The high demand for false religion
Judges 17-18 chronicles a fairly obscure, and, I’ve always thought, slightly weird, account of the lengths to which people will go in their attempts to create God in their own image. Take this guy Micah. He steals 1,100 shekels from his mother, and she blesses him. It strikes me that he’s kind of used to getting his own way. His mom had already planned to dedicate the money to making a carved image and molded image for her son to worship, when the money was apparently stolen. So the fact that her son had stolen the money was merely efficient.
But Micah returned the money to his mother, who in turn gave part of it to a silversmith and commissioned the idols. Micah procured a shrine and an ephod, consecrated one of his sons to be a priest, and he was all set to worship the god of his wishful imagination.
A Levite showed up, and Micah made the Levite an offer he couldn’t refuse, and now he really had something enviable: a member of the priestly tribe of the Levites, consecrated, no less, by Micah himself; a shrine, an official ephod, and some genuine silver household idols. The mind reels at all the power he must have believed he now had over God.
Some Danites came along and, not to be outdone by an untalented Ephraimite, robbed Micah of the (perhaps stupidly grinning?) idols and had no trouble convincing the Levite that he would be a better priest to the lot of them than just to Micah and his household. After all, a bigger church is always a better church. It was like a promotion for the Levite. The Danites were fairly persuasive, threatening to kill Micah and everyone in his household if he didn’t turn over the goods.
False religion has always been an in-demand commodity. It’s fairly cheap because it requires so little effort. Its hallmarks are the downplaying of God’s glory and sovereignty, and the minimizing of man’s sinfulness.
“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:21, NKJV)