July 28, 2019

Stubborn Worshipers

Judges 18:11-31

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. . . .

—  Isaiah 53:6

Isaiah’s description here is an apt one for God’s people. Sheep can be stubborn wanderers, always grazing where the grass looks greener.

Not long after Israel came to the promised land, the tribe of Dan set up an idol for worship, stolen from Micah in Ephraim, along with Micah’s priest, who is now identified as a grandson of Moses. Dan’s stubborn idolatry seems to have lasted about 300 years.

The people of Dan, like many others in Israel, ignored God’s instructions to have “no other gods” and to make no images for worship (Exodus 20:3-5). Even if they claimed they were committed to the God of Israel by having a priest, they were really just doing as their neighbors in the land of Canaan did. But, surely, God would understand that worshiping “outside the box” was the creative thing to do—right? After all, isn’t variety the spice of life?

Spiced food may be good, but strangely spiced worship only defies and mocks the Lord. We do well to note that Hebrews 12:28-29 reminds us to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”

It is good to remember that the Holy Spirit brought us into the fold of the great Shepherd, and that he daily nudges us to abandon our stubborn ways. Today, may we hear and listen to his voice (Psalm 95:6-7).

O Lord, help us not to grieve your Holy Spirit. May we honor you not only in worship today but in all we do each day of the week. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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