Judges 17 & 18

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When Muhammad emerged as a fledgling young “prophet” in seventh-century Arabia, all of the Christians he encountered were supersessionists. As the religion of Islam developed, Muhammad simply took the lead of the only Christians he knew, adopting their supersessionism and making it his own. In a tragic, but unsurprising twist, the Christians of Arabia soon found themselves victims of supersessionism. Islamic supersessionism, however, was a stronger strain, a mutated form of Christian supersessionism. Islamic supersessionism is far more than theological replacement; it is also profoundly militant, seeking to eradicate all non-Muslims. Not only is Islam as a religion intended to replace Christianity, Judaism, and every other religion, but Muslims are intended to replace Christians, Jews, and every other people. Thus, very soon, the Christians were being either subjugated or simply wiped out alongside the Jews of Arabia. During Muhammad’s career, one of his most celebrated accomplishments (among Muslims) was literally eliminating every last Jew from the Arabian Peninsula. Christians didn’t fare much better…

The earliest Islamic records of these events show that the Muslims would besiege a city, kill all resistors, distribute the booty, and march an average of thirty to fifty thousand women back to Mecca to be married to Muslims or to be used as sex slaves. Within a mere ten years, more than a million Christians were killed. In less than one generation, Islam had crushed the ancient heart of Christendom. Within a hundred years, 50 percent of global Christianity had come under Islamic subjugation and rule.  In a tragic but remarkable turnabout, Christianity’s supersessionist chickens had come home to roost. – Joel Richardson, When A Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God

Last weekend, I finished reading this book by Joel Richardson… I’d been meaning to read it for a few months but always became distracted by other things. His research is very good—on an important subject that few are willing to talk about anymore… And even though he does come off pretty strong at times, I would recommend the book to any Christian…

So, today I’m sharing my final blog from the Book of Judges… The focus of the chapters I’m covering is a man named Micah—but this Micah is most certainly not the Prophet Micah… To confuse the two men would be like confusing Mary the Mother of Jesus with being the same woman as Miriam the sister of Moses, as Mohammad did in the Koran…

There was a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 One day he said to his mother, “I heard you place a curse on the person who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from you. Well, I have the money. I was the one who took it” (Judges 17:1 NLT).

These final chapters of the Book of Judges are no fun to read. They show the inward moral condition of the Nation of Israel, which was confused, compromised, idolatrous, and violent.  Four times in this section of the Book and statement is made, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

“The Lord bless you for admitting it,” his mother replied. 3 He returned the money to her, and she said, “I now dedicate these silver coins to the Lord. In honor of my son, I will have an image carved and an idol cast” (Judges 17:2-3 NLT).

Evidently, Micah had stolen this amount of silver from his mother. He committed this crime to support his idolatry.  The greater part of Israel, of which this particular household serves as a type, equated the LORD and idols as one and the same.  This was a serious error.

So when he returned the money to his mother, she took 200 silver coins and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into an image and an idol. And these were placed in Micah’s house. 5 Micah set up a shrine for the idol, and he made a sacred ephod and some household idols. Then he installed one of his sons as his personal priest (Judges 17:4-5 NLT).

These images, together with the “sacred ephod” and “household idols” and a “personal priest” suggest that Micah’s domestic chapel was a corrupt imitation of the Tabernacle. All was distinctly contrary to the Word of God, which commanded one place of worship only and forbade images.  And it permitted none to be Priests but the sons of Aaron.

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. 7 One day a young Levite, who had been living in Bethlehem in Judah, arrived in that area. 8 He had left Bethlehem in search of another place to live, and as he traveled, he came to the hill country of Ephraim. He happened to stop at Micah’s house as he was traveling through (Judges 17:6-8 NLT).

If the High Priest Phinehas and the Nation of Israel had been obeying the Scriptures, this Levite would not have had to travel around looking for a place to serve. There was a horrible void of Scripturally sound leadership in Israel.

“Stay here with me,” Micah said, “and you can be a father and priest to me. I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, plus a change of clothes and your food.” 11 The Levite agreed to this, and the young man became like one of Micah’s sons (Judges 17:10-11 NLT).

Micah called his chapel a “House of God,” but the Holy Spirit called it a “house of idols.” The true House of God was neglected, and everyone was left to do whatever seemed right in their own estimation.  So, they created their own false methods of worship.

So Micah installed the Levite as his personal priest, and he lived in Micah’s house. 13 “I know the Lord will bless me now,” Micah said, “because I have a Levite serving as my priest” (Judges 17:12-13 NLT).

Micah had a little knowledge of Scriptural Worship, which was only sufficient to make him idolatrous and superstitious. Instead of being blessed by the LORD as he thought he’d be, he would be robbed of both his idols and his priest.

Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel (Judges 18:1 NLT).

The time frame of this passage probably occurred when Othniel was the Judge in Israel. The portion assigned to the Tribe of Dan was in the area of the Philistines, but they did not overcome the Philistines and went out of the Will of God and undertook an expedition against a small and defenseless people in the extreme north of the land.  There they built a city which they called “Dan” and publicly established idolatry.  Interestingly, the Tribe of Dan is omitted in Revelation Chapter Seven.

So the men of Dan chose from their clans five capable warriors from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol to scout out a land for them to settle in. When these warriors arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they came to Micah’s house and spent the night there. 3 While at Micah’s house, they recognized the young Levite’s accent, so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?” 4 He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he had been hired as Micah’s personal priest. Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful” (Judges 18:2-5 NLT).

The men of Dan consulted Micah’s personal priest instead of Jehovah God.

“Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.” 7 So the five men went on to the town of Laish, where they noticed the people living carefree lives, like the Sidonians; they were peaceful and secure.The people were also wealthy because their land was very fertile. And they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. 8 When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you find?” (Judges 18:6-8 NLT).

The action of the Danites in asking this Levite to divine for them—probably by means of the ephod—conveys how far they had departed from the Written Word of God. Had they been true to the Law, they would have been shocked and grieved at a Levite assuming Priestly functions in a house of idols, which was in rivalry with the Tabernacle of Jehovah.

The men replied, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. What are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to go and take possession of it. 10 When you get there, you will find the people living carefree lives. God has given us a spacious and fertile land, lacking in nothing!” 11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan[b] to this day. 13 Then they went on from there into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah (Judges 18:9-13 NLT).

Even though they used the name of “God,” there is no record that the Holy Spirit had allotted to the Tribe of Dan this territory up north. This was their own doings from the imaginations of their own rebellious hearts.  And thus, their expedition would not turn out well.

The young priest was quite happy to go with them, so he took along the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the carved image. 21 They turned and started on their way again, placing their children, livestock, and possessions in front of them. 22 When the people from the tribe of Dan were quite a distance from Micah’s house, the people who lived near Micah came chasing after them. 23 They were shouting as they caught up with them. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter? Why have you called these men together and chased after us like this?” (Judges 18:20-23 NLT).

The priest was for sale. The Tribe of Dan paid more, so he went with them.  Several neighbors of Micah’s joined him in trying to retrieve the stolen idols and images from the children of Dan.  What a mess of a situation!

“What do you mean, ‘What’s the matter?’” Micah replied. “You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!” 25 The men of Dan said, “Watch what you say! There are some short-tempered men around here who might get angry and kill you and your family.” 26 So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home (Judges 18:24-26 NLT).

Micah worshipped gods which he had made with his own hands and which could be taken by others, proving that they were of no real value. But in his mind, they still had worth… though apparently not enough to fight a larger group of men other.

Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground. 28 There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there. 29 They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel’s son, but it had originally been called Laish (Judges 18:27-29 NLT).

In using the name of “Israel” as the father of Dan, the Holy Spirit emphasizes the depth of Dan’s guilt in setting up idolatrous worship.

Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile. 31 So Micah’s carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh (Judges 18:30-31 NLT).

All of this was especially forbidden by the LORD, and therefore, idolatry in its most rebellious form. And a grandson of Moses headed up these contrary spiritual practices.

So, the story doesn’t get any better from here… And I’m not going to blog any more on it, though I would recommend reading the rest of this Book, which ends with this summation:

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25 KJV).

As I don’t want to be a total downer (for myself or anyone who reads my blogs, tomorrow I’m starting in the First Samuel), and I’ll have a good song to share to conclude that blog… Feeling such a burden to pray for so many in this End Times world…  It’s overwhelming at times…