Communing with God
“Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as a priest’ (Judges 17:13).”
We have before us in Judges 17 a spiritual train wreck—a moral debacle. The writer is bent on reporting the facts only and hardly has time to stop and make moral judgements. He assumes we have the biblical literacy to known that what’s happening here is not only wrong, but abominably wrong.
In v.13 we’re given a clue to the motive of the main character, Micah: “Now I know the Lord will prosper me….” As we read, keep in mind this is how one man—a man typical of the time period—sought to be blessed by God. And he did it in a very typical way: by worshipping God and serving him in the way he thought best rather than how God has commanded. As you consider his action, ask yourself a similar question: “Upon what do I rely for the blessing of God?”
It began with a bold and not-so-bright heist of 1100 pieces of silver, an amount equal to almost 10 years’ salary of a working man. Micah had taken it from his mother, who in turn had uttered a curse against the one who had taken it (v.2). Since the family lived in the hill country of Ephraim (and were a tribal community), I’ve always wondered how Micah planned on getting away with this theft. Would people actually not notice if he suddenly rode into town on a new horse and buggy? Would they not put two and two together?
At any rate, as soon as he had “confessed” his sin, the action moved at light speed. His mother, in a bizarre turn of events, returned a portion of the silver to him, saying, “I dedicate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image.” Not long after, we read that Micah (who was not descended from any priestly line) had his own shrine (likely funded by his mother’s wealth), had filled it with household gods, and ordained one of his sons to be priest. What’s happening here? Micah is making up the rules of worship as he goes (and breaking a few); doing what was right in his own eyes. The only glimmer of moral outrage is summarized in the familiar refrain of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Micah’s actions raise an important question for us: how do we know our prayers and worship are acceptable to God? How do we know He even hears us? If we learn one thing from his “creativity” it’s this: communion with God has nothing to do with our ideas and approaches. It’s not our best guess or the best guess of a class of “experts”. Scripture makes it clear we come to God on His terms, not our own. And this, by the way, is for our own good. After all, do you really want to serve a God who is approachable on your terms or the terms of anyone else?
Rejoice this day that God has made clear how He draws near to us and blesses us. He has bridged the infinite gap between sinful, rebellious men and His holy presence through the God-man Himself, Jesus Christ. We need only call to our Father in the name of the Son, and by the power of the Spirit. His presence is always near and, though we don’t always get what we want, we always have the blessing of His presence.