This Bible Study is part of the "Survey of the Former Prophets" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
This particular man, Micah, was not a particularly reputable man; in fact he had stolen some money from his mother, though he was the "apple of his mother's eye." When he got scared and confessed to her, she thought, "Oh, my wonderful son." He gave her back the money.
This is John Ogwyn. We are continuing our Bible Study series here in the book of Judges. As we come to Judges 17, we pick up the story of some events that had happened earlier. Chapter 17 picks up the story of a man by the name of Micah, who lived in Mount Ephraim. Judges 17 and 18 tell an interesting story, and show a lot of parallels from which we can learn. This particular man, Micah, was not a particularly reputable man; in fact he had stolen some money from his mother, though he was the "apple of his mother's eye." When he got scared and confessed to her, she thought, "Oh, my wonderful son." He gave her back the money. His mother said, "Well, I have dedicated this silver to the Lord from the hand of my son." What was she going to do with what she had dedicated to God? She was going to make an idol. Just like a lot of people, she and Micah thought that religion was just a good feeling. You could worship God the way you wanted to worship God. The reality is that if our worship is to be acceptable, that worship must be according to God's truth, to God's revelation. She wanted to make this idol and she did. A little silver idol and little silver trinkets were made and hung around. Micah actually made a little chapel, as it mentions in Judges 17:5, a "house of gods." He consecrated one of his sons who became his priest. Micah had religion.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
That expression is used over and over in the book of Judges, emphasizing that when people do what is right in their own eyes, as opposed to doing what God SAYS, there are terrible consequences.
One day, a young man from Bethlehem Judah who was a Levite passed through Mount Ephraim. He spent the night there, and came to where Micah was, and Micah was hospitable. Micah asked him who he was and where he was from. He said, "I am a Levite from Bethlehem Judah and I am looking for a place." Since Israel was doing right in their own eyes, many of the Levites had fallen on hard times. They did not have an inheritance specifically, except that God was their inheritance. This young fellow was looking for a place to preach. Micah said "Oh well, dwell with me (verse 10); you can be to me a father and a priest. I will pay you ten shekels of silver a year, and give you a suit of new clothes and all you need." The Levite went in.
But if you go through the Bible, you cannot show me one place where God's servants were ever concerned about how much they were paid! God's servants preach the Truth because it is the Truth. False ministers preach for hire. This young man was a hireling. Micah said, "I will give you a good salary" and the Levite said, "That sounds good to me, I will just stay right here and be a priest." Micah was excited.
Then Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!"
Micah had a superstitious approach to religion. He wanted to serve God, but he wanted to serve God his way. He thought he was in good shape; he had a Levite for a priest.
There was no king in Israel in those days. The tribe of Dan was scouting out some new territory. A number from the tribe came by Mount Ephraim. In Judges 18:3, we are told that they came by the house of Micah, and they recognized this young Levite. They asked him, We have known you before-what are you doing here?" He said, "I found a job, I am preaching here for Micah, I am his priest. He pays me well and I really like that." They said, "We want to know if our way is going to be prosperous. You are a priest, you tell us what God says." The priest said, "By all means, go in peace, the Lord will be with you." They departed and conquered this land called Laish, later renamed as the city of Dan. As you read the story, a group of these Danites come by.
Judges 17:15, 17-20
So they turned aside there, and came to the house of the young Levite man; to the house of Micah; and greeted him. Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land went up. Entering there, they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image. The priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men who were armed with weapons of war.When these went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image, the priest said to them, 'What are you doing?' And they said to him, 'Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us; be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?' So the priest's heart was glad.
He was excited; he had gotten a promotion! He was now going to get a bigger salary. He could preach anything they paid him to preach; a lot of preachers are that way. Most preachers want to find out what the congregation wants to hear, and what the pay is, and they can tailor their message to match it. But God's true servants never do that.
A little while later, Micah came back and found out that his priest was gone-and all of his religion had been taken with him. Micah came rushing out and he was upset.
So he said, "You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest."
They said "You had better be quiet, don't come talking to us. Let not your voice be heard! We have some fellows who have a short temper. They will get a hold to you if you keep talking like that." Micah went back home, and they took the priest to the city of Dan. In verse 30, they set up the graven image with this young man Jonathon, the son of Gershom. He was actually Moses' grandson. He and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan up to the time of the captivity. They set up Micah's graven image. They thought they could worship God and somehow get God's blessing. All they had to do was to pay lip service to God. A lot of people have that attitude, that idea.
There was no king in Israel in those days. Judges 19 and 20 describe a terrible event. Here was a Levite who came down with a concubine that he was bringing with him. She was a very loose woman, an immoral woman. Here was a Levite who should have been setting an example. Instead of having a stable family, he had a woman he was living with and she had run off with somebody and then finally went back to her father's house. Several months went by, and this Levite man wanted her back, so he went to try and make up with her. The story is that they stayed there for a time. As they sat and ate and drank, he boozed it up with her father. Finally the time came when they were going to depart. As you read through the story, this woman was actually taken and raped, and she died.
Judges 19: 22
As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came to your house."
Here were a bunch of homosexuals who wanted this man! Somehow he decided to put a woman out there, so he put his daughter, who actually died as a result-a HORRIBLE situation, a gruesome story.
The book of Judges is the story of what happens when people do what is right in their own eyes and disregard God's instructions. They don't want somebody telling them what to do. They don't want a strong leader.
The result of the story is that the woman is actually cut into pieces and parts of the bloody carcass are sent throughout the land. This stirred up everyone-this was a horrible thing! The whole nation gathers together and they are going to punish the children of Benjamin. This had happened in the territory of Benjamin.
Then the children of Israel said, 'Tell us, how did this wicked deed happen?'
So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, 'My concubine and I went into Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, to spend the night. And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they ravished my concubine so that she died.'
So he told them the story. His attitude was that he was ready to push her out there and care for himself.
Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, 'What is this wickedness that has occurred among you?'
The children of Benjamin gathered together and said, "You are not going to talk to us that way." So there was a great war. In verse 18, you find that they go to war and the Benjamites undergo a tremendous slaughter.
So the children of Israel approached the children of Benjamin on the second day.
There were many more thousands slaughtered. The story of the battles between the other tribes and the tribe of Benjamin goes on and on. In verse 36, the Benjamites saw that they were smitten. The men of Israel gave place and there were attacks and this battle going back and forth with men lying in wait. It describes that thousands and thousands of these Benjamites began to be slaughtered.
Six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness. And the men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin, and struck them down with the edge of the sword. They also set fire to all the cities they came to.
Finally, the Israelites were so mad and upset that they had taken an oath that none of them would allow their daughters to marry the Benjamites. They began to think about it and feel badly because here was a whole tribe-one of the twelve tribes-that was on the verge of being wiped out. There were six hundred men left and the rest of the tribe had been destroyed. They said, "What are we going to do? We all took an agreement that we would not allow our daughters to be given to the Benjamites." They came up with a plan that they would have a feast and allow the men of Benjamin to come and "capture" some of the young unmarried girls. They wouldn't really give the girls to them, but would allow them to come in and seize them and take them away. (Judges 21:17) At the feast in Shiloh, this event took place. The Benjamites were told to wait in the vineyards. Verse 21 says, to paraphrase, "If the daughters come out and dance, any of them you can catch you can have." What a crazy mess! What problems human beings find themselves in when they go away from God and just pursue their own way and do their own thing, when "every man does what is right in his own eyes." The children of Benjamin took wives (verse 23) and the children of Israel departed, every man to his own tribe. The book of Judges concludes:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
That is the result. The story of the book of Judges shows what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
That concludes our series on the book of Judges. This is John Ogwyn for the Living Church of God.