Recently I was reminded of a time when Ayden asked me, “Dad, which way is north?” I was fairly sure I knew which way was north, but I was unable to give a certain answer, because, as I was driving, I had lost sense of direction myself. Many people and nations in the Bible lost their sense of direction spiritually; they no longer had the reference point. The fact is, spiritually there is only one way, andtrouble ensues when we have a lost sense of direction. A prime example can befound in the book of Judges. I think the best way to look at this one is to start with the effects first, then we will see the cause.
In Judges 18:1-10, we find the reminder given in 3 other passages in Judges that “in those days there was no king in Israel” (1). The passage records that the Danites were on a quest to find a place to settle, “an inheritance for themselves to dwell in.” The Danites did not have a territory because, as we read in Judges 1:34,they would not drive out the Amorites, and as a result, were pushed into the mountains by them. So, the Danites were looking for land to take. In this quest to locate territory, the children of Dan sent out 5 valiant men of their family to the land to their north to “spy out the land and search it” (2). As these five men journeyed, they went to the mountains of Ephraim and to the house of Micah and lodged there. While at Micah’s house, there was a voice that the men recognized, “the voice of the young Levite” (3).
They began firing off several questions inquiring of the young Levite “who brought him there,” “what he was doing in that place,” and as to “what he had here” (3). The young Levite told the five men that Micah had hired him to be his priest (4). (Note that this Micah here is not the same Micah of the book of Micah).The men then asked the young Levite to “inquire of God” so that they may know whether the journey on which they were going will a prosperous one” (5). They wanted to know if they would be successful in their mission. The young Levite advised them to go in peace for the Lord is watching over their journey (6). The five men received this blessing from this rent-a-prophet, feeling that their journey was a worthwhile venture. This young Levite was NOT a bonafide priest and theyoung Levite didn’t inquire of the Lord, rather he just provided an answer that would be favorable. The men departed and went north, and they located a town called Laish (7).
As the text continues, we find that the spies went back to their people and reportedtheir findings (8). They decided to rise against the peaceful inhabitants of Laish. On their journey, they went into Micah’s house and stole his carved image, the ephod, household gods and the molded image (18). Not only that, but in verses 19 & 20 they instructed the young Levite to be quiet and to come with them to be “a father and a priest to them” for it would be better for him to be a priest to a whole tribe and a family in Israel rather than just one man. The Levite was glad and took the idols and went with the people of Dan.
In Judges 18:22-24, Micah found out about this and gathered some men together to track down the children of Dan. Micah confronted them about their theft of his idols and his priest (22-24). In verses 25–26, the children of Dan threatened Micah with his life and his households, so Micah, realizing that they were too strong, went back home (26). In the final verses 27-31, the Danites massacred the inhabitants of Laish and renamed the town in honor of their ancestor Dan. Note that in verse 30 the Danites set up for themselves the carved image. Dan had a big issue with apostasy as we find recorded even in connection with King Jeroboam.
When we read Judges 18, we are amazed to see a people who sadly lost their sense of direction. The question we then ask is, HOW did this happen? What led them to go on a journey to overtake and kill an entire city of innocent people?
The answer, we find in Judges 17, is that the Danites lost their spiritual reference point, which resulted in confusion. In Judges 17:7-13, the Danites justified their conduct due to a carved image, with the backing of a “priest” who lent some legitimacy to their task, who told them what they wanted to hear. Inchapter 18 the priest was glad to take the Danites up on their attractive offer, which is obviously nothing new since the priest did the same thing with Micah. However, the Danites had a more attractive offer, and he was willing to sell false spiritual services to the highest bidder.
Micah called the young Levite in and asked that he be his own private priest, motivated as noted in verse 13. It is apparent that Micah was doing this so he would prosper, rather than out of a desire to please the Lord. Micah made the promise to this young Levite to pay him ten shekels of silver per YEAR, a suit of clothes, and even sustenance (10). The young Levite took Micah up on this good deal!
What happened to their spiritual reference point, God? Unfortunately, this same problem exists today! Many claim to be RELIGIOUS, but DON’T really care about what God has to say. Many claim to be seeking God’s will for their lives, but they fail to look to the ONE WAY, THE SPIRITUAL REFERENCE POINT, that GIVES DIRECTION (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Micah said in verse 10 that he wanted this young Levite to be HIS OWN PERSONAL SPIRITUAL ADVISOR, however as you notice in verse 11, the young Levite became like a SON to him! We would think the Levite would KNOW BETTER and should have, but he obviously had lost his spiritual reference point and sold out NOT JUST ONCE, but TWICE and advised falsely which resulted in a horrific massacre.
We may ask, how did Micah get to this point? To answer that, we need to back up all the way and read Judges 17:1-6 as we find that the spiritual reference point was lost in his home. We find that Micah stole 1,100 shekels of silver from his mother. Micah’s mother discovered that the silver was stolen and spoke a curse against the thief, which her son, Micah, overheard. So, Micah admitted to his mother that he was the one who stole the silver. According to the Law of Moses, henot only would have had to return the money, but also would also be required to give additional due to his theft, and then offer a sacrifice. Instead, Micah’s mother blessed him, “Blessed be my son by the Lord.” Micah returned the silver and his mother said that she would “wholly dedicate” the silver to the Lord.
Think about this: Micah’s mother attempted to strengthen the blessing she pronounced, going about “wholly dedicating” the shekels of silver that had been stolen to the Lord, but then gave 200 shekels of silver for a silversmith to make a carved image and a molded image. I think we are all aware that God commanded against such graven images and idolatry in Exodus 20:4-5 & Deuteronomy 4:15-17. The idols were then placed in Micah’s house (4). Do we see the confusion that existed in Micah’s home? To dedicate something to the Lord and then take that same money to make images of idolatry! That’s not all: Micah took that carved image and molded image and set up his own “house of God,” his own sanctuary, “a shrine,” made an ephod, which is a priestly garment that was for the Levitical priests to wear. Then Micah HIRED HIS OWN PRIEST! Although it seemed GOOD in Micah’s sight, it was NOT good in God’s sight! We can easily see how Micah lost his spiritual reference point, influenced by the confusion that first existed in his home and his own mother.
It’s easy to go on rant about Micah’s mother and her downfalls, but what about us? We need to ask ourselves today: Are we any different than her, than Micah, than the young Levite, than the Danites? What are we teaching our children, our grandchildren? Our words, our conduct, what are they teaching others? Is it teaching God first in EVERYTHING? No compromise with the things and ways of the world (Matthew 6:33).
People can say, “What’s the BIG DEAL?” When you really take the time to consider what happened, it was a BIG DEAL! From the mother to her son, from the son to the young Levite, from the young Levite to a tribe (the Danites) which resulted in the horrific massacre of the quiet and peaceful inhabitants of Laish. I believe that the quiet and peaceful inhabitants of Laish would tell us it was a big deal to them!
Today in our own nation, in our own communities, we face the same thing. A society like that in the days of Judges 17:6. A society full of people who have losttheir sense of direction in their homes, their communities, their religions, and as a nation.
It is good to remember Jeremiah 10:23 that it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps. Or as in Proverbs 14:12 “there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is death.”
We can go about our lives thinking that we are doing the Lord’s will, but unless we are continually looking to our spiritual reference point, it will only bring confusion and chaos to our lives and those around us. We must continually look to God’s Word for guidance in following the narrow path that leads to eternal life.
I am thankful for Ayden’s question which prompted these spiritual thoughts: “Dad, which way is north?” I could guess without having any sense of direction and just point to where I THINK NORTH IS… or I can look at a compass to make sure myreference point is accurate. Will knowing which way is North have a bearing on my son’s salvation? No, but if I fail to use the SPIRITUAL REFERENCE POINT(the BIBLE) and WALK THAT DIRECTION IN MY OWN LIFE then that will most certainly have a bearing on his salvation, my family’s, and those around us.
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂