Judges 18:1-31 Dan’s Move
We come to the point in time where the tribe of Dan gives up on their allotment from God. They decide to look for a better place to settle. And they look for a better god too.
Yesterday’s reading made me angry. Today’s makes my blood boil! I’m angry because of how these people, the ones God personally chose, turn their backs and THINK they are still doing good or going to be blessed. I’m more than angry, I’m heart sick! For them and for God.
Funny thing is, God knew they were going to do this before they did it. Yet He loved them just the same. The same could be said of Judas Iscariot. Jesus knew what he would eventually do, but He loved him and treated him like the rest of His disciples. Maybe I need to love them through this instead of getting angry, even if I believe it is a “righteous” anger.
The last time we were together we saw Micah create an idol, make a shrine, make an ephod, ordain his son and a Levite who came through, and set up his own mini temple. He is going to lose ALL he has made. His new god couldn’t keep it safe for him.
When the people entered the Promised Land, Dan was the second largest tribe in all of Israel. They were the last one to receive an allotment. Their allotment was nowhere near the size of most of the other tribes. Zebulun and Issachar had smaller portions in acreage. Benjamin’s portion is probably pretty close in size. But Dan was the only tribe that was not able to take control of their territory.
Most of the tribes wound up letting the original inhabitants remain in pockets within the territory they were to inherit. There were cities that the Israelites weren’t able to completely conquer. God didn’t give them a complete victory in some places. I wonder if it had to do with the “heart’s condition” of the tribe at the time or if it was because it was all part of God’s ultimate plan.
The tribe of Dan was just the opposite and worse. The original inhabitants kept pushing them back up into the hills every time they tried to take the territory. They weren’t even allowed a small portion to hold onto. I’m wondering if it is due to what we see from them in today’s reading. The tribe of Dan’s hearts are FAR from the covenant that God laid out for His people. So they get NONE of the blessings He had promised. I wonder if this was always an issue with them.
I wonder why the people of Dan didn’t call on their brothers to help them acquire their land in the beginning. Judah and Simeon conquered their territory together. But Simeon’s portion was within Judah’s so maybe that is why they worked together. Maybe Dan thought that because they were such a large tribe they shouldn’t need help.
When Dan finally takes territory for themselves it is from a people who are isolated and unassuming. SIX HUNDRED men are all it takes to conquer this people. They take ONE town with its surrounding territory. One town that was cut off from its neighbors by its location and practices. “They were far from Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone” (verse 7b). It sounds like a pretty easy conquest after so many years of being pushed back.
On the way to find a place for themselves, the scouts from Dan come across Micah’s house and all that he has set up for himself. The scouts recognize the Levite’s voice. He had been looking for a place for himself before he ended up at Micah’s house. He probably passed through where the people of Dan were at.
After greeting one another and the polite inquiry of “How do you do’s” the spies ask for a favor. They want to ask God a question. This was routinely what people did when they wanted God’s direction. They would go to the Levite who would then inquire of the Lord for them. But in the exchange between the scouts and the Levite I don’t see that the Levite actually approached God for His input. “And the priest said to them, ‘Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord’” (verse 6). Talk about an answer that is open to interpretation!
God saw what they were doing, of this I have NO doubt. But did He approve? And did this answer actually come from the Lord or from the Levite? I wouldn’t count on the fact that Dan was successful to mean that God gave His blessing for their pursuits.
We KNOW He didn’t approve of them taking Micah’s ‘home temple.’ Yet He didn’t stop them. God allowed this huge tribe a little piece; a place to call their own. But He didn’t approve of or bless their practices.
When Israel blessed his sons at the end of his life he gave Dan a mixed blessing. The first part states that Dan will judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. This portion of Dan’s blessing is referring to Samson, who judged Israel for 20 years. The second part of Dan’s blessing states that he will be like a viper in the path that will bite and cause the horse to throw his rider. Dan certainly lives down to that prediction in how he treats Micah. He is not much better to the unsuspecting people of Laish.
It would be one thing if this conquest for territory was done to push a people from the land that were practicing human sacrifice, witchcraft, or such AND if done to set up a Godly people. But it wasn’t! No matter what the people living there were doing when the tribe of Dan first arrived, Dan came in bearing false gods of its own. THAT’S what I can’t get past! WHY did God allow them victory when He KNEW what they were planning all along?
The people of Dan were willing to KILL Micah and those he brought to help him retrieve his false gods. They weren’t fighting for the honor of the Father. They were no better than any of the nations around them. They were NOT fighting God’s battles.
I could probably go on like this forever. I really don’t know why God didn’t smack them about the head and face. He had the power to stop them but He chose not to. He let them finish building their own trap. A trap that would lead them right into captivity.
God doesn’t always give us what we ‘deserve.’ In fact, He usually doesn’t give us what we have earned. If so, I would probably be sitting in squalor. I KNOW I’ve disappointed Him often enough. But God gives us grace. He also doesn’t shut out those who are evil from all good things. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). There WILL be a reckoning in the end for ALL of us. But sometimes that is the only place where we will see the scales balanced. The Psalms speak of the wicked prospering.
I have to reign myself in a little here. I cannot say that Dan is part of the “wicked” but I do call foul on this tribe’s actions. I was just reminded that Dan is also one of God’s children. God loves him as much as He loves His other children. BUT He doesn’t like what he is doing. It is just like me and my children. I LOVE EACH of them! I want good things for each of them. But the behaviors of some of them are FAR from what I would like to see. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that I LOVE them and that they are MINE.
Father God, forgive me for my anger at Your child. My “righteous anger” should be directed ONLY at their actions. I want to love like You love. Yes. I have to stand up to sin and call it when I see it. But that doesn’t give me the right to “throw darts” at the one who is in sin or to condemn them.
My nation is in just as much sin as Dan was. We have false gods set up everywhere. We are turning against each other in the streets. We are taking our anger out on one another and stealing from the poor. I have EVERY right to be angry at this behavior BUT I have to LOVE those who are caught up in it. I have to pray for them, NOT condemn them to hell. Help me show Your Love to this hurting world! (I love the fact that my most wayward son quoted from Your word, even if it was a bit embellished. He got the heart of the matter right.)