When Every Man Creates His Own Religion

Micah and His Personal Priest: 

When every man creates his own religion. (Judges 17:1-18:31)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Micah, whose name ironically means, “Who is like Yahweh,” ignores the religious precepts revealed by God and attempts to establish his own cultic system. First, he had idols built with money that had been dedicated to the LORD. Second, he set up a worship center in his home. Finally, he ordained his son as a priest. When an opportunistic Levite arrives in town, Micah quickly offers the young man a lucrative contract and secures his services as a priest for his new religion. The Levite’s agreement to serve as a priest granted Micah’s apostate religious system with an appearance of legitimacy, or so he thought.

In this brief account of Micah and the Levite, the narrator is likely demonstrating the religious apostasy that is rampant throughout Israel. The Levite is not a man of God who is following the LORD’s leading, but an opportunist who is willing to provide his services to the highest bidder. He is not a priest of the LORD, but the priest of a man. If Micah represents the apostate worship of Israel, then the Levite represents the failure of the priesthood.

Leaders who accommodate the unbiblical ideas and expectations of people to receive a salary and a comfortable life are not serving God. Any charlatan can tell people what they want to hear and compromise to make people happy. However, only a servant of God will stand against apostasy, heresy, and compromise. Unfortunately, the Levite failed on all accounts.

In this narrative, the tribe of Dan also serves as an illustration of those who reject the revelation of God and seek to establish their own religion. The Danites seek out land that was not promised to them and abduct Micah’s priest and idols, which they use to create their own cultic center. This apostasy would haunt the Israelites for hundreds of years, thus, revealing the long-term consequences of heresy and apostasy.

SO WHAT? Biblical worship is not based on preference, convenience, or popular opinion. Worship is an encounter with God on His terms and in His ways. Therefore, we must resist the temptation to structure worship to meet our needs. Instead, worship must be ordered to glorify God, proclaim the gospel, and equip the church. Furthermore, those who are called to lead worship must not compromise truth to please people. The church should not call or follow men who simply tell them what they want to hear.

TEACHING OUTLINE

1. The breakdown and corruption of the Israelite home.

2. The apostate Israelite.

3. The opportunistic Levite.

4. The corruption of an Israelite tribe.

5. The consequences of bad theology and compromised religious leaders.

6. When everyone worshiped on their own terms.

micah judges 17 blogNow what? We must continuously evaluate our private and public worship by asking several important questions. First, is our worship rooted in the gospel? Second, is our worship trinitarian—does it glorify God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Finally, is our worship based on our preferences or on the proclamation of God’s word in every aspect of worship?

3And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” 4So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:3-6).

Study Questions (Judges 17:1-18:31)

1. Describe the moral, ethical, and religious failures of Micah (17:1-5).

2. What role, if any, does Micah’s mother have in his apostasy (17:1-5)?

3. Describe the moral, ethical, and religious failures of the Levite (17:7-13).

4. How do Micah and the Levite illustrate the moral failure and religious apostasy of Israel?

5. Describe the moral, ethical, and religious failures of the Danites (18:1-31).

6. Describe how the apostasy of one man (Micah) affected Israel for hundreds of years (18:31).

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