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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

2019.10.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 17-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had taken the silver from Micah’s mother (Judges 17:1-2)? To whom had she dedicated it (Judges 17:3)? To make what? What did they end up making (Judges 17:4-5)? What is the explanation in Judges 17:6 for this? What kind of man shows up, and what is he looking for (Judges 17:7-9)? What offer does Micah make and have accepted (Judges 17:10-12)? How does Micah expect Yahweh to respond to this (Judges 17:13)? What reminder do we receive in Judges 18:1? Who now show up at Micah’s in Judges 18:1-3? What do they ask the priest about himself (Judges 18:3) and about themselves (Judges 18:5)? How does he answer them (Judges 18:4 and Judges 18:6)? What do they learn about the land around there and the people of it (Judges 18:7-10)? What kind of gathering and action do Judges 18:11-13 describe? What might we have expected from faithful Israelites in Judges 18:14-16? But what are they actually doing in Judges 18:17-21? How does Micah’s clan respond in Judges 18:22-24? How does the confrontation turn out with Micah (Judges 18:25-26)? And how does it turn out with Laish (Judges 18:27-29)? And what do they do with their stolen Micah-made Yahweh religion (Judges 18:30-31)? With what comment does Judges 18:31 conclude by comparison?
As the Samson portion of Judges comes to a close, what remains are two great exhibits of the greatness of Israel’s wickedness. When we get to 1 Samuel 8:1-5, Israel is going to be arguing that they need a king to save them like the other peoples have. But God has been delivering them by judges for generations. Now, in these last five chapters, God Himself is giving the reason that they need a king: “there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

So, what are the two great exhibits of Israel’s wickedness that show how badly they need to be punished for their sin to be kept in line? Chapters 19-21 will show that Israel has become a “New Sodom” of sorts. But chapters 17-18 show a corresponding sin that might surprise us: they are inventing their own way of worshiping Yahweh.

Let that sink in. It is Yahweh whom Micaiah (and mom) invent ways to worship (Genesis 17:2-3). It is Yahweh whom Micaiah thinks will bless him for including a Levite in all of this worship that he has invented (Genesis 17:13). Surely, the Lord will especially like my worship ideas if I incorporate His too! And it is Yahweh whom the Danites think will bless them for poaching these new worship ideas from Micaiah (Genesis 18:5-6).

But Yahweh has already given them His own way of worshiping Him (Genesis 18:13). In fact, Genesis 18:14-16 set us up to expect the tribe of Dan to destroy Micaiah with the vengeance of God for his self-made worship, but the tribe of Dan doesn’t punish Micaiah for the worship—they steal the wrong worship for themselves!

Today’s American Christian might be surprised that manmade worship would be paired with New Sodom as exhibits A and B for “there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But that’s because we too live in a New Sodom, and it has been paired with the same grievous sin in the church. We sincerely (but self-deceived in our rebellion!) invent ways of worshiping God which He has not commanded, and we expect Him to love it and to bless us—especially if we include aspects that He has in fact commanded. But we don’t realize that in doing so, we might as well raise a banner over our worship that says, “Jesus is not King here; we do what is right in our own eyes.”

God save us from being kingless, from being Christless! God grant unto us to ruthlessly expunge from our worship every last part of it that has been introduced by man’s creativity instead of by God’s (explicit or necessarily implicit) command!
What are some things that churches do in worship that are not directed by God, either by direct command or by good and necessary consequence?
Suggested Songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome”

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