Israel had no king and they had rejected God as their ruler.
The Danite tribe were without a permanent home. They had not yet settled in any particular area. They sent out five warriors to spy out the land. They came across the young Levite, who was a paid priest in Micah’s house, and later returned with six hundred armed Danites and stole the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol (v.17) from Micah’s homemade non-official shrine.
They persuaded the young priest to go with them to minister to their whole tribe rather than just to Micah’s household. Micah tried to chase over after them and intervene but their fighting force was too strong for him to attack. He was distraught at the loss of his manufactured ‘gods’ along with his unofficial priest: ‘What else do I have?’ (v.24). He was probably more upset about the monetary value of his idols than their spiritual worth. If they hadn’t been made out of silver, he could have simply made more of his worthless ‘gods’.
The Danites attacked the peaceful and unsuspecting people of Laish and settled there. There, they set up the stolen idols and their own Levite priests all the time the official house of God was in Shiloh. Israel have not just rejected God as their leader and lost their human leaders, they have started stealing good-luck deities from each other. They were basically starting up their own local religions. This wasn’t going to end well. The one true God is a jealous God.
As children of God we now know better: ‘Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:29-30).
A Levite and His Concubine
This is a very disturbing story. The Israelites living in Gibeah, who were Benjamites, had started acting like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), prior to its destruction. Evil men in the town wanted to rape visitors, rather than shelter them for the night. A few people, like Lot in Sodom, still showed outstanding hospitality and generosity but they were outnumbered and surrounded by wicked, sexually-depraved neighbours.
A man who had suffered from their actions sent a gruesome package to all the other areas of Israel. He challenged the other Israelites to see if they would tolerate such dark wickedness in the Promised Land. Lacking a moral leader, Israel was descending into chaos. They desperately lacked a powerful saviour who could bring light into their darkened world.
Jesus told the people, ‘I am the light of the world’ (v.12). He promised us the ‘light of life’ when we follow him. People who don’t follow him walk in darkness, stumbling around and falling down pits of deception to their eternal death. As disciples of Jesus we can bring his light to dispel any darkness we encounter and illuminate the way to life so people can choose it.
Jesus’ decisions are always correct. Jewish law required two witnesses for a valid testimony. Jesus always had his Father to back him up (and the Holy Spirit). That makes three!
Jesus confirmed that belief in him is vital if we are to die without the punishment that our sins merit: ‘I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ (v.24).
When Jesus was crucified, the world went dark as his light left us. There was an earthquake, the dead left their tombs and the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom; then more people realised that Jesus was the Son Of God.
Jesus told the Pharisees twice in today’s reading that he was God using the most Holy name of God: ‘I am’ (8:24,28). We can proudly tell everyone that we are adopted children of God on account of our baptism and belief in Christ.
We should always try to do what pleases God. Jesus spoke what God had taught him (v.28). The Father was always with Jesus, just as the Holy Trinity is always with those who place their faith in Jesus.
King David called on God to help him and his people with his right hand. God loves the Israelites and will be faithful to his covenant with them.
Compared to the help of God, the assistance of man is worthless.
David knew that with God he would always gain the victory over his enemies. However, if we persistently sin against God he can temporarily reject us. However, God will not spurn a contrite heart. He will listen to our desperate prayers.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Image: Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons