A Sneak Peek

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 5 

imagesThe writer of Judges grants a peek into the private life of a Ephraimite family in Israel during the Judges Era—when everyone did as he saw fit. It isn’t pretty.

Chapter 17 introduces Micah (whose name means “Who is like Yahweh?”), an Ephraimite, whose mother consecrates a portion of her recovered silver to the LORD for her son to make for her “a carved image and a molded image” (17:3). Micah sets up the idol in his household and installs one of his sons as his priest. Later, a Levite from Bethlehem, Moses’ grandson (18:30), joins Micah’s household as the family priest. Moses’ grandson leads Micah’s family in worshiping a carved image. Wow! Who would have thought such a thing would happen?

One generation after Israel’s crossing the Jordan River, the Danites have yet to obtain their inheritance. Finally, they send five spies to explore their territory, and on the way they come across Micah’s farm, hear the Levite speaking, and seek his blessing. After scoping out the Sidonians, the Danites return to Micah’s house, seize his household idols, and convince Moses’ grandson to become their tribal priest. Israel has embraced idolatry only one generation into the settlement of the land of promise. Wow! Who would have thought such a thing would happen, and that it would happen so quickly?

What does this scene in Judges reveal about the spiritual life of Israel?

  • Without Bible literacy and a teaching priest, people quickly embrace syncretistic religion. After consecrating the returned silver to the LORD, Micah’s mother uses a portion to commission an idolatrous image. Then a Levite uses the idol in family worship. Micah and his family have blended Judaism and idolatry and formed a religion that they can live with.
  • Syncretism rapidly transforms religion into total idolatry. Jonathan takes Micah’s idols and sets them up as gods for the Danites to worship. One family’s idol (Micah) becomes one tribe’s idol. Later, all of Israel, except for a remnant, worship the gods of the Canaanites.
  • No generation can depend upon the godliness of their forefathers. Every generation must experience God for themselves. Moses’ grandson was an idolater. He had a form of religion without the power thereof.

The Apostle Paul refers to the Old Testament stories in order to warn every generation through their example, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Any generation is only one generation away from total spiritual decay.

Questions from today’s reading (Judges 16:1-18:30):

What was the basis of decision making in the life of Israel during the Judges Era (17:6; 18:1)?

Judges 18:30-31 identifies the man who became Micah’s household priest and Dan’s tribal priest. Who is he? What does this reveal about those who have godly heritages? About the spiritual state of the Levites during the Judges Era?