Cases of Idolatry & Counterfeit Religion
Judges 17 & 18
Priscilla Van Sutphin
Feb 27th, 2008
The Lord took me to these chapters in Judges about 30 years ago when I was forced to live with my mother after my divorce. It was not what I wanted, but because I was so sick at the time, it was the only choice God left to me. I had to be able to care for my son who was 12 at the time. During that time, my mother was actively involved in Unity Cult which is a new age religion, and was reading Edgar Cayce. She was doing this while teaching bible study at a Catholic church. She had lupus since getting involved with that cult, [ my grandfather was a Pentacostal Holiness minister], though there was mixture in the family of freemasonry, and she had judged the church. I never found out why, but always felt she was molested. She had much bitterness, and looked for answers after she got sick, in the occult.
God took me to these chapters in Judges I believe to show me the roots of witchcraft and why she had gotten involved in all that. I was puzzled greatly by why she would do such a thing and veer off in the direction she went. For many years in my childhood, we practiced Catholicism, and from catholic school I knew that the things my mother got involved in were not right. But I really was seeking some understanding from the Lord about it.
Chapter 17 is all about personal idolatry in Israel, and chapter 18 is about tribal idolatry that ended up eliminating the tribe of Dan from mention in Revelation.
Judges 17 CJB [ Complete Jewish Bible]
1 There was a man from the hills of Efrayim named Mikhay’hu. 2 He said to his mother, “You know the 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you — you pronounced a curse about it, and you told me about it? Well, the money is with me. I took it.” His mother said, “May Adonai bless my son,” 3 as he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. Then his mother said, “I solemnly dedicate this money of mine to Adonai, in order for my son to make a carved image overlaid with silver. So now I’m giving it back to you.”
Micah has a mother who is older and had this 1100 pieces of silver saved up, no doubt Young, and he stole the money from his mother. Obviously he was led by greed, and she, also since she pronounced a curse on whoever took it. The love of money is the root of all evil it says in the Word. So she finds out he took it when he no doubt was upset hearing her curses ! So he restores it and she says lets dedicate it to ADONAI, but then when he restores it, she only used 200 of the 1100 to make an idol dedicated to Adonai. Now maybe she remembered stories of idols in Egypt, we don’t know, but later on it indicates that Micah already had a place devoted to idols, teraphim, so he was already into idolatry which is expressly forbidden by the ten commandments. They were NOT to make any graven images.
4 But he returned the money to his mother, and she took 200 pieces of silver and gave them to the metalworker, who made a carved image overlaid with silver which was put in Mikhay’hu’s house. 5 This man Mikhah owned a house of God; so he made a ritual vest and household gods and consecrated one of his sons, who became his Cohen.
What is interesting to me here also is the alignment with the priesthood which they KNEW about, yet it is a sacrilege to make idols/teraphim, and he has his son dress like a Cohen, and look like one, and have a temple, but they were disobeying God in making the idols, and it would seem, they represent a counterfeit type of religion - a form of religion, but no power thereof, because they were not obeying the fullness of the Word of God taught to them. Also he is not from the priestly tribe, the Levites, so he’s just making his own version of God and the law of the temple.
Jud 17:5 Lamsa version And the man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod and a teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
[ this version is identical to the Hebrew version of the O.T. For this chapter and verse]
The amplified also:
[Judg 17:5 AMP And the man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod and teraphim and dedicated one of his sons, who became his priest. ]
Judg 17:5-6 NKJV The man Micah had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
— givers of prosperity, idols in human shape, large or small, analogous to the images of ancestors which were revered by the Romans. In order to deceive the guards sent by Saul to seize David, Michal his wife prepared one of the household teraphim, putting on it the goat's-hair cap worn by sleepers and invalids, and laid it in a bed, covering it with a mantle. She pointed it out to the soldiers, and alleged that David was confined to his bed by a sudden illness (1 Sam 19:13-16). Thus she gained time for David's escape. It seems strange to read of teraphim, images of ancestors, preserved for superstitious purposes, being in the house of David. Probably they had been stealthily brought by Michal from her father's house. "Perhaps," says Bishop Wordsworth, "Saul, forsaken by God and possessed by the evil spirit, had resorted to teraphim (as he afterwards resorted to witchcraft); and God overruled evil for good, and made his very teraphim (by the hand of his own daughter) to be an instrument for David's escape.",
6 At that time there was no king in Isra’el; a man simply did whatever he thought was right.
This says a lot, that there was no one to lead them, so they were doing what they thought was right. There are a lot of people today who do what THEY THINK is right because they are not taught, or taught rightly, or are rebellious, or don’t want to wait for an answer from God. It reminds me of Ezekiel 34,
Ezek 34:5-6 NKJV
5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them."
7 There was a young man from Beit-Lechem in Y’hudah, from the family of Y’hudah, who was a Levi. He had been staying 8 in Beit-Lechem, but he left there to find another place to live and came to the hills of Efrayim, where eventually he made his way to the house of Mikhah. 9 Mikhah asked him, “Where are you coming from?” He answered, “I am a Levi from Beit-Lechem in Y’hudah, and I’m looking for a place to live.” 10 Mikhah replied, “Stay with me, and be a father and cohen for me; I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, in addition to your clothing and food.” So the Levi went in 11 and agreed to stay with the man; the young man became like one of his sons. 12 After Mikhah consecrated the Levi, the young man became his cohen and stayed there in Mikhah’s house. 13 Mikhah said, “Now I know that Adonai will treat me well, because I have a Levi for a cohen.
Now this begs for some understanding as well. A young man comes from Bethlehem of Judah, and then to the hills of Ephraim, and finds Micah the idolater, and Micah asks him to come and be his cohen, since he is a true Levite. He offers him silver and clothing and food. He becomes like a son to Micah. But it doesn’t say he threw out the idols. In fact we find later that they were still there. So it would seem that the Levite also succumbed to idolatry also, compromised his walk to take the money and stay there and be provided for. And Micah thinks, now that he has someone who is real cohen to be the priest over his house of idols, that Adonai will bless him !!!
WOW, that is a great delusion and delusion is the name of the game when we give into idolatry to money. You can see it in the church today with popular TV evangelists and others placing so much emphasis on money, and saying ludicrous things, like I got Psalm 67 tonight so if you give 67 dollars tonight, you will prosper in all that you give ! Such delusion has ensnared many, that they really believe their own lies. It is so sorrowful to God. There is a spiritual blindness that comes when we care too much for the created rather than the creator, like it shows in Romans 1.
Now we will look at the tribe of Dan’s fall to idolatry and the reasons illuminated that God gave me for many who fall to witchcraft.
Judg 18 AMP
1 IN THOSE days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites sought for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no [sufficient] inheritance had been acquired by them among the tribes of Israel.
So up till now, the Danites had not gotten their sufficient inheritance and were
looking for land they could claim as their own which was their right.
2 So the Danites sent from the whole number of their tribe five brave men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and to explore it, and they said to them, Go, explore the land. They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.
3 When they went by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite, and they turned aside there and said to him, Who brought you here? And what do you do in this place? And what have you here? 4 And he said to them, Thus and thus Micah deals with me and has hired me, and I am his priest.
So the 5 men of the tribe of Dan go and spy out the land and come to the home of Micah the idol worshipper. Here they find the Levite who has become his priest.
5 And they said to him, Ask counsel, we pray you, of God that we may know whether our journey will be successful. 6 And the priest said to them, Go in peace. The way in which you go is before (under the eye of) the Lord.
They ask the priest to enquire of God for them whether their trip will be successful and the priest answers in the affirmative, and that they are in the eye of God. God is always watching over His own, so we are forever in His eyes, and always. He sees everything. One of His names is El Roi– God Who sees.
7 Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they dwelt securely after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and feeling safe; and there was no magistrate in the land, who might put them to shame in anything or injure them; and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone.
[There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. NKJV]
In other words, there were no rulers who would hold them accountable for anything, they could live secure without any interference from authority.
8 The five men came back to their brethren at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brethren said to them, What do you say? 9 They said, Arise, let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very fertile. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go and enter in and possess the land. 10 When you go, you will come to people [feeling] safe and secure. The land is broad [widely extended on all sides]; and God has given it into your hands — a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.
Could it be when we have some idolatry in our hearts that God gives us over to it to test us? A backslider in heart is filled with his own ways it says. Romans gives us a picture of how when people choose to go their OWN way rather than His way, they are given over to delusion. Also remember LOT who wanted the best land over his uncle Abraham, and ended up in Sodom surrounded by perversion/idolatry of all kinds. Remember his wife who looked back, maybe longing for her THINGS, and turned to stone. There were also the children of Israel in the desert who never got to go into the promised land because of their complaining and idolatry, not only to things but to SELF and what SELF wanted. Even MOSES didn’t go in, because he took things into his own hands instead of doing it God’s way in smiting the ROCK. He was supposed to SPEAK to the rock, not smite it.
Rom 1:19-25 NKJV For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
11 And there went from there of the tribe of the Danites, out of Zorah and Eshtaol, 600 men armed with weapons of war. 12 And they went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan [camp of Dan] to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. [ city of forests]
13 And they passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
14 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the country of Laish said to their brethren, Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod, teraphim, a graven image, and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you have to do. 15 And they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and saluted him.
16 Now the 600 Danites with their weapons of war stood at Micah's gate.
[ 600 is the symbolic number for WARFARE ]
So the men who knew of the home with the idols and priests, let the warriors know they were there, and there is the temptation offered, and they are encouraged to think what they should do. There’s a test.
17 And the five men who had gone to spy out the land went up and entered the house and took the graven image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war.
18 And when these went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, What are you doing?
19 And they said to him, Be still, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and family in Israel?
So the men who actually offered went in themselves to steal the items. The priest asks “What are you doing ?” And they tell him to shut up basically, and come with them to be priest over many vs priest over one man’s house…certainly more profitable.
20 And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people. 21 So they turned and departed and put the little ones, the cattle, and the baggage in front of them.
The priest’s heart was glad of course, rather than just 10 shekels of silver a year, there is the prospect of MORE. No stopping to ask God what He thought. And then which god would he have asked ? hmmm.
22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were Micah's near neighbors were called out and overtook the Danites. 23 They shouted to the Danites, who turned and said to Micah, What ails you, that you come with such a company?
24 And he said, You take away my gods which I made and the priest, and go away; and what have I left? How can you say to me, What ails you?
Behold what one idolater says to another – like what’s your problem ?
25 And the men of Dan said to him, Let not your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you and you lose your life with the lives of your household. 26 And the Danites went their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.
The Danites threaten them and they are outnumbered so they turn around and go back to Micah’s house.
27 And they took the things which Micah had made, and his priest, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and feeling secure, and they smote them with the sword and burned the city.
28 And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no business with anyone. It was in the valley which belongs to Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and dwelt in it.
OT:3919 Layish (lah'-yish); the same as OT:3918; Laish, the name of two places in Palestine:KJV - Laish. Compare OT:3889.
OT:3918 layish (lah'-yish); from OT:3888 in the sense of crushing; a lion (from his destructive blows):KJV - (old) lion.
Beth Rehob basically means “ Wide house” or “BROAD house”
V. 28 says, they had NO BUSINESS with anyone. And oftentimes people will choose isolation when they want their OWN way of life. Sometimes that happens just because people have been beaten down a lot, but it also happens when those who want to hide their sins, set themselves apart so no one will know what they are doing wrong.
Witchcraft in the past has often been done in HIDDENNESS because it’s too appalling for anyone to know about, but also so they would not be stopped. Many hideous things are done in isolation like at the Bohemian Grove, all over the nations.
29 They named the city Dan, after Dan their forefather who was born to Israel; however, the name of the city was Laish at first. 30 And the Danites set up the graven image for themselves; and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set them up Micah's graven image which he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.
Now you see something really startling. Not only did the tribe of Dan fall to the idolatry but here at the end we see that Jonathon, son of Gershom who was MOSES’s son , and Jonathon’s sons were priest to the tribe of DAN WITH THE GRAVEN IMAGE. Now you know from this that Gershom and Jonathon would have KNOWN that it was wrong to do such a thing because the traditions and laws were passed down through them. It is so easy for our children even though raised rightly to be drawn away by the idolatry of this age, as it was then – surrounded by idolators, which is WHY GOD warned them before they went into the land to NOT fall prey to the idolatry. With idolatry come seducing demons leading people into error. Such is NOT to be taken lightly.
When man exerts HIS will above the Lord’s will, there is compromise and delusion comes with it. Man’s FLESH is IMPATIENT to wait on God for answers, or to wait for God to bless him, and in this many are ensnared into witchcraft. People don’t want to WAIT. They want what they want NOW. This leads to rebellion out of self idolatry, and witchcraft. If I don’t get it now…I just run to other gods to give me the answer is the idea here. And I can then get what I WANT. What I WANT becomes paramount in ALL idolatry, whether it is to alcohol, food, sex, greed for money, or things. In New Age, you can just THINK positive thoughts about how you want something enough and it will just come to you they think.
It never worked for my mother all the years she believed in it. Yet she would not give credit to God Almighty for anything.
Rev 21:8 AMP
8 But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive, and as for the unbelieving and faithless, and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations, and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters (those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars (those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed) — [all of these shall have] their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death. [Isa 30:33.]
When we give more devotion even to MINISTRY or a church leader than we do to GOD HIMSELF, that also is idolatry. When we look to prophets for words more than to GOD, we are practicing idolatry. When we worry more about money and things, than give devotion to GOD, then we are practicing idolatry. When we give money to ministries just so we can get money back, we are in IDOLATRY ! When we spend more time DOING, even in church than we do with HOLY SPIRIT, and relegate Him to 15 minutes of prayer on the way to work or home, then don’t keep the Sabbath either, we really need to reexamine our priorities. We can be busy, yet GOD conscious and dependent on HIM. That is different than just being busy and not giving much thought to God at all. One of the strategies of the enemy that is so effective is to get us busy doing things , so we have no time for worship or prayer.
DISCONTENTMENT with God’s timing and ways leads to witchcraft control and doing things in our OWN strength.
May the LORD REMOVE all the idolatry in the hearts of His beloveds, and RESTORE the true Christian church, with JESUS as the only PREEMINENT ONE.