[Judges Chapter Seventeen]: Lifting the Curse of Micah. In this chapter a man named Micah erects a shrine to God in his house and hires a Levite to oversee it. This seemingly innocuous act eventually becomes a stronghold of idolatry to several tribes in Israel. The reason why Micah established this shrine arose out of a family situation in his own home. Just as in the case of Jael whose obedience to God in her own home changed the entire destiny of Israel – even so no the disobedience of Micah in the privacy of his own home has an impact on Israel for centuries to come.
[Jdg 17:1-13 KJV] 1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name [was] Micah. 2 And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred [shekels] of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver [is] with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed [be thou] of the LORD, my son. 3 And when he had restored the eleven hundred [shekels] of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. 4 Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred [shekels] of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.
In this chapter a man named Micah establishes an alternative shrine to the Lord against God’s command in De. 12:5. In this passage and many others in the commands of God given through Moses there were strict warnings about where to worship and where to offer sacrifices unto God. When Joshua came into the promised land the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle were set up at Shiloh (Josh 18:1). Until the temple was built this was the appointed place for sacrifice to be made and the high priest and Levites to do their duty before the Lord and the people. Micah decides to forego worshipping at Shiloh and built his own shrine to Jehovah for his own reasons.
Why did Micah want alternative place to worship? Perhaps it was to far to go to Shiloah with his sacrifices? This was not the case because if you consult a map Shiloh is on Mount Ephraim where Micah lived. The passage reveals the reason. Micah stole 1100 shekels of silver from his mother. His mother not knowing it was her son that committed the theft spoke a curse against the perpetrator (unknown to her at the time). Micah is so fearful of her curse that he confesses to his mother who reverses the curse by speaking a blessing over the son and giving the silver to him outright. He refuses to accept the silver and she commissions a graven image crafted from a portion of the silver. Notice it does not say that the image was an idol (although it was in fact). The apparent intent was not to worship another god but rather to worship the one true God in the manner that THEY chose while ignoring God’s commands regarding where and how to worship. In short they were worshipping God ON THEIR OWN TERMS and not those prescribed by the law of Moses.
So in this passage Micah is a thief and his mother is a liar on the scale of Ananias and Sapphira. Micah steals 1100 shekels from his mother and she clearly states that the silver was WHOLLY dedicated to the Lord but then only uses 200 shekels of it to commission a small graven image dedicated to Yahweh. In other words her dedication was only commemorated by a token reflected in the placement of a religious artifact in her home as a shrine. The word dedicated here means the entire 1100 shekels were a “separated, consecrated” thing but in the mother’s case this was only a figure of speech – because she actually only intended to give God a mere token of appreciate almost like a gratuity. In effect because she dedicated the whole amount and only gave a token she became a thief herself in so doing. This opened the door to the enemy. As a result her son Micah becomes a thief and she unknowingly curses him for doing so. When she realizes what she did she tries to reverse it and as with the 200 shekels the effort is to cover up with religious pretense the lies and theft and deceit both toward God and each other by erecting a shrine to God in their house.
5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days [there was] no king in Israel, [but] every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes. 7 And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who [was] a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find [a place]: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.
The guilt on Micah’s house lingered so in order to buttress his attempt to justify himself and his house (read self-righteousness) he builds an elaborate addition to this illegitimate shrine adding more images and making a priestly ephod and a similitude of the teraphim or angel such as he had to know decorated the ark of the covenant.
Were is not for the scriptural commands regarding where and how God was to be worshipped at Shiloh we might not have as much of a problem with the things that took place at Shiloh. After all do we not dedicate all our living to God but only give him a portion? Do we not maintain buildings we call “houses of God” and employ the modern day equivalent of a Levite to assist us in worshipping after our own preferences and choices? The similarity of modern day religious culture to the idol of Micah narrative can be unsettling. This is the consequence as verse 6 says “every man doing what is right in his own eyes …”
What would be the alternative then? Do we have compulsory religion or a state church? God never intended religious sentiment to be mandated by human government (whether civil rule or ecclesiastical rule). When God eventually solves this problem He does so by sending the Prophet Samuel whose words He did not allow to fall to the ground. The only answer to breaking the cycle of “doing what is right in your own eyes” is by sending an unimpeachable ministry of signs and wonders in to the earth. This is what God did to bring the terrible era of the time of the judges to an end. It is also how God established the church in placing great power and authority in the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira unwittingly where used by Satan to attempt to infuse the character of the church with the same attitude that prevailed in the time of the judges (just doing what is right in your own eyes and serving God on your own terms). As a result they paid a price because God would not allow His church to become contaminated with the vested self interest that so characterized the era of the judges.
9 And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I [am] a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find [a place]. 10 And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten [shekels] of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons. 12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to [my] priest.
So Michah hires the Levite to attend to his alternative shrine to Jehovah and expects from that time forward everything will be just fine. What about Shiloh? Why didn’t the Levite correct Micah and help Micah come back to worshipping the one true God in the manner that was compatible and according to the law of Moses. Perhaps he explained it away by saying “that doesn’t apply to us today… that was back in the days of Moses – we live under a new dispensation…” When we make such rationalizations we should proceed with caution lest we wind up with an idol and a shrine to dishonesty rather than a form of worship and approach to God that actually honors Him.
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