A Personal Priest
(Judges 17 – 18)
The Idolatry of the Ephraimite Micah
By Michiel van der Borch
What’s wrong with personalized religion?
Today’s Bible reading traces the experience of a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country owned by the tribe of Ephraim. Initially, Micah demonstrated clear signs of moral decay, having stolen 1,100 silver pieces from his own mother. Eventually, Micah confessed his crime to his mother, who was so pleased with his repentance that she hired a silversmith to melt the silver coins and craft them into an idol.
The slippery slope of spiritual self-sufficiency was set.
Micah and his mother set up the idol in his house, along with a shrine containing an ephod and household idols. He installed one of his sons as his own priest.
Soon, a Levite from Bethlehem passed through town. Micah offered to pay the Levite to become his personal priest, serving in Micah’s own home. The priest actually agreed.
At this point, we have to wonder why the priest was willing to accept this assignment. Levites were clearly taught that priestly duties were only to be performed in the Tabernacle or other divinely designated places. The Hebraic Law provided for Levites through the tithing system. Were the people paying tithes? Was the Levite receiving this income? Perhaps not, as the financial enticement persuaded him to work for Micah.
In any case, the Levite agreed to serve as Micah’s own private priest, working among the pagan household idols. And Micah actually expected the Lord’s blessing for this situation.
“’I know the Lord will bless me now,’
‘because I have a Levite serving as my priest.’”
How easy it can be for us to justify our wrong actions, once the stage for sin has been set. Is there any evil we cannot rationalize?
An entire tribe joins the same sinful practice.
Idolatry is infectious.
Soon, the tribe of Dan sent scouts into the area, where they sought lodging with Micah. The warrior scouts noticed the Levite and his accent, which was clearly from a different region. Learning that the Levite was Micah’s own priest, the men asked him for a prophetic word on the outcome of their planned attack on the inhabitants of new territory.
The Levite, claiming to have heard directly from God, urged the men to proceed along the path they had chosen. As a result, the Danites attacked the peaceful people of Laish, although the Lord had not promised to give that region to His people.
Making matters worse, the Danite warriors stole the false idols of Micah, along with his Levite priest. Once they conquered the people of Laish, they installed the priest and the idols in a shrine of their own.
The counterfeiting was complete.
How the enemy must snicker when God’s people create counterfeit worship. How easy it is for us to devote ourselves, even unwittingly, to falsehood. Will we worship and adore the things of God, or will we worship and adore Him alone?
Isn’t an idol anything that distracts us from the divine? What draws our attention away from the one true God? What idols might we allow in our lives that block our devotion to Jehovah most High?
What tangible things might the Lord have us remove from our homes? What practices ought we to delete from our daily lives? What thought patterns could we toss out, so that we might more wholly and completely worship Him alone?
Micah and His Mother Adoring the Idol
By Master Sub-Fauvel
Will you pray with me?
All the glory
And all the worship
And all the devotion
Of our hearts.
Search our hearts,
And reveal to us
Anything we may harbor,
Intentionally or unknowingly
That distracts us
We live to praise You.