Posted in 2021 Advent devotions

Priest for hire

“The Road to Bethlehem” Advent devotion for December 2, 2021. Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

“Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in.” (Judges 17:7-10)

This is certainly an strange chapter in the history of God’s people “In those days there was no king in Israel [and] everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Previous to this, Micah had made his own little household shrine, complete with a little silver idol. When a Levite comes on the road from Bethlehem, Micah hires him to be his own private priest. He figures that if he has a Levite for a priest, he’s got it made. God will certainly bless him.

Both Micah and the Levites break so many of God’s laws about idols, priests and Levites. This road to Bethlehem is paved with ignorance, disobedience, and superstition. Their do-it-yourself religion leads them away from God, not closer to him.

The road to Bethlehem is filled with folks who think they have God figured out. If I just tweak some part of my life, if I say the right prayer, if I have the right person pray for me, or if I show up at church one week, then God will certainly bless me.

The whole problem started when someone did what was right in her own eyes. Eve ate from the tree forbidden to her and Adam when she saw that it looked good. Lots of things look like the right thing to us. We are easily deceived. Our desires are powerful. We think we’ve got it all figured out. Unfortunately, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

By the grace of God, we have a king, Jesus. No one could quite figure him out. He looked like a man, and yet he could do the things of God. He loved the unloveable. He wouldn’t defend himself at his trial. He came to seek and save the lost, and gave his life as a ransom for many. Who does that? Why would he do that?

He did all that so we wouldn’t end up inventing our own religion and ending up lost. He did that to be the way, the truth and the life. We don’t have to engineer a way to receive God’s blessing. Jesus comes to give us his gifts of grace. He comes to be the ultimate prophet, priest and king.

Thank you, Lord, for coming to us with your gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. I’ll never figure out why you love me so much. But I am very thankful for your blessing. Amen.

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