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Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24 - Judges 18

Today's reading in our daily plan is Judges 18. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • The Danites sent out a spy contingent to search out new territories in which they could live safely.
  • Along the way they came to the house of Micah (who we met in chapter 17) and sought counsel from the Levite priest.  
  • On their way to battle for the new land, they robbed Micah of his idol and household gods.  The Levite, attracted by the possibility of serving a tribe rather than one household, joins the Danites.
  • The Danites attacked the people at Laish, burned down their city, rebuilt it, and settled there. From that point on, the city of Dan (formerly Laish) became a center of idolatry.  

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Success does not mean our actions are right.  Just because the Danites successfully defeated Laish doesn't mean they were right in doing so.  God had commanded Israel to clean out and destroy certain cities because of their idolatry and wickedness.  Laish was not one of those.  But the tribe of Dan had no regard for God's law.  God was not guiding them in this battle.  
  • Micah had made his own idol and hired a priest to run his personal religion.  When the Danites took his idols and priest, he had nothing.  An idol is anything that takes God's place in our lives.  Some people invest all their energy in pursuit of money, success, possessions, or a career.  When those idols are taken away, we have nothing.  The only way to protect yourself against such loss is to invest your life in the living God, whom you can never lose.  
  • Although 300 years had passed since the Israelites had entered the promised land, they had not destroyed all of the idolatry and evil practices within it as God has called them to.  As a result they eventually turned their back on God and were drawn into the idolatrous practices of the pagan people in the land.  

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • We are often tempted to justify our wrong actions by outward signs of success.  We think wealth, popularity, or lack of suffering is an indication of God's blessing and approval.  But many stories in the Bible - such as this one - indicate that evil and earthly success can go hand in hand.  Success doesn't indicate God's approval.  Don't allow personal success to become a measurement of whether or not you are pleasing God.  
  • Even when one says "yes" to a relationship with God, there is a tendency in your life to allow "harmless" habits or idols to continue existing in our lives.  But they can become dominating forces.  If you let the values, attitudes, and practices of an unbelieving world continue to take up space in your life, they will affect your relationship with God.  What habits or idols do you need to uproot from your  life so you can grow in your relationship with God?