Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Today’s Topic: False Worship
Today’s Text: Judges 21:25 (ESV)
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
It is inherently true in the very nature of man that we surrender to a ruler – to someone from whom we seek guidance and to whom we grant control over the motives and activities of our lives. That ruler is either someone other than ourselves, or as is true in most cases, it is our self. We are addicted to doing what is right in our own eyes.
The temptation is to think that others are guilty but not me. None of us would be naturally so humble or so brave as to admit that what we are doing is only for our own good. We have developed lots of justifications for the choices we make, and each one has an element of good appearances, but at the very root of it the action is designed to enhance our own measure of self.
In the last five chapters of Judges we read story after story of man’s choices based on the false assumption that we can be in relationship with God and yet make choices that satisfy our fleshly desires. It starts in Judges 17, with the story of a man named Micah (not the prophet) who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother. After her curse upon whoever stole it, he admits what he did and returns the silver to her. When she received it back, this is what she said – “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son…” Sounds great, right? She is giving apparent worship to the Lord for the honesty of her son, and is even going to give her son a reward for his honesty.
But wait, there’s more that she said. She also declares, “…to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” She says she is dedicating the silver to the Lord but in reality uses it to make an idol of false worship. Not only does the son do that, but he uses the rest of the silver to make other items of idolatry, and sets up a shrine in his home. He even goes on to appoint one of his sons as a priest of their newly-founded religion.
The story continues when a Levite is persuaded to serve as a priest, giving even more human credibility to their false religion. From there the descendants of the tribe of Dan capture the shrine and idols and take them as their own to give spiritual support to their attacks of innocent people so they can capture more land for themselves. It eventually turns into an all-out war, and the book of Judges concludes with this statement – In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Four times in those five chapters we are told that Israel had no king. They had made the choice to appoint self as king and serve him wholeheartedly. Everything they did had a fake covering of faith when in reality it was all done for self-fulfillment.
It makes me wonder how true that is of you and me in this modern world. How many things do we say we are doing as an act of worship to the Lord when in reality we are doing what we have decided is best for ourselves?
That’s a serious question to contemplate. Who will take the challenge of such personal and potentially life-changing self-evaluation? The bottom line is this – who is Lord of your life? Everyone has one and is eternally responsible for their choice of who it is. Will it be self, or the Lord of Lords Jesus Christ?