Warren Wiersbe has an excellent application on the priesthood or ministry: If the Levite in our story is typical of God’s servants in that period of history, then it’s no wonder the nation of Israel was confused and corrupt.
He had no appreciation for his high calling as a Levite, a chosen servant of God. Not only were the Levites to assist the priests in their ministries (Numbers 3:6-13; 8:17-18), but also they were to teach the Law to the people (Nehemiah 8:7-9; 2 Chronicles 17:7-9; 35:3) and be involved in the sacred music and the praises of Israel (1 Chronicles 23:28-32; Ezra 3:10).
The Levite gave all that up for comfort and security in the home of an idolater. The Levites ministry, however, wasn’t a spiritual ministry at all.
To begin with, he was a hireling and not a true shepherd (Judges 18:4; John 10:12-13). He didn’t serve the true and living God; he worked for Micah and his idols. Jonathan wasn’t a spokesperson for the LORD; he gave people just the message they wanted to hear (Judges 18:6). When he was offered a place involving more money, more people, and more prestige, he took it immediately and gave thanks for it (Judges 18:19). And then he assisted his new employers in stealing his former employer’s gods!
Whenever the church has a “hireling ministry,” it can’t enjoy the blessing of God. The church needs true and faithful shepherds who work for the LORD, not for personal gain, and who will stay with the flock to feed them and protect them.
True shepherds don’t see their work as a “career” and run off to a “better job” when the opportunity comes. They stay where God puts them and don’t move until He sends them.
True shepherds receive their calling and authority from God, not from people (Galatians 1:6ff); and they honor the true God, not the idols that people make. It must grieve the LORD today to see people worshiping the idols of ministerial “success,” statistics, buildings, and reputation.
In today’s “consumer society,” self-appointed preachers and “prophets” have no problem getting a following and peddling their religious wares to a church that acts more like a Hollywood fan club than a holy people of God. And to make it worse, these hirelings will call what’s happening “the blessing of God.” The Levites of this world and the Micah’s will always find each other because they need each other.
The sad part of the story is that Micah now thought he had the favor of God because a genuine Levitical priest was serving as his private chaplain. Micah practiced a false religion and worshiped false gods (with Jehovah thrown in for good measure), and all the while he rested on the false confidence that God was blessing him! Little did he know that the day would come when his priest and his gods would be taken from him and nothing would be left of his religion.
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