INTERESTING FACTS : "The word of God hidden in the heart is a stubborn voice to suppress."--Billy Graham
DAILY READING : JUDGES 16 - 19
TEXT : Jdg 16:16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; Jdg 16:17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. Jdg 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah. Jdg 17:2 And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son. Jdg 17:3 And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. Jdg 17:4 Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother too k two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.
THEME : IDOLATRY
In chapter 16, we have the end of the life of Samson. In chapter 17 we are introduced to a man named Micah. The two, Samson and Micah share a common denominator in their relationship with God. Both of them gave themselves to sin against the Lord through idolatry. With Micah and his mother, it was the most obvious form of idolatry - the worship of a graven or molded image. With Samson, it is a more subtle form of idolatry - the adoration or love of a woman. We will look at both of these Biblical characters in turn.
Samson has a weakness for women. This is obvious as we see his going in to a harlot, then in his choice of Delilah from the valley of Sorek whom he fell in love with. This love will be his downfall, as Delilah through continual persistence gets Samson to break his lifelong vow as a Nazarite. Due to his "begetting sin," he is worn down by her and tells her the secret of his strength - his vow to God, of which, his uncut hair is the sign or symbol. For his breaking of his covenant with God, losing his strength, his eyes, and his place as a mighty Judge of Israel was the price. It always escapes men and women what a high price it is when we willingly violate God.
In Samson's relation with Delilah, it is clear she does not love him as he loves her. She is wi lling to betray him to his enemies and watch him suffer. This is not love. Therefore, we see not only the high price Samson will pay for his departure from the Lord, but also how deceived he was. That is, what he put into the relationship with Delilah was not equal in the least to how little she cared for him. What a sad picture that clearly depicts how sinning against the Lord is so utterly void, empty, and useless. For, not only does Samson lose his life, but he lost it for a woman who did not care what happened to him. Thus, we have the same in all cases with sin. Satan does not care in the least what becomes of us, while God - our all and all, who loves us with an immeasurable love, is cast aside for "the pleasures of sin for a season." [Heb 11:25]
In Samson's case, we see redemption at the end. As a blind man who repented of his sin while grinding in the mill, God grants him one, last victory as a reward for his renewed faith. However, the reward would cost him his life as he dies in the same arena where he is humiliated and made a spectacle before the Philistines. It is notable that in his death he killed more Philistines tha n with his life. Still, the price of idolatry is costly. A superficial knowledge of God's commandments tells us the Lord will suffer no other "god" in the life of a believer. "And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." [Exo 20:1 - 3] Obviously, Samson knew this commandment as Micah and his mother did. One would have to guess, that he did not consider the penalty of sin, or failed to believe God will keep His Word - for better or worse, and is no respecter of persons.
Adam Clarke states -
"This commandment prohibits every species of mental idolatry, and all inordinate attachment to earthly and sensible things. As God is the fountain of happiness, and no intelligent creature can be happy but through him, whoever seeks happiness in the creature is necessarily an idolater; as he puts the creature in the place of the Creator, expecting that from the gratification of his passions, in the use or abuse of earthly things, which is to be found in God alone. The very first commandment of the whole series is divinely calculated to prevent man's misery and promote his happiness, by taking him off from all false dependence, and leading him to God himself, the fountain of all good."
Micah on the other hand, practices a more open and direct form of idolatry in filling his house with [false] gods. "And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." [Jdg 17:5 - 6] The 6th verse sums up the Book of Judges, as well as the lives of all who live their life in open defiance or rebellion against God - they do what they want. There is no fear of God in the minds of those who openly reject His Word. The Ten Commandments are also known as "The Ten Words." Thus, whenever we reject His Word to love something or someone else supremely 8211; that is, in the place reserved for God alone, we practice idolatry and break the 2nd commandment or "Word" of God.
Micah, like his mother, attempts to join the worship of Jehovah with the worship of false gods. "... his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image..." [Jdg 17:3] Yet, God will have no compromise. All through the Bible - both Old and New Testaments, God admits of no competition or shared affections. He alone is to be loved and adored. All others are second, and no other can be put in His place as Micah and his mother did.
Eventually, Micah loses the Levite - his "personal" priest, and his images to the tribe of Dan. He is sent away empty handed as Samson was - in a manner of speaking. Yet, even the tribe of Dan sins in the same manner as Micah, as they set up Micah's images in the House of the Lord. " And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh." [Jdg 18:30 - 31]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : CHRIST ALONE IS LORD!
For some Christians, they cannot see the need for Biblical theology. In other words, all this "fighting" over doctrine, to them, is unnecessary. Some go further and declare that God is unhappy with all this [what they consider] "bickering" about the worship of God. They cannot understand that one's view of God MUST come from His Word. Otherwise, we shall repeat the sins of those who lived before us. We will commit the same [grave] mistakes in our thinking and acting toward God. The need for Biblical theology today is as great, or perhaps greater, than ever before. As we look at the Church today, we see the signs of apostasy everywhere. Chiefly, the postmodern Church of today is doing the same thing we see in Judges. "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." [Jdg 17:6] We could easily translate that Bible verse to say - "In these days [in which we live] there were no faithful teachers of the Word of God in the Church, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
Doctrinal confusion controls and sways t he Church as we battle enemies of the "faith once delivered to the saints." "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." [Jud 1:3]
In the vacuum and void of Biblical teaching of preaching, we have envy and strife in the Church producing confusion and every evil work. "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." [Jas 3:14 - 16]
However, let us restrict our attention to the subject of idolatry. Idolatry according to Easton's Bible Dictionary is -
"Image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object. Paul describes the origin of idolatry in Rom_1:21-25 : men forsook God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (Rom_1:28).
The forms of idolatry are,
(1.) Fetishism, or the worship of trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc.
(2.) Nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as the supposed powers of nature.
(3.) Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of heroes.
In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as of heathen origin, and as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with heathen nations. The first allusion to idolatry is in the account of Rachel stealing her father's teraphim (Gen_31:19), which were the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban's progenitors "on the other side of the river in old time" (Jos_24:2). During their long residence in Egypt the Hebrews fell into idolatry, and it was long before they were delivered from it (Jos_24:14; Eze_20:7). Many a token of God's displeasure fell upon them because of this sin."
Is it vital to our relationship to the One True God to know He has no tolerance for idolatry. Further, since Jesus is God come in the flesh, He is our "visible" image of the invisible God. All that "see" Him have seen the Father. [Col 1:15; Jn 14:9] The Apostle John gives strict warning in his 1st epistle similar to the type of warnings Israel received repeatedly throughout their history." Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." [1Jn 5:21]
As such, we must cling to Jesus and reiterate the words of the reformers - "Solus Christus," or "Christ Only, and "Solo Christo," "By Christ Alone." Let us serve Him without compromise and an unholy mixture of the Lord and the World. God says the love of the World is proof of an absence of love for Him. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." [1 Jn 2:15 - 16]
Let us not imitate Samson and Micah, who paid the price for their idolatry. Rather, we must abide in Christ and have no other gods before Him. For, Christ alone is Lord!
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." [1 Ti 6:12 - 16]
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And ou t of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." [Rev 19:11 - 16]