I dedicate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:3-6)
And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.” (Judges 17:12-13)
Judges is a telling book. As it progresses we see the spiritual and moral conditions in Israel deteriorating. In this scene, a wealthy man named Micah and his mother hire a silversmith to make a carved image that they might worship. It was a common practice in the culture of the ancient world (but also forbidden by God in the second of the ten commandments). When a Levite comes passing through, Micah hires him to be his priest. Why did he do this after ordaining his son? He does this because priests were to come from the tribe of Levi. This was God’s decree through Moses after Israel came to Mt. Sinai in the wilderness. There is enough of Moses teaching known to allow MIcah to believe he could sprinkle on a little of it to make his plans succeed. In so doing, he gives us a powerful picture of our own tendency. As people of our culture, we tend to shape our lives and purposes around what culture says is important and live according to culture’s values. But as Christians, we also want to please God. The result is a syncretistic kind of lifestyle in which we add a Sunday ritual to a Monday through Saturday life that looks like anyone else in the world. In the back of our minds we think like Micah, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I go to church.” What’s happened? It isn’t that the commitment to Christ is insincere. It may be very heartfelt. But there hasn’t been a worldview change. Christianity has simply become something that is adopted because it seems to “work.” This is why Christian living is easily abandoned when it gets in the way of the things that this “Christian” really wants to do.
Verse 6 in the chapter exposes the problem, “in those there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” So many of us adopt Christianity without submitting to Christ as our king. How do we change this? We confess it and repent of it and we do what Paul tells us in Romans 12. In view of God’s mercy (the gospel), “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Lord, forgive us for tacking on Christianity to our lives rather than submit ourselves fully to you. We want to be yours and yet we know we are weak to the ways of our culture! Transform us by the renewal of our minds, that we might live according to your will.