Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Idolatry and Power: Judges 18:1-31


Our world has, in many ways, championed the individual and the virtue of independence to an unhealthy degree. We are taught from a young age that we can be whatever we want to be and told that we can do whatever we put our minds to. While these sound bites feel good and may prove popular in the focus-group, if taken to their extreme any number of things can be justified. Add social media to this mix and the constant need for attention and approval (or a constant ego stroking), and you get what we see all around us. Many people have placed themselves at the center of their carefully-constructed solar systems of self-importance and in a world that claims to be more connected than ever before many have actually never been more isolated. Not only is this trend unhealthy for the individual, it is potentially harmful to others. In fact, Judges 18 goes a long way in illustrating the dangers associated with idolatry of the self and the pursuit of self-importance/power. It is my prayer that we might learn from this passage how we as God people ought to vigorously insist on keeping God at the center of our universe and not usurp his rightful place in our lives.

1. ELEMENT #1: A People are Found Ambitious-1:1-6

While in chapter 17 we saw the connection between idolatry and money, in the next chapter of Judges we trace the relationship between idolatry and power. Judges 18 begins with the same ominous note introduced in 17:6—“In those days there was no king of Israel.” This again illustrates the vacuum of godly leadership in and around Israel at the time. This vacuum made it easy for Micah to create a god(s) in his own image rather than submit to and obey the one true God in chapter 17. This same vacuum is also going to leave an entire tribe susceptible to all kinds of nefarious behavior in chapter 18. This tribe is introduced in the last part of verse 1—“and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.”

In this introduction we learn that the Danites were a people unsatisfied with their home. In Judges 1:34 we learned that this group was beaten back by the Amorites and confined to the hill country. Even before this event, the Danites occupied a land on the coastal plain, leaving them on the front lines of Philistine attacks. Needless to say, they are looking to relocate to an area where they can really thrive.

To this end, the Danites employ five warriors as spies and request that they scope out a new territory for them to occupy—"So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it; and they said to them, ‘Go, explore the land.’ And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and stayed overnight there” (1:2). Like the young wandering Levite in chapter 17, these spies stumble upon Micah’s home (and pagan cult shrine) in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah, being the hospitable chap that he is, invites them to stay the night. Little does he know that these same visitors will soon return to wreak havoc on Micah’s household.

However, before we get there, let us observe what else took place upon the first meeting between Micah and these spies—“When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned aside there and said to him, ‘Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?’ He said to them, ‘Micah has done this and that for me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.’” (1:3-4). The spies recognized the southern accent of this Levite and knew that he was somewhat out of place. After inquiring what he was doing in this peculiar place (so far from where he belonged), they learn that he is a priest serving in the house of Micah.

Immediately, these spies seize an opportunity that they hadn’t expected—”Then they said to him, ‘Inquire of god, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be successful.’” (1:5). What these men request of the Levite is an oracle from God (notice however that the covenant name of God, Yahweh, is not used and it is unclear exactly what god they were hoping to hear from). An oracle involved asking a god a yes or no question and sometimes included the casting of lots or, as in this instance, inquiring of a prophet or priest at a shrine. These spies wanted spiritual confirmation that they were heading in the right direction as they sought a land for their people to inhabit. This young Levite, in their minds, could (and does) provide this confirmation for them when he says, “go in peace; your way in which you are going has the Lord’s approval” (1:6). This proclamation is not given after much prayer and careful consideration as much as it is offered carelessly, perhaps in a quick way to curry favor with these visitors. Also, a more literal translation of what the Levite says is ambiguous. In reality, the Levite simply says that the actions of these spies are in full view of Yahweh (not that God is necessarily blessing their endeavor).

The ambition of the Danites and these spies is unmistakable. They are looking to move up on the world’s stage and are taking dramatic steps to that end. Ambition, on its own, is not necessarily a bad thing, however, ambition in those who are far from God is a breeding ground for gross idolatry and certainly this seems to be the case here as the story unfolds.

2. ELEMENT #2: A Parcel is Discovered-1:7-13

With the Levite’s blessing “the five men departed and came to Laish, and saw the people who were in it living in security, in the way of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting; for there was no oppressive ruler humiliating them for anything in the land, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no deals with anyone” (1:7). Poor Laishians, just sitting there minding their own business like an ancient Switzerland in both beauty and neutrality without a care in the world. Now these Danites 100miles away from where they are supposed to be see what these unsuspecting people have and want to take it away from them (for all the obvious reasons). Here is where ambition turns into entitlement. Here, the Danites conclude, “Why shouldn’t this prime real estate be ours, especially if we can easily acquire it?”

The text continues by saying, “When they came back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, ‘What do you say?’ And they said, ‘Arise, and let’s go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you sit still? Do not hesitate to go, to enter, to take possession of the land. When you enter, you will come to an unsuspecting people with a spacious land; for God has handed it over to you, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.’” (1:8-10). What is worse than feeling entitled to something that is not yours? How about believing that you have a divine right to something that is not yours. Here, the Danites invoke God (borrowing from their experience with the Levite earlier) to justify their conquest of this land. Sounds crazy, but this is the kind of rationality that can result from unchecked ambition and entitlement both in the ancient world and today. The Danites are bent on gaining a substitute land for what was already given them and nothing appears able to stop them in their pursuit.

The next thing they do is assemble and equip an army for conquest—“Then from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaney-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. And they passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah” (1:11-13). After collecting their ranks together, they advance to this new area for conquest, only to make a pit stop (like the Levite in chapter 17 and the five spies earlier in chapter 18) at Micah’s home (he must have been set up on the interstate).

Micah’s home does not appear to be the kind of pit-stop that encourages godly behavior. Even still, these troops probably pull in Micah’s driveway given the relatively positive experience that the five spies had earlier.

3. ELEMENT #3: A Prize is Stolen-1:14-26

However, after grabbing their soft drink and chips at the pit stop outside Micah’s home, “the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, ‘Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod and household idols, and a carved image and a cast metal image? Now then, consider what you should do’…” (1:14). Like the region of Laish, Micah’s stash of idols caught the eye of these Danites and, their ambition and entitlement began to take over. After all, if one is able to feel entitled to land that isn’t his, what is stopping him from feeling as though he is entitled to items that don’t belong to him?

But why? Why was there interest in Micah’s stash of pagan relics? Some believe that a light may have clicked on in the minds of the spies upon seeing this religious shrine at Micah’s house. They may have believed that they would need to set up a similar cult site in their new land (Chisholm, Judges and Ruth, 458). Rather than make their own, it would have been far more convenient to just steal Micah’s and relocate it to the place of their choosing.

“So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him how he was doing. Meanwhile, the six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, were positioned at the entrance of the gate. Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up and entered there; they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the cast metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war” (1:15-17). Picture this. The Levite wakes up in his cottage outside of Micah’s home near the cult shrine to 600 armed men who are standing guard while the five spies you met earlier are hauling away Micah’s personal property without blinking. What is the young Levite to do? All he seems to be able to do is stand and watch this unfold. The ambition and entitlement of these Danites had led to robbery. Clouded by their idolatrous pursuits, the Danites don’t seem to be bothered by this in the least and others seem powerless to stop it.

The text continues with, “When these men entered Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, household idols, and the cast metal image, the priest said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ And they said to him, ‘Be silent, put your hand over your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?’ The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and went among the people” (1:18-20). Is there any limit to what these Danites are willing to take? It was not enough that they were on their way to steal a land that was not theirs or take idols that did not belong to them. Now, they are after this young Levite—Micah’s employee. After all, if they planned to erect a cult shrine in their new land, they probably reasoned that they would also need a priest to go along with it. Why not just take this guy?

They tempt the Levite with increased power and responsibility—the kind that would not have been possible if he stayed in Micah’s employ. The Levite takes the bait and reveals that like these Danites, he too is teaming with selfish ambition, willing to go anywhere with anyone to climb the latter of self-importance. If he had any sense, he would stop to consider who he was joining—entitled thieves bent on unjust conquest. This does not appear to matter. If they had a better job for him, he would take it.

Notice how this has all unfolded. Unchecked ambition led to entitlement which has grown and given way to idolatry. Make not mistake, while the Danites and the Levite seem to promote the worship of these idols, ultimately they themselves are at the center of their universe, taking the place of the one true God on the throne of their own lives. Everything about these characters is about what they want, what they believe they are entitled to, and what would advance their cause.

4. ELEMENT #4: A Power-grab is Executed-1:27-31

The final element of this chapter in Israel’s story is found in verses 27-31—a power grab is executed. “Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. And there was no one to save them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. So they rebuilt the city and lived in it” (1:27-28). The writer is careful to highlight just how “unsuspecting” and vulnerable the poor people of Laish were against the Danite takeover, making the Danites look like bullies picking on a much younger and smaller kid on the playground. After being totally caught off guard and with no one to team up with, Laish falls to the Danites.

The chapter concludes with the following note in verses 29-31—"And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born to Israel; however, the name of the city was previously Laish. The sons of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.” Here we see the fruition of the Danite’s vision for themselves. They had relocated to a better area, had settled in a new city, and had established a means to worship the idols they had stolen. In a very worldly sense, they proved successful in their endeavor, and yet, all of this is just the latest expression of idolatry of the self fueling a misplaced pursuit of power and self-importance.   

So What?

Can we really expect that these Danites would be satisfied for long in their new digs, in their new arrangement, with their new ornaments? After all, how much power is enough? How many things are enough? When is the monster of entitlement ever satisfied? When is unchecked ambition ever silenced? The Danites and the Levite they steal away from Micah were placing their value and purpose in the next big thing instead of the only thing that mattered—a relationship with the one true God. As a result of their selfish pursuits, they justify offenses against others, even stealing and murder. Though this is an extreme example of what can happen, make no mistake, when anyone places themselves at the center of their universe, others around them ultimately pay a price. Unchecked pride and the selfish ambition and entitlement that comes with it inevitably causes collateral damage. People can prove to be casualties of our idolatrous pursuit of self-importance. Such was the case with the Danites and is often the case today.

To curb this, we must surrender our agendas to the Lord’s greater plan for our lives. We must recognize that the One we follow, God the Son, did not consider what he was entitled to, but instead, emptied himself to sacrifice and serve others. We must remember that God stands at the center of the universe—not you, not me. We are in his orbit, not the other way around.

Monday, January 4, 2021

God is Not For Sale- Judges 17

Today we return to our Judges series—“Broken People, Faithful God”—in chapter 17. I want to reintroduce the context of Judges by drawing several parallels between the days of the Judges and our day today that I think will prove helpful as we look at this text and draw appropriate applications for our lives. You see, Israel in the days of the Judges suffered from a vacuum of godly leadership, leaving people to their own devices and inventing ways to satisfy themselves. In the days of the Judges, the majority of people had forgotten what God revealed in his Word and this ignorance led to all kinds of disruption (both personal and general). If this sounds familiar, it is because this is not unlike our world today. What is interesting is that most people, even those who are far from God, recognize that there is a problem with the way the world is. In fact, many even seek to find a solution. Unfortunately, most end up entertaining the wrong methods/practices/personalities in their pursuit. In today’s passage we are going to witness how this takes place and hopefully draw attention to the only hope for escaping this evil and broken world. In Judges 17 we will learn two important lessons about idolatry that will serve as a helpful reminder to the people of God and a word of correction to those who might find themselves far from the Lord.

1. LESSON #1: You Can’t Build a God-17:1-6

When we last left Judges, we watched God’s people descend to new lows under the leadership (or lack thereof) of Samson. His failure to lead God’s people well was the latest example of many of just how far Israel was from God during this dark period of her history. One might argue that chapter 17 gives us one illustration of the kinds of things that were happening in Israelite homes during this era. In verse 1 we are introduced to an ordinary family from Ephraim that serves as a case study of how NOT to conceive of God or divine favor—“Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah” (17:1). Several components of this introduction hint at coming disaster. First, the region of Ephraim and the people from that area have been portrayed negatively by the narrator earlier in the book. Second, the name Micah is a shortened form of “micayehu” which means “who is like Yahweh?” Because the author chooses to use the shortened form of the name, some believe that the reader is being subtly tipped off that this man is going to fall far short of his name’s association in the unfolding story (Block, Judges, Ruth, 478).

Our suspicion about this character receives immediate justification upon reading verse 2—“He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it…” (17:2). Yes, this man had stolen a great sum of money from his mom and only returned it after she cursed the unknown culprit in his presence. What he stole was not just a few dollars from his mother’s pocketbook. Micah had stolen 1,100 shekels (the same amount each of the Philistine governors had given Delilah as a reward for delivering Samson into their hands). This was a great deal of money. Fearful of the curse coming true, Micah returns the money to his mom and fesses up to his crime. Make no mistake, Micah is more concerned about being cursed than he is contrite and repentant for what he did.

However, his mom does not seem to be able to see through this. In fact, she is impressed by what Micah does, so much so that she seeks to bless him and the Lord in a most peculiar way—“He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, ‘I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you…” (17:3). The apple (Micah) does not seem to have fallen far from the mis-informed and confused tree (his mother). Once her fortune is restored to her, she celebrates with dedicating the sum to the Lord (sounds good so far). However, she then hopes that the son would use the silver to make a graven image (not so good).

Let us count the ways that the characters in this story have acted against God’s covenant with Israel as found in the ten commandments. First, Micah had stolen (see commandment 8 in Exod 20:15; Deut 5:19). Second, in stealing, Micah had dishonored his mother (see commandment 5 in Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16). Now here in verse 3, we see the mother violating the prohibition against making a physical representation of deity (see commandment 2 in Exod 2:4-5; Deut 5:8-9). This laundry list of infractions once again reveals the spiritual condition of God’s people in this era. While we might want to blame willful wickedness for these crimes against God, I am not sure if these are not committed more out of ignorance. How else might you explain the mom’s desire to use the very silver she as just dedicated to Yahweh to build an idol? Acute ignorance of God’s revelation can be the only explanation for such an action. This reveals just how important it is to know and be reminded of what God has said.

The text continues in verse 4: “So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to a silversmith who made them into a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah,…” (17:4). While we are not sure what happened to the rest of the silver, at least 200 pieces of it was used in the construction of this idol (roughly five pounds). Though not a large statue, it was important enough for Micah to later refer to it as one of his “gods which [he] had made” (see 18:24). This new object of Micah’s worship was placed in his home. This too (like the laundry list of infractions already mentioned) was in direct violation of God’s law as found in Deuteronomy 12. There, God declares that when the Israelites entered the land and had settled in it, they were to worship only at the place which Yahweh would authorize (see Deut 12:4-7, 11, 13-14, 18;18, 26-27) (Block, Judges, Ruth, 480-81). Here, Micah establishes a cult center for worship of his own choosing.

More details of this cult center are revealed in verse 5—“and the man Micah had a shrine and he made an ephod and household idols and consecrated one of his sons, that he might become his priest…” (17:5). The latest idol used from his mom’s silver appears to be just the latest addition to a collection of false gods Micah had accrued/manufactured as part of his own personal lavish house of pagan worship. Micah’s commitment to his idolatry is not just witnessed in the large number of “household idols” lining his bookshelves and standing in his garden; it is also seen in the employment of one of his sons to serve as a priest! Don’t worry though, Micah had taken the time to consecrate this son for the role (as if that means anything given what we have already learned about this man). This man was devoted to his false worship. He sacrificed time, space, and resources to practice his own brand of idolatry. Micah even drew others around him to participate in the charade. What can explain such a blatant display of ungodliness? Verse 6 reveals the answer.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6). A vacuum of godly leadership left everyone to live according to their own devices and with this autonomy came pervasive idolatry. This verse, in fact, goes a long way in explaining much of what happened in the time of the Judges as recorded in this book. Personal autonomy birthed pervasive idolatry.

The same happens today in our world. Our culture questions all authority (especially God’s authority and the authority of his Word) and has made everyone a king or queen of their own life. As a result, people cherry pick their own objects of worship (or make their own) in an effort to satisfy the spiritual itch every human possesses. What we see placed around many people today, what many give their time to, what many place their hope in, what many spend money on, and what many spend their attention pursuing, is not unlike Micah’s cult worship center—a collection of man-made things accrued to bring meaning, value, and hope in the place of the one true God. However, the point the author of Judges is making here is that you cannot build a god (at least one worth worshiping). Not only is it forbidden in Scripture, it is foolish. Such gods are inept at providing the satisfaction humans are pursuing and offer no ultimate or compelling hope. Though idols might prove comfortable, familiar, and taylor-made to make people feel good, they will inevitably disappoint and most assuredly lead to destruction.

2. LESSON #2: You Can’t Buy Divine Favor-17:7-13

The next lesson concerning God and divine favor involves a new character that emerges onto the scene in verses 7-8—"Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he was staying there. Then the man departed from the city, from Bethlehem in Judah, to stay wherever he might find a place; and as he made his journey, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah” (17:7-8). Like Micah introduced in verses 1-2, there is something a bit off about the description of this youth from Bethlehem in verses 7-8. First, he hails from the wrong place. In Joshua 21:9-16 we learn that Bethlehem is not one of Judah’s Levitical towns. Also, we discover later (in 18:30) that this man was a descendent of Gershom son of Moses and therefore was supposed to live in Ephraim, Dan, or western Manasseh (Josh 21:4, 20-26). This unnamed character is a man wandering from the wrong place to Lord knows where and Lord knows why and stumbles upon the home and local cult-shrine of Micah while looking for a place to stay.  

“Micah said to him, ‘Where do you com from?’ And he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to stay wherever I may find a place.’…” (17:9). You can hear the opportunism in this man’s voice as he proudly claims his tribal/professional class only to then confess his openness to any opportunity that might come his way (whatever opportunity that Micah might have for him) (Block, Judges, Ruth, 488). What is of special interest to Micah upon this man’s response to his question is this man’s status as a Levite. This tribe was given responsibility for the spiritual leadership of the nation (what a bang-up job they had done). “According to Exodus 32:25-29, because the descendants of Levi had distinguished themselves by standing with Moses against apostasy represented by the gold calf, they were rewarded for their faithfulness to Yahweh by receiving the divine blessing and being dedicated for priestly service” (Block, Judges, Ruth, 486). But oh how the times had changed and how all the tribes had fallen, including the Levites, out of a right relationship with God.

This doesn’t appear to matter to Micah. All he hears is “Levite” and immediately associates this man with all things religious and spiritual. Never one to pass on an opportunity himself, Micah makes this Levite an offer—“Micah then said to him, ‘Dwell with me and be a father and a  priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.’…” (17:10). Here, Micah offers the Levite a salaried position as a spiritual advisor in his cult complex of pagan idolatry. He promises the man payment, cool clothes, and regular provisions. Not only does Micah desire a companion, he wants a father-figure of sorts and someone to serve as his representative before God and to see to it that religious practices are performed at his shrine on his behalf.

You might be wondering to yourself, “I thought Micah had already enlisted his son as his priest?” You would be right. This quick change suggests that Micah is understandably ambivalent about his spiritual practices (and rightfully so given that they are all out of whack). This Micah obviously has daddy issues (and I mean that both in a literal and spiritual way) and cannot seem to find real rest in the manufactured religion he has constructed for himself on a compromised foundation of syncretism (the mixture of the one true God with the paganism of the world). You see, when your spiritual foundation is precarious, you are always having to repair whatever is on top. Micah believes that hiring an actual Levite as a priest will go a long way in stabilizing the shaky worldview he is endorsing. However, as we will eventually learn, this Levite will only serve a crude band aid for a much more desperate flaw.

The text continues, “The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons,…” (17:11). While the Levite agrees to live with him as requested, immediately the intended roles are reversed. Instead of the Levite becoming to Micah like a father, he is treated like a son. Let’s be honest, Micah doesn’t really want to place himself under the authority of someone else (even if it is on his own terms). No one does in their flesh. Micah has been too comfortable for too long calling his own shots. Why give that up now when he can have the feeling of being spiritual and the mirage of being close to God without any of the submission?

Just like he did his son, “Micah consecrated the Levite,” and again I ask, one what authority (moral or otherwise) does Micah do this? Nevertheless, “the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah,…” (17:12). Take a moment and just digest how backwards this situation (and all the people therein) is. You have a child of the one true God erecting a makeshift pagan shrine out of his own home that would make a polytheist blush who turns it into a family business and then implicates an actual Levite in the farce by paying him off to abandon his actual calling and duties. This Micah does to again scratch the spiritual itch all humans possess. It may not make any sense and on its face and it may prove to be utter nonsense; but it made Micah feel good.  

Just note the tone deaf comment from Micah that ends the chapter—“Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest’…” (17:13). Oh really Micah, is that what you “know” now? What do you know? Very Little! This stupid conclusion that Micah reaches betrays his whole prerogative in this second half of the chapter—buying divine favor. Micah believed that if he had the right assortment of idols and the right people employed in his pagan practice, he would somehow be able to purchase divine favor.

So What?

Before we write Micah off as crazy, we must recognize just how typical this is in our world today. You see, our culture is not too different from the world of the Judges in which people do what is right in their own eyes. This includes what is right in connection to the divine. As made in the image of God, human beings have a bent toward worship. However, because of sin in the world, this inclination is directed at the wrong things—things that are ultimately unsatisfactory and only give way to personal anxiety and destruction. Like Micah, misinformed people will pursue any number of things or a collection of things for purpose, meaning, hope, and blessing. While they know they need these, they are unwilling to embrace the only One who can provide them. Rather than submit to the authority God has over their lives, they make themselves the authority over their lives and scramble aimlessly to satisfy their cravings for wholeness, going to great lengths to construct their version of god and seeking to earn/purchase divine favor. Sometimes, like Micah, these same people drag others around them into their charade and end up living woefully inconsistent and incomplete lives.

The good news is that there is another way. There is one God who alone provides satisfaction for the soul, purpose for life, truth, and hope in all things. He is knowable for those who are willing to surrender their lives over to him—those who are willing to take off their embarrassing god-costume and stop looking foolish. Also, there is one Way—Jesus Christ—to enjoy divine favor with God. He purchased this favor when we never could and offers it in grace through repentance (turning away from yourself and your vain pursuits) and faith (trusting in who he is and what he has accomplished).