A Defective Moral Compass

Does it not seem like we are living in a time where fewer people are operating with a good moral compass? I see behaviors in so many people that appear to have no compass at all, or no real moral direction in their lives. So many believe they can just say or do anything they want and think it is okay, even without consequence. Have you noticed that too? It can be rather disheartening.

While it can certainly be discouraging to see so much blatant immorality in our society today, we need to realize that people have always been this way. I know this because of what I find in the Bible. Specifically, this is seen among the people of Israel who were living during the times of the Judges, more than 3000 years ago. They had definitely lost their moral compass. They were going in the wrong direction. Their example can serve as a good reminder for us – of what NOT to do!

Look at the situation Judges 17:1-13. Here, we are introduced to a man named Micah and his mother, who apparently was wealthy. He had stolen eleven hundred shekels of silver from his own mother. But, she had placed a curse on the thief, not knowing it was her own son who had stolen from her. The curse was apparently severe enough to scare her son into confessing his crime! Yet, what followed wasn’t a reprimand, or even an offer of guilt before God. Instead, her response was: “May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!” (17:2) Wait, what? Why would she say that? Why did she not correct, or punish her son and set things right? Yet, it gets worse!

Look what she says in V3 “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image.” Unbelievable! In one breath, she consecrates the money to God and then wants to make an idol out of it to worship. This is paying lip service to God and then sinning against Him at the same time. All of this is completely outrageous – but it’s true – these are real people and real events. She was oblivious to the irony of it all. Her moral compass was so far off, that she couldn’t see that she was off course! Yet, it gets even worse.

After Micah makes the idols, he then installed one of his own sons as a priest! This is also against God’s commands because only Levites were permitted to serve as priests (cf Deut 18:1). Micah was an Ephraimite. However, in V7 along comes a young Levite from Bethlehem, so Micah offers to pay him and house him as his own personal priest. This situation is a complete mess of corrupted morals and disobedience by a descendant of Israel – God’s own people.

Here’s how we can make application to us today. People still do this same thing, even in our society. They still set up their own religions, appoint their own priests, make their own idols, and espouse their own faith which is all completely against God’s commands in the New Testament. They do it because they are just like Micah and the misguided Israelites. Why does this happen? The answer is within the same passage, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what wasright in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) In other words, when Jesus isn’t one’s Lord, then people will doing whatever they want to do, thinking it is okay, instead of doing what God said.

The Apostle John wrote, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4). So, the bottom line is, God expects us to obey Him. If we obey Him, then we have fellowship with Him and we can have assurance of eternal life. Therefore, just because people think they can say or do whatever they want without consequence, does not mean what they think is true! It certainly wasn’t for Micah and it isn’t for anyone who has ever lived, is living, or will live. Ultimately, Micah had to answer to God for his actions. All of us will too!

(Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12) So, make sure your “moral compass” is properly calibrated and pointed in the right direction, by seeking out the will of God in Scripture and submitting to it through obedience. (cf. Eph 5:17, 6:6; Matt 7:21; Mark 3:35)