“There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
In what follows from here to the end of the book is a truly bizarre story whose ending is, short the cross and maybe not even that, the darkest chapter in all of the Scriptures. Here we see Israel finally hit rock bottom.
From the beginning of the book we are presented with the bit of narrative detail that Israel is determined to run from the Lord. All throughout the stories of the various judges, while they look back when things get really bad, the direction they are heading is away from Him. They always end up further from Him than when they started. The judges may keep them on track for a little while, but as the character of the nation turns downward, so does the character of the judges.
By the time we get to the story of Samson which wraps up in chapter 16 we don’t even get the postscript that they had served the Lord during his lifetime. He merely gave them some physical relief from the tyranny of the Philistines. Here in the end, we finally see what happens when a people are determined to go away from God. It’s not pretty.
In our own lives, turning from the Lord still has consequences. The longer and more determinedly we turn from Him, the further we will get. And when we separate ourselves from Him, chaos and destruction will be the only result. Absent genuine repentance, we will stay on this path until we too finally hit rock bottom. The story of the judges makes for good reading, but we must make sure to use it as the cautionary tale it is intended to be and not a how-too manual.