It always bothers me when I read about the unfaithfulness of Israel to the Lord their God. Too many times they rejected His way and turned to their own ways. They followed the evil dictates of their own hearts and suffered for it. I am always especially saddened when I read the book of Judges, because it shows the depth of depravity to which a people, who should have been godly and noble, had fallen. There is a verse in Proverbs and verses in the Minor Prophets that well sum up the fountainhead of this debacle.
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18
12 I have written for him the great things of My law, But they were considered a strange thing. Hosea 8:12
4 …Because they have despised the law of the Lord, And have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, Lies which their fathers followed. Amos 2:4
In the book of Judges we see all manner of wickedness and corruption. I will bring them forward in the order that they are found in the book. This history comes after recounting Samson’s time as judge of Israel. I will only highlight verses out of these final chapters to illustrate the wickedness that comes upon the people of God when they reject His revealed Word and go instead after the word of man.
5 The man Micah had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols, and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. 7 Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and staying there. The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” So he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.” 10 Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.” So the Levite went in. 11 Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became like one of his sons to him. 12 So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since I have a priest!” Judges 17:5-13
These same actions and attitudes have become the same kind of wretched comfort for so many within the visible church today. They have their own religion and when the enemy sends any and many who support them in their evil, they exclaim that the Lord is on their side. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Lord God Almighty becomes our Enemy when we persist in our rebellion against Him; He allows us to languish in our unrepentant condition to our eternal shame.
14 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the country of Laish answered and said to their brethren, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod, household idols, carved image, and a molded image? Now therefore, consider what you should do.” 15 So they turned aside there, and came to the young Levite man—to the house of Micah—and greeted him. 16 The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land went up. Entering there, they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image. The priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men who were armed with weapons of war. 18 When these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 And they said to him, “Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us; be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” 20 So the priest’s heart was glad; and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and took his place among the people. 21 Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them. 22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered together and overtook the children of Dan. 23 And they called out to the children of Dan. So they turned around and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you have gathered such a company?” 24 So he said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, ‘What ails you?’” 25 And the children of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry men fall upon you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household!” Judges 19:14-25
Apart from God’s divine revelation, mankind falls into gross idolatry. The visible church, which has cast God’s Word behind its back and considers it a strange thing, follows this same perversion of belief in joining idolatry with a said worship of God. Men, who are not called of God, respond to the highest bidder to spread their falsehood, strange doctrines, false gods, and unbelief. What a terrible calamity awaits these purveyors of doubt, false religion and deceit. As the truth is rejected for the lie, mankind becomes more depraved and accustomed to degeneracy.
11 They were near Jebus, and the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, “Come, please, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it. 12 But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside here into a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel; we will go on to Gibeah.” 13 So he said to his servant, “Come, let us draw near to one of these places, and spend the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.” 14 And they passed by and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. … 20 And the old man said, “Peace be with you! However, let all your needs be my responsibility; only do not spend the night in the open square.” 21 So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank. 22 As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly, certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!”23 But the man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!” 25 But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go. 26 Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. 27 When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 And he said to her, “Get up and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place. 29 When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And so it was that all who saw it said, “No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!” Judges 19:11-14 and 20-30
This history from the nation of Israel should break our hearts. God called them to be His very own people, but they degenerated into a perverse nation corrupted with idolatry and wicked ruination because they refused to believe Him, follow Him and keep His Word. They were not ignorant of God’s Word, but they purposefully cast His Word behind their backs and followed their own ways. God had called them to know and obey Him, but they followed their religious activities believing their sacrifices made them acceptable to God. The end result was this gross wickedness was accepted within a tribe of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin. In the end, the other tribes brought God’s judgment upon them for their wickedness and sought to stop the breach within their nation. This should have been what happened to Micah, his household, and the corrupt Levite. But instead the tribe of Dan stole the images and the priest so they could worship these gods.
Today, we have the same choice to make. Will we acquiesce to the degeneracy of the visible church and support its wickedness by attending services, buying books, listening to programs, watching movies, supporting illegitimate ministries, and so spread the corruption further? Or will we stop the breach in our own lives by rejecting that which is so easily accepted by the world masquerading as the church which follows a deceptive way and believes religious activity somehow makes them right with God. This false church knows neither their need nor the Savior who came to save them, nor do they know that God is the same and He does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:21-24
We are called to know and obey God. This commandment of God can only be fulfilled by repenting of our sin and putting our faith, unqualified, in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can hold nothing back, nor require more from Him. He is God, He does as He pleases, we must repent, submit and obey. Sinners who repent of their sin and believe that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for their sins and rose again from the dead for them are saved from God’s wrath and have eternal life. If we are Christ’s we must turn from this defiling love of the world, and love God and live for Him. Amen!
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-9
Lord Jesus Christ, may we believe in and follow You. May we believe and obey Your Word. May we not follow the evil of this world or the wicked dictates of our own hearts. May Your Spirit lead us on level paths and strengthen us in the way, which is Your way, revealed to us in Your Holy Word the Bible. Amen!