Read Judges 17
It was bad. All of Israel, the nation in covenant with God Himself, had fallen away. They had promised to follow Him, and they failed. That’s the state of the Israelites’ hearts and live when we catch up with them here.
It’s where we find Micah’s mother, the Ephraimite who dedicates 1100 pieces of silver to the Lord God Almighty, even while commissioning her son to build an idol with it.
So he built a shrine and started his own little family religion. A cult, if you will. Complete with an idol and a shrine. You know — for the “true” worship they would give to the LORD. All he was missing was a priest.
So when an actual priest, a Levite, showed up, Micah took it as a sign from God. “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest” (v. 13). All he needed was a coincidence to make it feel like a blessing, and Micah had it made. Or so he thought.
If he’d only considered the actual Word of God — the commandments He knew God had given just a few generations ago. If he had, Micah would have recognized the idolatry for what it was. Sin. But the timing seemed perfect, so he saw it as God’s blessing.
It’s easy to mistake coincidence with God’s hand of blessing when we’ve grown lazy in our God-pursuit. Like the woman who has asked Him for a way out of her marriage. She feels respected and truly loved by a man who’s not her husband, so she figures it must be God’s blessing, and she leaves her husband for another man. Or the man who has asked God to somehow ease things up financially. When the tax man overlooks a few items, he takes it a sign and figures it’s a gift from God Almighty.
The truth is, Micah was in so deep, all he could see was his own agenda, his own desire, his own way. And everything that happened got pushed through the filter of his self-centered plans. Even when it should have turned out to be God’s chastisement. Micah’s repentance.
It started with his mom who was so far gone, so deep in the trenches away from the ways of God that she could speak of dedication to the Lord and making an idol in the very same breath.
Still, God remained faithful. Still, He loved His people.
And He loves His people still.
It might start small with us, but even when we fall so deep into the pit of living our own self-centered lives that we don’t know which way is up, still God remains faithful. Still. He loves us. Always. No matter what.