The Danger of Creating My Own Truth
This passage I read this week just really disgusts me. I finished Judges the beginning of this week, and how this book ends literally makes me say, "Ugh". Judges 17-21 recounts this terrible story of a man named Micah who, after stealing money from his mother, gives it back to her after she pronounces a curse on whoever stole it. His mother then quickly covers up his sin and the curse with a little blessing. Then, she takes a portion of the money to a silversmith in exchange for a carved image and a metal image. Micah then builds a shrine, erected the idols, has an ephod made, self-appoints one of his sons to be priest. Then, this Levite comes along, looking for a place to spend the night. Micah finds out the man is a Levite and self-appoints the Levite to be his "in-home priest"; the "priest" agrees to perform the special duties; and Micah is convinced the Lord will be pleased because he has a Levite for his priest.
Wait- it gets worse. The Levite happily performs his duties- la-de-dah-de-dah.... then along come some men from the tribe of Dan. They ask the Levite to inquire of God about their journey (they were heading out to spy in the land). The Levite tells them "their journey is under the eye of the Lord". So, the men depart and decide to totally destroy this city of unsuspecting, peaceable Sidonians (18:7-10). So, they prepare for the battle with all their weapons. Then, they go back to Micah's shrine and begin taking the images and ephod. The Levite asks them what they are doing. They convince the Levite to come with them and be the priest for the whole tribe of Dan- instead of the priest for just one household. (What a deal, huh?!) So, the Levite goes with them. Micah confronts the men, but he is fairly outnumbered. So, the Danites took the images, conquered and destroyed the peaceable people whom they just decided to destroy (really, for no reason....), then, they go back home, erect the idols, and "Jonathan, the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up Micah's carved image that he had made for as long as the house of God was at Shiloh" (18:30-31). Disgusted yet? It gets worse.
In chapter 19, we read of a Levite who had a concubine. (Not sure if this was the same Levite who was the Micah-appointed, Danite-appointed priest??) Anyways, he goes to visit his concubine's family. Stays there several days (at the convincing of the girl's father). Finally, he says he really needs to go and they leave. They get as far as a place called Jebus. Instead of staying there (Jebusites were "foreigners"), they decide to go in and spend the night in Gibeah, which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. An old man invites them to come stay at his house for the night. In verse 22, the Bible tells us the men of the city came banging on the old man's door looking for the Levite to come out so they could lie with him. The old man tells them to go away. They don't. So, he gives them the Levite's concubine. The men of Gibeah used and abused her so much all night, that by morning, she could only crawl to the door and lay there, where she died. (See why I said, "UGH!!!") The Levite comes out and tells her to get up so they can go. Obviously, she can't. So he puts her on his donkey and leaves the city. When he gets home, he cuts the woman up into twelve pieces and sends each piece to the twelve territories in Israel.
Men from each tribe meet together to see what they should do about this evil thing that had happened. They decide to go to war against the men of Gibeah. They also decide to inquire of the Lord who should go up to fight. The Lord tells them. However, the men of Gibeah defeat the other men of Israel. Twice. Each time, the people ask of the Lord, and he tells them to go. But they are defeated twice. Then, on the third try, I read, "And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel... (20:35). Then, finally, the last chapter of Judges, shares this story about how the Israelites were convinced they could not give any of their wives to men from the tribe of Benjamin because of the wretched thing the men of Gibeah did. So, they decide to hide in the vineyards of Shiloh and swipe any woman who comes to the vineyards dancing. So, they did. (They were able to do this by bargaining with the men of Shiloh because Shiloh had refused to help them in battle.) Then, Scripture shares the people of Benjamin rebuilt their cities and lived in them.
Ugh. Again, I say, "Ugh".
What is the point of all this? After reading through this, I kept going back to an oft-repeated phrase in these chapters: "In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
Who was supposed to be Israel's king? Yep. God was. Yet, there's that phrase: "In those days, there was no king in Israel...." This indicates the people had no regard for God as king. And, their attitudes and actions in these chapters certainly declare this to be true.
From stealing money, to idol worship, to distorting the priesthood, to false prophecies and blessing, to defiling a woman, to going into a botched battle (and having the gall to "inquire of the Lord" about it), to coming up with their own plan to get wives.... it's all a mess.
But, I found myself convicted in this regard:
How often do I create my own way of truth to fit my agenda?
Micah created his own way of idol worship.
The Danites were desperate enough for idols they took Micah's.
The people of Israel took matters into their own hands regarding punishment for the men of Gibeah (when all along, "everyone was doing what was right in his own eyes!")
Before I get all huffy and indignant with these people, I must remember how easily my own heart erects idols. I must remember how I readily create my own bits of truth or believe false ideologies to fit my agenda and desires.
In reading these chapters, I wrote in my Bible: "Men are more zealous to support their own authority than that of God. They (the Israelites) would have been better if they had repented and sought forgiveness God's way instead of creating their own way to avoid penalty. See the terrible effects of men getting advice from men on truth which can only come from God." (see also commentary by Matthew Henry on these chapters).
Who is reigning in your heart as King?
Is God and his truth reigning supreme?
Or are you twisting truth, getting truth from other sources, erecting little idols of self-gratification to satisfy your desires?
I am so convicted on this.
This is all very real. And, these stories punctuated what happens when people allow their own ideologies to override God and his word.
It's like when a kid takes play dough and attempts to make a bowl or a cup. Will it hold water? Nope. But, when a master potter makes a mug or a bowl, and painstakingly creates the masterpiece, the end result holds water.
God is King. He reigns. He is in control. Yet, he sometimes allows his children to continue in foolishness (play dough) that he might show us the riches of his kindness and forbearance to us (the Master Potter). Instead of getting flustered and upset at God and at people, I must mark my own life and ways I am living. Do I follow Him as KING? Or am I following my own heart, eagerly picking up crumbs of self-made truth and throwing him an occasional prayer or pious act?
Oh, may God forgive our selfish, self-appointed holiness. May we seek his face. His forgiveness. His truth. May we feed our minds on his riches. We cannot bear to let our hearts stray into creating our own truth, our own kingdoms. He must be KING.
He will be KING. He IS KING. May he reign in your heart and life today- and every day!
"Lord, forgive us for our pride
When our faith becomes a show
Dressed in righteous deeds to hide
All the stains below
We have judged Your sons and daughters
For the sin that is our own
May we now forgive each other
And lay down our stones
Lord, forgive us for our love
Of the things we wish to own
We forsake the feast above
For all the crumbs below
Though You’ve made us sons and daughters
We do not the world disown
May we find our greatest treasure
Is in You alone"
Song for meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v3v1C8K0mc