Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the rapid spread of false faith

And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
Judges 18:30

The story of Micah's false religion takes an unusual turn in chapter 18. The tribe of Dan is still wandering through the Promised Land, looking for a settling inheritance to claim. Five spies are sent out to scout a possible place of attack. They happen through the the hill country of Ephraim and encounter Micah and his priest. After inquiring of him, they meet with successfully spying out Laish as a city to claim as their own.

The spies lead the Danite army back to attack Laish, and on the return journey, stop by Micah's shrine and successfully plunder the priest, the idol Micah has made, and convince the priest to come work for them. After sacking Laish and rebuilding it as their new home, they install the priest as the tribal worship leader. It is only at that point that we discover the identity of this yet unnamed priest.

Both Micah and the tribe of Dan had scored a major name in their false religion draft! The very grandson of Moses was their priestly leader! The faithlessness of the people was so widespread that within a generation of being in the Promised Land, even the family of Moses was not only caught up in in, but was actually leading a form of false religion. By serving as a priest, Jonathan was disobedient to God's Law. By worshipping an idol, the Danites were breaking the covenant. By setting up their own rival priesthood, form of religion, and place of sacrifice, they were disobeying the God of Israel. False faith had become commonplace.

The lesson that I see here is that apostasy can quickly obliterate the truth. When everyone did what was right in their own eyes, the absolute standards God had made in His Word were easily discarded. They kept to some forms of the old truth. They still "inquired of the Lord". They still had some form of identity with the worship of Yahweh. But they refused to obey Him fully. They wanted to mold God into something comfortable. They created a designer religion, drafted a celebrity leader, and quickly broke faith with the covenant made with God in the Law.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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