Last month I commented on the story out of the Book of Judges chapter 17 about a man and his mother who seemed to believe that they were serving and following God. Both were seriously mistaken. They had ideally set up their own version of a religious system that conveniently facilitated their own personal wants and needs. Sadly, they were oblivious to the fact that they were morally and spiritually bankrupt and in total rebellion to God and His specific commands, in spite of all their religious nuances.
When people begin to act upon their own whims rather than on God´s instructions, which are set up to be the guidelines for our lives, it always leads to moral decay. The decline is subtle and the decay not readily noticeable because of all the superficial Christian terminology and superfluous religious activity operating on the surface, therefore it spreads undetected, infecting everything and everyone to the very core.
My focus this month is on the Levite (priest) in this story who is an illustration of the moral depravity which had also crept into the priesthood. He was definitely a minister that just did not want to sound judgmental or preach anything that was going to be confrontational! Instead of correcting Micah and his mother on the error of their ways and instructing them to remove the idols from their home and out of their lives (which is a Levite´s mandate from God), he fell right in line with their anti-biblical and idolatrous lifestyle and moved into their home and embraced their idolatry.
Just when you think that the story cannot get any worse, along comes the tribe of Dan seeking a prophetic word from God! The Levite, sounding more like a motivational speaker than a spiritual leader, was operating under a false anointing, because he had NOT heard from God, yet he advised them that all was well and God was going to bless their plans. Delighted with this ear-tickling ´good news´, and obviously for their own benefit, they offered to hire him and explained how it was much more profitable for him to be working for a large tribe of 600 men rather than for just one man. It did not take much convincing. Scripture records that his heart was ´glad´ as he eagerly seized this great opportunity that was presented to him. He was definitely a man looking for ´job security´ and this offer seemed too good to be true.
His mind set was obviously that ´if it´s bigger... than it must be better... so it MUST BE God´s will!´ He did not seem to realize that bigger and better does not constitute that something is of God or that it even has anything to do with God. That misconception is merely pragmatism which is an ideology that concerns itself with practical consequences, not the actual will of God. If bigger meant better, or was even an accurate representation of success, than Noah would have been considered a terrible failure because he preached for 120 years and only had seven converts to his credit. Jesus would also have been viewed as a miserable failure because he ended up with only 120 actual followers who gathered in the upper room, even though he spent three years healing the sick and raising the dead.
This Levite, like many ministers today, was chasing after material benefits and convenience rather than fulfilling his obligation as he pursued his own interests. He obviously knew that he would gain much prestige which is automatically the outcome of gathering large crowds. For all intent and purpose, he would certainly appear to be greatly in tune with God. Naturally, that would attract even greater numbers. He would then be able to boast about ´church growth´ and how God was blessing his ministry, yet all the while there would be no growth ´in´ the people themselves. No maturity. No transformation in their character, morals or values. Those things actually take a nose-dive because the minister is preaching only to attract the vast crowds with a watered-down gospel that spouts, "I´m OK. You´re OK. Everything is just hunky-dory!"
It is very infectious. It has become an epidemic even though the people that are feasting on it are becoming spiritually emaciated because they are coming to God looking for what they can get from Him, rather than being committed to ´serving´ Him. They then come to believe that their personal comfort and happiness is God´s sole objective.
Instead of a diet of meat and substance that is nutritious and beneficial and prepares them for eternity, people are being fed a diet of humanism, which seeks and values human interest above all else. They should be feasting on solid food (Hebrews 5:11) which would ensure that they would mature and adopt a balanced and complete theology that would enable them to discern between right and wrong so that they would not behave as the Tribe of Dan had, who with the blessings of the Levite, went to Laish and attacked people who could not defend themselves and who were ´quiet and secure (not bothering anybody) and they smote them with the edge of the sword and burnt the city with fire.´ (Judges 18:27)
This gross tragedy might have been totally avoided had this Levite simply instructed them in the undiluted, unadulterated, unchanging and divinely inspired Word of God and taught what God expected of them rather than preaching how God wanted to meet their needs. But, he did no such thing. It was not considered popular. It would not have attracted the crowds and it would not have gained him a promotion. Instead, on his way to bigger and greener pasture, he absconded with Micah´s entire collection of idols. How´s that for being a Godly role model and example? I guess he thought that God wanted him to have it ALL!
Times have not changed, therefore there needs to be a paradigm shift back to sermons that nurture a standard of righteousness and holy living, by those ministers who are not concerned with fame, fortune or numbers, but simply want to please God and shepherd His flock. They already stand out heads above the rest, feeding God´s sheep with the Words of Life, yet those that are dumb will simply not come.