When Moses rolled over in his grave
If someone asked you to list the greats in the Bible who were famous for fighting idolatry, who would make your list? Elijah probably would considering his fiery battle on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal. Gideon might because he tore down his father’s altar to Baal, cut down his Asherah pole and then used the wood from the pole to offer sacrifice to Jehovah. Maybe Hezekiah and Josiah would make your list for tearing down the idolatrous high places.
However, most believers would surely be able to close their eyes and see Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai, holding the 2 tablets of commandments, only to thrown them in rage over the golden calf and the Israelites idolatrous orgy. No servant of God ever hated idols more than Moses. That is the background to Judges 17-18.
In Judges 17, which chronologically takes place at the time of the beginning of the book of Judges (1350 BC), tells about a man named Micah, his silver idol, his worship shrine, the ephod he made, his household gods and how he appointed one of his sons as his personal priest. Of course, all of this was against the Law and despised by God. (most likely less than 10 miles from Shiloh, home of the Ark of the Covenant and God’s worship center)
One day a young Levite from Judah, looking for a new place to live, came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: be my priest and I’ll give you food and clothing and 10 shekels of silver each year. The Levite became his personal priest with idols as the centerpiece of the deal.
Now to the heart-breaking part of the story. The turncoat young Levite had a very famous grandfather: MOSES. Yes, you read that correctly. His father was the firstborn son of Moses and Zipporah, Gershom. That made the Law-giver, Moses, his pawpaw, grandad, grandpa, grampy, gramps, etc. One of the greatest idol warriors who ever lived had a grandson who turned into an idol worshiper and priest. Thank God, Moses was already dead.
You wouldn’t think it possible, but the story got even worse. A group of 600 armed Danites, looking for some additional territory up north, traveled past Micah’s house and after stealing the idol, the ephod and the household gods, they offered the young mercenary Levite an even greater position – that of being the priest of an entire tribe, not just a single family. He accepted.
Then, even harder to believe, the story got even worse. After destroying the chief city in their new territory, the Danites rebuilt the city and re-named it, Dan. Judges 18:30-31 “There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.”
What does this mean? First, Jonathan (Moses’ grandson) and his descendants continued to use Micah’s idol in their worship services in Dan until the house of God was no longer in Shiloh. When was that? It was in the time of Eli and his wicked sons, about 250 years later. (1100 BC) Second, Jonathan and his descendants continued to act as priests for the tribe of Dan until the northern tribes were carried off into captivity by Assyria in 722 BC. So Moses’ descendants served as idolatrous priests for over 600 years. No wonder Jeroboam selected the city of Dan as one of his two “golden calf” worship centers to keep the northern tribes from traveling to God’s one and only Temple in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12:25-33)
Lesson? Just because you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ does not guarantee that your descendants will make that same choice and commitment. Remember: GOD HAS NO GRANDCHILDREN! Each generation must choose for themselves if Jesus Christ will be their LORD and SAVIOR.
In his time, Moses said YES to God! We don’t know what Gershom said, the Scriptures are silent. However, we certainly know what Jonathan said: NO! And not only NO, but NO to God and YES to the enemy.
Therefore: 1- pray for your descendants often. 2- As long as you have breath, via your conversations with them, plant seeds of the Gospel of Christ in every single one of your children, grandchildren, etc. 3- Enable your descendants in their pursuit of and service to Christ. How? Reward their service to Christ so that they know where you stand on spiritual matters. See to it that they reap from you as they sow to the LORD. 4- Make spiritual tools (books, gifts, clothing, camps, seminars, etc.) available to your descendants that point them to a life of faithful service to Christ.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.