PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 NKJV).
There may be no fewer than two sides to an issue. But there is only one standard God wants you and me to use to judge any matter, and that is God’s own standard and not our own standard.
In the scripture above, the Israelites did what was right in their own eyes, not what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Because of the fallen nature of man, what seems right in the eyes of man does not always equal what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Man must therefore rise up to the standards of God and not set his own standards. The Israelites missed it setting their own standards and doing what seemed right in their own eyes.
Judges 21:25 repeats exactly what Judges 17:6 says: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (NKJV). This was contrary to what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 12:8: “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today — every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (NKJV). In the time of the judges, Israelites did what seemed right in their own eyes.
The Levite’s error
In Judges 17, we see a Levite who also did was right in his eyes. Levites had no permanent land allocated to them to live but were allocated 48 cities within which to live; Bethlehem, where he came from, was not one of the cities granted the Levites (Joshua 21). Probably because the support for priests and Levites God commanded the Israelites to give was no longer forthcoming, this Levite looked for a place to settle down and earn a living.
He, however, ended up engaging in idolatry. He sold his call for money and position. “Micah said to him, ‘Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.’ So the Levite went in. Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became like one of his sons to him. So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!’” (Judges 17:10-13 NKJV)
This Levite from Bethlehem left his place for the Mountains of Ephraim to the house of Micah to endorse their idol-worshipping by becoming a personal priest and father to him – Levites were not to be a personal priest to anybody or family. He was performing his duties in a house as against in the Tabernacle or in a designated city. A Levite who was supposed to be involved in the worship of God and teach the people to do so became a priest to a family involved in idol worship. That was strange! This Levite should have known better than supporting Micah’s error. Psalm 49:20 says “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (KJV).
This Levite demoted himself. Judges 17:11 says he became like one of Micah’s sons! He lost whatever honour he had left when he also allowed himself to be consecrated or appointed by Micah. What power did Micah have to do that? But why not? – Everybody did what seemed right in his own eyes. Everybody, including this Levite, was guilty.
Did you notice what Micah said after employing this Levite? “Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!’” (Judges 17:13 NKJV) That was not true. Even if an Arch-bishop supports you in your error, it doesn’t make you right! If a pastor tells an unrepentant sinner, “You are blessed, go in peace,” that doesn’t change the scripture: God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21).
No servant of God should allow his ministry to be for the highest bidder. Your anointing should not be for sale. Don’t become the servant of a man when you’ve been called to be a servant of God. Don’t allow filthy lucre to blind your mind to the truth of the word of God. Jesus said, “Give as freely as you have received!” (Matthew 10:8 NLT). The motivation of a servant of God should not be filthy lucre. No. The Bible says a servant of God must shepherd the flock of God serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as being lords but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Others may be commercializing the anointing but a genuine servant of God whose call has not been perverted must never join them. Even where you are rightfully paid in accordance with the Word of God and in appreciation of the ministry you have done, you must not forget that you’re a servant of God, not a servant of the people. Paul says, “…I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:19 NLT).
You are not bound to obey people just because they’ve paid you or will pay you. You shouldn’t obey them to do what is wrong just because they’ve paid you or will pay you. They may pay you but you’re a servant of God. Paul says again: “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Galatians 1:10 NLT).
This Levite didn’t behave like a servant of God. He eventually became a servant of Micah! Hear what he said in Judges 18:4: “Thus and so Micah did for me. He has hired me, and I have become his priest” (NKJV). Who is your boss – God or man?
The Danites’ error
In Judges 18, we see how the tribe of the Dan in Israel also did what seemed right in their own eyes by stealing and adopting the idol of Micah and also hiring the Levite to be their father and priest. “And they said to him, ‘Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us; be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?’ So the priest’s heart was glad; and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and took his place among the people” (Judges 18:19-20 NKJV). Take note again of the attitude of this priest. The Bible says he was glad. Amazing! He had completely gone astray, doing what was right in his own eyes!
The tribe of Dan was not only guilty of idolatry, but she was also guilty of murder. In Joshua 19:40-48, the tribe of Dan was allocated her land but she didn’t believe God to possess all that was allocated to her. “And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley” (Judges 1:34 NKJV). They later chose to look for an inheritance to dwell in, not one allocated to them (Joshua 19:40-46). They located Laish (Leshem), a Canaanite city in northern Palestine, belonging to Sidon, attacked and possessed the land.
Some Bible scholars are of the view that the Danites were wrong to have invaded the land of Laish, killed the people, burnt the city and took over the land. Why? Because it was not part of the inheritance God had given as the territory of the tribe of Dan. But the tribe of Dan went to possess Laish seeking an inheritance for herself to dwell in because until that time their inheritance among the tribes of Israel had not fallen to them. As stated earlier, the Amorites, one of the major tribes living in Canaan before the Israelites came to possess the land, forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley (Judges 1:34).
If the people of Dan were not doing what was right in their own eyes, they would have devoted themselves to possess the land allocated to them instead of killing the people of Laish and taking over their land. “Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked and killed all the people and burned the town to the ground. There was no one to rescue the residents of the town, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel’s son, but it had originally been called Laish. Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, a descendant of Moses, as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile. So Micah’s carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh” (Judges 18:27-31 NLT).
Doing what seemed right in their own eyes, the people of Dan continued with idolatry in Laish and renamed it Dan. The tribe of Dan was worshiping Micah’s carved image at Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh. God never designated Dan as a place of worship for Ithe sraelites but the Danites appointed their own priest to worship a carved image. What a folly! But if you asked them, they would have just justified it. It was convenient for them rather than going a far distance.
King Jeroboam’s error
Jeroboam, the first king of Israel (Northern kingdom), did a similar thing later, leading Israel into idolatry. “So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’ He placed these calf idols at the southern and northern ends of Israel — in Bethel and in Dan. This became a great sin, for the people worshiped them, traveling even as far as Dan. Jeroboam built shrines at the pagan high places and ordained priests from the rank and file of the people — those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on a day in midautumn, similar to the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. And it was at Bethel that he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. So on the appointed day in midautumn, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense” (1 Kings 12:28-33 NLT).
Jeroboam set an evil pattern of sin that the kings who reigned after him followed. He was a negative pacesetter in promoting idolatry which all the eighteen kings who reigned after him diligently pursued; they didn’t deviate from worshipping the golden calves that Jeroboam made. For example, hear what God says concerning Jehu, one of the kings who reigned after Jeroboam: “And the LORD said to Jehu, ‘Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.’ But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin” (2 Kings 10:30-31 NKJV). Jehu departed from the sins of Ahab by destroying Baal from Israel (verses 18-28), but continued with the sins of Jeroboam by preserving the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan (verse 29).
Jeroboam’s case was a sad one because when God divided the kingdom of Israel into two, he gave him ten tribes to rule and even promised to give him an enduring dynasty if he did what was right in His eyes. “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you” (1 Kings 11:38 NKJV).
But Jeroboam messed up. He wasted a great opportunity that God gave him to have an enduring dynasty. He plunged the Kingdom of Israel into idolatry, the same reason God took the kingdom from the house of David. Solomon’s idolatry was the main reason the kingdom was divided; his son, Rehoboam’s folly only created a conducive atmosphere for it to happen. “And he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you (but he shall have one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did his father David’” (1 Kings 11:31-33 NKJV).
Knowing how he came to the throne, one would have expected Jeroboam to do only what is right in the eyes of the Lord and avoid idolatry. But he did what was right in his own eyes.
If God allows everybody to do what is right in his eyes, everybody will be justified in his actions, and that is a recipe for anarchy. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2 NKJV). Even a foolish person will insist that he is right. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15 NKJV). But God has made it clear to us in His word what He demands from us.
Whereas what seems right to man is not always right, God’s ways are always right. God is just (Ezekiel 18:25). Hosea 14:9 says the ways of the LORD are right. The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8). His precepts are right (Psalm 119:128). The Word of the Lord is right (Psalm 33:4). You can’t go wrong when you follow God’s statutes. If you follow His word, His statutes, His precepts, you will always do what is right in the eyes of God, and not what seems right in your own eyes. Ultimately, it is doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord that guarantees one’s approval by him.
The blessings of doing what’s right in the eyes of the Lord
God has made Himself very clear and simple but man has chosen to complicate Him and His wayssa. Man keeps pursuing his selfish desire rather than obey the simple command of God where man’s blessing lies. “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26 NKJV). Did you see that phrase? – And do what is right in His sight. That’s God’s standard, and He says it over and over in the Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 6:18-19 says, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken” (NKJV). Again, take note of the blessing of doing what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 12:25 expresses the same truth about the blessing of doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. “You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD” (NKJV).
Hear also verse 28 of the same scripture: “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God” (NKJV). Did you see that phrase? – When you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. But man will rather disobey God, do what seems right in his own sight and turn round to be praying for God’s blessing.
Here is another scripture on doing what is right in the sight of the LORD and the blessing in doing so: “Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him” (Deuteronomy 13:17-18 NLT).
In the history of the divided kingdom of Israel, the Bible records some kings as doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord and recorded some as doing what was not right in the eyes of the Lord. Even some that the Bible records at a time in their reign did what was right in the eyes of the Lord derailed and didn’t end well.
You must not only do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, you must continue to the end to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. He that endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13).
In order to continue to the end to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, you must ensure that your heart is right with God. You can only continue to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord if your heart is right with God.
Simon the sorcerer’s wrong heart
In the mighty crusade that God did through Philip in Samaria, the Bible tells us that a sorcerer called Simon “also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:13 NKJV). But the same man later offered money to Peter when he came to lay hands on believers and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
It was possible that Simon was not genuinely converted and only joined the new movement to avoid humiliation. People used to call him “the great power of God” and Philip was the new man in town everybody was following (Acts 8:10).
Another possibility was that his heart was drawn back to his sorcery after his conversion and baptism. Consequently, he offered money to Peter so that he would give him the power to lay hands on people and they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and probably add this power to his power of sorcery! The summary of his problem as stated by Peter was that his heart was not right with God. “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21 NKJV).
You shouldn’t do what is right in your own eyes but what is right in the eyes of the Lord. You don’t always know what is right. You can’t depend on your senses and preferences all the time. What you sincerely think is right may be wrong. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV). Proverbs 16:25 says the same thing.
There is a way that may seem right to you now but, ahead, there is danger. God always knows where every road leads and how every journey will end. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).
God’s standards are higher than man’s standards and God has set His standards in the Bible for humans to come up to. “‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT). It is as you renew your mind daily in the Word of God that you begin to align your thoughts with His thoughts and your ways with His ways.
Conclusion: God told Cain, “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Genesis 4:6 NLT). But unfortunately Cain failed to respond correctly to correction. He progressed in his error. He murdered his brother and God cursed him.
Commit yourself to doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord, not what seems right in your own eyes. Don’t make other people’s standards your standards. The Word of God should be your standard. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Hide His word in your heart, and you won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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