Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, New Challenge! (part 1)

The custom of self-examination at New Years, the setting of goals and even the resolutions are healthy things. Israel had three times a year when everyone had to stop and celebrate a feast of the Lord and examine where they stood with the Lord. They were times when all who were able would come together to the Temple. They feasted, reflected, sacrificed an offering to God and then returned to their day to day life.

What would we have done without that strength that came from the direction God’s word has given us? On the other hand I think some of us wish we would have gone a little deeper as we needed that direction from the Word to face the challenges this year presented.

Throughout the book of Judges we read the words, “Israel had no king, and every man did as he saw fit.” The terrible consequences of that are throughout the book – especially in the last four chapters. The point was not that they needed a king like the other nations, for when they finally insisted on a king, the Lord told Samuel they were rejecting God as king. Israel was meant to be truly one nation under God. But instead, they had a nation of individuals being their own king. Isn’t that what this nation of ours is trying so hard to be?

But lets look at this shadow of today in Judges 17.Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. And he said to his mother, "The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it." And his mother said, "Blessed be my son by the LORD." He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, "I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you." So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made them into a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah" (Judges 17:1-4).

This Ephraimite named Micah stole about 28 pounds of silver from his own mother. He hears his mother curse the thief and so he starts worrying. He confesses and decides to give the silver back. Mom is so touched she says, “I dedicate this entirely to the Jehovah for you to make an idol. But when she gets the silver in hand she only gives a five of the 28 pounds to the silversmith to make an idol.

What a perfect example of man playing his own god, being his own king. It begins with theft, followed by the fear of a curse of man not the judgment of God. The mother looks all ‘spiritual’ and dedicating it to Jehovah until you find out what for, to break His very first two commandments! To add injury to offense she only takes a portion of what she promised to give, but since it is for an idol, maybe that is a good thing? I don’t know, it is so contrary to God and his ways the whole thing is a chaotic mix of sin and selfishness. That is what happens when we set aside the Word of God to play god ourselves.

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