Old Testament: Judges 17:1-18:31
Judges 17: 1 – 12 A Homemade Religion
A while back an old friend of mine asked how his Methodist minister could leave for a Presbyterian church in another state. I told him most churches are all alike now. They have about the same doctrine (like none) and the same music so it wouldn’t matter if he changed denominations. People change churches more frequently now, too. If there’s something they don’t like about a church, they just change. It’s a buyer’s “market.” I thought this was something new. But apparently it happened back in the days of the judges.
The key verse of the book of Judges is found in verse 6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” We live in similar times. Everyone forms their own theology and everyone forms their own politics. Everyone does what they think is right.
Back in that day, a man named Micah, an Ephraimite, stole some silver. He was a thief. And worse, he stole it from his mother! He disrespected his mother by stealing from her. But he heard her utter a curse so he gave it back. She was so happy that she dedicated the silver to the Lord and gave 20% of it to the silversmith to make into an idol to give to her son as a donation to his “shrine.” He had made his son a priest. Talk about homemade religions!
A Levite, a member of the ministerial clan of Israel, was passing through and Micah offered to pay him to be his personal priest. He thought God would prosper him because of it.
Judges 18: 1 – 13 Dan Them
The tribe of Dan had no place to settle because they hadn’t driven the pagans out of their assigned territory yet. Five of their scouts stayed at Micah’s. They asked the priest if they had the Lord’s blessing and he told them they did. They reported back to their leaders and decided to attack the area where Micah lived and take it. They came to Micah’s place and stole the contents of his shrine and made a deal with his priest to serve them.
Micah and some of his neighbors pursued the Danites and confronted them. It was obvious they couldn’t fight them and win so they put their tails between their legs and went home again.
The Danites went out to a neighboring peaceful town of Micah in Laish and killed all the people and burnt down their town. There was no one around to help the poor people. They re-named the town Dan. They set up religious shop there using Micah’s idols.
New Testament: John 3: 1-21
John 3: 1- 12 The Scholar Gets Schooled
Nicodemus was one of the religious leaders called the Pharisees. He didn’t want anyone to see him so he snuck to see Jesus at night to ask Him a question. He told Jesus He had caught his attention with all the miracles. Jesus told Nicky that he had to be “born again to see the kingdom of God” (v. 3).
Nicky said, “I don’t get it.” Jesus said there were two ways to be born, one fleshly and one spiritually. Nicodemus said he still didn’t get it. Jesus tried to explain it to him. He said, “you know how the wind blows and you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going?” Nicodemus still was not getting it. Jesus said, “Seriously? You teach all of Israel and you don’t get this stuff?”
Jesus told Nicodemus that He was already “up there” and He knows what’s going on. He tried another illustration with Nicodemus. “You know the story in the Penteteuch where Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole and everyone got healed? That’s what’s going to happen to me and everyone who looks to me will get to Heaven.”
Jesus told Nicodemus that God loved the world so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son so that whoever wills to have faith will not go to Hell but will go to Heaven. He told Nicky that His Father didn’t send Him to send people to Hell but so people would be saved from Hell. He told him that He had come as Light but that men liked darkness better because they were basically no good. But everyone who enjoys doing the right thing would choose Him to show where their heart was really at.