Judg. 17:1 There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2 He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing,—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.” And his mother said, “May my son be blessed by the LORD!” 3 Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, “I consecrate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.” 4 So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. 5 This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.
Judg. 17:7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He was a Levite residing there. 8 This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work. 9 Micah said to him, “From where do you come?” He replied, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to live wherever I can find a place.” 10 Then Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living.” 11 The Levite agreed to stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 So Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.”
The entire story is one in which the members have deluded themselves into thinking that they are doing the right thing. We don’t know, but possibly Micah and his mother were sincere in their desire to worship God, but the whole story becomes quite convoluted. The scene unfolds with Micah admitting that he has stolen silver from his mother. He returns to her that which he had taken and she blesses him, consecrates the silver and has an idol made out of it. Pleased that they have an idol, Micah builds a small chapel on his property so that he can worship in the convenience of his own home. Finally, he appoints one of his sons to be the priest of his homemade place of worship. He, his mother, and his entire family are deluded into believing that this is all a good thing.
Suddenly it appears that things are getting even better when a Levite comes passing by. The problem with this scenario is that a good Levite would have been placed into an assignment and the fact that this priest is wandering around the countryside raises suspicion and questions about his commitment to ministry. The doubts must continue when he agrees to serve Micah at his personal place of worship that is filled with homemade idols. The final delusional statement comes from Micah, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.” It may be that he was satisfying his guilty conscience by replacing his son with a “real” priest. Somehow he believed that by establishing an appearance of religion there at his own home he would, indeed be in good favor with God.
While they may have thought they were being sincere in worship, they had strayed from the truths that God had placed before the people. Instead of leading toward God they were now headed in a direction that would lead toward death.
Micah and his family had deluded themselves into believing that if they appeared religious, they were indeed religious. From all appearances this entire story makes you wonder how in the world they could have thought they were doing the right thing. It’s filled with thievery, idolatry, selfishness, and lies. There is no genuine worship of the true God here and therefore their path will ultimately lead to destruction.
Casting judgement on others is easy but taking a critical look at ourselves is not. Any form of religiosity without true and authentic faith in Jesus Christ is just as delusional. Going to church on Sunday but living like the world all week long is delusional. Carrying your Bible to church but watching porn on your computer when no one is looking is delusional. Being unwilling to share your resources with a needy world and yet saying you love Jesus is delusional. Never sharing Jesus with people around you who are suffering is just delusional. Only praying before you eat (if that) is delusional.
When our religious lives become a facade that never reaches to our hearts we are simply playing a game. We may be able to fool ourselves and our neighbors for a little while but God is never fooled.
Soon after Joshua had died the Israelites each did their own thing, determining in their own eyes what was right. They adjusted their faith to their own circumstances but God was not pleased. God will not be pleased if we continue to accommodate our faith without remaining faithful. Jesus Christ is God incarnate and has prepared the way for us to follow. Any deviation from that path and we are deluding ourselves into believing we are doing a good thing. Micah and his family were reflecting the idols of the world and had convinced themselves that this was a good thing. Don’t be deluded into believing that you should reflect anything short of Jesus Christ.
Lord, please help me to seek your face and reflect you. May there be no distractions. Amen.
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