What is it about so many of the priests and Levites we meet in the book of Judges? Each one seems to be worse than the next. Weren’t they supposed to be set apart by God for service to Him because they stood athwart the sin and evil they saw during the incident of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:28-29)? Didn’t God consecrate them and give them special privileges because of their faithfulness? How then could they stray so far from God and His design for them?
In the narrative of the Ephraimite Micah, we get a glimpse into the apostasy of – not only the common people of Israel – but of the Levitical class. Micah stole money from his mother, who then sanctioned his actions. Through that relational mess, Micah used the money to make a shrine, an ephod (i.e. a priestly garment), and several idols (Judges 17:5). The thought of Yahweh and obeying His Law never entered this man’s mind nor that or his mother.
A wandering Levite came along, who Micah commissioned to be his household priest, so they could worship using these several items. This was directly against God’s command that the Israelites not set up altars throughout the land, but only worship where He directed. But, as the text says, none of this mattered because “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). With this outlook, Micah believed that setting the Levite in this position to lead his household worship gave him Yahweh’s favor, as noted in Judges 17:13:
Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”
Into this apparently blissful situation, men from the tribe of Dan enter the picture. Dan had been allotted territory to the west bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but they never fought for it; thus they were without their own God-given territory (Judges 18:1). These Danite spies recognize the Levite, who informs them of his position in Micah’s house and blesses them in the Name of the Lord, without actually consulting Him for that blessing (Judges 18:6).
The spies returned to their people and related that the town of Laish, which was far north in Israel, was a perfect place for them to conquer the people and settle down. Laish was in the foothills of Mount Hermon in the area previously occupied by Bashan. That region was also a hotbed for demonic activity. Later, when Jesus came, it was nearby that He proclaimed that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, speaking of that center of ungodliness and to the rebellious spirits surrounding them.
On their way to Laish (which the Danites would rename as the town of Dan – Judges 18:29), the tribe stopped at Micah’s house. Because the spies knew of the various pagan items of worship that Micah had, they boldly entered his house and stole his possessions to make them their own. As they did, the Levite – Micah’s priest – stood and watched. When he asked them what they were doing, we see the response in Judges 18:19:
And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?”
Rather than object and call out the theft, or to finally realize he was supposed to perform his priestly duties in service to Yahweh, the next verse of Judges 18:20 gives us the Levite’s response:
And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.
In other words, the priest kept quiet and actually celebrated the evil that he witnessed; worse, he participated in that wickedness.
This brings us to the church today and the heart condition of far too many pastors in the shepherding of their flocks. Like the Levite, they want the approval of the world, so they go along with every evil that they witness. Because they don’t fear God, they seek the blessings of man and actually enable sin. Somewhere along the way they decided that a true relationship with Jesus Christ couldn’t fulfill them. Whether these men or women – placed in the position of authority over a church – ever had a true, personal relationship with Jesus, to submit to man’s wants and desires rather than to the commandments of God has certainly obliterated any semblance of intimacy with Him.
The world has told them to, “Keep quiet.” They are not to stand against the homosexual agenda, the social justice gospel, or the demonic movement known as BLM. Rather than hold back the tide against these heretical developments, they embrace them, with many becoming integral parts of these activities. Why? Lots of reasons. Some were never saved. Certainly the fear of losing tax-exempt status for their church comes into play for many. Others – despite attending seminary, or probably because of that – they’ve never learned the truth of God’s Word. It was perverted in what they learned, and they disciple their congregations in the same corrupted manner.
Is it any wonder the church is falling away rapidly in the prophetically foretold apostasy prior to the soon-coming Tribulation?
Does it grieve your heart to watch this happen? It certainly grieves me.
For those of us who see this, what can we do? I think James 5:19-20 says it best:
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
In other words, in these dark times, let us continue to do the Lord’s work, to proclaim the true Gospel, and to reach out to others in their sin to save them through God’s mercy, if at all possible.