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Home-Made Gods

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
August 12, 2022 12:00 am

Home-Made Gods

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 12, 2022 12:00 am

The nation of Israel is adrift spiritually and morally. No more judges will appear on the scene to fight or pray or preach. It is no surprise that this book closes with tragic tales of disobedience, superstition, immorality, theft, murder, and eventually Israelite fighting against Israelite. What is the root problem? The same problem we're experiencing today: everyone does what is right in his his own eyes.

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That's exactly what we are experiencing in the religious world and in our nation today. The fact that America has become the new focus for Eastern religions should not be any surprise to us. There's little doubt that our generation has discovered a whole other world that previous generations never even thought of as existing. It's in the form of paranormal experiences, channeling that is through spirit entities, through individuals speaking truths that go back thousands and thousands of years. What is happening? People have rejected God and His Word and they are now following superstitious Hinduistic beliefs.

Over the course of the last several broadcasts, we've brought you Stephen's Vintage Wisdom Series from the Judges and we continue that series today. The nation of Israel was adrift spiritually and morally. It got to the point where God sent no more judges to fight or pray or preach. Israel was marked by tragic tales of disobedience, superstition, immorality, theft and murder. Eventually, they were fighting with each other. What was the root problem?

The same problem we're experiencing today. Everyone does what's right in his own eyes. This lesson is called Homemade Gods. Our study through the book of the Bible has taken us to the book of Judges and in particular now as we come to the close of this book, you will discover with me that it is coming to a very tragic close. The nation is adrift spiritually and morally. There are no more judges from this point on. There isn't any repentance.

There is no call for help. There isn't any nation bowing their knee before God. There is now a straight course set toward apostasy and idolatry. You will read a refrain several times in the remaining five chapters of the book of Judges that says in those days there was no king in Israel, no civil authority, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes, no spiritual authority.

In fact, the popular ballad in our culture a few years ago would have been a hit in Israel as it sings, how can it be wrong when it feels so right? All the writer of Judges I believe tries to do here in the last few chapters is hold a mirror in front of Israel's face and say, Israel and this nation today, take a good hard look at what happens when you reject the authority of God and you do whatever is right in your own eyes. Take a look at what will happen.

Primarily two things. First of all, there will be the creation of false religions. Second of all, there will be the destruction of moral absolutes. We're going to study the first issue that is the creation of false gods and of false religion and I'm going to attempt to parallel what happened then with what's happening in our nation today. Now our story opens in Judges chapter 17 and it continues through the end of chapter 18. It's a story that reveals the development of a nation that rejects the authority of God and continues in ever-increasing ways to create their own religious system and I'm going to pull out from this text four characteristics that exist today and the false religions that we have in our nation as well.

We'll let them serve as major points in our discussion. Characteristic number one is this. A false religion is stimulated by personal convenience. Judges chapter 17 verse 1. Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah and he said to his mother, the eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold the silver is with me, I took it. And his mother said, blessed be my son by the Lord.

Now you get the picture here. Here's a son, a grown son, has stolen from his mother, for some reason there was laying around on the dresser drawer or whatever, over a thousand pieces of silver and she has adopted the pagan custom of uttering a curse on those that she would like to be caught or found out or hurt. Now she has a good idea it's her son because she utters the curse in his hearing.

Well it works. Look at verse 3. He then returned the one thousand one hundred pieces of silver to his mother and his mother says, note this carefully, I totally, that is I wholly dedicate this silver from my hand to the Lord.

So good so far, but look further. For my son to make a graven image and a molten image. A Jewish mother here is steeped in idolatry and it's interesting what she does next verse 4. So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made them into a graven image. She's not even doing what she said she would do. First of all, she praises God that her son fesses up. And then she says she will give to God all of it and then instead of giving it to God she takes it and she makes false gods out of it and she doesn't even give all of it to the false gods. She short changes them. She only gives two hundred of the eleven hundred pieces. We do have serious trouble under this roof. Even this false religion is short changed.

Why? Because this mother represents to the reader and by the writer the mood of Israel as it does whatever it wants to do. Even if it means lying. The Israelites are bound by idolatry and they are making their false gods. Why is idolatry so popular? Because you can make whatever god you want and you can give it only what you want to give it. If you lie to it, it can't hear you anyhow.

It won't matter. Why bother with trips to Shiloh? Why bother with the expense of coming up with unblemished animals to sacrifice? It's all costly. It's all timely. Let's just have some homemade gods on the scene.

That will be a lot more convenient. By the way, false religion is as popular today as it was then. One talk show host recently had these true things to say. It's too bad it came from that kind of source. I won't tell you who it is but he said these things about religion in America.

Let me read you some of what he said. He said, there are some people who think religion is like a faucet to be turned on only when needed. In our day the most popular religion is Confucianism.

That was interesting. Most people have some sort of religion, he says. At least they know what church they're staying away from. Then finally he says, many people use their religion as they do a bus.

They ride it only if it's going their way. Notice verse five. And the man Micah had a shrine and he made an ephod. That was just for the high priest, you remember. And household idols and he consecrated one of his sons. This is really a charade. That he might become his priest.

How convenient. Here comes the important statement. This is what God thinks about it. Verse six. In those days there was no king in Israel.

Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Why bother with Shiloh? Why bother with all of that? We can make our own convenient store type of religion. We can go whenever we want. We can create it any way we want it.

No conviction that way. We can have religion our way. David Poling conducted the very first survey to assess the spiritual desires or beliefs of our country years ago.

Glamour magazine followed up a few years later with their own survey to which 25,000 people responded. If you read the results under close scrutiny, all three surveys reveal basically these things. That people choose to believe only what appeals to them. By the way, 98% of these people believe in God. They ignored teachings that ran contrary to their personal goals or their felt needs. Their religious commitments were, and I quote the survey, a convenient and comfortable form of Christianity. No wonder that Howard Hendricks one time remarked in class, he said the Christian church in America is 500 miles long and one inch deep.

Secondly, a false religion, characteristic number two, is concealed, this is where it gets tricky, by religious appearances. Now a new character is added to the plot. Look at verse 7. Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah of the family of Judah who was a Levite and he was staying there.

We learn later this young man's name was Jonathan. Then the man departed from the city from Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he might find a place. And as he made his journey, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. Now you remember at this time, Micah has a son who's play acting priest.

Okay, and it isn't probably working very well. I'm not even sure the ephod fit him. Verse 9, and Micah said to him, where do you come from? And he said to him, I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah and I'm going to stay wherever I might find a convenient pulpit or place. You can just see the wheels now turning in Micah's mind. He says in verse 10, well dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me. This is great, Micah thinks.

Look how good it gets. Verse 10, the last part. Be a priest to me and this is what I'll do for you. I'll give you 10 pieces of silver a year. My mother will probably provide that. A suit of clothes and your maintenance. So the Levite goes in and probably says, what a blessing. I have a regular paycheck.

I have a new suit and I have all expenses paid. This is wonderful. Make no mistake here, God isn't smiling. That priest has no right to wander from the central sanctuary. He has no right to set up an individual practice. He has no right to serve an individual family or person. This system is totally contrary to God's word, but it has all of the appearances of religiosity. We've got a real priest here.

He says the right words. We've got an ephod. We have a shrine. They may have even had times of services, but it couldn't be further from the truth. God is not pleased.

Do we do this kind of thing in America? Do we have the form of religious appearance without the reality of God's authority? How many thousands of parents want their babies christened who could care less as to whether or not God has anything to do with the way they raise them? How many thousands of couples want a church wedding with all of the trimmings and a smiling, officiating minister standing there and announcing God's blessing, but who have no desire to let God's authority rule in their relationship? Do you know of somebody who wouldn't want to minister at their funeral, especially theirs? We want something religious at the hour of death, but we have no desire or concern for God to rule during the hours of life. What am I saying?

The same thing that happens here. They have rewritten God to fit them, and they have all of the religious appearances necessary, but God really isn't part of the picture. It's a classic, false religious system. Look at verse 13, and Micah says, Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as a priest. You notice not the so subtle motivation in having the priest?

So God can make me a prosperous man. See, I've got A, B, C, now God will do what I'd like, but don't overlook Micah's sin. He made his own gods. He made his own shrine. He employed his own priest. He is considering himself under God's blessing, but when you strip away all of the appearances of religion, he is under God's judgment.

Characteristic number three, a false religion is motivated by disobedience. Now chapter 18 broadens the list of characters in this drama, and it includes now the Danite tribe. Look at chapter 18, verse 1. In those days there was no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of the Danites were seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel. So the sons of Dan sent from their family, five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land as a surgeon, and they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and they lodged there.

Now watch this carefully. It appears on the surface that Dan is looking to possess its inheritance, but I believe that this is written from their point of view, because we learn from Judges chapter 1 that they have already refused their inheritance. Judges chapter 1 tells us that because of unbelief in God's power, they ran from the Amorites. And from chapter 1 till now they reappear here, they are wondering.

Why? Because they are refusing the authority of God. In fact, you remember in chapter 5 when Deborah sings that long song and she talks about the tribes who wouldn't help, and she laments, where was Dan? Oh, they were out in the ships.

What does that mean? It means that while the Israelites were fighting the enemy, Dan is huddled on board some ship, waiting to set sail just in case Israel doesn't win. So now we find them here, still wandering, and they are looking for an easy prey, basically a handout, and they are just about to find the perfect victim. Look at chapter 18 verse 3. When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man or the accent of the young man, the Levite, and they turned aside there and said to him, Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place?

And what do you have here? And he said to them, Thus and so has Micah done to me, and he has hired me, and I have become his priest. And they said to him, they know better, inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be prosperous.

They already know from God's revelation that they are in sin. So what does this priest say, verse 6? Perfect. Clergy men for the hour, go in peace. Your way in which you are going has the Lord's approval. Amen. Of course this priest would say that.

He's a hireling. He'll say whatever his hearers want to hear. Trouble is, they do prosper, and they win the battle, and guess whose credibility goes up? This fake priest's. But had this priest been genuine, he would have sent the Danites scurrying to Shiloh to offer sacrifices for their sin and their rebellion. Instead, upon his advice, they will massacre later in the chapter of peaceful people, and they will set up their idols, and they will have Jonathan and his sons continuing the charade of religiosity. And that religion, ladies and gentlemen, is built upon the foundation of a people who have disobeyed and continue to disobey the authority of God. Everybody's doing what is right in their own eyes, even the religious crowd.

Sometimes they lead the way. One final characteristic of false religion then and now is this, number four. A false religious system is attracted to superstition, and this is where I really want to camp. Whenever God's authority is set aside, beloved, we have to believe in something.

We have to follow someone, something. Even the atheist has placed as his God his reason, and he's come up with the conclusion that there is no God. That to him is his faith, and that takes as much faith as those of us who believe that there is a God. But a denial of God's authority in this book opens the door to unbelievable confusion. That's exactly what we are experiencing in the religious world and in our nation today.

The fact that America has become the new focus for Eastern religions should not be any surprise to us. There's little doubt that our generation has discovered a whole other world that previous generations never even thought of as existing. It exists in the form of paranormal experiences, miracles, out-of-body experiences, channeling that is through spirit entities, through individuals speaking truths that go back thousands and thousands of years.

What is happening? People have rejected God and his word, and they are now following superstitious, New Age, Eastern, Hinduistic beliefs. Dr. Andrew Greeley of the University of Chicago not too long ago showed the results of his survey and concluded that 67% of Americans now believe in a supernatural world. 29% believe in reincarnation.

42% believe that they've been in contact with someone who's already died. A Gallup poll released 12 years ago showed even then that more than 10 million Americans were involved in some tenant, some facet of Eastern mysticism that we call the New Age movement here in America. Perhaps the most popular tenant is called yoga. Yoga in the Hindu language means yoke, and it is their intention to yoke with the Hindu deities. But of course they repackage it for the confused American mind, and so they say, this will relieve stress.

This will increase your productivity at the job. In fact, millions of dollars have been spent by Fortune 500 companies to bring in the gurus and the teachers to teach transcendental meditation, the I-isms, the belief in the mind, the power to name it and to claim it, to make it yours. By the way, that's coming to the church as well.

Companies whose lists go on and on like AT&T and Coca-Cola and General Electric, RCA, Sears, Procter, Gamble, Boeing, General Dynamics, real estate, Hewlett-Packard, IBM. Listen, in the last year, I've had two people in this congregation come to me, professionals, and say, we have been subjected to New Age seminars and we really didn't have a choice. One of them is a lady who is an RN, registered nurse. They brought in another RN, a teacher, author, who came in to teach them therapeutic touch, another tenant of New Age-ism, which is nothing more than Eastern mysticism. She begins by making a disclaimer that this is not against Christianity.

How many Christians are here? Yes. Good. She went on to say, this is not against what you believe. And then she went on to talk about how you have the power to heal because you are a God or God-like.

And he has the power to heal, you have the power to heal. She even took a chair and she pulled up a lady, an RN, and brought her right up to the front of the room and she sat that nurse down and she got behind her and she held out her hands and she closed her eyes and she taught them through this own experience of New Age-ism. She said, now, in this nurse's body I feel emanating from the right elbow something cold.

I would have headed for the right exit. You know, there will come a day, ladies and gentlemen, when you cannot be a nurse unless you buy into that because that's being taught. There will come a day when you may lose your job because you refuse to attend a seminar that teaches New Age-ism and you say I cannot do that, that's teaching another religion, I cannot have part of it. Today supposedly 60 million Americans have bought, in varying degrees, the same lie that Day Nights bought, Micah bought, and Jonathan bought. That is, you can have fulfillment and direction spiritually, not by denying or necessarily ignoring God, but simply rewriting who God is and rewriting what this says about the spiritual world around you. Go back to Judges 18, verse 18. And when these, the Day Night Warriors, went into Micah's house and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molten image, the priest said to them, what are you doing? Verse 19, they said to him, be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man or to be the priest to a tribe and family in Israel? Now, here's a real promotion.

Do you think this guy's going to turn it down? Well, we're going from 10 shekels to probably 50, verse 20. And the priest's heart was glad. And he took the ephod and the household idols and the graven image and went among the people. Idols or not, this priest is a thief.

Here, let me help you carry those here. Micah's not in, let's leave. Verse 30. And the sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image, and Jonathan, this is the priest, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, or Moshe, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the day nights until the day of the captivity of the land. Now, if you look, head up in your cross reference, when you get home, you'll understand that the noon, the Hebrew noon, was added by a scribe who hoped to conceal the identity of this man's grandfather, Moshe, Moses.

How far they have gone. They set up for themselves Micah's graven image, verse 31, which he had made all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh. Why do you think the editor put that in, the writer? That last phrase re-emphasizes that they are rejecting the true worship. It's over there in Shiloh. That's what God has ordained.

That's where the tabernacle is. They believe that they can receive direction from another source. Would it be any surprise to you to know that the New York telephone system handles a million calls a month to their dial-a-horoscope?

Through those lines, a million a month. One out of every three newspaper readers consults the daily horoscope. What's the problem? The problem is that people have rejected the true source of guidance through God and through his written revelation, his word, and they've got to get it from somewhere. And so they go to astrology. David Berkler, Christian speaker and evangelist, writes these words.

He says, in 1956, I purchased a set of the American Encyclopedia Americana. And I recently referred to the section on astrology. This is printed now, by the way, six years ago. The section on astrology traced its origin, and then it concludes with these words. Quote, astrology still flourishes, however, in Asia and Africa, and is a means of livelihood to many charlatans who prey upon the ignorant classes. I bet that got edited out when it got revised.

Times columnist wrote these words, and he had it right. The person who believes in divine providence, God's an authority, is bound to reject the idea that the motions of the stars and the planets govern human affairs. How is it that an unbeliever can get it so clearly, and people who say they believe in God miss it?

Another entire subject is visualization. We call it imaging, and that probably more than any other has crept into the New Testament church. It is deceiving so many people. That is the belief that if you can see it in your mind, it will be yours. Perhaps you're a salesman and you are pumped up with this. You need to see this goal. You need to image or imagine this result, and it will be yours. That, my friends, is New Ageism. The only trouble is you get people on TV and churches who say the same thing. If you can see it, and you can name it, and you can claim it, it'll be yours.

Hallelujah. Imaging. In Edinburg, Texas, teachers, until the uproar started because of it, were forcing kindergarteners in an EK curriculum based on the 4,000-year-old belief that the body has meridians, that is, flows or channels of energy. And they were teaching these kindergarteners how to lay down and visualize the energy flowing through their bodies and teaching them to tap into it by imaging. In Los Angeles, Dr. Beverly Galian developed a holistic curriculum. That word holistic ought to be a catch term.

If you see that kind of thing, you ought to just get your track shoes on and run. That requirement required first-graders to lie motionless and visualize their bodies ablaze with light. And it taught them, through imaging processes, how to tap into that light and recognize they are part of the universal consciousness.

What's going on? People have rejected the authority of God and His Word, and it is leading, and it has led to spiritual confusion. People no longer deny the spirit world.

They just don't understand the reality of it. Let me quote one more thing here, and that's Shirley MacLaine, who I'm sure you're familiar with. She wrote the book, and it's probably been one of the most popular proponents of New Ageism, which is Hinduism. She was on television promoting the New Age movement, and she was encouraging her or her hearers to get involved in transcendental meditation or to go hear a channel or get a crystal and put it on your rearview mirror and some things like that.

Crystals supposedly have an energy source. And then she turned to her audience near the end of it, and she said, listen, what do you have to lose? You know what the answer to that is? Everything. You have absolutely everything to lose when you follow homemade gods. Let me apply two ways, the problem in judges and the problem here in this nation as well. Number one, and this ought to challenge all of us, those who use spiritual words may not necessarily lead in spiritual ways. That goes for me, too. You ought to be like the women where Paul preached.

I love it in Berea. He preached, and this is the great apostle he preached, and they went back to the Bible to see if those things were true. They're checking out the apostle Paul.

It's great. Number two, rejection of God's counsel ultimately results in man's confusion. You want to know how to live? It's in this book. You want to know how to govern the affairs of your life?

It's in this book. You want to know God? You want to know what he's really like? You know how to follow him? You want to know how to discover his design for your life?

It's here. In this book, there is safety and security and counsel and wisdom live here. Jesus Christ said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. You want to come to the Father? You want to know God? You come by me. And when you follow Jesus Christ, who is the truth? What do you have to gain?

Everything. That was a critical reminder today. In the Bible, there is safety and security and counsel and wisdom. There is the one and only God revealed to us. You'll have to throw away your homemade gods if you want to know the true God. Stephen called this lesson, homemade gods.

We have one more lesson to go in this vintage wisdom series from Judges, and we'll bring you that next time. Think about how your life could be impacted if you were to set aside one year to study God's Word, experience authentic community, grow in discipleship, take a trip and do some study in Israel, and earn your master's degree in theological studies all in one year. Well, the school that Stephen leads offers a special program called Shepherds Institute, and you can experience all that I just described. Men and women join us right out of college and before entering into their career. They want to spend a year in God's Word and earn their master's degree and then enter the workforce, better equipped to serve God in their church and community. We've had retired people come and study with us in order to be better equipped to serve God for the remainder of their lives. Stephen and the world-class faculty are eager to invest in you. Learn more by clicking the link at the bottom of our homepage, wisdomonline.org. Do that today, then join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-12 19:12:00 / 2023-03-12 19:23:20 / 11

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