Judges 17 & 18 describe Israel in a confused and corrupted spiritual state.
The primary problem was a lack of leadership, there was no king in Israel. This is stated twice ( 17:6, 18:1).
It’s a reminder how important leadership is, in our lives personally, and corporately whether it be on a marriage, family, local or national level. Of course it’s not just any leadership but leadership that reflects the source of all true leadership, God.
These two chapters give us lessons in what happens without such leadership. First of all anything goes. In chapter 17 a man called Micah brought a carved image and a molded image and idols into his home to worship (verse 4& 5). He turned his house into a pagan temple. He then employed a Levite, someone who had been set apart to serve God in the tabernacle, to serve him as a pagan priest in his home ( verses 7-13).
Then in chapter 18 the corruption of one household affected a whole tribe. The tribe of Dan took Micah’s carved and molded images and idols to follow them and forced the Levite to serve them as a pagan priest for their tribe ( verses 14-26 ).
The chapter ends with this verse, speaking of the tribe of Dan and their worship in the city of Dan in the far north of Israel, verse 31:
31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
Shiloh was centrally located in Israel. This verse speaks of more than just the physical distance between the tribe of Dan and the house of God. It speaks of the spiritual distance between them. The tribe of Dan and God were far apart. They were in one place doing there own thing while God was in another.
We need God’s leadership in our life, personally through His Spirit and all other forms of leadership He provides. Otherwise sooner or later like Micah anything will go in our life, we’ll be worshiping some form of idol and like the tribe of Dan, others will begin to be affected.
Our story will end the same way chapter 18 ends, there’ll be a great distance between us and God, we’ll be in one place doing our own thing and He’ll be in another.