Dan’s Invasion and Idolatry
Open Your Bible
Judges 18:1-31, Psalm 78:56-66, 1 Peter 1:17-23
“Just look away / look away / There’s nothing but horror and inconvenience on the way.”
This theme song plays grimly at the start of each episode of the television show A Series of Unfortunate Events. Despite the warning, I kept watching and hoping the show’s main characters, three orphans, would eventually find relief. Each episode ended in dismay as the orphans’ lives spiraled further out of control. The story became more tragic at every turn. As I read Judges 18, the same song crept into my mind: “Just look away / look away… ”
Israel’s story took dark turn after dark turn as the people made bad choice after bad choice. They had been redeemed out of slavery, with all their needs taken care of by the Lord, yet they forgot their God and lost their way. Quickly they fell into sin and idolatry. We’re talking idol worship and murder—absolute lawlessness. How could God’s chosen people fall so far so fast?
From the outside looking in, the Israelites’ missteps are plain to see. But in our own lives, it’s much easier to lose perspective. The Israelites thought they could run their lives better than God could. For example, we saw in today’s reading that God provided land for the tribe of the Danites, but they found a quiet town to conquer instead. Veering from God’s provision, they left behind a wake of physical and spiritual destruction. The Lord also asked the Israelites for their sole devotion, but the Danites opted for idol worship (Judges 18:27–31).
The Danites, a tribe of Israel, thought they could make a better, happier, more abundant future for themselves than the one the Lord had laid out for them. Sometimes I wonder, “Am I guilty of this sort of arrogance too? Do I ever believe my plan is superior to the Lord’s?” When I forget the goodness and wisdom of God, I’m likely to fall into the same trap of disobedience, foolishly thinking I can create a brighter future for myself than the one God has planned.
We choose our own plans because we don’t trust that God’s plan is actually good for us. Or maybe, like the Danites, we forget that our God has the power to move mountains. Perhaps God calls us to give our money or time or energy, but we hold back. Or maybe He lays it on our hearts to repair a relationship, but we decide it’s better to sweep the issue under the rug. In the short term, we think our plan is less painful and more effective. But if we look at what happened with Israel when they forgot God’s instruction, it’s clear that a life of disobedience only brings pain and suffering.
May the Danites’ story remind us that we are all utterly lost without God’s guidance. We have access to God’s wisdom in Word and Spirit. Our Father in heaven knows what is best for us and works for our good. Placing our trust in the Lord and obeying Him will not always be easy, but we have a powerful promise of true life, flourishing and full of purpose, when we look to Jesus and walk in His ways.