Ten Shekels and a Shirt
And today I would like to speak to you from the theme, "Ten Shekels and a Shirt", as we find it here in Judges Chapter 17. Iíll read the chapter and then I will read a portion also from the 18th to the 19th chapter as the background might be clear in our minds. "And there was a man of
Judges 17:1- 18:6
And there was a man of
And he said unto his mother, "The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it." And his mother said, "Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son."
And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, "I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the Lord from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore I will restore it unto thee."
Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image; and they were in the house of Micah.
And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
In those days, there was no king in
And there was a young man out of Bethlehem-Judah, of the family of
And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehem-Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And he came to
And Micah said unto him, "Whence comest thou?" And he said unto him, "I am a Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place."
And Micah said unto him, "Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give the ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals." So the Levite went in.
And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.
And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.
Then said Micah, "Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.
In those days there was no king in
And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, "Go, search the land"; who when they came to Mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.
When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite; and they turned in thither, and said unto him, "Who brought thee hither? And what makest thou in this place? And what hast thou here?"
And he said unto them, "Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest."
And they said unto him, "Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous."
And the priest said unto them, "Go in peace; before the Lord is your way wherein ye go."
Then the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, "Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what ye have to do."
And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.
And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image; and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.
And these went into Micahís house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, "What do ye?"
And they said unto him, "Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest; is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?"
And the priestís heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.
So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.
Well, thereís the story. This isnít part of the actual history of the Judges, this is a gathering together of some accounts that enable us to see the social condition in that period when every man did as seemed right in his own eyes and there was no king in
But you see, nevertheless, there was a desire to get along as best he could. So he took a little bit of the world and a little bit of
So this young man didnít like the living, and every Levite was provided for, but he had wanderlust and an itching foot and so he started off to see if he couldnít do better for himself that was being done. He felt that being a Levite was good, but there should be opportunities associated with it, and so he came to the house of Micah. There he waited and there he was invited in and asked to become the priest. And Micah made a deal with him. He said, "If youíll be my priest, be my father and priest, then Iíll give you ten shekels and a shirt" It says a "suit", but you understand that the people of the day wore what would be called a gelavia, a long sort of an outsize, well I was going to say a nightgown, I donít know if that is exactly what it is but it is appropriate at least, something like that. And he gave him a suit of clothes or a change of apparel and his food and ten shekels a year.
This was pretty good living for him and so he decided that he would stay there and enter into the mixture of idolatry and so on that was in the house of Micah. But the people of Dan came along, they were suppose to have driven out the Amorites, but the Amorites were too difficult, and they wanted to find someone that was a little easier to get out. And they came to, as youíve read, to Micahís house and the Levite told them to go ahead. Then you find that they discovered that there were people after the manner of the Zidonians at Laish. They were peaceful and no one was there to protect them, and so they figure this would be a very good place to take some land for themselves. When they came with the men that were sent to conquer this area they figured that since they found the land through the young Levite, it would be splendid to have his assistance.
And so they went into the house of Micah, took all the things that he had made and it cost a good bit of money, because at least two hundred shekels had been given for this one piece of furniture. And so they just took it all, made it theirs and took the Levite. Rather hard on Micah, but youíll notice the young Levite was able to adjust himself to this. It was amazing how flexible he was and how easily he could accommodate himself to such changes when there was a little rationalization along the way - As soon as he could begin to see that it was far more important to serve a tribe than one manís family. And he could minister to so many more, why he could see the wisdom of this and he could justify it. With no real strain of conscious he could make the adjustment, hold his hand over his mouth while they took the furniture out of the little chapel that Micah had built. But he was a wise man nonetheless, rather than go along at the front which put him in a place of danger or at the rear which put him in a place of danger, I say he was a wise man, he put himself right in the middle. So that if Micah had sent any of his servants to get him he was safe with soldiers on every side.
What can we call this and how will it apply to our days generation? Would I be out of line if I were to talk to you for a little while about utilitarian religion and expedient Christianity? And a youthful God? I would like to call attention to the fact that our day is a day which the ruling philosophy is pragmatism. You understand what I mean by pragmatism. Pragmatism means if it works itís true Ė if is succeeds itís good. And the test of all practices, all principles, all truth, so called all teaching, is do they work? Do they work? Now Ė according to pragmatism, the greatest failures of the ages have been some of the men God has honored most.
For instance, whereas Noah was a mighty good ship builder, his main occupation wasnít ship building, it was preaching. He was a terrible failure as a preacher. His wife and three children and their wives are all he had. Seven converts in 120 years you wouldnít call particularly effective. Most mission boards would have asked the missionaries to withdraw long before this. I say as a ship builder he did quite well, but as a preacher, he was a failure. And then we come down across the years to another man by the name of Jeremiah. He was a might effective preacher, but ineffective as far as results were concerned. If you were to measure statistically how successful Jeremiah was, he would probably get a large cipher. For we find that he lost out with the people, he lost out with royalty, even the ministerial association voted against him and wouldnít have anything to do with him. He had everything fail. The only one he seemed able to please was GodÖÖbut otherwise he was a distinct failure. And then we come to another well known person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was a failure from judging all the standards. He never succeeded in organizing a church or denomination. He wasnít able to build a school. He didnít succeed in getting a mission board established. He never had a book printed. He never was able to get any of the various criteria or instruments that we find and are so useful; Iím not being sarcastic at all, they are useful. And our Lord preached for three years, healed thousands of people, fed thousands of people, and yet when it was all over there were 120Ö.500 to whom he could have revealed Himself after His resurrection. And the day that He was taken, one man said, "If all the others forsake you, Iím willing to die for you." He looked at this one and said, "Peter, you donít know your own heart. Youíre going to deny me three times before the cock crows this morning." So all men forsook Him and fled. By every standard of our generation or any generation, our Lord was a single failure.
The question comes then to this, what is the standard of success and by what are we going to judge our lives and our ministry? And the question that you are going to ask yourself, "Is God an end or is He a means?" And you have to decide very early in your Christian life whether youíre viewing God as an end or a means. Our generation is prepared to honor with single honor anyone thatís successful regardless of whether they settled this problem or not. As long as they can get things done or get the job done, or, "Itís working, isnít it?", then our generation is prepared to say, "Well, youíve got to reckon with this."
And so weíve got to ask ourselves at the very outset of our ministry, and our pilgrimage, and our walk, "Are we going to be Levites who serve God for ten shekels and a shirt?" Serve men perhaps in the name of God, rather than God. For though he was a Levite and performed religious activities, he was looking for a place. A place which would give him recognition, a place which would give him acceptance, a place which would give him security, a place where he could shine in terms of those values which were important to him. His whole business was serving in religious activities so it had to be a religious job. He was very happy when he found that Micah had an opening. But he had decided that he was worth ten shekels and a shirt, and he was prepared to sell himself to anyone that would give that much. If somebody came along and gave more, he would sell himself to them. But he put a value upon himself and he figured his religious service and his activities were just a means to an end and by the same token God was a means to an end.
Now in order to understand the implications of that in the twentieth century, weíve got to go back 150, 100 years at least, to a conflict that attacked Christianity. Just after the great revivals in
Well, what was the effect of this? The philosophy of the day became humanism. And you could define humanism this way: Humanism is a philosophical statement that declares the end of all being is the happiness of man. The reason for existence is manís happiness. Now according to humanism, salvation is simply a matter of getting all the happiness you can, out of life. If youíre influenced by someone like Nietzsche, who says that "The only true satisfaction in life is power and that the power is its own justification", and that after all, the world is a jungle. And it is therefore up to the man to be happy, to become powerful, and become powerful by any means he can use. For it is only in this position of ascendancy or as we saw in the worship of Molech that one can be happy. This would produce in due course, a Hitler who would take the philosophy of Nietzsche as his working, operating, principles and guide, and would say of his people, that, "We are destined to rule the world." Therefore any means that we can use to achieve this is our salvation.
Somebody else turns around and says, "Well, no. The end of being is happiness, but happiness doesnít come from authority over people, happiness comes from sensual experience." So you would have the type of existentialism that characterizes
Now religion then had to exist because there were so many people that made their living at it, so they had to find some way to justify their existence. So back about the time in 1850, the church divided into two groups. The one group was the liberals, who accepted the philosophy of the humanism and tried to find some relevance by saying something like this to their generation, "Ha, HaÖ.we donít know thereís a heaven; we donít know thereís a hell. But we do know this Ė that youíve got to live for 70 years! We know thereís a great deal of benefit from poetry, from high thoughts and noble aspirations. Therefore itís important for you to come to church on Sunday, so that we can read some poetry, that we can give you some little adages and axioms and rules to live by. We canít say anything about whatís going to happen when you die, but weíll tell you this, if youíll come every week and pay and help and stay with us, weíll put springs on your wagon and your trip will be more comfortable. We canít guarantee anything about whatís going to happen when you die, but we say that if you come along with us, weíll make you happier while youíre alive." And so this became the essence of liberalism. It has simply nothing more than to try and put a little sugar in the bitter coffee of their journey and sweeten it up for a time. This is all that it could say.
Well now, the philosophy of the atmosphere is humanism; the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Thereís another group of people that have taken hum bridge with the liberals; this group are my people, the fundamentalists. They say, "We believe in the inspiration of the Bible! We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ! We believe in hell! We believe in heaven! We believe in heaven! We believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!" But remember, the atmosphere is that of humanism. And humanism says the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Humanism is like a miasma out of a pit; it just permeates everyplace. Humanism is lie an infection, an epidemic Ė it just goes everywhere. So it wasnít long until we had this, that the fundamentalists knew each other because they said, "We believe these things!" They were men for the most part that had met God. But you see, it wasnít long until having said, "These are the things that establish us as fundamentalists!" The second generation said, "This is how we become a fundamentalist! Believe the inspiration of the Bible! Believe in the deity of Christ! Believe in His death, burial, and resurrection! And thereby become a fundamentalist!" And so it wasnít long until it got to our generation, where the whole plan of salvation was to give intellectual assent to a few statements of doctrine. And a person was considered a Christian because he could say, "Ah hah" at four or five places that he was asked. If he knew where to say "Ah hah", someone would pat him on the back, shake his hand, smile broadly, and say, "Brother, youíre saved!" so it had gotten down to the place where salvation was nothing more than an assent to a scheme or a formula, and the end of this was that salvation was the happiness of man, because humanism has penetrated. If you were to analyze fundamentalism in contrast to liberalism of a hundred years ago, as it developed, for I am not pinpointing it in time, it would be like this: The liberal says the end of religion is to make man happy while heís alive, and the fundamentalist says the end of religion is to make man happy when he dies. But again! The end of all of the religion it was proclaimed was the happiness of man. And where as the liberal says, "By social change and political order weíre going to do away with funds, weíre going to do away with alcoholism and dope addiction and poverty. And weíre going to make Heaven on earth and make you happy while youíre alive! We donít know anything about after that, but we want you to be happy while youíre alive!" They went ahead to try and do it only to be brought to a terrifying shock at the first World War and utterly staggered by the second World War, because they seemed to be getting no where fast.
And then the fundamentalists, along the same line, are now tuning in along this same wavelength of humanism. Until we find it something like this: "Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven! You donít want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell, when there is a beautiful heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to heaven!" And the appeal could be as much to selfishness, as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop, deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing! Thereís a way that you can give an invitation to sinners, that just sounds for all the world like a plot to take up a filling station proprietorís Saturday night earnings without working for them. Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches thatís crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. And it is in utter and total contrast with Christianity! Unfortunately, itís seldom seen. And here we find Micah, wants to have a little chapel, and he wants to have a priest, and he wants to have prayer, and he wants to have devotion, because, "I know the Lord will do me good!" AND THIS IS SELFISHNESS! AND THIS IS SIN! And the Levite comes along and falls right in with it! Because he wants a place! He wants ten shekels and a shirt and his food! And so in order that he can have what he wants, and Micah can have what they want, They sell out God! For ten shekels and a shirt! AND THIS IS THE BETRAYAL OF THE AGES! And it is the betrayal in which we live. And I donít see how God can revive it! Until we come back to Christianity. As in direct and total contrast with the stenchful humanism thatís perpetrated in our generation in the name of Christ.
Iím afraid that itís become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence itís this! That this philosophical postulate that the end of all being is the happiness of man, has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist in theÖ..Everything is for the happiness of man! And I submit to you that this is Unchristian! Isnít man happy? Didnít God intend to make man happy? Yes. But as a by-product, and not a prime-product.
It was that good man thatís so admired by the fuzzy thinkers of our day, out there in
Now here was a man that believed his philosophy, reverence for life. Utterly committed to it! Utterly consistent! Even when it came to the matter of cockroach or microbe. Do you see? This is humanism, this is consistency.
Now I ask you; What is the Philosophy of Missions? What is the Philosophy of Evangelism? What is the Philosophy of a Christian? If youíll ask me why I went to
(Brother Paris speaks with great passion in this paragraph) I went out their motivated by humanism. Iíd seen pictures of lepers, Iíd seen pictures of ulcers, Iíd seen pictures of native funerals, and I didnít want my fellow human beings to suffer in Hell eternally after such a miserable existence on earth. But it was there in
Do you see? Let me epitomize, let me summarize. Christianity says, "The end of all being is the glory of God." Humanism says, "The end of all being is the happiness of man." And one was born in Hell, the deification of man; and the other was born in heaven, the glorification of God! And one is a Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart thatís unworthy serving the living God, because itís the highest honor in the universe.
What about you? Why did you repent? Iíd like to see some people repent on Biblical terms again. George Whitefield knew it. He stood on Boston Commons speaking to twenty thousand people and he said, "Listen sinners Ė youíre monsters Ė monsters of iniquity! You deserve Hell! And the worst of your crimes is that criminals though youíve been, you havenít had the good grace to see it!" He said, "If you will not weep for your sins and your crimes against a Holy God, George Whitefield will weep for you!" That man would put his head back and he would sob like a baby. Why? Because they were in danger of Hell? No! But because they were "monsters of iniquity", that didnít even see their sin or care about their crimes. You see the difference? The difference is, here is somebody trembling because he is going to be hurt in Hell. And he has no sense of the enormity of his guilt! And no sense of the enormity of his crime! And no sense of his insult against Deity! Heís only trembling because his skin is about to be singed! Heís afraid and I submit to you that where as fear is good office work in preparing us for grace, itís no place to stop. And the Holy Ghost doesnít stop there. Thatís the reason why no one can savingly receive Christ until theyíve repented. And no one can repent until theyíve been convicted. And conviction is the work of the Holy Ghost that helps a sinner to see that he is a criminal before God and deserves all of Godís wrath. And if God were to send him to the lowest corner of a devilís Hell forever and ten eternities, that he deserved it all! And a hundred fold more. Because heís seen his crimes.
This is the difference between twentieth century preaching and the preaching of John Wesley. Wesley was a preacher of righteousness that exalted the holiness of God. When he would exalt the holiness of God, and the law of God, and the righteousness of God, and the justice of God, and the wisdom of His requirements! And the justice of his wrath and his anger! Then he would turn to sinners and tell them of the enormity of their crimes and their open rebellion and their treason, and their anarchy. And the power of God would so descend upon the company, that on one occasion it is reliably reported that when the people dispersed there were 1800 people lying on the ground, utterly unconscious! Because they had a revelation of the holiness of God and in the light of that theyíd seen the enormity of their sins and God had so penetrated their minds and hearts that they had fallen to the ground! It wasnít only in Wesleyís day; it was also in
But there was a difference! It wasnít trying to convince a "good" man that he was in trouble with a "bad" God. But that it was to convince Bad men that they had deserved the wrath and anger of a Good God! And the consequences were repentance, that lead to faith, and lead to the life. Dear friends, thereís only one reason - one reason for a sinner to repent: and thatís because Jesus Christ deserves the worship and adoration and the love and the obedience of his heart. Not because heíll go to heaven. If the only reason you repented, dear friend, was to keep out of Hell, all you are is just a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt! Thatís all! Youíre trying to serve God because Heíll do you good! But a repentant heart is a heart that has seen something of the enormity of the crime of playing god and denying the just an righteous God the worship and obedience that He deserves!
Why should a sinner repent? Because God deserves the obedience and love that heís refused to give Him! Not so that heíll go to heaven. If the only reason he repents is so that heíll go to heaven, itís nothing but trying to make a deal or a bargain with God.
Why should a sinner give up all his sins? Why should he be challenged to do it? Why should he make restitution when heís coming to Christ? Because God deserves the obedience that He demands!
I have talked with people that have no assurance that sins are forgiven. They want to feel safe, before theyíre willing to commit themselves to Christ. But I believe that the only ones whom God actually witnesses by His Spirit and are born of Him, are the people, whether they say it or not, that come to Jesus Christ and say something like this, "Lord Jesus, Iím going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do, as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, and obeyed and served, and Iím not trying to make a deal with you!"
Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference? Between a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt or a Micah building a chapel because God will do you good, and someone that repents for the glory of God.
Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go, in identification, down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? Iíll tell you why Ė because itís the only way that God can get glory out of human being! If you say itís because heíll get joy or peace or blessing or success or fame then itís nothing but a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt. There is only one reason for you to go to the Cross, dear young person Ė and thatís because until you come to the place of union with Christ in death, you are defrauding the Son of God of the glory that He could get out of your life. For no flesh shall glory in His sight. And until youíve understood the sanctifying work of God by the Holy Ghost taking you into union with Christ in death and burial and resurrection, you have to serve in what you have and all you have which is under the sentence of death: human personality, and human nature, and human strength, and human energy. And God will get no glory out of that! So the reason for you to go to the cross isnít that youíre going to get victory Ė you will get victory. It isnít that youíre going to have joy Ė you will have joy. But the reason for you to embrace the cross and press through until you know that you can testify with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ.." (Galatians 2:20) It isnít what youíre going to get out of it, but what Heíll get out of it, for the glory of God. By the same token, why arenít you pressed through to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Why arenít you pressed through to know the fullness of Christ? Iíll tell you why Ė Because the only possible way that Jesus Christ will get glory out of a life that Heís redeemed with His precious blood, is when He can fill that life with His presence and live through it his own life.
The genius of our faith wasnít that we were going to go through the motions like a Levite that was hired to serve God. No, No! The genius of our faith was that weíd come to a place where we knew we could do nothing, and all we could do would be to present the vessel and say, "Lord Jesus, youíll have to fill it. And everything thatís done will have to be done by You and for You." But oh, I know so many people that are trying to know the fullness of God, so that they can use God.
A young preacher came to me down in
He was like a fellow driving up in a big Cadillac, you know, to someone standing at the filling station, saying "Fill her up, bub, with the highest octane youíve got!" Well, thatís the way it looked. He wanted power for his program. God is not going to be a means to anyoneís end. I said, "Iím awfully sorry, I donít think that I can help you." He said, "Why?" I said, "I donít think youíre ready." I said, "Well, suppose you consider yourself coming up with a Cadillac. Youíve talked about your program, youíve talked about your radio, youíve talked about your Sunday School and church. Itís very good. Youíve done wonderfully well without the power of the Holy Spirit." Thatís what the Chinese Christian said, you know, when he got back to
It will never work. Never work. Thereís only one reason for God needing you and thatís to bring you to the place where, in repentance, youíve been pardoned for His glory. And in victory youíve been brought to the place of death that He might reign. And in the fullness, Jesus Christ is able to live and walk in you. Your attitude is the attitude of the Lord Himself, who said, "I can do nothing of Myself" (John 8:28) I canít speak of myself. I donít make plans for myself. My only reason for being is for the glory of God in Jesus Christ. If I were to say to you, "Come to be saved so you can go to Heaven, come to the Cross so that you can have joy and victory, come for the fullness of the Spirit so that you can be satisfied," I would be falling into the trap of humanism. Iím going to say to you dear friend, if youíre out here without Christ, you come to Jesus Christ and serve Him as long as you live whether you go to Hell at the end of the way Because he is worthy!
I say to you Christian friend, you come to the cross and join Him in union, in death, and enter into all the meaning of death to self in order that He can have glory. I say to you dear Christian, if you do not know the fullness of the Holy Ghost, come and present your body a living sacrifice, and let Him fill you, so that He can have the purpose for His coming fulfilled in you and get glory through your life. Itís not what youíre going to get out of God, itís what He is going to get out of you.
Letís be done, once for all, with utilitarian Christianity that makes God a means, instead of the glorious end that He is. Letís resign. Letís tell Micah weíre through. Weíre no longer going to be his priests serving for ten shekels and a shirt. Letís tell the tribe of Dan weíre through. And letís come and cast ourselves at the feet of the nail pierced Son of God and tell Him that weíre going to obey Him, and love Him, and serve Him, as long as we live, because HE IS WORTHY!
Two young Moravians heard of an island in the
Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale, for he paid no more than he would for any slave, to pay their passage out to his island for he wouldnít even transport them. As the ship left itís pier in the river at