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Now let's turn together to Judges, Judges chapter 17 first of all. Judges chapter 17 - and I did say to you that we've finished our studies of 'Men for The Hour' in the character nature, of those who were called the Judges within this book - there aren't any more. Now we're going to look at a couple of chapters at the end of the book of Judges that are a kind of appendix to this book. They're not chronological in a narrative sense, meaning that what you're reading in chapter 17, 18 and following does not come after, in a time order, the life of Samson or the Judges that we have considered. It's more of a glimpse, a cameo of the general conditions that prevailed over the whole of this time period that we would call the period of the Judges. As we will see, there's an uncanny similarity in this time period and the time period in which we live.

The closing chapters of the book of Judges tell us of a time when there was no king in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes

Now the title of my message this morning is 'Micah And His Mercenary Minister' - and our study will comprise of chapters 17 and 18. Now you know what 'mercenary' means, it means to have priority of interest in money and in reward. I have to say - I don't know whether it was providential or not - I don't know what the young people were doing last night, but there's a whole wad of money that was lying on my desk! It must have been a quiz. I was taken aback for a moment or two - hopefully not with covetousness at the beginning! - and then I noticed that each of them were £200 notes, '£200 of the Bank of Iron'! And you can see whose photograph is on the front - it's mine! So I have to be very careful in what I say this morning regarding this issue of money and possessions and so on, but we're looking at 'Micah and His Mercenary Minister'.

We begin to read at verse 1 of chapter 17: "And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son. And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim", which are personal gods, "and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place. And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in. And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons. And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest".

The writer illustrates this to us by giving us two examples of decay, first of all in a religious sense, the decay of idolatry in chapters 17 and 18 that we'll consider this morning

Then verses 1 to 6 of chapter 18: "In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there. When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here? And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest. And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous. And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go".

Then verse 27 at the end of the chapter: "And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first. And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh".

The closing chapters of the book of Judges tell us of a time when there was no king in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. A time of moral, religious and political decay. The writer illustrates this to us by giving us two examples of decay, first of all in a religious sense, the decay of idolatry in chapters 17 and 18 that we'll consider this morning; and then the decay in morality in chapter 19, God willing, that we'll look at next Lord's day. You see, we need to understand that God, when He created the world, established three institutions in society. The first was the home, the second was human government, and the third was the worshipping community - whether it was Israel in the Old Testament, or the church in the New.

The ultimate reason for this decay in the home, in government and in the worshipping community was that the lordship of Jehovah - and in our respect, Christ - had been usurped by the will of man

Since that inception at creation of those three institutions, Satan has desired to undermine all three. He does it by beginning with the first, in the home, for the home has always been the basis for the rest of society. Ever since, as we read in the record of the first couple of chapters of Genesis, God created the first family in Adam and Eve, it has been the foundation of the institutions that society would build and humanity would evolve. But when Satan attacks the family, we find that the very foundations of human government, and even of the community of worship are undermined. The foundation is attacked and begins to crumble, and it's not very long until all parts in society and all institutions follow suit.

Whenever I marry a couple, the fourth clause in the marriage vows for which marriage was ordained is, I quote: 'For the welfare of human society, which can be strong and happy only where the marriage bond is held in honour'. This is why we believe the family is important, it is the foundation of all God's institutions, and indeed the foundation of society. As the Psalmist says, 'If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?'. Around us Satan is trying to break up homes, he is corrupting government, he is apostatising the church, he is making individual Christian's lives and Christendom at large idolatrous, as he seeks to get us to put other things before the Lord in our personal lives and in the church.

But the ultimate reason for this decay in the home, in government and in the worshipping community was that the lordship of Jehovah - and in our respect, Christ - had been usurped by the will of man. We've concentrated on verse 6 of chapter 17 already in this study, and it's found again in chapter 21 verse 25: 'Every man did that which was right in his own eyes, because there was no king in Israel'. The King represented the rule of the Lord, lordship was usurped, self-will was put in its place. You have to understand that when it says 'Every man did that which was right in his own eyes', that the men and women were not doing things that they deemed to be wrong, rather things that they thought were right. They didn't think they were doing that which was against God. This is what relativism is. It was in the Judges' society, and it's in ours - people actually think that their idolatry and their immorality is right! They reason and compare with light, they feel, in our world and other religious systems, and they come up with this conclusion that what they are committing is right - even though God's word says it is wrong.

Now this applies - what we're going to study this morning - very very dramatically to the church, and indeed to us as individual Christians. Because when you go to the end of the Bible, to Revelation chapter 2 and chapter 3, we find Jesus Christ, the Lord of the churches, walking in the midst of the candlesticks - the Lord of the Christian and the Lord of the church. Again, what is at stake is the lordship of Christ in the life of the individual believer, and the life of His worshipping community. Christ, particularly in the Laodicean period, is shut outside the door - they're still Christians, they're taking His name, they're supposedly following Him, but the presence and the guidance and power of Christ has been shut out. You see, there'll always be breakdown when Christ is not permitted to rule. Whether it's in the Judges, and every man does that which is right in his own eyes because there's no king representing divine authority; or whether it's in the church and Christ is not given His place, people start doing what is right in their own eyes.

Let's look at this idolatrous situation and see some of the pointers that minister to us and instruct us even in our own society today, and ask ourselves: how far are we from this situation?

Now let's look at this idolatrous situation and see some of the pointers that minister to us and instruct us even in our own society today, and ask ourselves: how far are we from this situation? The first point I want you to notice is that there was domestic spiritual decline - looking first of all at the home. In verses 1 to 4 of chapter 17, we meet this man Micah the Ephraimite. Micah is a great name, do you know what it means? 'Who is like Jehovah?' - what a name! Yet Micah of Ephraim did not live up to the name, his character did not correspond to his claim. We can see that in his immorality and in his spiritual idolatry. He was setting up idols in his home, making other idols, and so there were others in his eyes who were like unto the Lord.

In verse 2 we're given a glimpse to his moral standing, when we see that he stole 1100 shekels of silver from his mother. One day he must have heard her cursing the man that stole them, and for fear of the curse he confessed to her: 'Look, Mum, it was me!' - and he returned the silver. We see the moral breakdown in this home when the mother, in turn, blesses him for returning the silver - in verse 4 we read that. Then she says: 'I was going to give you this money anyway, son, to go away and make some idols so that we could worship the Lord Jehovah'. So she gives him 200 shekels out of the 1100, seeming to be dishonest herself and not giving the whole lot that she seemed to have set aside for this purpose. She orders that two idols be formed from that 200 shekels of silver.

Now if ever there was a dysfunctional family, it's this one. First of all, notice there is deceit and theft in the home on the part of the son. Obviously he had no respect for his mother, stealing 1100 silver shekels. He is deceiving her as well as thieving from her. Now we read in the holy Scriptures, in the New Testament, that: 'in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves', self-love, self-willed, 'covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, and unholy'. Are we not living in days like that today? Vance Havner, many years ago, said: 'We shouldn't worry that the government won't allow children to have Bibles in schools, because they'll get free Bibles when they go to prison'! That reflects the situation in our society today, doesn't it?

Then secondly we see in this dysfunctional family that there was no parental correction. This son owns up to stealing the 1100 shekels, and she blesses him! After cursing the one, who was anonymous to her at that point, who had stolen it; when she finds out it's her own son, she blesses him, she indulges his sin and shortcoming. It also evidences that she was double-tongued. How often we find that in the home! James talks about: 'Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing; my brethren, these things ought not to be so'. What does your conversation as a parent in the home say about you? And what effect is it having on your children?

We see in this dysfunctional family that there was no parental correction. This son owns up to stealing the 1100 shekels, and she blesses him!

But notice, she didn't check her son's waywardness, she encouraged his sin and she gave him 200 shekels to go and to make these idols. Not only was there no parental correction, there was no parental example - encouraging him in idolatry and so on. This is a phenomenon of our time: parents who have no true values to communicate to their children. What values are communicated in the home? Scholars believe that this was a wealthy home - how do we know? Well 1100 silver shekels, compared with the 10 shekels and a shirt that the Levite was given in this passage for a year's service as the family priest seems to show that 1100 must have been an awful lot - certainly a great deal more than that man's yearly wages.

They have got their values all wrong, valuing material things - but more than that: if you look very deeply in this passage, you see that this family managed to break seven of the ten commandments without going out the front door! The fifth commandment transgressed, 'Honour thy father and thy mother'; the eighth, 'Thou shalt not steal'. Now according to Proverbs 30 and verse 9, stealing is a breaking of the third commandment, taking the name of the Lord God in vain - so that's the third broken. Then there's the ninth, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness', lying; and the tenth, 'Thou shalt not covet'. Colossians 3 verse 5 tells us that covetousness is also the sin of idolatry, so that's the first and the second - not worshipping any other gods before Jehovah, and not making idols - and of course they literally did that in their shrine in the home. Seven commandments broken, and what is incredible is that they don't feel a bit guilty about it! In fact, they invoke the blessing of God upon them in verse 2: 'Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son'.

Now when we contrast this Danite mother with another in the book of Judges, we see a great difference - who was that? Samson's mother, who prayed, who sought God's guidance for her son - and whilst he was a wayward man in himself, he had a prestigious upbringing from godly parents. You might say: 'How on earth did these people believe they were serving the Lord through this idolatry?'. Listen to what I'm saying this morning: Micah and this priest, and his mother and the family, they didn't worship Baal! They weren't worshipping the false gods of the Canaanites, they were worshipping Jehovah the LORD! Verse 3 mentions the LORD, verse 13, it is the LORD that they are dedicating these idols to!

Isn't this frightening? You can take the name 'Micah', 'There is none like the LORD'; like the name 'Christian', 'I am a follower of Christ' - and you could verbally and externally seem to be worshipping the Lord and following Jesus, yet with it all there's an idol on your heart. That's why we sing: 'The greatest idol I have known, whatever that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee'. Now this becomes clearer when we see that not only was there domestic spiritual decline, but there was a DIY man-made religion - and that brings us from the home, God's first institution, to this next one in the story, which is the worshipping community: how self in the home affects faith.

You could verbally and externally seem to be worshipping the Lord and following Jesus, yet with it all there's an idol on your heart

Don't ever think that what you do when you go home on a Sunday and the rest of the week doesn't affect the community here, it does. In verses 5 and 6 we see that Micah put these idols in a shrine in his household with other household gods that he obviously had already, and then he also decided to institute a priesthood for his family. So he made an ephod, which is a priestly garment, and he consecrated his own son to be a priest. Now listen: right away he's transgressing the law. The law of Moses forbade that an Ephraimite should be a priest, the law of Moses said that worship should only take place in the Tabernacle. So what this was was home-made worship and a man-made god - it was DIY religion!

If you look at chapter 18 and verse 24, we see the ridiculous nature of a man-made God, for when his gods later are stolen by the Danites, he says: 'Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest'. Imagine fighting for a god that you have made, and a god that can be stolen! It's ridiculous, isn't it? But that's the ridiculous nature of idolatry - that's why God condemns idolatry. But do you know what idolatry is? Idolatry is not the forbidding of worshipping other gods, false gods, but idolatry is also the sin of worshipping the true and the living God by images to represent Him. I think that's a point we often miss, because if we worship the true and the living God by an image, we rob God of His glory.

Now I know that there are some old photographs of you that you wouldn't like to get into public. It's a terrible thing to have a photograph circulated when it really doesn't do you any justice at all. That's really what idolatry is in a sense, but it's far far worse than that - because imagine your name being put on a picture of someone that is clearly not you. That is forgery, and that is what idolatry is in God's eyes - to put His name to a picture that is not Him, it cannot come near His glory! There is much in Christianity today that is done in the name of Christ, and it is idolatry. Often it involves a false priesthood - you see it in Rome. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent stated: 'The images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints are to be had and to be kept especially in churches, and due honour and veneration are to be given them'. That is idolatry - but it's easy to condemn that type of idolatry in Rome, when we can have equal idolatry. We can present a Christ in evangelicalism that is not the Christ of the Bible.

This idea of priesthood often comes with idolatry. You see, there was only one priesthood in Micah's day, and it was among the family of Aaron - and another Levite couldn't do it, or anyone else in the whole of the tribes of Israel. It's the same today, there is only one Great High Priest that we have, and God has set aside all other priests for the Priesthood of His Son, and he has made us all kings and priests to come unto our God through the Lord Jesus. So any clerical priesthood is idolatry, it takes the place of Christ, it is antichrist - it is DIY, man-made religion.

If there was one word that sums up the whole of this awful situation in the land at this time, it's the word 'confusion'

So there's domestic spiritual decline, DIY man-made religion. Then thirdly we find that there was a disregard for the precepts and principles of God's Word. If there was one word that sums up the whole of this awful situation in the land at this time, it's the word 'confusion'. Confusion in the home, confusion in the nation, confusion in the worshipping community - and where does confusion stem from? Verse 6, man's heart - every man does that which is right in his own eyes. You see, the law of God was ignored. Now if the law of God had been observed, none of these things would have happened.

What I want you to note here is - I said that the people were to worship in the Tabernacle - do you know where the Tabernacle was? The last verse of chapter 18 told us that it was at Shiloh. Now a map reveals that Shiloh is in the hill country of Ephraim, Shiloh is only a short journey from Micah's own house. Don't think for one moment that Micah's idolatry was to do with the unavailability of God's house or God's way of worship! It was nothing to do with that, but everything to do with his refusal to follow God's word because he was doing what was right in his own eyes. He wanted a little Israel in his own house for himself.

What does that teach us? Well, it teaches us a great deal concerning some of the tensions that we see today in evangelicalism between the wisdom of men and the word of God. We are to be guided by God's word and the Spirit of God, and not what is right in men's eyes - because that leads to dubious motivations and decisions.

The fourth thing I want you to notice was that during this period of time decisions were clearly motivated by mammon, decisions were motivated by mammon. Now 'mammon' is a word that the Lord Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount, and it's a personification of the idea of materialism and wealth. Some believe it was the name of a Syrian god that He borrowed. I have used in my title the word 'mercenary', and it's the same idea: you have a primary concern for money and other rewards that maybe aren't financial. Here we see this coming in in the person of this Levite in verses 7 to 13 of chapter 17.

He lived in Bethlehem among the people of Judah, but he is now found in the hill country of Ephraim looking for a place, a place to stay to better himself. Now listen to me: he shouldn't have been in Ephraim, but he shouldn't have been in Bethlehem. He was employed in the service of the Lord as a Levite, he had a city of calling. God's call was on the Levite's life, he was not meant to be an opportunist moving from place to place looking for a better job! What this also infers is that because of the spiritual decline in the nation, people weren't tithing into the temple for the ministry of the Levites - that's what they lived off, and so he was forced in a sense to go out and support his own ministry because the tithes of God's people weren't coming in.

Economic expediency dictated his policy. He had a need for a priest, the Levite had a need for a job, and these two unprincipled men met

So he reaches Ephraim and he finds Micah, and Micah says to him: 'I have a need, I need a priest. You have a need, you need a job - be my priest!'. Now this young man was a Levite but he was not of Aaron, therefore he was not eligible to serve as a priest. So what made him do it? Well, Micah offered him a salary - 10 shekels. He offered him clothing - a shirt; and he offered him food. Right away the deal was done. Now the Levite clearly knew, and should have confronted Micah with God's law and said: 'No, this is not right, the precepts and principles of God's word would be transgressed' - but what happened? Economic expediency dictated his policy. He had a need for a priest, the Levite had a need for a job, and these two unprincipled men met.

Let me say that money is not unimportant, far from it - as the saying goes: 'Money makes the world go round', and it certainly makes the Gospel go round. You need money to print tracts and Bibles, and to send them to the four corners of the world. But we must be very careful: whilst money is not unimportant, it is not all-important. What the lesson God's Spirit is giving us here is, is that money must never be the sole determining factor of God's people or an individual Christian. Money must never be the motivation in decisions of churches, the sole motivation for the servants of God. This is twofold: if the children of Israel had been giving their tithes into the Tabernacle, the Levite would have been supplied for and the likelihood is that he wouldn't have wondered. That's what Paul said to Timothy: 'The scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward'.

You can add to a materialistic spirit by not supporting the servants of God. But on the other side of the coin, concerning the Levite, if he had been content with God's call on his life where God had put him, he wouldn't have wandered in selfish ambition, he wouldn't have sought great things for himself. We often joke about preachers moving churches. You may have heard the story of the preacher being called to a larger church - was that God's will? Somebody from the small church that he was at called round one day to talk about it with the pastor, and he was met at the door by the wee girl: 'Where's your Mum and Dad dear?', he said. 'Oh, Dad's upstairs praying about the move, and Mum is downstairs packing'. The opposite can often be the way it is - that's the way it was with this Levite. He was seeking a place, a better opportunity; whereas God's word says: 'Godliness with contentment is great gain'. Now the opposite of that is true: discontent breeds ungodliness, and leads to great spiritual loss, whilst it may bring financial or monetary or even prestigious gain. That is why the Lord Jesus said, now we must hear this: 'You cannot serve two masters, for either you will love the one and hate the other: you cannot serve God and mammon' - Christians, churches!

Isn't it often in church life that expediency ordains by men what God has prohibited? It's expedient, it makes sense, it's right in our eyes

It wasn't just love for pounds that warped his service, but love for prestige. You see, the Levite refused to be satisfied with God arrangements for his life. He was committed to self-promotion, to personal betterment. Micah wanted a proper Levite as a priest, the Levite wanted the job - maybe he aspired to being one of these Aaronic priests, but couldn't be because of his birth, so suddenly the Levite became an ordained member of the clergy. Isn't it often in church life that expediency ordains by men what God has prohibited? It's expedient, it makes sense, it's right in our eyes.

Now let's see where this leads. In chapter 18 verses 1 to 6, the Danites decide to look for additional territory. 'Why was that?', you say. Well, they had failed to possess the land that was promised to them. They were meant to fight for it, we see in chapter 1 of Judges and verse 34 that they didn't fight for it and they lost it. When some of their spies came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim, they recognised the voice of this young Levite as being from the south, and asked him for assurance of divine blessing on their plans. They were wanting to be blessed when they were out of God's will, going into another's land that they had not inherited and God had not promised.

Now in verses 7 to 13 of chapter 18, five men of Dan spied out this northern town of Laish. It says that they found it quiet and secure. Now there's a lesson if ever there was one: they wouldn't fight for what God had given them, but all of a sudden when they find a piece of land that's quiet and secure and could be gotten easily, hasn't any other ties with any nations or tribes, they want it - ease, love of ease and materialistic sloth. Now friends, in verses 14 to 26, these five Danites are seen again, and they're marching to capture this town of Laish - but before it they enter the house of Micah, and they confront the Levite. They say: 'We're going to take all the idols', and the Levite says 'No, you shouldn't really do that' - then after his mild protest he obeys their request.

What was it in verse 19? Look at it, they said: 'Hold your peace', be quiet a minute, 'lay your hand upon your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in the whole of Israel?'. Why be a priest of one family, when you can be the priest of a whole tribe? Why be a clergyman if you can be a bishop? God didn't come into any of this, yet it seemed right - and more than that, it was all done in His name! They were blessing it with their prayers!

Can I ask what our attitude is to the service of Jesus Christ? Are you looking for a place, a place where you can assert yourself? Prestige? A place of privilege?

Can I ask what our attitude is to the service of Jesus Christ? Are you looking for a place, a place where you can assert yourself? Prestige? A place of privilege? Do you know something? It's intriguing who this Levite is, isn't it? Have you ever wondered? You've probably never even read this passage of Scripture, or at least worked out what it's all about - it's not commonly preached on. Who was this idolatrous self-promoting false priest with a money lust? Look at verses 27 to 31, we read that the Danites struck this peaceful town of Laish, and they changed its name to Dan. We read that they set up this carved image, they wanted a man-made god who would fit their lifestyle without making any demands upon their materialism - and so they appointed, in verse 30 it says, 'Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh' to be their priest. Now that, we believe, is the same Levite that they had stolen from Micah's house.

Now if you have a Revised Version or a New King James Version, you will know that that word 'Manasseh' is a scribal name for Moses. It has been disguised by copyists to prevent disgrace upon the great father of the law, the patriarch. Now what does this mean? This young Levite Jonathan was Moses' grandson - this is the one who brought this idolatry into the nation! What a lesson! It's no good having godly ancestors or forefathers, or denominational founders if you're not a man or woman of God yourself. It also shows the danger of putting people in leadership positions because they're well connected. This was Moses' grandson, and this domestic spiritual decline, this DIY man-made religion, the disregard for the precepts and principles of God's word, decisions motivated purely by mammon, lead to disastrous and far reaching consequences.

Let me take time to show you it: the city of Dan became and remained an idolatrous city. They set up this idol, they set up their priest, we read later on that there Jeroboam later set up one of his two golden calves in the city of Dan for worship. Now what is this telling us? Now listen to this lesson, elders, and deacons, and members, whatever church you go to: Proverbs 14 verse 12, 'There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death'. Never underestimate the consequences of taking Christ off His seat of lordship in your life, off His seat of headship in the church, in placing your own self-will and your own human wise decisions in His place. Because if you go to 1 Chronicles you will find that when the tribes of Israel are listed there and the families of Israel given, Dan is the only tribe that is totally ignored - why? Because Dan would not take what God had given to them, they took a land that God had not given to them, and in the process they lost all that they had, and potentially all that God would have given them!

How do I know that? Well, God gives us a glimpse into the future to Revelation chapter 7, where there are 144,000 Hebrew believers who carry the special ministry of that Gospel for God around the world during the tribulation period. When the tribes are listed within that 144,000, it is observed that Dan is not mentioned - he is completely ignored, because he refused to follow God's mission in the land! He chose the easy way in the land, therefore God refused to give him the special ministry of blessing in the future out of the land.

What a lesson! It's no good having godly ancestors or forefathers, or denominational founders if you're not a man or woman of God yourself. It also shows the danger of putting people in leadership positions because they're well connected

There's a lesson for every child of God here this morning - 2 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 12: 'If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him: but if we deny him, he will deny us'. Listen: if all you're living for is your materials, you're going to lose out one day. I'm not saying you'll not get to heaven, but I am saying this: you'll go to heaven a pauper. George Truett was the long-time pastor of First Baptist in Dallas, Texas. He was invited to dinner at the home of a wealthy oil tycoon. After the meal the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area. He pointed to oil wells that were punctuated, a host of them across the landscape. He boasted to him, he said: 'Twenty five years ago I had absolutely nothing. Now as far as your eye can see, that is all mine!'. Then looking in the opposite direction, there was a sprawling field of grain, and he said: 'That's all mine'. Then turning eastward towards huge herds of cattle, he bragged: 'They're all mine!'. Then pointing to the west there was a beautiful forest, and he exclaimed: 'That too is mine!'. He paused expecting Truett to compliment him, and Truett, placing his hand on his shoulder, pointed to heaven and said: 'How much do you have in that direction?'.

How much do you have in that direction? How much treasure do you have in heaven, not on earth? Wasn't it Pope Innocent IV who asserted to Aquinas that the time is gone when the church was saying: 'Silver and gold have I none', the reply came from the Doctor, 'So also has the time gone when the church can say to the lame at the Temple Gate, 'Arise and walk''.

'There is sin in the camp,
There is treason today,
Is it in me? Is it in me?
There is cause in our angst
For defeat and delay,
Is it, O Lord, in me?

Something of selfishness,
Garments of gold.
Something of hindrance
In young or in old.
Something why God doth
His blessing withhold.
Is it, O Lord, in me?

Is it in me? Is it in me?
Is it, O Lord, in me?'

This is why John said, as we'll see tomorrow night: 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols'

Father, help us all to see the Lord's injunction to us to seek first the kingdom of God. Lord, all of us seek the kingdom of God, but few of us are seeking it first. It's somewhere down the pecking order after other things. Lord, help us to see in the light of Your word today, that that is as blatant idolatry as the heathen bowing to the wood. Help us to repent, and to seek again our first love, that He may be Lord of our life, Lord of our church - and we'd love to see many in our land would find him Lord as well. For His sake we pray, Amen.

Don't miss part 18 of 'Men For The Hour': 'God's People In The Gutter'

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
March 2006

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventeenth recording in his 'Men For The Hour' series, entitled "Micah And His Mercenary Minister" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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