Judges 18:14-20 (ESV)
14 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15 And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. 16 Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18 And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20 And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.
In this passage, we see something of the decline of Israel. The people of Dan are looking for a place to live, because they have not obeyed God and driven out the inhabitants of their assigned portion of land. While scouting out a place, the men of Dan discover that an Israelite man has a little pagan shrine in his home with an idol, ephod, and Levite serving as their godless priest.
Fascinating is the tension in the scene. The scouts say to the soldiers, “Now therefore consider what you will do.” The answer should have been violence against the Levite and Micah who had fashioned false gods and was corrupting the worship of the true God in Israel. That would have fit everything else happening in the Old Testament at that time. However, the answer was something different. Instead of opposing the blasphemy happening in Israel, the Danites decide that they would rather have the idols for themselves.
I suppose that this gets my attention this morning because it is such a clear picture of a people turning away from the Lord. How far must they have fallen to look at something clearly wrong and call it right? But, a look at Romans 1 shows us that such things happen to societies, and that is the judgment of God for the sinfulness of people.
Lord, I ask that you would protect me from the sinful desire to call right wrong and wrong right. Help me to follow your word. I understand that the failure of the men in this passage is not unique. I know that I could also easily decide that something that is clearly wrong is OK for me or that something that clearly is right is not necessary for me. Keep me, I pray, in your word and filled with your Spirit so that I might rightly recognize right and wrong and follow you faithfully. I also thank you for Jesus, who paid the penalty for all the times that I already have mixed up good and evil in my own heart.