God’s Favor Can’t Be Purchased

Message: Today I found another interesting parallel between what we read in Judges 18 and what we read in 2 Peter 2. In Judges 18 there had been a young Levite who was traveling in a foreign land. The Levites were a tribe of priests for Israel but this young man was far from his people and not yet old enough to be a priest according to the law. A man named Micah found him and invited him to live with him and be paid to act as his priest. The thing is, Micah had all kinds of idols in his home and he wasn’t looking to serve God. He was looking for favor and blessing. God’s favor can’t be bought and this young Levite was not even properly prepared to be a priest anyway. The tribe of Dan came along eventually and found him there. They asked him about their journey to take over a land they had been scouting out and without consulting God he told them exactly what they wanted to hear. They took him with them, but they also took the household idols along like some sort of luck charm. Although they did defeat and take over the land they were after, the description is very clear that they did this out of their own strength and not because God handed them over to them. The end of the chapter says that they continued in the idolatry and were later exiled. In 2 Peter 2, Peter was warning about false teachers who once knew the ways of God, but got caught up in greed and lust. They were present in those times and are still present now. They know enough to lead people deceptively into ideas that distort the truth of the gospel into something that fulfills their lustful desires. They know how to use scripture and twist into something else, but Peter was warning them and is warning us of all the times that God spared the righteous and punished those who chased after evil. He used the fallen angels as an example and the ancient world who was flooded while Noah and his family were spared. He used Sodom & Gomorrah as an example while God spared Lot. His point was that God will protect and spare those who follow after him for truth, but not those who chase after selfishness. The scary part of it all as that some of these false teachers can be very convincing if we don’t know, or even want to know the truth for ourselves. In Judges 18 the entire tribe of Dan should have known better but they were fixated on their desire to take over this land. When the young Levite told them what they wanted to hear they didn’t even question it. They ran with it and it almost appeared that it worked for them for a bit. This is the danger of following the words of man who are chasing after favor and prosperity without chasing after God for truth. This is not to say that God does not have favor and prosperity in mind for us, but if that is what we are focused on we will be misled. The most disturbing part of all of this is that this is not about people in the world who are living in ignorance. This is about people in the world who knew the ways of God and strayed off into selfish pursuits. Some are still preaching and teaching while others live in a world like the tribe of Dan where they carry on their lives pursuing all of their ambitions and desires which serve them as idols, while also keeping a “priest” in their back pocket to fool themselves into believing they are serving God. This is a dangerous place to be and the only way out is full surrender. We can’t pursue God’s favor without pursuing God himself. We can’t serve our own desires and agendas and say we belong to God.  My challenge to myself is to evaluate my list of goals and desires and acknowledge that everything I desire belongs to God. He can give and take as he wills in my life because my life belongs to him.

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