“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.’”
Judges 18: 1
King James Version
“The Haves and the Have-Nots”
“Wealth can do us no good unless it helps us toward heaven.”
If I suddenly had a great deal of unexpected wealth, how would it change my life?
When I hear the phrase, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ what thoughts come to mind?
“Christ did not die to purchase the world for us.”
“If you want to destroy a nation, give it too much – make it greedy, miserable and sick.”
I’ll never forget when I got my first job in high school and received my first paycheck. I had made a deal with my parents that half of what I made went into a savings account at our local bank to be used someday for my college tuition, and the other half was mine to use in any way I wished. (Well, almost anyway.) My prudent parents certainly didn’t stand by and let me waste my meager loot. But for a 15-year-old girl, $100 a month income years ago seemed like a massive amount of money. It didn’t take me long to begin to understand that my money gave me options – both good and bad. And how I chose to use my money, I quickly found, could bring me heartache as well as joy.
This is exactly what we see happening in Judges 17 and 18. First of all, we are informed in Judges 17, that according to some Biblical scholars, it is quite possible Micah’s mother was a wealthy widow. Since there is no mention of Micah’s father, it is possible the dad in this family died, leaving a significant inheritance for his wife. She became, along with her family, one of the “haves.” She had money. And as we found out over the past few days, she decided to give her son some of this money to build an idol, a molten image for them to worship within their home. Let’s not forget, we aren’t talking here about the Canaanites. This family was part of the Israelites. They were God’s children. Yet, within the walls of their home, they chose to worship gods of this earth rather than the God of heaven. They used their wealth to create an image that tried to bring God down to their level rather than lifting them up higher to the God of heaven. Evidently, they forgot completely what Moses had reminded God’s children about in Deuteronomy 8: 18 (K.J.V.), “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth….” Instead, Micah’s family used their inheritance to set up a false god. Lest we decry their behavior, I can tell you from personal experience, I too, have on occasion, used what God has given me to meet some selfish wants and build my own false gods.
What makes the book of Judges so fittingly contemporary is the way the lessons apply directly to our world today, for while Micah’s family was using their money to fund the “idols” they craved, the members of the tribe of Dan, as we are told in our text for today, sent five men from their family to “spy” out the land near the mount of Ephraim where Micah and his mother were living the high life. As Judges 18: 1 states, the Danites had no inheritance. Things weren’t going so well for the “have-nots” and as they looked around where Micah lived, this is how they sized up the situation. They called the land, “a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth” (Judges 18: 10, K.J.V.).
The “haves” in this Biblical example were misusing their money to buy idols they could worship, while the “have-nots,” the Danites, decided to go and “take what wasn’t theirs.” Neither response was God’s way. Matthew Henry observed that for all of us, whether we have little wealth or great wealth, we all can have an inordinate desire toward the “things” of this world. And this is what happened between the haves and have-nots in Judges.
Wealth used to please selfish desires by the “haves,”along with an out-of-control craving for the things that one did not possess by the “have-nots,” led to a terrible abuse of power as we’ll see tomorrow.
If there is any lesson we should take from Micah and the Danites it is that the riches of earth do not bring ultimate happiness. As Samuel Rutherford so perfectly advised, “Build your nest in no tree here…for the Lord of the forest has condemned the whole woods to be demolished.”
“The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all our money.”
John Henry Jowett
“O Lord, open my eyes
that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succour.
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor
because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to these places.
Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,
be able to do some work of peace for thee.”
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