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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Joshua 17

 

 

Verses 1-18

BOLD IDOLATRY IN ISRAEL

(vv. 1-13)

Samson was the last judge in Israel. The last five chapters of Judges -- 17 to 21 -- deal with conditions during the time of the Judges, so do not necessarily take place after Samson.The history of Micah and the Danites (chapters 17 and 18) illustrates the spiritual corruption (idolatry) into which Israel sank so soon after coming into their land, while chapters 19-21 emphasize the moral corruption of the people. Certainly idolatry is the worst of these two, for it is against God, but no opposition from Israel was raised against idolatry, though they were incensed against the moral corruption (tie. 20:11-13). How sad it is that we generally think more of the people's rights than of God's rights!

Micah was from Mount Ephraim. We are introduced to him as confessing to his mother that he had stolen 1100 shekels of silver from her, reminding her also that she had pronounced a curse against the thief.His mother said nothing about the curse, but told him, "May you be blessed by the Lord, my son!" (v. 2).

Then she made it evident that she idolized her son, by telling him she had wholly dedicated this money to the Lord to make a carved image and a molded image for her son (v. 3). She evidently wanted her son to be religious, but was teaching him to refuse to obey the Word of God!The first of the ten commandments sternly forbad idolatry and image making (Exodus 20:3-4), but here this wickedness was rising in the midst of the land of Israel!

Micah's mother used 200 shekels for the making of the images.Are we like her in any respect?Do we speak of devoting everything to the Lord, then keep back nine elevenths for ourselves?But of course none of this was really devoted to the Lord, but to an evil purpose.

Micah also had a shrine.Where did he learn of this but from the idolatrous nations in the land?He made an ephod also, copying what was only to be worn by the high priest of Israel (Leviticus 8:7). Then to crown his wickedness, he consecrated his son as his priest (v. 5). Scripture had declared plainly that only those of the line of Aaron were priests, and anyone who dared to infringe on this was to be put to death (Numbers 18:1-7).Also, a priest was a priest for all Israel, not for a family.But independence is a natural weed of the human heart, and that independence expressed itself everywhere in Israel at the time: "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (v. 6).

At this time a young man, a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, was traveling, looking for a convenient place to stay (v. 7).A Levite at least ought to have consulted God and been guided by God as to where he should be, but he was like some preachers today who are looking for a church where they might find amore or less permanent position.One who is the Lord's servant should not be aimless and haphazard in what he does.

Coming into the mountains of Ephraim, the man happened to stop at Micah's house (v. 8). Micah inquired as to where he cane from, and when he learned the man was a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, Micah discerned a wonderful opportunity of having a Levite as his priest instead of his son (vv. 9-10). He offered him 10 shekels of silver per year, plus his sustenance (room and board) and a suit of clothes. Such bargains are made also today in Christian circles, and preachers are hired on agreed terms.This is not scriptural at all, but is plausible in the eyes of unspiritual people.

The Levite ought to have had sense enough to refuse this, specially when it involved him with idols and also elevating him to the priesthood (which was gross wickedness), but he was evidently insensible to the serious evil that was laid as a snare to his feet. The agreement was made, and then Micah consecrated the Levite as a priest, as he had done with his son. Who gave Micah the authority to consecrate a priest?

Yet similarly today, people are "ordained" by those who have no God-given authority whatever.In fact, each independent "church" has its own policies of ordaining. They think that the fact that God instructed Moses to consecrate priests of the line of Aaron is a justification for their consecrating priests or pastors or "reverends" as they see fit! They think that since God gave Moses such authority, they are within their rights to assume such authority too! But in the New Testament there is no suggestion of God giving to any man the authority to ordain others to any spiritual position.

Micah did not seek God's guidance at all, yet he said, "Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!" (v. 13). He did not remember that when Korah (a Levite) wanted to usurp the priesthood of Israel, God caused the earth to open and swallow him up (Numbers 16:10; Numbers 16:31-32). Thus, at the first God had shown His great anger against such evil, which should have been enough to warn men, but later He allowed the evil to go unchecked. Why? Not that He hated it less, but patiently waited with a view to testing all Israel, so that when they failed the test, judgment was all the more severe when it eventually fell.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 17:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/joshua-17.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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