Reading through the Bible together
In the preceding narratives we have been reminded time and again how “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The following chapters present a clear of example of how this occurred and what the moral (not just political) consequences were for the nation of Israel.
Most Bible translations label this chapter “Micah’s Idolatry.” We already know from previous narratives that idolatry was rampant in Israel during the period of the Judges. What’s remarkable about this story is how utterly closed-minded the characters are that they’re doing anything wrong. The idol at the center of this false worship (17:3-4) is dedicated to the Lord! What’s more, the illegitimate cult shrine that Micah erects is located in the hill country of Ephraim, the same place where the legitimate shrine in Shiloh is located (Josh 18). Even the Levite in the story doesn’t seem to know (or care) that setting up an illegal center of worship with graven images is a problem and he is quite happy to go along with it (17:11). By employing a real Levite Micah feels his shrine is not only legitimate but pleasing to the Lord: “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!”
Micah’s misguided actions will have consequences for the nation of Israel for generations to follow. And the truly tragic part is that he is not even aware of it. The Lord says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will reject your descendants.” (Hosea 4:6).
This certainly is a lesson for us, because we are a chosen generation. God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light to be a royal priesthood for Him, a holy nation, His special people, to do what is right and uphold His law (1 Pet. 2:9 and Rev. 14:12).
Justo E. Morales
Southern Adventist University