Add this preference. Take away that dislike. Choose the place and the how. There are many ways to worship God, right? The ancient story recorded in Judges eerily seems to mirror the current thoughts in the mainstream today. The uncanny likeness sends chills down our pious spines. Let it be a warning to our modern hearts to guard against making a god that conforms to our own shaping preferences.
How can a god save us that we can control?
Judges 17 & 18
Oh, they had great dreams! Lively discussions ensued as the tribe made plans to develop their future home. The tribe of Dan had entered the Promised Land along with the nation of Israel ready to receive the long-awaited gift of a permanent home, but progress had stalled due to their failure to settle in their allotted territory and obtain their promised inheritance. The Danites had been promised an inheritance by Yahweh, but their vision had become distorted and clouded with confusion. Hazy goals are hard to see in a fog.
What was their vision statement again?
Micah was a thief. He wasn’t even a respectable thief, either; for he had actually stolen a huge amount of money from his own mother. Never fear, his mother was not one to bear a grudge against her son. No, she would affirm her son’s choice to return the money by giving him a small reward. Better yet, she would praise Yahweh for this blessing! So, this indulgent mother hired the local silversmith to design a couple of images to celebrate her son’s return of the money. Micah already had a shrine in his home, so this would be the perfect gift to encourage him for doing what was right. Micah had his own personal gods, and he continued to pursue with dedicated fervor what he personally believed was right. Full of religious intensity, Micah added an ephod and even hired a Levite priest for his own personal worship. Believing his life was devoted to all that was right and good, Micah said, “Now I know that Yahweh will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”
Yet another example of how confession will bring the blessings of God, right?
The Danites still needing to locate themselves permanently and finally agreed to pursue a piece of property that particularly appealed to them. The Danites felt themselves justified in slaughtering a peaceful, undefended, unsuspecting community saying to each other, “The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.” The takeover was easy and did not require faith or courage.
Clouded vision distorts how we see things.
The Danites were happy. They had secured their inheritance. The Danite leaders had just been informed by their scouts that nearby there was an ephod, artisan images of worship, personal gods, and, the best of all, a Levite priest. The scouts advised, “Now therefore consider what you will do.” Indeed, what an opportunity! So incredible was this opportunity that the men engaged the young priest immediately with a better offer as well as taking full advantage of the worship center. “And the priest’s heart was glad.”
Weren’t these God’s provident blessings?
Of course, Micah was not happy that his gods were taken away. But, since these Danite men were too strong for him, he went back home. What could he do? It is what it is.
The Danites were on a roll.
Since the strategy had worked so well, they employed it yet again and enlarged their space by overtaking another quiet, unsuspecting community with sword and fire. They also had a celebrity priest. Gershom and his sons continued to serve as priests, and everyone knows that Gershom is Moses’s grandson. Yeah, they certainly had been blessed.
Can we really reshape God from our own
God has revealed himself through his Word, not as our hearts direct.