straight.” In recent days government officials made public statements aimed to curtail the expansion of companies who support biblical principles. Believers are expected to remain silent in the public forum, whether in politics, education or business. The only acceptable form of intolerance is directed toward those who adhere to absolute truth. We are truly living in days when everyone does “what is right in his eyes” (see HSCB footnote for 17:6).

Corruption of a Calling (17:7–8, 12–13)
An unnamed Levite born into a tribe set apart for service to Yahweh left his home in Bethlehem. His reasons for leaving are unclear, but his acceptance of unlawful employment demonstrates a character flaw. Had he reached 30, the age when Levitical service began (Num. 4:3)? Had he been expelled from Bethlehem? Why was he wandering, looking for someplace to reside other than home? Micah offered the man a job; he would be Micah’s personal priest. Rather than meeting the God-given qualification of being a direct descendant of Aaron (Lev. 9:1), this young man served as a hireling priest who was paid to perform religious rituals at his master’s bidding. Micah corrupted God’s call upon this man’s life.

Have you missed God’s call on your life? Have you settled for a job that pays the bills but brings no sense of spiritual vitality? Examine your life. Discern whether you are pursuing your agenda or God’s agenda for your life.

Sinfulness of a Society (18:30–31)
In time, Danite spies heard about Micah’s wealth. They entered Micah’s compound, stole his religious paraphernalia and offered his “priest” a job. The man went with them, serving as priest for the entire tribe of Dan. He was moving up in the world. As it turns out, this man was Jonathan (18:30), from the line of Moses. The phrase “son of Gershom” may indicate “descendant” rather than next- generation “son.”

When an individual, family or society chooses self-determination over the sovereign dominion of God, life becomes increasingly corrupt. The final chapters of Judges hold a common theme: there was “no king in Israel” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). Yahweh was their King, yet they ignored His revealed word to them. Before long they would openly reject Him as their King (1 Sam. 8:7).  

Jesus asks, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46). Surrender to the will of your King is the only way to reverse the domino effect.

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