Judges 17

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 5, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After a month of writing on topics pertaining to the Judges narrative and other things, I’m back to writing on the passages themselves. Between Judges 16 and 17 was a good place for the break, since the tone of the book changes starting in chapter 17. Israel is no longer simply going through the 5-step cycle of sin, slavery, supplication, salvation, and silence. Instead, the nation is continuing a downward spiral into ongoing religious and moral decay, which would lead to Israel wanting a king for their nation.

Today, we’re taking a look at Judges 17. I would encourage you to read the chapter, then come back to finish up this blog post. The events in this section of Judges are closely linked and set in the hill country of Ephraim. We meet a man named Micah who we see has stolen 1100 shekels from his own mother. This shows the moral decay that was happening; stealing is bad, but stealing from your own mother is even worse! How much did he steal? Well in that time, a yearly wage was approximately 10 shekels, so this was 110 years worth of wages! To put that in today’s dollars, if we say the average yearly wage is $40,000, then this would be $4.4 million! That’s a pretty significant chunk of change.

Naturally, Micah’s mother was not happy about this theft, and at first she didn’t know it was her son who stole it, so she cursed the thief. Often curses were pretty effective into scaring the thief to come forward and confess (so they could be un-cursed), and that’s exactly what happened her. Micah confesses his crime, and his mother gave him a blessing to undo the effects of the curse.

Micah’s mother is grateful, so she desires to dedicate the money back to the Lord. That sounds great, but she doesn’t do it quite right - she uses 200 shekels (about 18%) of the money and has a silversmith make an idol with it. God’s command to Israel in Deuteronomy 27:15 says, “Cursed is anyone who makes an idol—a thing detestable to the Lord, the work of skilled hands—and sets it up in secret.” That seems pretty clear, right? Well Micah’s mother violated it on both counts; she made an idol and set it up in secret, in their home. Micah and his mom already had a shrine set up in their house, and along with that he made an ephod to wear during their worship of the idol. This is just one episode that demonstrates how everyone did as they saw fit - they felt free to worship whatever they wanted to worship.

Ideally in the world of idol worship, there would be a priest for that idol. At first Micah has his son fill that role, until a Levite comes along. Levites were the priestly tribe of Israel, and they had no land of their own but would rather serve as God’s priests throughout Israel. If Levites are already priests for God, then Micah saw this as an upgrade; it’s like he has a professional now, not just an amateur! This Levite became a part of Micah’s household and was paid a living wage for doing his priestly duties there.

So now, Micah has a shrine, an ephod, and a priest from the tribe of Levi. He figures he’s sitting pretty well and will get some great blessings from God for this! But alas, he was sadly mistaken.

Micah tried to do what he thought would please God, but his thinking had gotten so perverted that he really missed the mark. He thought worshiping an idol was what God would want, but that’s clearly not how God had commanded the people. Worship is important, and we all worship something, but the key is that we must be worshiping the one true God, not an idol - whether that idol is a physical statue or something else.

Where have you gone astray in your thinking? It can be so easy to do. We may even think we’re following Christ when really we’re not. Are you following a Christian teacher and reading their books more than you’re following God and reading the Bible? Are you worshiping your church (whether the building, or the programs, or the service) rather than God on Sunday mornings? Just like Micah, we can easily be led astray, even by “churchy” things. Take a look at your life and make sure you’re on the right path of truly worshiping God in your everyday life.

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