Summary: Sermon examines compromises and deception found in story of Micah and the Levite which serve as warnings against self-justification.
Series: Lessons from Judges #3
What happens to God’s people when they loose sight of their God-given calling? What happens to God’s people when they fail to honor the word of God as their standard of lifestyle—when they mix worldly ideas with godly ideas and develop their world view and worship ship from that mixture? What happens when they compromise the essence of godliness and only retain a form of godliness in its place? We get some answers to those questions when we read the book of Judges.
As I mentioned last week, Daniel Block identifies the theme of Judges as the “Canaanization of Israel.” Israel was actually called to wipe out the Canaanites and then evangelize the world. God had delivered Israel out of Egypt and made them His covenant people. He had given them a mission in life. They were to possess the Promise Land and be His channel for bringing truth to all the nations. Just as we have been given a Great Commission they too were given a job to do. Their first mistake was to loose that sense of purpose. Early in this book we find them not fulfilling their calling. Instead they have found a way to cohabitate with the enemy. They were “sleeping with the enemy.” Judges 3:5-7 says “The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.” That is precisely what God had told them not to do in Deut. 7.
So when we come to our text in Judges 17 & 18 we see the result of their compromises. We see their spiritual lives in a state of confusion and disarray. They have lost their moral compass because they have forsaken the commandments of God. They have incorporated into their worship and world view all kinds of ideas from the ungodly Canaanites. As a result of this syncretism their sense of right and wrong is twisted and distorted. What they are doing is evil in the eyes of the Lord yet without honoring the standard of God’s word they don’t realize it. To compound the problem each one is doing what seems right to him or her. Now let’s see what all this looks like in the lives of three specific characters in our text.
1st we have Micah’s mother.
We learn a lot about her in the first few verses of Judges 17. She is a wealthy woman. Anyone with 1100 shekels of silver would be considered quite wealthy in those times. And she is understandably upset when that silver shows up missing. What does she immediately do? Does she go to God and ask Him to help her find the missing money? No, in her anger she pronounces a curse on the perpetrator of the crime. It is an emotional response not unlike what we might see from any Canaanite in the area.
Her son apparently believes in the power of this curse and confesses to her that he is the one who took the money. He doesn’t do that out of true repentance but out of fear of the curse. The mother’s response to her son’s confession at the end of verse 2 speaks volumes about how she has raised this boy. As soon as she knows it’s her precious son who stole the money she completely changes her position, “The Lord bless you, my son.” Look closely at the consequences of his action. Instead of correction he receives a blessing. The Law required that he would go to the temple in Shiloh confessing his sin and paying restitution of an additional one fifth of the principle to his mother. He was also required to offer a guilt offering there for atonement (Lev. 6:1-6). But none of that happens. Instead Mom extends some sloppy agape—sloppy grace which has probably been going on all his life.
We see in this woman some problems that get passed on and continue in her son’s life.
First, there is a real lack of respect for God’s word. In her response to her son she simply follows her emotions rather than God’s commandments. Then she also thinks she is honoring the Lord by giving silver back to her son so he can make an idol. This is how confused she has become about the will of God—why? Because she either does not know God’s word or has little respect for it. The second commandment of the Decalogue forbids making idols.
Second, there is a lack of integrity. She says one thing—even in the name of the Lord and does another. In verse 3 she consecrated the 1100 shekels to the Lord; but in verse 4 she followed through with only 200. When it got down to it she decided to keep most of it for herself.