I have noticed in the last few readings that God seemed perfectly happy to take meat and grain sacrifices that were given on random rocks. This is despite saying somewhere in the Mosaic law books that sacrifices must only be made on the official altar.
My translation titles the two sections in today's reading as "Micah's Idols" and "Idolotry in the Tribe of Dan". It tells the reading of how a man named Micah creates some idols with money he gave back to his mother after taking it.
There was a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. One day he said to his mother, “I heard you place a curse on the person who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from you. Well, I have the money. I was the one who took it.”
“The Lord bless you for admitting it,” his mother replied. He returned the money to her, and she said, “I now dedicate these silver coins to the Lord. In honor of my son, I will have an image carved and an idol cast.”After the idol is created, Micah hires a travelling Levite to be his priest. Later, the tribe of Dan comes by and persuades the priest to take the idols and follow them. Now, given that idolatry is supposedly like the worst sin ever, you would expect for these folks to get swallowed up in the ground (like God did to the dude who looted from a city when we was not supposed to) or burned to death (like Aaron's sons after they burnt the wrong type of incense) or bitten by poisonous snakes (like God sent when the Israelites complained about wandering in the dessert). Instead, the Bible does not even say anything to condemn any of these folks.
In fact, after persuading the priest to come away with Micah's idols, the people of Dan successful conquer the land they were going to conquer (they burned the town to the ground, of course). After that, we read
Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son 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.So they just worship it? For a good while? And the God who would murder at the smallest insult does not mind at all? That's stretching credulity a bit much.
Jesus and Nicodemus have a talk. Jesus tells Nicodemus that people must be born again in spirit to see the Kingdom of God. We then get some more "good = believes in Jesus", "evil = does not believe in Jesus" silliness,
There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wantsYes, everyone who does not believe in God is an evil, horrible, depraved person. Yup, that's right. I had a baby and a puppy and a kitten for breakfast. I also stole candy from a child and took money from the tip jar at Starbucks. All because I do not believe in Jesus. Clearly, there is no other reason to act like a decent human being. Nope, none at all.
Gah. It's too late to take this sort of BS seriously.
Psalms and Proverbs
A pretty bit of poetic imagery,
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens