This morning’s reading hit home with me as I considered the world we live in today. The words came from Judges 17 where it said that everyone was living based upon what seemed right in their own eyes. As much as we move forward and innovate, it seems the cycle continues over the centuries. What we see around us with relativism isn’t new and has happened many times over the years. It happens and leads people all over the place until such a time as there is a turning point, a revival where people turn back to God and ask Him for help. Be it thru a hero, a prophet, a savior, an awakening takes place. So where are you at in the midst of this world? What do you believe? Are there absolutes? Is their truth? Is there such thing as right and wrong? How crazy would a statement have to be before you would reject it? What will you trust? Is there logic anymore? Who will you trust? Will you believe what your eyes and ears tell you about something or what someone tells you? What if they don’t line up? What if someone came up to you and asked the question “What would you say if I told you that…” and the “that” part was totally different from the reality in front of you? What if it was about their age? their height? their weight? their gender? their race? their eye color? their hair color? their species? What would you do? What will you believe?
Let’s get into today’s reading and see what we can read from God’s Word…
1Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, which you also repeated it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son of Adonai.” 3And he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to Adonai for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore. I will return it to you.” 4So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made it into a graven image and a molten image; and they were kept in the house of Micah. 5Now the man Micah had a shrine of gods, and he made an ephod and household idols, and consecrated one of his sons to become his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. 7Now there was a young man from Bethlehem of Judah—of the clan of Judah—who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8Then the man departed from the town, from Bethlehem of Judah, to sojourn wherever he could find a place; and as he journeyed he arrived to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he replied to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem of Judah, and I am travelling to stay wherever I may find a place.” 10So Micah said to him, “Stay with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, and a suit of apparel, and your provision.” So the Levite went in. 11And the Levite was content to stay with the man, and the young man became to him as one of his sons. 12So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, “Now I know that Adonai will do me good, seeing I have a Levite as my priest.”
–from Judges 17
I remember after the first few times of studying the Bible, that I kept thinking of the rollercoaster of life. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, and how they repeated. Aligned with God, Apart from God, Cry out to God, Saved by God, Aligned to God, Forget about God, Cry out to God… Remembering His promises. Forgetting about Him in the good times… I am realizing it isn’t isolated to the biblical times, it is still happening. Even as Solomon had said that there is nothing new under the sun.
The Danites Seek a New Home
1In those days there was no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of Dan was seeking an inheritance for itself to settle in, for to that day no territory had fallen to them for an inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Israel. 2So the children of Dan sent five men from their clan, out of their entire population, men of valor from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it, and said to them, “Go, explore the land.” When they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there. 3When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite. So they turned aside there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What do you have here?” 4He said to them, “Thus and thus Micah did for me—he hired me and I became his priest.” 5“Please inquire of God,” they said to him, “so we may know whether our way that we are going will be successful.” 6“Go in peace,” the priest said to them. “The way that you are going has Adonai’s approval.” 7Then the five men left and came to Laish, and saw the people there living securely, like the Zidonians, tranquil and unsuspecting. For there was no humiliation or anything oppressive in the land. Moreover, they were distant from the Zidonians and had no dealings with anybody. 8When they came back to their kinsmen at Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen asked them, “What do you say?” 9“Arise, let’s go up against them!” they said. “For we have seen the land—see, it’s very good. Yet you’re sitting still! Don’t be sluggish! Go enter, possess the land! 10When you get there, you will come to unsuspecting people. The land is spacious. For God has put it in your hand—a place where there is no lack of anything on the earth.” 11So from the Danite clan from Zorah and Eshtaol, 600 men set out, armed with weapons of war. 12They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh-Dan to this day—behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13From there they passed on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house. 14Then the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household idols, a carved image and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you have to do.” 15So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s house, and asked him about his welfare. 16Now the 600 men of the children of Dan, armed with their weapons of war, were standing by the entrance of the gate. 17The five men who had gone to spy out the land went up and entered there. They took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols and the molten image, while the priest was standing by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18Now after these had gone into Micah’s house and taken the carved image, the ephod, the household idols and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19“Be quiet!” they said to him. “Put your hand on your mouth and go with us and be to us a father and a priest! Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man or to be priest to a tribe and a clan in Israel?” 20So the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the household idols and the carved image, and went along among the people. 21So they turned and set off, and placed the little ones and the cattle and the goods in front of them. 22When they were at a good distance from Micah’s house, the men that were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered and caught up with the children of Dan. 23They called out to the children of Dan, who turned their faces around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you have called them out?” 24“You have taken away my gods which I made,” he said, “and the priest, and walked away! What do I have left? And how then do you say to me, ‘What’s the matter with you?’” 25But the children of Dan said to him, “Don’t let your voice be heard among us, lest bitter fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” 26Then the children of Dan went on their way, and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. 27Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and came to Laish, to a tranquil and unsuspecting people, and struck them with the edge of the sword, and they burned the town with fire. 28There was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon and they had no alliance with anyone. It was in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the town and lived in it. 29So they called the name of the town Dan, after the name of their father Dan born to Israel; however, the former name of the town was Laish. 30The children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image. Jonathan son of Gershom son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the exile from the land. 31So they set them up Micah’s carved image that he had made, all the time that the House of God was in Shiloh.
–from Judges 18
What is going to happen if people don’t think there is right and wrong? What’s going to happen if people can make up their own rules? What would happen in a civilization without laws?
Crime at Gibeah of Benjamin
1Now in those days, there was no king in Israel. There was a certain Levite dwelling in a remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who got himself a concubine out of Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house to Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. 3Then her husband arose and went after her to speak kindly to her to bring her back. He had his servant and a pair of donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the father of the young woman saw him, he was glad to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the young woman’s father, kept him staying with him three days, eating, drinking and lodging there. 5Now on the fourth day they woke up early in the morning, and he rose up to depart, but the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward you may go.” 6So the two of them sat down and ate and drank together. Then the young woman’s father said to the man, “Please, be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7Then the man rose up to depart, but his father-in-law urged him, so he lodged there again. 8Then he woke up early in the morning on the fifth day to depart, but the young woman’s father said, “Please, strengthen yourself and tarry until afternoon!” So both of them ate. 9And when the man rose up to depart, he and his concubine and his servant, his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day is waning toward evening; please, spend the night. Behold, the day is drawing to a close; lodge here and let your heart be merry. Then tomorrow get up early for your journey so that you may go home.” 10But the man would not spend that night, so he rose up and departed and came to a place near Jebus—that is, Jerusalem—and with him were a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine. 11When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, please, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it.” 12But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into a city of foreigners, who are not of Bnei-Yisrael. Let’s go on to Gibeah.” 13“Come on,” he said to his servant, “let’s try to reach one of these places—we’ll spend the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.” 14So they passed on and went their way, and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. 15 Then they turned aside there to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When he went in, he sat down in the town square, for there was no one who took them into his house to spend the night. 16Now behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening. The man was of the hill country of Ephraim but dwelled in Gibeah, while the rest of the men of the place were Benjamites. 17When he lifted up his eyes and saw the wayfaring man in the open square of the town, the old man asked, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18“We are passing from Bethlehem of Judah,” he said to him, “to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem of Judah. But now I am going to the House of Adonai, yet no one has taken me into his house. 19Nevertheless, there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your handmaid, and the young man that is with your servants—there is no lack of anything.” 20The old man said, “Shalom to you! Let all your needs be on me—only don’t spend the night in the open square!” 21So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank. 22While they were making their hearts merry, behold, some worthless men of the town surrounded the house. Pounding the door, they shouted to the owner of the house, “Bring out the man that came into your house,” they said to the old man, “so we may have relations with him.” 23But the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please don’t do this evil. After all, this man has come into my house. Don’t commit this disgraceful deed. 24Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine—I will bring them out to you now, and you may abuse them and do to them whatever pleases you, but don’t do such a degrading thing to this man!” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them, and they raped her and abused her all the night until morning. When dawn broke, they let her go. 26As the morning came, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until it was full daylight. 27When her master rose up in the morning opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way, behold, the woman his concubine had collapsed at the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28“Get up!” he said to her, “and let’s go.” But there was no response. So he placed her on the donkey. Then the man got up and went to his place. 29Now when he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her to all the territory of Israel. 30So it was, that everyone who saw it said, ‘“Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen, since the day that Bnei-Yisrael came up from the land of Egypt to this day! Think it over, take counsel and speak up!”
–from Judges 19
So let’s pray that God’s Word and God’s will fill the earth! Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will touch enough people that the world will have a revival and people will turn back to God! Let’s pray that Jesus’ message will spread around the earth and the truth and hope and love will overflow into all the lives so that people will walk in alignment with God’s plan, purpose, and instruction! Let’s not grow weary in doing good work! Let’s not get comfortable or lazy and stop pursuing and sharing the Good News of God!
1Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread quickly and be glorified—just as it is with you. 2Also pray that we may be rescued from perverse and evil people, for not all are trustworthy. 3But the Lord is trustworthy—and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will keep doing what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Messiah.
No Time to Be Lazy
6Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, to keep away from every brother who behaves irresponsibly and not according to the tradition they received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, for we did not behave inappropriately among you. 8And we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but worked night and day with labor and hardship, so as not to burden any of you. 9It wasn’t that we had no right, but rather to offer ourselves as an example for you to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we would give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11For we hear that some among you are behaving irresponsibly—not busy, but busybodies. 12Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Messiah Yeshua to work in a quiet demeanor, so they may eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brothers, do not grow weary of doing good. 14If anyone does not obey our message in this letter, take special note of him and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. 15Yet do not consider him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
16Now may the Lord of shalom Himself give you shalom at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all! 17The greeting is in my own hand—Paul’s. It is a sign in every letter—in this way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with you all.
–from 2 Thessalonians 3