Religion According to Man

Text: Galatians 1:6-10


I.         What happens when man decides to worship God in his own way?

            A.        We see among denominations thousands of varying beliefs, yet all claim to be worshiping God and using the Bible as their guide

            B.        Some even abandon the Bible and use other books, such as the book of Mormon

            C.        Could God have created such confusion?

            D.        We are going to examine the creation of a religion in the name of God recording in the book of Judges to see some of the traits of man-made religions

II.        Micah’s Religion

            A.        Judges 17:1-2

                        1.         We start out with a man named Micah who had stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his own mother

                                    a.         To put the amount into perspective, recall that 20 pieces of silver bought a healthy, young male slave (Genesis 37:28). 30 pieces of silver bought the potter’s field (Matthew 27:3-10). 150 pieces could buy you a fine war horse (I Kings 10:29). 600 pieces would purchase an imported Egyptian chariot (I Kings 10:29).

                        2.         His mother had pronounced some severe curses on the thief, not knowing it was her own son.

                        3.         Probably in fear of those curses, he owned up to the thief and returned the silver.

            B.        Judges 17:3-5

                        1.         In her joy, she dedicates the silver to the Lord for the purpose of making a idol!

                                    a.         Or another way to look at it: What do you do with cursed money?

                                    b.         You give it to God because the curse won’t affect Him.

                        2.         She then hands over 200 pieces of silver to the silversmith for the making of the idol (anyone notice that she went from 1,100 pieces of silver wholly dedicated to 200 in the actual making?)

                        3.         Micah already had a shrine (literally “a house of Gods”) to which he then made an ephod (priestly garments) and additional household idols.

                        4.         He made one of his sons his “priest”

            C.        Judges 17:6 - Explains how he manage to do this without rebuke.

            D.        Judges 17:7-13

                        1.         Some time later, a Levite was traveling through looking for a place to settle down.

                        2.         Micah offers him a position as priest in his household at a very handsome wage.

                        3.         The Levite agrees and becomes one of the family.

                        4.         Notice that Micah believes he has purchased God’s favor because he has a Levite serving before his idols.

            E.        Judges 18:1-6

                        1.         Meanwhile, the tribe of Dan enters the picture.

                        2.         This tribe has not gained their inheritance by driving out the current inhabitants, so they were searching for an easier place to conquer.

                        3.         Spies for the tribe came to Micah’s place and recognizing the Levite, asked how he ended up there.

                        4.         Finding out that he was a “priest” now, they asked him to ask God if they would succeed.

                                    a.         The priest said “yes,” but notice it doesn’t say he actually asked God or that God actually answered.

                                    b.         But then the message is exactly what the people wanted to hear – isn’t this what most false prophets offer? - II Timothy 4:3-4

            F.        Judges 18:7-12

                        1.         The spies soon found the city of Laish, which is near the source of the Jordan river in the Lebanon mountains. It was a peaceful region, off the beaten path, and easy pickings since they haven’t warred in ages and had no one to appeal to for help.

                        2.         So the tribe of Dan decided to move in

            G.        Judges 18:13-21

                        1.         On the way they stopped at the house of Micah and took the idols, the ephod, and even the priest.

                        2.         After all, the priest brought them “luck” so far and he was easily bought with an offer to become the priest for the tribe of Dan instead of just a wealthy family.

            H.        Judges 18:22-26 - Micah, of course, tried to object, but what is one household against a small army?

            I.         Judges 18:27-31

                        1.         The tribe of Dan was successful in conquering Laish and they renamed the city Dan.

                        2.         Here we learn the Levite’s name. He is Jonathan, a descendant of Gershom the son of Moses!

                        3.         We also learn that this religion made up by a superstitious thief survived until Israel’s captivity about 1,000 years later!

III.       Lessons to be learned

            A.        People blend worldly ideas with truth

                        1.         Micah and his mother both acknowledged the Lord, but it didn’t stop them from creating idols in God’s name - Exodus 20:4

                        2.         Jesus warned of the same - Matthew 7:21-23

                        3.         We see this prominently in denominations. Their beliefs change with the winds of popular ideas until few know what God teaches.

                                    a.         How else do we explain recreational facilities in buildings? Or coffee shops?

                                    b.         The following of social ideals: Gender-neutral translations and the acceptance of fornication and homosexuality.

                        4.         Love not the world - James 4:4

                        5.         This is why God’s plan is unusual to the rest of the world. Israel was the only nation that worshiped a God that did not have a representation. Why did God choose something so different? - I Corinthians 1:21

                        6.         Worldly ideas and godliness do not mix - II Corinthians 6:14-7:1

            B.        Error is not always 100% wrong

                        1.         Micah had an ephod, just like God’s priests. He even had a priest for his religion.

                        2.         Eventually, he was able to snag a Levite, one of the priestly tribe, to serve in his religion.

                        3.         In the denominations, they do manage to get a few things right, but that doesn’t make everything they do right - John 4:24

            C.        Self-confident and self-justified

                        1.         Micah just knew God would prosper him when he got a Levite to be his priest

                                    a.         It obviously didn’t last long, since the Danites stole it from him.

                        2.         But isn’t this how denominations prove themselves?

                                    a.         Look at how large we have grown

                                    b.         Look how things happened to favor us

                                    c.         I’m so happy; I just know this is what God wants for me.

                        3.         I John 4:1 - The idea of examining and proving is foreign to denominations because they know it will not withstand scrutiny.

            D.        Collective depravity

                        1.         Well, the tribe of Dan like the idols. Oh, and a descendant of Moses is serving as its priest. All these people can’t be wrong.

                        2.         Faith-only is taught in most denominations, so there must be something to it – right? Everyone uses instrumental music, so it must be what God wants – right?

                        3.         The church is the pillar and ground of truth - I Timothy 3:15

                        4.         The majority are going the wrong way - Matthew 7:13-14

            E.        Justified by success

                        1.         Micah knew he was on the right track because a Levite joined him.

                        2.         The Danites knew a good thing because idol priest told them they would succeed and they did.

                        3.         Deuteronomy 13:1-5

                        4.         I can’t begin to list the numerous who claim the Lord lead them to do this or that – much of which is a clear violation of the teachings of God.

                                    a.         But oh, they know they are right because look at their success.

                        5.         Neither growth nor loss proves a group is following God’s word.

                        6.         Size, large or small, doesn’t tell you about a group’s faithfulness.

                        7.         These are worldly measurements of success or failure.

                        8.         Here is the way to find if God approves - II Timothy 2:15

IV.      People tend to do what is right in their own eyes.

            A.        They assume God approves whatever they choose to do.

            B.        Colossians 3:17

April 15, 2006