Commendable Intentions and Condemned Actions

By Chris Lopez

The book of Judges chapters 17 and 18 records an incident well worth our consideration. Judges 17 begins with an individual named Micah  meaning, “Who is like God,” from the tribe of Ephraim living in the mountains. He stole eleven hundred shekels of silver from his mother. He returned the money he stole after hearing the curse that his mother had put on the thief.

The mother appreciated the gesture of her son and decided to dedicate some silver towards the glory of God. When the son returned the money, the mother took two hundred shekels of silver and he made it into a carved image and a moulded image. These images were placed in the house of Micah. We see here that the mother had good intentions but her actions violated the command of God given to Moses on Mt. Sinai recorded in Exo. 20:1-6 in regards to worshipping idols and bowing down to them.

Judges 17:5-13 records that Micah had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. Notice the phrase in verse 6, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  In Exo. 40:12-16 it is written that priests were to come from Aaron and his sons, so it was a sin for Micah to appoint his son as a priest.

Judges 17:7-13 lists an encounter Micah had with a Levite from Bethlehem who was looking for shelter after leaving the family of the tribe of Judah whom he was residing with. Micah was gracious in welcoming this stranger to stay with him. He offered a yearly wage of ten shekels of silver, a suit of clothes and daily sustenance. This young Levite became like one of his sons. Micah was generous, kind and loving to the extent that this Levi was content (I am sure we all would be happy if this kindness and love was accorded to us in the same fashion and passion). Exo. 22:21: “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deut. 10:18: “…and love the stranger, giving him food and clothing.” This act was commendable but let us see what happens next.

Micah consecrated the Levite and this young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. This was considered by Micah as a blessing and that God will be good to him. Observe that Levites were from Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah (Gen. 29:34). The Levites were substituted among the children of Israel instead of every first born who opens the womb among the children of Israel (Num. 3:12, 13). They were divided into three divisions which were the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari (Num. 3:17) who had been given duties in the tabernacles and use of the utensils (Num. 3:25-39).

This Levite was not qualified to become a priest; furthermore he practised worshipping and bowing down to idols as Micah did. In doing what is against the law of God, Micah made the false assumption that God will be good to him. We must be careful not to fall into the same mistake of making the false assumption that when circumstances work out well according to our plan, God is with us. Let us consider Prov. 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to men but its end is the way of death.”

In Judges 18, the tribe of Dan sent five spies to spy the land. They lodged in Micah’s home, recognised the Levite and enquired about his status. When they discovered he was of the house of Micah serving as a priest, they inquired of the priest to seek God’s approval. The priest gave his blessing. This priest lied and believing this lie, they stole the ephod, household idols and forced the priest to come with them. He was reluctant at first, but later became glad of the opportunity to serve in a bigger contingent and went along willingly. Micah and his men pursued but they were heavily outnumbered. As his life was threatened, Micah turned back home. The tribe of Dan conquered the city of Laish and renamed it Dan, believing God was with them. They worshipped the carved image of Micah at Shiloh.

This a sad incident of being deceived and ignoring the truth. In Isaiah 5:20, 21, the warning is clear: “Curse is on those who call an evil thing good and good, evil. Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are prudent in their own sight!” Kindly read Prov. 3:3-8. It is wise to trust God, lean on His wisdom and focus on the truth.

As children of God we must practise the teachings of Christ (Matt. 7:21-27). Remember that as we practice, study and grow, we will not be barren nor unfruitful in Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-11). This corresponds with John 15:1-17; abide in Christ and bear much fruit. Obedience is an important factor to get us to heaven (John 12:42-58). God’s commandments leads to eternal life (Col. 3:12-17) and we are to develop the character of the new man. Last but not least we are to take sin seriously as we are warned in Heb. 10:26-31 of the danger of sinning wilfully. We are to be a blessing to those around us (1 Pet. 3:8-12) and prepare ourselves for the place that Christ has prepared for us (John 14:1-6).

God bless us all as together we seek to do the will of God prescribed in His Word, directed by His wisdom (James 3:13-18), relying on His grace (2 Cor. 12:9) and strength (Phil. 4:13).