Judgesby Gary Inrig
We now meet Micah's new ″legitimate″ priest, a wandering Levite. One phrase tells us a great deal about him: ″[He] departed . . . from Bethlehem in Judah, to stay wherever he might find a place″ (Judges 17:8, NASB). In other words, he was looking for a place to better himself. That was a perfectly natural ambition, except that in this case, it was totally contrary to the will of God. Levites were men dedicated to God's service. They were not to be opportunists moving from place to place, looking for a job. They had been assigned specific cities in which to live and serve God (Numbers 18:1-2; Joshua 21). This was a man who refused to be satisfied with God's arrangements for his life. Instead of living faithfully within the sphere of his divine calling, he was committed to self-promotion and to personal betterment.
One of Satan's most subtle tricks is causing Christians to become dissatisfied with the life circumstances and the area of service God has given them. ″I should be better known.″ ″I should be paid more.″ ″I should receive more praise.″ Far too often, Christians will not do a job because they think it is beneath them. Or they will leave a church because no one pays enough attention to them. Or they will pout because someone else is more important than they are. The next stage in the Levite's career occurs when he becomes Micah's priest-not God's (Judges 17:10-11). Once again there is a direct denial of God's Word (see Numbers 16:1-35). Later, he will get a promotion when the tribe of Dan makes him an offer he cannot refuse (Judges 18:19-20). The self-promoting upward mobility of the priest will take him deeper into apostasy and sin. He had begun as a disaffected individual, and he will become the apostate priest responsible for leading an entire tribe into idolatry.
It is a sobering moment when we finally learn the identity of the Levite- ″Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses″ (Judges 18:30). This upwardly mobile, utterly corrupt, make-up-your-own-religion Levite could trace his ancestry back to the very one through whom God's law had been given! It is a stark reminder that it is no good having a godly ancestor if you do not know God yourself. Godliness is not genetic.
The lesson of Jonathan's life is the necessity of godly contentment with God's arrangements for our lives. What is your attitude towards service for Jesus Christ? Are you looking for a place, or are you seeking God's place? Are you content to be what and where God wants you to be? Or are you a Jonathan, climbing the ladder of Christian promotion, wanting prominence, attention, and praise?
How might we develop a professional attitude toward the Lord's work, even if we are not in vocational Christian work?
How can we learn to be content with God's arrangements for our lives? See 1 Timothy 6:6.