in the Christian Library
MICAH – The Man Who Lost His Religion
1. The context has all the trappings of a prime-time drama. The scene – a large group of Israeli’s are migrating north. Families, animals, etc., slowly move on the road with all their earthly possessions. The trip is slow. Suddenly on the horizon there is a dust cloud. Pounding hoofs are heard. Angry shouts fill the air. Soon an angry army confronts the migrating band. The army’s leader quickly dismounts and runs to the chief of the migrating group. The leader is seized and the words of 18:24 are shouted at him. Emotions are high; excitement is so strong that “electricity” fills the air.
Such is the setting that introduces us to the man who lost his religion!
2. Discuss the events that surround this period of time in Israel’s history. The immediate context is Judges 17-18. It was a time of general lawlessness in the nation. Anarchy reigned. There were no absolutes guarding the culture. Even though Israel had committed herself in a devout allegiance to Jehovah, the nation had greatly erred. This is clearly seen in the accepted practice of idolatry. The historian gives us a situation illustrating the general attitudes.
a. Micah was evidently a wealthy man. As the head of his household he was responsible for his family’s religious devotions. Unfortunately his heart was not consecrated to God. He led his family into idolatry.
b. Having fashioned a god and erected a shrine where worship to the god could be performed, he eagerly sought a priest. As is the case, one was willing to sell his soul. Micah’s shrine was complete. However it was not secure. The hired priest was committed to worldliness and quickly took advantage of another offer. Micah was thus ruined. The same means by which he established his religion was used to undo him! NOTE: Such is the common history of self-made religious rules/practices – they become the cause of downfall to those who practice them.
c. Micah’s emotional cry illustrates the plight of all who have “lost religion.” This was not some momentary happening. It was the consequence of decisions he made long before. His cry reveals that he now understood the predicament he faced. His religion was gone. He was empty.
d. What emotions overwhelmed Micah at this moment? It could be feelings of hopelessness and despair or emptiness and frustration. The result was tragic – he was without comfort!
e. The feelings of those in this unfortunate plight are the focus of our present lesson. God created mankind with an inner yearning for religious devotion; a sense of the Almighty that has to be satisfied by practicing religious devotions. A concentrated study on Micah will reveal important Truths that apply to our religious practices today.
f. From studying Judges 17-18 the following points are discovered:
3. Two culprits in Micah’s life caused him to lose his religion. These are two concepts that each one of us can apply in our lives.
a. A HOME ENVIRONMENT that compromised God’s standards (17:4).
There are two possibilities regarding the early religious instruction of Micah. He could have been reared in a home where God’s will was taught, but in adult years chose to reject that teaching. Or, he could have been reared in a home where God’s will was known but the parents failed to transmit it to others. It appears that the first possibility existed in Micah’s early religious training. Think of the power of a home in preparing its children to respect and obey God’s will.
This was at a time early in Israel’s history. The charge of Moses and of Joshua were probably heard by Micah’s parents. They should have transmitted these words to Micah. However his parents chose to reject God’s desires and provide their son with a home where God’s will was little spoken. At this lawless time in Israel’s history SELF became the dominate “god.” Many turned from the words of Moses/Joshua and took upon themselves the privilege of deciding what they should do religiously. This brings us to the second concept in Micah’s tragedy.
b. A PERSONAL RELIGION of convenience (17:5).
Micah did not wish to be guided by God unless it was to his own liking. Here is one of the interesting aspects of the religious compromiser, although he was unwilling to be guided by God, Micah wanted to make sure God blessed him. How many are like this today? They do not want to “crucify self” to follow God. They enjoy certain things and do not want to give them up in order to obey God. However, they still desire to be blessed by God.
c. These two tragic elements combined and Micah lost his religion! Discuss how often these two elements “steal” away religion in our day.
1) How is the home environment is compromised so that the children’s early religious training assures a “lost” religion in later life? It may be that parents know God’s will but “excuse” themselves from obeying it. It may be that cultural pressures persuade the parents to “lighten up just a little.” It can occur in a number of different ways. The common thread is that parents are not consistent in following God’s will and the children are subtly taught that obedience to God is not really important.
2) How can our personal religion become “convenient”? What forces try to temp us to live a “convenient” religious practice? This results in people being “regular” in church attendance, Bible study, devoted service to God, as long as “too” much is not required from them. The ultimate goal in these lives is to find happiness, contentment, and freedom to “do their own thing.” They tragically fail to realize that genuine joy in God’s religion comes only when we are willing to sacrifice and serve others and crucify self! (Gal 2:20).
4. When these two elements were allowed to be present in Micah’s life tragedy was guaranteed. It was certain that at some point his life would face utter ruin. And it happened. In one fell swoop Micah lost everything – his gods, his ephod, his priest, and his purpose in living. He was desolate!
Consider what this utter loss revealed to Micah. In recognizing these things we can understand why his life was hopeless. What did this reveal to him?
a. That he was self-deceived (17:13).
b. Relationships were exposed as superficial (18:15, 20).
c. Conflict (18:22).
d. Emptiness (18:24).
e. Corrupted influence (18:31).
5. There was one single cause for this disaster in Micah’s life. One thing caused his parents to develop a home environment destitute of God. One thing caused Micah to develop a personal religion of convenience. One thing led Micah to self-deception, false friends, conflict, emptiness, and a corrupted influence. What was it?
This one thing was that Micah refused to control self! (17:6). Here is the reason. Whenever man/woman puts Self in the “driver’s seat,” Micah’s disaster will quickly follow!
6. What are some practical lessons that we learn from this man who lost his religion?
a. Even those with the best intentions and most sincere motives, may be in total disobedience to God. Therefore, look honestly into your life and make sure you are in perfect agreement with God (Philip 1:9-11).
b. A person who has little conviction and commitment to God, who fails to have “heart” in religion, will eventually become as Micah! Such is, in large measure, responsible for so many “dropping out” of church. Is it possible YOU are there now? Has worship, Bible study, prayer, singing, attending classes, etc., lost their appeal? Do you have an “empty” religious life? If so, look back at Micah’s experience and see if there are similarities.
c. For those who share Micah’s calamity, look at the following points and be really honest with yourself . . .
1) Tit 1:16; 2 Ti 3:5 – Some who lose their religion will never recover it. These will continue as Micah and prove to be “worthless.”
2) Rv 3:17-23 – Some who lose their religion will be encouraged to respond to God’s plea to Laodicea and immediately repent! They want to return to the joy of a living faith and full assurance of victory; to purpose in every day life and to thanksgiving in worship.
7. There is one pressing query that arises from Micah – How do
YOU control Self? (17:6).
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
cost to others.