Judges 17-18
(Imagine a World Without God)
March 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

They answered him, ďBe quiet! Donít say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isnít it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one manís household?Ē

- Judges 18:19 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Chapter 17 begins a five chapter pseudo-appendix of the book of Judges. There are no judges in place during the events described in these chapters. Instead, there is a leadership void. The consequence of this void is chaos and tragedy because everyone does as he pleases. The first two chapters tell a story that illustrates the lawlessness during this period, and one verse summarizes the attitude of that time:

    In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

    - Judges 17:6 (NIV)

The people of Israel created their own gods and their own laws. We read a story today in which one person steals from another and then another steals from that person, thereby proving the point that there is no honor among thieves, might makes right, and possession is 9/10ths of the law. We meet a man named Micah who steals from his own mother and then hires a Levite to serve as their private priest helping them to worship their personal false idols. The Levites had been designated by God as priests to serve the LORD, as described in the book of Leviticus, and had been distributed among the twelve tribes of Israel to provide this service among all the communities, as described in the book of Joshua. They were not supposed to become designated priests for a single family.

A roving group of men from the tribe of Dan encounter Micah and his Levite-for-hire. They decide to acquire him for their own use as they headed off in a caravan to conquer a peaceful village. Micah tried to stop them, but realized he was up against a superior foe:

    Micah said, "You took my god, the one I made, and you took my priest. And you marched off! What do I have left? How can you now say, 'What's the matter?'"

    But the Danites answered, "Don't yell at us; you just might provoke some fierce, hot-tempered men to attack you, and you'll end up an army of dead men."

    The Danites went on their way. Micah saw that he didn't stand a chance against their arms. He turned back and went home.

    -Judges 18:24-26 (MSG)

The Danites had been allotted a territory in the south-western portion of Israel, but never fully occupied it because of superior forces of their neighbors and lack of will among their own tribe. Therefore, they headed north and took over an area just north of the Sea of Galilee.

They had received approbation from the hired Levite when they scouted out this new property, but this was not that same authority as if it had come from the real God. There was no evidence that the village that they coveted was evil in the same way as Jericho, Hazor, or other towns which God had delivered to the Israelites. But these Dans did what they wanted. They destroyed the village, and remained in that land until the great exile that we will read about later in our study.

Reflection and Application

What would a world without God look like? We get a small glimpse in this story. When there is no set of laws then there is no way to ensure everyone is treated fairly. An environment of anarchy can be advantageous for someone with the greater physical strength or cunning, but there is always someone stronger or smarter who comes along and usurps that person. When Micah realized that the Danites had stolen his Levite, he rode off to complain, but was outnumbered. There was no local sheriff, no judge, no deliverer. Samson would have grabbed a stick from the ground and taught those Danites a lesson, but Micah did not have any special blessing from God.

Micah had abandoned the real God to create a fake one and had co-opted a man dedicated to God to become his personal priest. Therefore, he was not in a good position to seek help. From his experience we can see that when we move away from God, our sins compound and terrible things happen. Remember, it was not God who had abandoned the Israelites, but it was they who had abandoned him and replaced him with idols of wood and metal.

Tomorrow we will read a story that is a thousand times more tragic than this one.

These people needed to follow the guidance of Jehovah, but they were not listening.

"Guide Me Now O Great Jehovah,"composed by William Williams (1717-1791)

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What situations can you recall where you were recruited to leave one organization or team and join another? What was the main benefit in which you were interested?
    2. In what ways are the times of Micah like our own era?
    3. In what circumstances have we been guilty of trying to hire God to do our will?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know you are steadfast in your love but we are wayward. We thank you for your mercy that is available and ask for the strength to follow your will not ours.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Judges 19-21 (A World without God Ė continued)

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