Acceptable Practice

Judges 17:1-6

1Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”

Then his mother said, “The Lord bless you, my son!” 3When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the Lord for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you.”

4So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house. 5Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Introduction

In the preceding chapters, the book of Judges narrates that Samson was ruler of Israel for 20 years but nothing was mentioned about what he did as leader. The narrative about Samson was more of personal adventures. There was nothing written about the spiritual practices of Israel as community or nation.

At the last heroic act of Samson, the rulers of the Philistines died with him. After that, there were no other nations who threatened the peace in Israel. So, the Israelites were not concerned about harassment or oppression from their enemies. They did not need anyone to rule them or lead.

Maybe among the Israelite clans, someone could have been recognized or respected as leader or elder but right after Samson died, nobody took over the responsibility to rule the entire nation of Israel. No assigned ruler for each tribe. Priests from the Levites may silently perform their duties wherever they lived.

It should not be surprising that everyone did as they saw fit. Nobody has implemented God’s commands. No one was authorized to reprimand violators. No one was punished for what they practiced. “Just mind your own business!” They may have considered God but no rule was strictly followed.

1. No Rule

1Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2said to his mother, “The 1,100 shekels (13kg) of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.” Then his mother said, “The Lord bless you, my son!” 3When he returned the 1,100 shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the Lord for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you.”

The situation of Micah could be just one practical illustration of what the Israelites did individually or as a community. His story was recorded because he was affected when the tribe of Dan moved north of Canaan.

Remember: Samson was from the clan of the Danites. Previously, the Danites lived south of Ephraim’s territory—it’s northwest of Jerusalem. After Samson died, the Danites decided to travel north to establish their community away from the Philistines, and they passed by Micah’s place along the way.

Anyway, Micah may have been born to well-established family in Ephraim. His mother saved 13 kilograms of silver she set apart for spiritual purposes. But Micah took them, and came to know that his mother dedicated them to the Lord when he returned them. He may have been scared when his mother cursed.

Micah built a shrine or house particularly used to set up his household gods. It appeared that he was very religious but he also robbed his mother.

It says in Proverbs 28:24, 24Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys.

It also says in Proverbs 19:26, 26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace.

A religious person who robs his parents is not acceptable to God. Robbers are destructive people. When they rob their parents’ money, they also rob their parents’ reputation. That’s double jeopardy!

Spiritually, it says in Malachi 3:8-12, 8“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12“Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Believers are children of God. When believers fail to give God’s tithes, they are like children who rob their parents. The regulation of God about His tithes practically illustrates that the purposes of God’s instructions are meant for the blessedness of those who obey them cheerfully.

The Israelites may have failed to follow the law of God about tithes or any other laws because nobody enforced the law. There was no king to rule them.

2.No King

4So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took 200 shekels (2.3kg) of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house. 5Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Micah may have desired to be religious but there was no organized worship center that he would go. It seems like worship at the Tabernacle was suspended because of harassment from their enemies. Everyone may have preferred not to travel far somewhere for fear of possible harassment.

Micah may have large household so that he installed one of his sons as his priest who may lead them in their religious activities. Micah had some household gods, and the idol that his mother gave him may have been the center figure.

A silversmith made the idol which may suggest that everyone who had silver can go to him for idols to be made. Micah’s mother did just as others do.

Micah did not turn down the idol when his mother gave him. There was no rejection on his part. He may have been thankful for it. Apparently, spirituality in Israel has been contaminated. Perhaps, when the Israelites were defeated, they may have thought that the gods of their enemies were greater than the Lord. And, they disregarded the commands of the Lord.

Such misplaced spirituality in Israel demonstrates similarity in the practice of spirituality among Christians. The practice of Christianity these days is also contaminated because of materialism and prevailing culture.

Cannot Eat

Someone posted in the internet a picture of delicious food of different kinds next to a dead person with a caption: Why does the dead ignore the food? There’s was nothing wrong about the food. The dead cannot eat.

The caption added: Why do non-believers ignore God’s Word? There’s nothing wrong with God’s Word as spiritual food. Non-believers don’t take it because they are not spiritually alive.

It says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Micah may have sensed the desire to worship but he had no idea of the proper way to worship God. So, he just followed what others did. Such tragic situation is true in many cultures, even among Christian communities. They just follow their instinct and hope that what they do will be acceptable to God.

What is acceptable practice of Christmas celebration among Christians?

Should we just celebrate Christmas like other cultures do?

What is biblical or acceptable practice to celebrate Christmas?

How can we worship God while celebrating the birth of Christ?

It is not about the manner or activity that should be emphasized during Christmas celebration but the recognition or realization of the presence of Christ’s Spirit in us while we celebrate His birth on earth is what’s important.

Christmas celebration is more joyful when Christ’s Spirit prevails in us.

><(((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2018 <‘)))>< … <‘)))><

 

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