Scripture Reading: Micah 6:6-8 (GNT) What shall I bring to the LORD, the God of heaven, when I come to worship him? Shall I bring the best calves to burn as offerings to him? Will the LORD be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or endless streams of olive oil? Shall I offer him my first-born child to pay for my sins? No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.
Gospel Reading: Mark 8:14-21 (GNT) The disciples had forgotten to bring enough bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. “Take care,” Jesus warned them, “and be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They started discussing among themselves: “He says this because we don’t have any bread.” Jesus knew what they were saying, so he asked them, “Why are you discussing about not having any bread? Don’t you know or understand yet? Are your minds so dull? You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand people? How many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?” “Twelve,” they answered. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand people,” asked Jesus, “how many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?” “Seven,” they answered. “And you still don’t understand?” he asked them.
Text for Sermon: Judges 17-18 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.” Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!” When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you.” So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house. Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah asked him, “Where are you from?” “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.” Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.” So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man became like one of his sons to him. Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”
Last month we spent time talking about who/what God is, and we talked about LOVE through different sets of eyes. I talked about how I am standing still, preparing myself for the day God tells me to move forth. This month, we start another chapter, this chapter is called, “In the Midst of Everything (En Medio de Todo)” and my sermon is titled, Running in Circles!
Autopilot: Sin, Suffer, Repent, Deliver Have you ever had one of those days when absolutely everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, you know…in the midst of everything…
- You stayed up late watching Law & Order, so you oversleep
- As a consequence, you don’t have time to make coffee at home, and did I mention you don’t have money to buy Starbucks
- You go through this a couple of days in a row, and finally you get it! A light bulb goes off in your head, maybe in a moment of silent reflection…I have to get some rest, I need the time to get ready in the morning (including time for coffee), so you go to sleep early
- And then miraculously God allows you to feel rested again (He has delivered you) and then guess what…wellbeing human we start this process all over again…
Or better yet, have you ever felt like your spiritual life is stuck on a hamster wheel, going and going, running and running and not getting anywhere? Well if you have ever felt like that then you are not alone the Israelites, especially in the book of Judges also felt that way. Actually, the entire book is a repetition of these four steps:
- The people SIN;
- Then they SUFFER for their sins;
- When they get tired of suffering the people REPENT and call out to God;
- And God DELIVERS them (Repeat).
You stay up late; you wake up late, no time for coffee, no money for Dunkin Donuts! Light-bulb moment, get more rest! Sin, Suffer, Repent, Delivered! Today’s sermon comes from the period of a people sinning, but they do not make it to the suffering, repenting, and delivery cycle, let me tell you the story of Micah, which you can find in Judges 17.
Exegesis: Retell the Story (Judges 17) So here is the story: there’s a guy named Micah (who lives in the hill country of Ephraim) whose mother has a bunch of money set aside for a Godly purpose (about 28 pounds of silver). Micah being the type of guy that does that type of thing takes it all! Then he overhears his mother putting a curse on whoever stole the money. Being afraid, he returns the money to his mother! She immediately blesses him and tells him to keep the silver.
He returns it to her, and after going back and forth a few times, she says okay, what we’ll do is take 5 pounds to a silversmith and have it melted into a statue, which I’ll give you as a gift, so you can have your own temple. So that’s what they did, they made a temple in Micah’s house and then they took it a step further, Micah decided to have an ephod made for his temple. An ephod is the clothing that was made for the Levites (the people of Israel that God separated to be priests) – Read Exodus 39. And since the area where they lived had no priests, Micah named one of his sons to be priest! And then the story gives a simple explanation for why this happened; it happened because “in those days Israel had no king; everyone did whatever they wanted…”
But then, here is the kicker, a young Levite who had been living with the clan of Judah wanders by. This young man is a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah and is looking for a place to stay, information that he shares with Micah. Micah offers the Levite 4 ounces of silver a year, the ephod, and room and board. The Levite agrees and is installed as priest and Micah is heard to say, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”
Potential Lessons Learned Remember what I told you at the beginning, Micah’s story, walks us through one of the four steps common in the book of judges. So let us look for the sins, but only those that affect Micah.
- Micah was a thief! He proved it by stealing the silver that had been put aside for “God”.
- He had a twisted sense of religion; he was living with religious chaos.
- o He was an idolater.
- He had a temple in his house that God did not ask him to build.
- You know what else Micah was…like most of us, he wanted the symbols of status. Well, if I am going to have a temple, I need to have the very best garments for my priest…
- He really believed that God was going to do his bidding after he got his very own Levite priest!
Here’s the problem. Micah learned these lessons well. He learned them from his mother and he taught them to his son. Let me explain!
Micah’s mother had made a decision to put money aside for God. We don’t know if those were her tithes, which she would have to travel to bring to the temple. Or if this was a special offering that, she had separated…what an awesome opportunity was afforded to this woman, to teach her family. But what does she do instead? Her son steals her offering, but rather than teach him about accountability and responsibility, by omission she teaches him that you don’t have to follow through on your promises. You don’t have to keep them. And not only that, but you can short change God. That’s what she taught her son.
While Micah’s mom may have had the best of intentions…maybe she wanted him to have a constant reminder of God in his daily life, maybe she just wanted him to have a symbol of God that he could keep around…but she fell short, because what he ended up learning is that if you have enough silver you can “pay for God.” A relationship with God is something you can pay for! Was that the lesson she meant to teach?
let’s look at what she taught her son
Tithe (10%): Genesis 14:18-20; Deuteronomy 14:22-27 Matthew 23:23/Luke 11:42/Hebrew 7:1-10
I remember when I was young, my family was on welfare, and we used to have to do without. Sometimes we would eat plain white rice with ketchup for dinner! But you know what I remember, I remember my mother taking a percentage of these moneys and putting them aside for our families tithes. And I remember she would give us each some coins for our personal offerings. Luis would say, God can have the quarters and the nickels, but I get to keep the dimes (they are little like me) and everyone else gave, well that went on for a while before Mami noticed, but when she noticed, she sat us down with a bible and taught us all about the Biblical reasons for the amounts.
Religious Chaos: Micah 6:8 and Mark 8:18 Poor Micah, he goes out there and gets all the trappings of God’s temple, he gets a statue to represent God and he gets the right clothes to put on his son, and he thinks that’s enough to have God be on his team! Can you imagine this poor kid? He is trying to be a pastor and he probably hasn’t ever been to church!!! Total CHAOS. Then a Levite walks by and Daddy pulls out the wallet and pays for salvation. I’m not saying that the intentions where bad. But good intentions, don’t get you to heaven…appropriate rituals wont get you to heaven, the Bible says in Micah 6:8 that the Lord requires more than just stepping to the law, he requires that we walk with God (don’t hold the Bible, hold HIS hand)! Yes, it is hard to do, but maybe if he had learned these lessons from his mother, Micah could have taught them to his son.
I am not saying that Micah was evil, or that he had bad intentions, but you can only teach what you know. See, what I figured out is that Micah is stuck on the hamster wheel turning and turning and turning and he hasn’t figured out how to change his ways, and the people around him never correct him!! We can sit here and make excuses, maybe he’s got an addiction, or an emergency, or maybe he’s just a spoiled brat!. But if we are never corrected, then we never learn and we get stuck on a wheel, running in circles. The only way off that wheel is through lessons learned and repentance! Let us pray, Ask God for the strength to break the cycle of sin and help you worship Him with a clean heart.