Judges 17-18 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's Word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is "expound."
We are in the last section of the Book of Judges. Beginning in chapter 17, all the way to the end, we have a final section, which is different from what we have read. Think of this last section, chapter 17 to 21, more as an appendix than furthering the narrative of the story.
In fact, it seems that 17 and 18 take place chronologically earlier in the book. That's what most scholars will say. I don't need to go through the reasons for that because I don't think they're germane to the application of what we're doing. But just to let you know that what we have, essentially, in this appendix is a series of anecdotal evidences of how bad things have gotten in the land of Israel.
And there is a threefold repetition of a phrase. It is a summary statement that is mentioned in this appendix three times. And the summary statement goes like this-- "There was no king in Israel. And everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
And so you'll find the author summing up sections by saying, "There was no king in Israel." And everybody did what he wanted to do. "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." So the last chapters of the book, beginning in chapter 17, are little snippets or examples of how this nation had sunk morally, spiritually, politically. And we're just getting little examples of how confused and conflicted life was in the nation at that time.
When we open up chapter 17, in a geopolitical sense, we understand that there is a group that has been making an incursion on the children of Israel, especially the southern tribes, over a series of years, that causes the movement of one of its tribes. The incursion I am speaking about is the Philistines.
The Philistines have become a real problem, a real presence in the southern tribes, especially the tribe of Dan, the tribe of Benjamin, and the tribe of Judah. Those three tribes are feeling the pressure of the Philistine incursion. I've told you before that the Philistines migrated from islands in the west and made their way to Phoenicia-- Tyre, and Sidon, et cetera-- and then moved down into Egypt, were defeated in Egypt. So they moved up the coast and landed in what we would call southern, central Israel.
And the Philistines become a problem. And we have already dealt with them during the judgeship of Samson. But they're still hanging around. And they hang around for quite some time, even through the time of David.
So we get into chapter 17, verse 1. And here's the first example. "Now, there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim." Ephraim is in the central part of the land. It's where Shiloh is. Shiloh is where the Tabernacle was. It's the center of the land.
And it says, "His name was Micah." Now, don't confuse this Micah with the prophet Micah. You'll see, two different dudes. Micah is a great name. I've met a few Micahs.
And the name means "who is like the Lord" or "who is like Yahweh," to be precise, "who is like Yahweh." Now, it's a great name. But this guy did not live up to that name. He was quite unlike God. He was ungodlike, ungodly, as we see in this story.
So "There was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah," who is like the Lord. "And he said to his mother, 'The 1,100 shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying in my ears, here is the silver with me; I took it.' And his mother said, 'May you be blessed by Yahweh, my son.'"
Now, if that's not confusing, I don't know what is. Here's a kid living with his mom, an adult child because this guy has his own son who is old enough to be a priest, as we will say. So we have an adult living with his mother, stealing from his mother.
Evidently, he heard his mother give some kind of curse. Like, may all your grandchildren have four ears, or something. I don't know, whatever the curse was. But he heard it, was superstitious enough to believe that perhaps the curse she uttered could come true, so, in fear of the curse, came to his mom, said Mom, you know the money that was missing?
Now, 1,100 shekels of silver is about 28 pounds of silver. It was a fortune in ancient Israel. He could have lived comfortably the rest of his life. That's why he ripped her off.
He thought, she's kicking the bucket soon anyway. I'm going to steal it from her, whatever, until he hears the curse. He's afraid of the curse. So he fesses up and said, Mom, I stole it. And instead of reprimanding him, she says, God, bless you--
--and uses the name of Yahweh, a blessing from Yahweh, to do it. "So when he had returned the 1,100 shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, 'I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son to make a carved image and a molded image. Now, therefore, I return it to you.'"
So we have a lot of problems in these verses, right? We have a boy who's a thief. We have a woman who had silver that she told God belongs wholly to him.
But when she gets it back, she doesn't give it wholly to him. She gives 200 shekels of it and uses it to make idols for God. If you know anything about God, he's not into idols, right?
So you sort of have Ananias and Sapphira set up. Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira sold some land, said that we're going to give it all to the Lord. They were lying to put on a spiritual show. You know the story. They were killed in the process, and life went on.
So you have a boy who steals from his mother, mother who has dedicated 1,100 shekels of silver to the Lord. Once she gets it back, gives the Lord 200, keeps the rest. There's no problem with that. It's just that she misrepresented, saying, it's all going to be for God, so probably, like Ananias and Sapphira to make others think that she was more spiritual than she really was.
Then you have the making of an idol, not one idol, but two idols, "to make a carved image and," verse 3, "a molded image." A carved image is an image made out of stone or wood, usually overlaid with silver, plated with silver. And then a molded image is where you heat up the silver shekels, and you pour it into a mold, and it becomes a little God. Sometimes, they were kept in homes. Sometimes, they were kept in shrines.
If you go to some of the museums in Megiddo today and in Jerusalem, you can actually see these molded images from this era that people had in their homes. Now, we know that to be the sin of idolatry. We know our Bibles. We know Exodus chapter 20, verse 4, Second Commandment, where the Lord says, "You shall make no graven, carved images of any likeness of anything in Heaven or on Earth." The idea is for the purpose of worship.
So they're breaking the Commandment of God. Now, this comes up over and over again. God really gets ticked off when his people get involved in idolatry.
And yet, people, from the beginning of history, have been making images and using them for worship. It seems to be part of human nature to do so. We have a problem in worshiping just an invisible God.
But as one scholar pointed out, Judaism is, at its heart, what he would call an aniconic religion, an aniconic religion. That is a religion without any help visually at all. And the scholar says, Judaism was a religion of the ear rather than a religion of the eye.
Paganism is a religion of the eye. It's all about what you see, visual stimulation. You see an image. The image reminds you of something, some characteristic of the God you worship. And you worship according to that image.
But Judaism is a religion of the ear, not the eye, which reminds us of a New Testament principle, Romans chapter 10, verse 17, "Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God." Some people say, if I only saw something, then I would-- my faith would grow deeper. Not necessarily, unless you keep seeing things to refresh that experience. True faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So the visual is secondary.
Now, the reason I believe that God said, don't make an image in worshipping me, it was for a couple of reasons. Images obscure the glory of God. There is no image anyone could ever make of God, at any time, that would capture the essence of who he is because once you cast an image in whatever image that is, you have limited God according to the likeness that you perceive. So you're obscuring all the other characteristics of God.
Also, images mislead people because not only are you keeping information from people in casting an image, you are making an image according to some perception that you have of that deity. And you are misleading people down a very narrow path, disregarding the rest of the revelation. But again, as time went on, it was always a problem.
You know, when Moses was in the wilderness with the children of Israel, at one point, the Lord said, I want you to make a serpent. Now, that's an image. And I want you to put it on a pole. And I want you to lift it up and tell all the people in the camp that are dying of this plague just to look over here, look at this serpent on the stick, on the pole, look at it.
That look of faith will save them. I'll cure them; I'll heal them. So that was a one-off. That was an exception but not the rule. So he put the serpent on the pole, raised it up, and it worked.
Evidently, they hung on to that brass serpent on the pole because later on in Israel's history, under the reign of King Hezekiah, the people started worshipping that image. And King Hezekiah took the image, and broke it, threw it down, and broke it, and said, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], which means a thing of brass. It's just a thing of brass.
You are worshipping something, probably because you have lost something. You've lost the nearness of God. And you're trying to get it back desperately. You're thinking of that time, that past event in your history. And you're going back to that in your mind.
But this is just a thing of brass. And he would not let the children of Israel worship it or use it in their worship. He broke it to pieces, calling it nehushtan, a thing of brass.
So here's part of the conflict going on at the time of Judges, making a carved image, two images, for worship. And verse 4 goes on, "Thus he returned the silver to his mother." Here, Mom, this is the money I ripped off from you.
"And his mother took 200 shekels of silver, gave it to the silversmith, made it into a carved image and a molded image. And they were in the house of Micah. The man Micah had a shrine and made an ephod." That's a priestly garment that the priests wore in the tabernacle. He made some similitude to that for his own worship system.
"He made an ephod and household idols and consecrated one of his sons who became his priest." So we have more confusion, more tension, more conflict. And that is this Micah guy, who stole from his mom, whose mom made idols, and who kept these items in his house, now makes a whole new worship system, with a whole new sanctuary.
Why go to the Tabernacle? You have the convenience of your own home. Stay at home and worship the idols, and my own priesthood. I'll even use my son to be the priest.
Now, what's wrong with that? Well, the priesthood of Israel came from what tribe? Levi, not Ephraim. Here's an Ephraimite who's being ordained as a priest to a false system in the name of Yahweh, in the name of God, the only true God.
Look at verse 6, here's the summary statement. "In those days, there was no king in Israel. And everyone did what was right in his own eyes." You have, in that statement, that very pregnant statement, the spiritual condition of Israel during the time of Judges. That sums it up.
It was syncretism mixed with existentialism. Syncretism-- conflating the worship of Yahweh, the true God, with other worship systems, blending them all, kind of making your own. And existentialism-- I do what I feel is right. I worship the God I picture in my mind.
My own existence is the most important. And you worship differently than I worship. And we all do our own thing. That's existentialism. So you have syncretism and existentialism working, plummeting the nation downward.
Now, it mentions there's no king in Israel, meaning there's no central authority. In Israel, the king was supposed to be under the law of God. That's going to come up later on under the monarchy. This is premonarchial times, before the kingdom.
There is no king in Israel. But let me tell you something. You don't need a leader, you don't need a king to go into apostasy. Just let people go on their own trajectory, without any intervention, and they will end up like this.
It's the tendency of humanity, fallen humanity, to move away from God. So "every man did what was right in his own eyes." Now, here is a shrine somewhere in the mountains of Ephraim in this dude's house. Why is that? Why make an idol?
Because is it that he is just disobeying the law of God? I don't think so. I don't think it's necessarily a flagrant disobedience. I'm going to get to that in a minute. But what I want to underscore, because I want to paint this picture, is God had already established in the law, whether they knew it or not, God had already established in the law protocols for worship.
And let me just read something to you. This is Deuteronomy chapter 12. "These are the statutes and the judgments," Moses saying to the people, "which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess all the days that you live on the Earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you dispossessed served their gods on the high mountains, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, burn their wooden images with fire. You shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things. But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses out of all your tribes to put his name for his habitation. And there you shall go."
This is called the law of the central sanctuary in ancient Israel. And where was the central sanctuary at this time? It was at a place called Shiloh in the center of the country, a few miles north of the hills of Ephraim. Eventually, it's going to be moved down to Jerusalem, the city of David. But right now, it's in Shiloh.
Continuing on, Deuteronomy chapter 12, "There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offering of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all to which you put your hand and your households in which the Lord your God has blessed you.
You shall not at all do as we are doing here today, every man doing what is right in his own eyes." This is Moses, years before, telling people, you can't just do whatever you want. Here's the rules. Here's the laws. Here's the God we serve.
"For as yet, you have not come to the rest and inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies roundabout so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make his name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you, your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, heave offerings of your hand and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord."
OK, so back to that question, why did Micah make images from his mother's silver, put them in his house, make a shrine, get his kid, his son-- presumably his eldest son, that's how the priesthood would work-- to be the priest? Was it because he knew better, and he was disobeying? I don't think so.
I think he did it out of ignorance. Doesn't excuse him, but I think this is what happens when people lose track of their spiritual history. Do you remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees? They had a conversation.
And Jesus put it this way to them, "You are ignorant, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Or another translation, "You err, you are in error because you don't know the scriptures nor the power of God." You see when you lose sight of the spiritual history of your nation as well as personally, it's a very dangerous place to be in.
So I think they probably forgot all about the golden calf. Maybe those stories weren't being circulated when Micah grew up. The history hadn't been recounted, recalled, retaught to the next generation.
Maybe they didn't know about Deuteronomy chapter 12. It seems to be more ignorance than disobedience, either way, it's wrong. So biblical history fosters obedience. That's why we keep going over the principles of scripture.
That's why I think it's necessary for every congregation to go through the Bible, the whole Bible, nothing but the Bible because biblical history fosters obedience, whereas biblical prophecy fosters confidence. See, when I know my past, when I know history, I don't want to repeat it. And I want to obey God. That's obedience.
When I know the future because it's in the prophetic word of God, that gives me confidence. I don't freak out. I don't panic when there's a pandemic. I don't have pandemic panic. I can walk circumspectly, and responsibly, and lovingly, and with health consciousness.
But I don't have to panic because I know the future. I can walk with confidence no matter what happens, no matter what comes. Yeah, but we didn't see this one coming! I don't see much of anything coming in life. It's come; let's get through it.
So biblical history and biblical prophecy, two very important things, so that's what I think happened. So back to Judges chapter 17, you're already there. I kind of moved away. "In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what is right in his own eyes."
And here's another story. There was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, not far away, 30 miles away. It's about five miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. It's about another 25 miles up to the mountains of Ephraim. So about 30 miles away, he's wandering around, moseying around.
And it says, "to sojourn wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the House of Micah as he journeyed. And Micah said to him, 'Where do you come from?' So he said, 'I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. And I am on my way to find a place to sojourn.'"
I have struck out on my own. I just want to find a place to hang my hat. Now, he already had a place. The place the Levite should be is helping at the Central Sanctuary, which was a few miles north in Shiloh.
If you remember your Bible, you know that the priesthood belonged to Aaron, and his sons, and his son's sons, et cetera. It was passed on through that lineage. That was the priesthood. The entire tribe of Levi, however, were helpers to help the priesthood officiate for the nation.
Now, they were scattered because they were not given any portion of land. The Levites were given no land. They were given the ability to minister to the Lord. But they were given 48 Levitical cities, 6 of which were cities of refuge if you remember from our previous studies, who knows how many years ago they were. So that's why I'm repeating it, reminding you.
So they were in 48 cities. But they all took their turn serving in the Central Sanctuary. Here's a guy just out on his own, forget the Central Sanctuary, forget helping out the priesthood. I want to find my way, man. I want to find out who I am in life.
Well, he's about to find out. "Micah said to him, 'Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me. And I will give you 10 shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance." So the Levite went, and he was offered a job.
Hey, I've got a false pagan worship system right here in my house. You're a Levite. You're obviously not going to the Central Sanctuary. I could use a Levite. I mean, that's closer to a priesthood than my boy.
So I'll give you room and board. You're hired. So the Levite went in. "Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man. And the young man became like one of his sons to him."
Now, what the Levite should have done when Micah offered him the job is go into the house, look at the shrine, see the idols, turned around, looked Micah in the eyes, and rebuked him flat out, and said, you know, this is paganism. This is idolatry. This is forbidden. I know that because I'm a Levite, hello. I've been taught that.
But he takes advantage of the situation purely for monetary gain, it would seem. "So Micah consecrated the Levite. And the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah. And Micah said, 'Now, I know that Yahweh way will bless me or be good to me since I have a Levite as a priest.'"
Can you see the confusion in this chapter? This is pure superstition. God's going to bless me because I have a Levite in my pagan religion, you know, the one that I stole from my mom, and the one that she made the graven images with that God forbid in Exodus 20, all of this conflict and confusion spiritually, ethically, morally.
Now, it says, "In those days, there was no king in Israel." There's that mention again. "And in those days, the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for itself to dwell in. For until that day, their whole inheritance among the tribes of Israel had not yet fallen to them."
Now, we do have to analyze that a little bit. The tribe of Dan had been given a land allotment. We know that from the Book of Joshua. They were given the land. But they didn't occupy the land.
They didn't take the land. The Philistines were hassling them and pushing them hard. Now, the allotment for the tribe of Dan, without putting a map up and making it too complex, it was a little area.
But really, in my opinion, I'd live there. I mean, it was between Zorah and Eshtaol, the area where Samson came from in the hills of Judah, close to the airport in Tel Aviv today, all the way to the coast. It included Joppa, Tel Aviv, that whole part, lower coastal plain.
Listen, that's some nice beach. And there's some good waves. I've surfed right along that little strip before. And it's like, I could hang here.
So the Danites were given this great little piece of the southern topography, including beachfront property. But they didn't take the land. God gave it to them. But they didn't occupy the land.
So verse 2, "The children of Dan sent five men of their family from their territory, men of valor from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and to search it." This is the area where Samson grew up.
"--to spy out the land and to search it. They said to them, 'Go search the land.' So they went to the mountains of Ephraim to the house of Micah and lodged there."
In the 16th Psalm, written by King David, is one of my favorite little verses tucked away in Psalm 16, verse 6, where David says, "The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me. And my inheritance is good." Like, Lord, you've just been so good to me. The boundary lines of what I occupy, what you have foreordained that I have, it's just-- you've been good.
And I feel that way. I feel like God has been so good, so good to me. But the Danites obviously didn't feel that the boundary lines fell to them in pleasant places. They wanted something different. They wanted new land because they didn't occupy what God told them to occupy.
So they send out a party to scout some new place to live, similar to Moses sending out the 12 spies at Kadesh Barnea into the Promised Land. The difference is God was giving the Promised Land to the tribes. God didn't intend Dan to get a different place other than what he had already given to them. That's the difference.
One is motivated by God in the spirit. The other is motivated by the flesh. That's the Danites. So it says, "While they were in the house," verse 3, "the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite." Maybe he was saying his pagan prayers.
"And they turned aside and said to him, 'Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What do you have here?'
He said to them, 'Thus and so Micah did for me. He hired me, and I've become his priest.' So they said to him, 'Please inquire of God that we may know whether the journey on which we go is prosperous.'"
Now, I've already said this, but let me remind you, the Tabernacle of God, the legitimate sanctuary, is just a few miles north of here. That's where they should go to inquire of God. That's the place God said, you have a question, you want to inquire, go there.
But they think, yeah, but this is so convenient, you know? The guy has it all set up in his home. So find out if God is going to be with us or not.
So being a typical religious charlatan, verse 6, "The priest said to them, 'Go in peace. May the presence of the Lord,'" and there's the word Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel. "May the presence of Yahweh be with you on your way."
Yes, the Lord's in this. Go your way. God bless you. "So the five men departed and went to Laish. They saw the people were there and how they dwelt safely in the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure.
There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. They were far from the Sidonians. And they had no ties with anyone."
If you were to get a map and look at where they went, where they ended up, they went from the south. They moved a little bit east, this party. And then they went north about 95 miles, so about 100-plus miles away from where they originally were.
They journeyed up to the furthest part of the north to a very quiet place called Laish. It is called, in Joshua chapter 19, Leshem. It is an ancient city. In fact, we take people there today. It will be called Dan because the Danites are going to take it over.
I'll get more of that depending on the time. My mind starts going places. And I realize I better button this up so we can make it through this chapter. Let's keep going.
"The spies came back to their brethren at Zorah and Eshtaol. And their brethren said to them, 'What is your report?' So they said, 'Arise, let us go up against them, for we have seen the land. And indeed, it is very good.
Would you do nothing? Do not hesitate to go that you may enter to possess the land.'" Now, I will say this, the area they're speaking about is one of the prettiest places I've ever been to. The northern part of Israel with its hill country, its mountain, at the northernmost tip of the Hula Valley, is gorgeous.
When we do our tours, we take an entire day and take the people up to that northern country because of the biblical history. And we always end up in this area. And when I say beautiful, I mean there are springs of water that come out of the ground. In fact, the headwaters of the Jordan River come from there.
The headwaters of the Jordan River come from three places, the Banias the Hasbani and the Dan River. And these three streams converge and form the Jordan River. In fact, Jordan is Yar Dan, which means coming out from Dan. The tribe of Dan relocated and the headwaters come from the tribe of Dan, Jordan, flowing from Dan. That's where the river gets its name.
So the spies come back and say, you got to see this place. I mean, it's awesome; it's beautiful; it's good. Let's go in and take it. And there's no rulers around us.
They're quiet. They're secure. It would seem that this area did not have walled cities like the rest of the land. They were just living rurally. And they were about 27 miles from Tyre and Sidon.
They were inland a little bit. Hill country, so it's protected, but we have an army. They're not expecting it. Let's just go in. They're quiet and secure. We'll wipe them out.
Now, hold that thought because what they're doing, even though God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites, he didn't give this part of the land of Canaan to them. And there's an indication in the prophet Ezekiel that for you to go into a land where people are dwelling quietly and securely, and just for the sake of you want a land grab, that it's an evil deed. Now, I'm going to read you a text of Scripture in the Old Testament. You don't have to turn there.
It's in Ezekiel, and it's Ezekiel 38. And what's interesting about Ezekiel 38 is it's predicting a future war of the leaders of Gog and Magog against Israel. Actually, it's an interesting thing that never could have happened until modern times.
We are living in a day and age when the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 can happen because it predicts an alliance between Russia, Iran, Libya, Ethiopia against Israel. And we know that Russia and Iran have military supplies right now in Syria and have made threats against Israel. So we're set up for an endtime scenario.
But that aside, here's the principle I wanted to get at. In Ezekiel 38, verse 10, "Thus says the Lord God, 'On that day, it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind. And you will make an evil plan.
You will say, "I will go up against a land of unwalled villages. I will go to a peaceful people who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, having neither bars nor gates, to take plunder, to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land."'" That, which is Ezekiel predicting a future war that will happen, that's what rulers will say in these countries-- Turkey, Iran, Russia-- against Israel. That'll be their mentality. That was the mentality of the Danites, that God says, by principle, is an evil plan.
Here's what's ironic. Do you know what the name Dan means? It means judge. Daniel, God is my judge. The tribe of Dan is the tribe of justice.
And so that's what's ironic is here's the tribe of justice. And what they're doing to this people living up north was a miscarriage of justice. Again, God was not directing them to do this. But they did it. They went in to take it.
So verse 10, chapter 18, "'When you go, you will come to a secure people in a large land, for God has given into your hands a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the Earth.' And 600 men of the family of the Danites went from there, from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed with weapons of war. Then they went up and encamped in Kirjath Jearim in Judah. Therefore they call that place Mahaneh Dan to this day. There it is, west of Kirjath Jearim.
And they passed from there to the mountains of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah. Then the five men who had gone to spy the country of Laish answered and said to their brethren, 'Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod, household idols, a carved image and a molded image? Now, therefore, consider what you should do.'"
What should they have done? If they were abiding by the covenant of Yahweh, what should they have done? Destroyed that house, man. That's Deuteronomy 13. We don't have time to get-- but you can look at that on your own.
"So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite man-- that is to the house of Micah-- and greeted him. The 600 men, armed with their weapons of war, who were children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. Then the five men who had gone to spy the land went up, entering there, and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the molded image." So they're just ripping them off. They're just-- let's just take these things.
"The priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the 600 men who were armed with weapons of war. And when these went into Micah's house and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, the molded image, the priest said to them, 'Hey, what are you doing?'
And they said to him, 'Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth. Come with us, and be a father and a priest to us.'" Shut up, and by the way, you want a job?
Hey, here you are, a priest in this house. We'll make you the chaplain of the whole tribe. We'll give you a promotion, man. You can have advancement.
"Be a priest to us and a father to us. It is better for you to be a priest to the household-- is it better for you to be the priest of a household of one man or that you be a priest of a tribe and a family in Israel? So the priest's heart was glad." Hey, I just got promoted. I got a raise.
"And he took the ephod, and household idols, and carved image and took his place among the people. Then they turned and departed and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them. 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."
So they went out after them. "And they called out to the children of Dan. And so they turned around and said to Micah, 'What ails you?'" Like, dude, what's up? What's wrong with you, "that you have gathered such a company."
Now listen to his response. To me, it's comical. "So he said, 'You've taken away my gods, which I made, and the priest. And you've gone away.
Now, what more do I have? How can you say to me, "what ails you?"'" Listen to this sniveler. Listen, you really are bad off when you have gods that can get ripped off.
You've stolen my gods, which I made. Oh, that's the problem. Here is man, made in the image of God, who makes gods to be in his image. How ludicrous!
You have a god that gets captured because you made him. You are therefore more powerful than what you have made because you made it. And yet, you worship it? You worship that? It has no power.
That was the point of Psalm 115, the false idols of the nations. "Eyes they have, but they cannot see. Ears have they, but they cannot hear. They have hands, they cannot handle. Feet they have, but they cannot walk."
They're powerless. "I made them." And the sadness of idolatry is summed up in that verse. "What more do I have?" Man, that's sad, that's empty. I mean, your whole life is in that little stupid shrine.
"'How can you say, "what ails you?"' 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.' Then the children of Dan went their way." Godless, right, without their gods.
"When Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. So they took the things Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him and went to Laish, to a people who were quiet and secure. And they struck them with the edge of the sword, burned the city with fire. And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon."
As I said, 27 miles inland from Sidon, there were no rulers up there to oversee that they had to pay-- to oversee them coming in. So they didn't have to be accountable to anybody. And they had no ties with anyone, no alliances.
"It was in the valley that belongs to Beth Rehob. So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there and they called the name of the city Dan after the name of Dan their Father, who was born to Israel. However, the name of the city was formerly Laish."
So it was Dan. Before that, it was Laish. And before that, it was Leshem if you're a reader of the Book of Joshua. "Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image. And Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh--" it's the first time that this priest is identified. And he's identified by name.
And we have a little bit of where he comes from. He is the son of Gershom. Gershom was a descendant of Moses. And it says here, "the son of Manasseh."
It is believed that the original Hebrew translation is the son of Moses. They put Manasseh because of the embarrassment that this idolater was in the lineage of Moses. But the best translation will have a footnote that says probably, it should be translated Moses because he is in that lineage. That is where he came from.
So "Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses or the descendant of Moses," and again, how ironic that one of Moses own offspring would be guilty of leading a tribe of Israel into idolatry, maintaining that idolatry, "and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land." That was 722 BC, the Assyrian captivity. So for many years the Danites were involved in idolatry.
Hold that thought. We'll finish it up. "So they set up for themselves Micah's carved image which he made, all the time that the House of God was in Shiloh." Now, what we just read about setting up this household image and this shrine and this priesthood in the northern part of Israel, Dan, is a little example of fulfilled prophecy.
Now, since we have a few minutes left, I'm going to look at Genesis 49. You could turn there too since we're done with this book. Just turn to Genesis 49.
There's a prophecy about the tribe of Dan. I want you to see it. Genesis 49, first book in the Bible, 49th chapter, almost the last chapter. If you get to chapter 50, turn left one block. There it is, 49.
Here, you have Jacob going through all of his sons, all of the 12 boys, and giving utterances over them, blessings, cursings, et cetera. We get to verse 16. He gets to his son Dan. Look what he says about Dan.
"Dan shall judge his people." The name Dan means judge or justice. And Samson was a judge for that tribe. He kept the Philistines at bay for a number of years during his judgeship.
"Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel." Now, watch this. "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward." A couple of ways to interpret that-- you could interpret it positively, that he was the tribe, through Samson, that bit at the heels of the Philistines and kept the incursion at bay for a while, or, and is probably believed by most scholars, it is believed by most scholars to be negative.
"It's like a serpent that bites at the heels, that causes the rider to fall." The first tribe to wholesale get into idolatry was the tribe of Dan. Later on, there's going to be a kingdom. The first king is going to be Saul. Second King is going to be David. The third thing is going to be Solomon.
After Solomon, the kingdom splits. And Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, takes the southern part. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, takes the 10 northern tribes. Remember that? We'll get to it if you don't remember that in First Kings chapter 12.
So the kingdom is going to split. Jeroboam, because idolatry is already prevalent in Dan, makes two golden calves-- one he sets up in the center of the country, Bethel, mountains of Ephraim, and the other, it says, he put in Dan. So calf worship in both of these places, but Dan was the vanguard. He's the guy who brought idolatry into the country.
When we take-- this is amazing. When we take groups to Israel-- at least we used to do this. Sometimes, the groups are so big, we don't have time to go through the whole area. We take them to an area called Tel Dan, T-E-L. That's a mountain that has several civilizations.
And we go all the way back to the ancient city. We have remains of Laish. In fact, if you come, we'll show you, made out of clay, made out of adobe bricks, still preserved, is a gate that dates to the time of Abraham. In fact, to stand in front of the gate of Abraham, to the city of Laish, and to read in the scripture in Genesis where it says, "Abraham went into the city of Laish," you have to presume, he went through that gate. It's amazing to look at a gate still intact that Abraham went through.
And now, we're dealing with history here, in Judges, much later, when Dan overtook it, destroyed it by fire, made it Dan, but Jeroboam set up two calves-- one in Bethel, one in Dan. They have discovered-- they've done extensive archaeology of that area. And they have even uncovered a large stone base with seating on every side, which archaeologists believe is the pedestal upon which the golden calf at Dan stood. And you can see it with your own eyes to this very day.
It's just amazing to see biblical history in front of you. You set there and go, this is where this happened. OK, why am I telling you all this about Dan? Because when we get to First Chronicles-- I know I'm putting a lot of stuff together here-- we get a listing of the tribes of Israel and their families. Dan is only mentioned as a geographical location, but the families are not even listed.
Fast forward to the tribulation period, to the Book of Revelation, in chapter 7, there are 12,000 of the tribe of Israel who are sealed. Oh, I'm sorry, 12 tribes, 144,000-- [BUZZ]-- numbers-- 144,000 are sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel, right? The tribes are mentioned, except one, all 12 tribes except one, the tribe of--
Dan is omitted from being even present and to be protected by God. You say, well, there's not 12 tribes. Yes there are. There's always 12 tribes.
But if you know anything about the 12 tribes of Israel, it's really a baker's dozen, right? There's 13 because there's the tribe of Joseph. And the tribe of Joseph had Ephraim and Manasseh.
So you can include both of them, which they are included. Or you can omit one and just have the tribe of Joseph that includes both. So there's a lot of ways to configure the baker's dozen to have 12 tribes.
So Dan is omitted from Revelation, from the future. And I believe it's because a couple of things. They could have intermarried so many different people groups from the Philistines and the people up north that they just went into oblivion by the time after the captivity. And so they're not mentioning in Chronicles.
But more than that, it's as if God takes note of it, and they're not mentioned in the eternal annals in the future of the tribulation, the tribe that took the rest of the nation into idolatry. Make sense? OK, enough lesson for tonight, let's close our Bibles and pray.
Father, we thank you that we have the opportunity to spend an hour just going through, putting things in the future, things in the past together, knowing that right now as we're praying and reading this ancient document that there is, on the other side of the world from us, actual remains of these places intact that can be seen. So Father, we thank you that the spade of the archaeologists simply affirms the text of Scripture over and over and over again.
Thank you, Lord, for this way that science says yes and Amen to the life of faith and the Word of God. Father, I pray for your people, those who have come, those who are enjoying this over a variety of different media. Protect their families.
Give them wisdom. Give them peace during this time. Shower them with your grace. And may they know your presence, and your power, your joy.
And may they, like David, be able to say, "my lines, my boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. I have a good inheritance from the Lord." We thank you, Lord, for the victory that is ours in Christ, for it's in His name we pray. And everybody who agreed said--
Amen. Shall we stand?
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us during this teaching in our "expound" series.