Religious Dysfunction in Canaan | part 1

Judges 17-18

I have to confess…I got caught up reading through the book of judges. I didn’t want to put it down and I read through it in three days. Not like that is a big accomplishment it can easily be done in less time-just that it was keeping me on the edge of my seat sort to speak. Drama, shocking turns of events, men of valor like Ehud, Gilead and Samson and heart wrenching action…it is all there! Even though I’ve read through before (quite awhile back) I’d forgotten a lot of it completely. For instance, Judges 17-18. These two chapters (to me at least) seemed to stick out a bit like a sore thumb. Here I was on a fast paced ride as described and then this. A weird account of a man named Micah, a Levite from Bethlehem and the Danites. I couldn’t help but wonder – why did God include this? Why do we get such a detailed look into this small piece of history? Part of the answer is that the book of judges really boils down to one theme:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 17:6

These words are repeated several times throughout the book. The account of Micah gives us look into an actual person’s life, showcasing how dysfunctional even a “religious/spiritual” Israelite could be.

To get a better understanding of Judges 17-18 let’s first look at a little bit of the history. At the beginning of the book of judges, several of the tribes of Israel decided not to fully take possession of the land God had promised for them since the time of Abraham. Whatever their motivation, they were ignoring God’s will for their nation, and they made this decision in spite of the many prior warnings and commandments from God (just read Deuteronomy 5-9 & Joshua 23-24 as examples).

I think it is important to note that Deuteronomy 9:4-5 points out that it was not due to Israel’s righteousness that God was dispossessing the land before them, but it was because of the wickedness of the pagan nations that lived in the promised land.

When Israel tarried and turned away from completely possessing their inheritances the angel of the Lord visited them saying:

“I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? So now I say, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. Judges 2:2-3

God loves His people, he doesn’t want us to disobey Him because He wants to bless us. Unfortunately our disobedience hinders that blessing…the book of judges showcases what happens as a result of disobedience towards God. The first generation (Joshua and the elders of Israel who had seen God’s mighty works in the wilderness) served the Lord and kept the law…however when they died:

there arose another generation after them who did now know the Lord, or even the work which He had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, Who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods of the peoples round about them and bowed down to them, and they provoked the Lord to anger. Judges 2:10-12

Their sin of not conquering those in the land was not worth it (no sin ever is) because they compromised and they lived as well as reared their children around and amongst evil. They tolerated evil instead of obeying God and fighting for what is right, what is good. The result – it didn’t take long for the next generation to turn their backs on God.

All it takes is a tiny foothold for sin to grow like yeast as Jesus put it in the new testament. As I read about the disobedience of the Israelite I was reminded of Joshua’s reminder to the Israelites in Joshua 23, especially verse 8:

“But cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this day.”

Joshua was about to die and he was telling the Israelite to CLING to God. It is a slippery slope into sin and that word cling perfectly illustrates what we are to do. There is no such thing as “getting by” with God, we must cling to Him with all of our hearts and souls, He is our only hope of everlasting safety and refuge. Even our own hearts our deceitful but He is the truth, He is our everything!

Pray for God to convict your heart today, and to help you carefully and truly obey God through and through instead of trying to “get by”. We have a responsibility to our children, family members, friends and really everyone to take a stand for what is right and not to compromise our morals. We might figure we can “get by” and be able to lax a bit while still serving the Lord…but compromise leads to compromise and sin is sin – it is never ever worth it.  Our children and their children will inherit either an upbringing of righteousness or it will become easier and easier for them to turn their backs on God and worship the gods and practice the lifestyles of those round about them. Even in our own lives, the sin is not worth it. It really does affect our personal walk with God – every time.