SanLo Community, an update for the week of November 11, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Joshua for the message from Judges 17–18, “Man-Made Religion.” 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This verse has been one of the biggest reoccurring themes in the book of Judges that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. They were worshipping pagan gods, self-made wooden and metal idols, the kinds of things you would imagine today in foreign countries where they don’t know Jesus. While the things in our lives we worship aren’t carved or metal objects, there are things we make BIGGER than God, and foreign ideas that we allow to MERGE with our understanding of who God is. So our key idea is, “Our ways are manufactured religion while God’s way is our only hope.” How are we manufacturing our own religion? How are we making our own false gods and idols in our own lives? We have nothing wooden or made of metal, but what are we bowing to that takes precedent over the Lord?
1) Too often we choose to do what’s right in our own eyes (Judges 17:1-6). We make our own false gods and idols by doing what is right to us just as we see Micah & his mother choosing to do what was right in their eyes. The first thing we learn about Micah is that he’s a thief. His name translates to, “Who is like Yahweh?” when names were supposed to reflect the faith of the person who bore them but it’s very clear here that Micah is not a faithful guy. First, he’s caught stealing (Exodus 20:15; Deut. 5:19) and secondly, he’s caught showing contempt for his mother (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). It’s only once Micah hears his mother’s curse of the thief does he return the money. When we meet Micah’s mom, it seems like she is a pious woman but she has the consecrated silver made into cult objects. So both Micah AND his mother, did what was right in their own eyes. How ironic is it that though they’re both Israelites and called to be God’s people living in accordance with His Word, they intentionally and purposefully fly in direct opposition of who God is over and over. We are like Micah and his mom. We might not have physical idols lying around the house but we believe we know God, borrowing ideals from the world, mixing our own personal religions into our faith. Security, sex, human wisdom, new job titles, personal happiness, school, even family… Each of these things aren’t sinful idols in and of themselves but when they lose their proper place before God they become our personal man-made gods that make God an afterthought. So why do we try and do what’s right in our own eyes instead of what’s right in God’s eyes? Why do we create our personal man-made gods and allow them to rule our lives?
2) We convince ourselves that our wants are God’s wants (Judges 17:7-13). Doing what’s right in our own eyes is not so much about worshiping other gods but about worshiping God in the wrong way like Micah. And what we see here in verses 7 to 13 is Micah convincing himself that his wants are God’s wants. He believes God will bless him now that he has his man-made worship all setup now that he’s got a Levite as his priest. But the Levite wasn’t supposed to be a priest for an individual but for a nation, the nation of Israel. However, the Levite goes about fulfilling his wants the wrong way and Micah, with his new hire, convinces himself that the Lord will now let him “…prosper, because [he] has a Levite as a priest.” In what ways are we trying to convince ourselves that we’re following God? How are we twisting God’s good desires for us and distorting them to make them more palpable to our earthly tastes? For one, many times we want the good things that God offers: eternal life, salvation, heaven, material and spiritual blessings… but we don’t want God Himself. In other words, we want God’s things but we don’t want to live with God Himself. So again church, this is a question we must all ask. How am I worshiping my own man-made gods? How am I worshiping Jesus in the wrong ways? The root of all our wants, our twisted idols and misplaced desires all stem from one place: the heart. We convince ourselves that what we want deep down inside is what God wants for us… But what truly is deep down inside is our own sin that betrays and misleads us. Now that we’ve seen how we blind ourselves with our misplaced desires, how does God treat our man-made religions? If God is just, how should He handle our injustice towards Him?
3) God always has the final word (Judges 18:1-31). In the end, God judges Micah: sparing him his life but taking away all of his man-made religion. If God judged Micah and we are like Micah, being honest with ourselves, how could we too not be judged? We’re all broken people. We all have made our own man-made idols and have chosen to worship God in the wrong way by misplacing priorities of who or what we should be centrally building our lives upon. So God in His great foresight knew we couldn’t live the perfect God-centered worshipful lives we are called to so He prepared a way for us. That by giving up His only Son Jesus to live the perfect life we were supposed to live and dying the death that we rightfully deserved to die, Jesus paved the way to our redemption, Him willingly and lovingly allowing us to identify with Him in His resurrection from the dead. So now, because of Jesus, not by any work of our own, God sees us as He sees His own Son. We no longer need to be afraid of an impending judgment because of the beautiful grace that God offers us in the gospel.
Two simple applications we can walk away with: 1) Repent. Ask the Lord for forgiveness for your personal man-made religion. Ask Him to change and transform your hearts to look like His own. 2) Hope. Hope knowing that our salvation is assured by faith in Jesus Christ. This is the beauty of the gospel. That the more we realize and see the man-made gods in our lives, the deeper we know God’s grace goes. The greater we understand our sin, ever greater more we can celebrate in awe and joy of our God’s grace that is greater than our sin. Would we not seek manufactured religion but God’s way for He is our only hope.