Summary: Part three of a series of sermons inspired by the book "Bad Kids of the Bible and What They Can Teach Us" by Thomas J. Craughwell.
BAD KIDS OF THE BIBLE: MICAH THE EPHRAIMITE
Text: Judges 17 – 18
Have you ever heard the saying, “What goes around comes around?” Well, the bad kid of the Bible that I am going to talk about today surely experienced that firsthand. It doesn’t seem to happen as much as we would like, but sometimes a person gets exactly what he deserves.
The person that I am talking about is Micah the Ephraimite, and his story is found in the book of Judges chapters 17 and 18. Now this is a lengthy passage, so I am going to break it up into parts. Please follow along in your Bibles.
Judges 17:1 – 6
We begin our story rather abruptly with some of it already having taken place. Micah has stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother. His mother puts a curse on the thief, and Micah gets concerned, so he admits to taking the silver. According to Old Testament law, Micah was supposed to return the silver, pay an additional 20% fine, and go to the priest to sacrifice a guilt offering to atone for the sin, but Micah doesn’t do any of this. Instead, his mother cancels out the curse with a blessing, and tells Micah that she is consecrating the silver for God. She gives 200 pieces to Micah to take to the silversmith, and she pockets the rest for herself.
The silver that Micah takes to the silversmith is used to make an idol. Now this wasn’t an idol of Baal, or any other of the Canaanite gods. It was an idol that represented God Himself. This was in direct violation of one of God’s commandments. Exodus 20:4 says, “ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” In Deuteronomy 27:15, the Law also stated, “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place.”
Judges 17:7 – 13
Another character enters the story at this point, a Levite from Bethlehem. Now when the land was divided up and distributed to the tribes of Israel, the Levites were not given any land. They were a tribe of priests and assistants, and were placed in cities throughout Israel. The curious thing is that this Levite was from Bethlehem, and Bethlehem was NOT one of those cities. Levites were not supposed to get a salary, but to live off the tithes of the other tribes. Since everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes, they had stopped paying their tithes, and the Levites had to go out looking for work.
The Levite happens to come across the house of Micah the Ephraimite. Micah takes him in, and when he finds out that he is a Levite, he hires him as his own personal priest. Micah had made a shrine in his house, and had placed the idol and several smaller idols there. He had also made priestly clothing and had installed one of his sons as the priest, but when he saw that he could hire a Levite, he jumped at the chance. His son was demoted, and the Levite went to work. Micah said, “Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.” (Judges 17:13)
Judges 18:1 – 6
Five more characters enter the story. Spies from the tribe of Dan find their way to Micah’s house. Now the tribe of Dan was given land when the land was divided among the tribes, but instead of driving out the Canaanites like God had told them to, they decided that they would go and find their own land in a place where they wouldn’t have to fight. Somehow, as they passed by Micah’s house they hear the Levite talking and they recognize his voice. They ask him why he is there, and the Levite tells them about being hired by Micah to be his priest. Immediately, the Danites ask the Levite to question the Lord about whether or not their mission will be successful. The Levite tells them that God will bless them in what they are doing.
Judges 18:7 – 21
The spies go on ahead with their mission, and find a city called Laish, 100 miles away from the land that God had given to the tribe of Dan. There they discover that the residents are wealthy and peaceful, and that they had no defenses for their city because they had no enemies nearby. Their closest allies were too far away to help them if they were attacked, so the spies agree to go back and tell the rest of the Danites that they should attack.