Judges Chapter 18
Last week we began
our study on Micah who turned out to be a very unusual person.
Because during this time, every man did that which was right in his
own eyes, Micah decided to setup his own little god house and hire
his own private priest. But we found that this was nothing more
than idol worship, and only by serving the true and living God will
we find happiness and joy. Micah's mother did not give him good
advice, but advised him to use the silver to make an image unto the
Lord. We know this violates the very first commandment. This week
we begin our study when there was no king in Israel.
I. The Spies Are Sent Out to
seek a place for the Danites
Judg 18:1 In those
days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the
Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day
all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of
We are told that
there was no king in Israel. This was the time of the judges, and
God had not yet set up the government where they had one earthly
king. As we mentioned earlier, this was a time when every man did
that which was right in his own eyes. This made for many bad
decisions by the people, just like we have happening here in America
today. The Danites had not possessed all of their inheritance that
God had given them due to fear of the Canaanites and Philistines.
Judg 18:2 And the
children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men
of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to
search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when
they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged
So the children of
Dan sent out spies to go in and search for a territory that them
might take and settle in that land. These five men went northward
and camped at Micah's home. When they heard Jonathan speaking, they
recognized his voice.
Judg 18:3 When they
were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the
Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought
thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou
The Danite spies
conversed with Jonathan and learned what his situation was as the
high priest for Micah. The men look over Micah's little personal
god house, and they admire the images and the way things were
setup. You and I need to be careful not to get too wrapped up in
looking at the way men can set up religion where is very
entertaining and pleasing to the mind and eye. God's house is not
to be made into a social entertainment center, and many today go
from one church to another looking for the newest and greatest fad.
I've read about everything from big screen projectors to sing the
music from without hymnals in a church near Dallas to contemporary
bands taking over the music service and playing music that is hard
to even tell that it has a gospel message, if it does at all. There
are many good social issues discussed, many good book reports read,
many evils of society discussed and debated from pulpits all across
our land, but while all of this might be fine in a social
environment, it is far removed from what God wants to be proclaimed
from His pulpits. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our foremost and
main objective as a church, and any church that fails to proclaim
that Gospel that Jesus brought, that Paul took to the Jews and the
Gentiles, the same Gospel that John the Baptist came proclaiming in
the wilderness, that church is missing its main focus. God help us
to not be like the Laodicean church who had put God on the outside
and he was there knocking, asking that He might come back in.
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church
of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful
and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art
neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm,
and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not
that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold
tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that
thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not
appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and
chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in
to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I
grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am
set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Judg 18:4 And he
said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired
me, and I am his priest.
Judg 18:5 And they
said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know
whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
Judg 18:6 And the
priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way
wherein ye go.
After admiring the
way things were setup by Micah, they ask Jonathan to inquire through
his idols as to whether God would bless their journey in search of
new land. He tells them to go on for the Lord would prosper their
journey. This would be like us coming to God's house today and
calling the Psychic Friend's Network to ask if someone was going to
be saved. Sure, these folks can tell you a lot of things for your
money, but they are not things of the Lord. Don't be surprised if
witches can not come up with some things that seem magical, but
their powers are not from God, but from Satan. We know before God
setup David as King of Israel, Saul went to the witch at Endor to
try and talk with Samuel. And this was very displeasing to God.
When we have questions about the work of God, we should seek God's
face, no one else. And do it directly through prayer, not thru a
medium or some incantation of men. If we want to know God's Will
for our lives, go to God.
Judg 18:7 Then the
five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were
therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians,
quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that
might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the
Zidonians, and had no business with any man.
So the spies proceed
north to the area of Lebanon, to a city called Laish. Here they
found Sidonian people who were secure that were not bothering
anyone. While these were heathen, the fact that they were quiet
and minding their own business made me think of the verse where God
commands his people to be that way.
1 Th 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet,
and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we
1 Th 4:12 That ye may walk honestly toward
them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
Matthew Henry said
this about the inhabitants of Laish.
The observation which the spies made upon
the city of Laish, and the posture of its inhabitants, v. 7. Never
was place so ill governed and so ill guarded, which would make it a
very easy prey to the invader.
1. It was ill governed, for every man
might be as bad as he would, and there was no magistrate, no heir
of restraint (as the word is), that might so much as put them
to shame in any thing, much less put them to death, so
that by the most impudent immoralities they provoked God’s wrath,
and by all manner of mutual mischiefs weakened and consumed one
another. See here, (1.) What the office of magistrates is. They are
to be heirs of restraint, that is, to preserve a constant
entail of power, as heirs to an inheritance, in the places where
they are, for the restraining of that which is evil. They are
possessors of restraint, entrusted with their authority for this
end, that they may check and suppress every thing that is vicious
and be a terror to evil doers. It is only God’s grace that
can renew men’s depraved minds and turn their hearts; but the
magistrate’s power may restrain their bad practices and tie their
hands, so that the wickedness of the wicked may not be either so
injurious or so infectious as otherwise it would be. Though the
sword of justice cannot cut up the root of bitterness, it may cut
off its branches and hinder its growth and spreading, that vice may
not go without a check, for then it becomes daring and dangerous,
and the community shares in the guilt .
Judg 18:8 And they
came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren
said unto them, What say ye?
Judg 18:9 And they
said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the
land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not
slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.
The spies return to
their brethren and report what they have found. They advise the
people to go up against the people in northern Lebanon, and to take
the land. They tell them that the land is very good. Apparently
they had found the land to be outstanding with much fruit and
vegetation for the animals. This is typically what we of the world
see, the things that appeal to the flesh. But we need to look
beyond the natural eye, and look into the deeper things and be sure
what we are doing is in the exact will of the Lord. Sometimes He
will let us have our wants, but we are commanded to crucify the
flesh each day by taking up our cross. As mentioned last week, the
cross always speaks of death. As Jesus died on the cross at Calvary
to free us from the penalty of sin, you and I are to die to
ourselves to make us vessels mete for the master's use. A humble
and contrite heart is of much value to the Lord.
Judg 18:10 When ye
go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God
hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any
thing that is in the earth.
The spies say some of
the same things that Caleb and Joshua had told the nation of Israel
when they came over and spied out Canaan for the first time. God
has given it into your hands, just go and take it.
II. The Danite Army Prepares to
Judg 18:11 And
there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah
and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.
Judg 18:12 And they
went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they
called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind
The tribe of Dan
prepares to go to war. They went up and setup a large camp at
Kirjathjearim which became known as Mahanehdan. (Camp Dan was the
Judg 18:13 And they
passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.
Judg 18:14 Then
answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and
said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses
an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now
therefore consider what ye have to do.
When they arrive at
Micah's house, the spies told the rest of the tribe about his well
equipped personal god-house.
Judg 18:15 And they
turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the
Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
Judg 18:16 And the
six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of
the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.
Judg 18:17 And the
five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither,
and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the
molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with
the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.
As we studied last
week, there was a graven image, an ephod, and a teraphim in the gold
house along with a molten image. The armed men stood by the
entering of the gate. It is likely that they were showing their
strength in case Micah did not to give them the false gods they
desired. They stood waiting as the 5 spies went up to Micah's house
and took the gods they desired.
III. The Protest of the Priest
Judg 18:18 And
these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the
ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest
unto them, What do ye?
Judg 18:19 And they
said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go
with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee
to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest
unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
Judg 18:20 And the
priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim,
and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.
Judg 18:21 So they
turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the
carriage before them.
Jonathan asks what
they were doing. They offer to make him priest of the entire tribe
of Dan if he would come with him. Power and money will cause many
to become corrupt. Instead of being priest of one family, he will
now be the priest of an entire tribe. There appears a lot of honor
and glory goes with the job, so he accepts the position. We are
told that this pleased Jonathan well. After they make the deal,
they continue on with their journey. When you and I make a decision
about taking a job, we should prayerfully seek God's face on the
issue. I have done this several times in my life, and when I knew
the Lord's Will for sure, it came easy to say yes or no to the
opportunity. And God has always provided and took care of us by
doing things according to His Will.
IV. Micah sets
out after the Danites
Judg 18:22 And when
they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in
the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and
overtook the children of Dan.
Judg 18:23 And they
cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and
said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a
It appears that Micah
did not know what was happening when the Danites were robbing him of
his idols. They had gotten far down the road when Micah aroused his
neighbors and they joined him in attempting to retrieve his
possessions. Perhaps some of the neighbors had come to Micah's god
house to worship. Either way, they soon overtook the Danites. The
children had been put in front of the marching group. The men ask
what is the problem?
Judg 18:24 And he
said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and
ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say
unto me, What aileth thee?
Judg 18:25 And the
children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us,
lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the
lives of thy household.
Micah explains how
that they had taken his idols, and his priest, and they were off
with them. The tribe of Dan gives Micah some straight advice. They
tell him to hold his tongue, lest some one of them become angry and
they run upon him and kill the people with him. Most likely there
were fewer people with Micah than there was in the tribe of Dan.
V. The Danites Continue their
Judg 18:26 And the
children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were
too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.
Micah realizes that
he can not win a battle against so many, so he turns back without
his idols. He did not realize it, but they were really doing him a
favor. If someone came and took something from us that keeps us
from serving the Lord with a complete heart, we would be blessed.
But only by a close walk with the Lord will we realize it.
Micah should have
realized how worthless these man made gods were, and turned to serve
the true and living God. God could bless him with much, much more
than what he had lost to the tribe of Dan.
Judg 18:27 And they
took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had,
and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure:
and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city
Judg 18:28 And
there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had
no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by
Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.
The tribe of Dan
descends on the city of Laish and overthrew it with the edge of the
sword. They slaughtered the inhabitants and burned the city. Laish
was in the valley next to Bethrehob, a plain of the upper Jordan
through which the river flows toward the sea of Galilee.
Judg 18:29 And they
called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father,
who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at
Laish, they built their own city, which they named Dan.
VI. The Danite
Judg 18:30 And the
children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of
Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the
tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
Judg 18:31 And they
set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that
the house of God was in Shiloh.
When they all settled
in, the Danites arranged their own temple and made Jonathan their
priest like they had promised. We learn who this priest was and his
ancestors. Some say that the word Manasseh actually pointed to
Moses. Jonathan's sons served as priest of the Danite idols
throughout the period of judges. (All the time that the tabernacle
stood in Shiloh.)
J. Vernon McGee spoke
of the apostasy of Jonathan.
Here is a picture of real apostasy,
friend. Who is Jonathan? He happens to be the grandson of Moses!
These people had gone a long way from God. Remember that Moses had
said, speaking for the Lord, “Thou shalt have no other gods before
me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth
beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exod. 20:3–4).
And here is Moses’ grandson, a priest with an idol! This is tragic.
When I was a young man studying for the
ministry, I was shocked to learn some of the things that were going
on within the organized church. Because I had not been brought up in
the church, it was a new world and a new life for me. I was deeply
impressed with the life and ministry of Dwight L. Moody and
considered him a real saint of God—which he was, by the way.
Then a man who knew him and knew his family told me, “One of his
sons holds an office in the most liberal organization in this
country.” During those early days nothing hurt me as that did. I
just couldn’t understand how a son of a man like Moody could depart
from the gospel of Jesus Christ and from the integrity and inerrancy
of the Word of God!
My friend, apostasy is an awful
thing. And a nation’s problems begin with religious apostasy. This
is what happened to the nation of Israel. Here we see Moses’
grandson serving as priest with Micah’s graven image!
There are several
lessons to be learned from Judges Chapter 18.
1. Consecration to God is not in the
word or outward act, but in the heart.
2. Many who claim to serve the Lord are
deceivers only and bring no benefit to those who think they will
profit by association with them.
3. A god who can be possessed today and
lost tomorrow is not a god who can save his worshippers.
4. A false system of worship, even when
of long standing, is none the better than a new found system, for
both are abominable to the Lord.
5. Even a good man cannot be assured
that all of his descendants will follow in his footsteps, or that
some will not shame his memory.
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will
Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary
on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers)
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary
[computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System,
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.