Thursday, April 15, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - April 15 - Religion for the Highest Bidder

I once heard a joke about a man who decided to proposition a woman.
"Will you sleep me with for one million dollars?"
"Sure!" she replied.
"OK, what about a thousand dollars?"
"Just what kind of woman do you think I am?"
"Lady, we've already established that - now we're just figuring out the price!"
This joke is a not-so-funny commentary on human depravity. A sell-out is a sell-out; the price is just a quibble. And today's OT reading is a tragic illustration of this.

In Judges 17-18 a man in the hill country of Ephraim named Micah decides to create his own religion. He sets up shrine, complete with an idol and ephod (a priestly garment), and installed his own son as a priest. Some time later a Levite wandered into his house, and Micah offered to set him up as priest - offering a handsome salary and new wardrobe! The Levite accepted the offer, and became Micah's "house priest."

Having demonstrated he was for sale, the Levite was bound to find a better deal. And he did - the form of a group of Danites leaving their tribal territory and migrating north. When they stumbled upon Micah's house and saw the Levite, they offered him a chance to be a priest not just for one man, but "to a tribe and clan in Israel" (18:19). The Levite's "heart was glad" (18:20). Of course it was - we already knew what kind of man he was; this was just a discussion about the price.

The most shocking detail of all comes in 18:30, where we learn the identity of this priest for hire. It was none other than the grandson of Moses - Jonathan! How quickly a family can turn from conviction to compromise.

All of this happens under the refrain that appears several times at the end of Judges - "in those days there was no king in Israel" (18:1). Rather than submit to God as king and worship according to His rules, Micah made up his own religion. Rather than live in his own city, the Levite looked for greener pastures. Rather than remain in their ancestral home, the Danites looked for better land. In such an environment, with respect for the rule of God's law gone, the only rule is might - which is why muted protest is all Micah can do when the Danites carry off the god that he made.

What is your price? For what will you sell out? And what do you think you will gain?

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