When You Need To Replace Family Idols (Genesis 29)

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In the message idolatry was described as “anything you can’t live with without”, or “something you’d do anything for”. Jacob sought his father’s blessings and romantic love with Rachael – at any cost; Leah aimed to “beat her rivals” and secure her husband’s love and affection – at any cost; and Rachael wanted to have a child – at any cost.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Describe idolatry in your own words and even provide an example for the group.
2. Do you agree with Paul’s statement(s): the power of sin has been broken because Jesus is in my life, and I am free from bondage to sin or idols?
3. Can you be a follower of Jesus, yet still have idols in your life? Are those idols always obvious? Is it possible to “discover” you currently have an idol in some area of your life? Please explain.

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read Judges 17:

1 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2 said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.” Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!” 3 When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you.” 4 So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house.
5 Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
7 A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, 8 left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, “Where are you from?” “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.”
10 Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.” 11 So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man became like one of his sons to him. 12 Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. 13 And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”

• Vs.6: How does the writer of Judges characterize this time? Discuss the role of leadership, good or bad, and its impact for the larger community of Israel (consider other major Judges in Israel’s recent past)? Have you ever experienced a failure of leadership, or been led into something or to do something that you later discovered was not God’s way, please describe? How do/should we respond when leaders fail and what responsibility do I have before God for my own faith and obedience?
• Vv.1-5 Describe the events of the mother and son? Despite dedicating the returned money to the LORD, what is the outcome? Like in the sermon, Jacob is willing to do anything for his father’s blessings, Micah responds by allowing this God-dedicated money to be made into an idol and placed in his home…have you ever violated God’s law by honoring a request from parent or loved one? Have you ever compromised (perhaps often) between “honoring” a parent or loved one and honoring God?
• The Mother (vv.3-4): What’s her “confusion”? Is it possible to believe you’ve consecrated (devoted, given to the Lord) something to God in your life (i.e. career, money, talents, relationships), but really it’s serving your own personal idolatry? Have you felt recently that God is speaking to you about “the thing you can’t give up”? How can you be faithful to walk that out?
• What’s the impact of the mother’s embrace of idolatry, and who does it affect? Sometimes we think our “issues” only affect us, but that’s not the case – have you seen this to be true in your own life, please describe? Has God’s grace empowered you to break that cycle?
• Vv.6-13 Why does the Levite stay with Micah? In order to “make ends meet”, a Levite (from the family of Israel responsible for leading and ministering before Yahweh) becomes a priest for an idol. Is it possible to confuse provision, no matter how great or from what source, with God’s will for your life? How does our community play a role in helping to discern for us what God’s will is during crucial life decisions? Are you open to this reality (Rom 12:2-7)?
• V.13 What is Micah’s response? What happens to Micah (Judges 18:14-17 & 25)? Micah seems to view following God as a religious activity opposed to an intimate relationship with Him (Jesus). Are there places in your life where you view the practice of your faith strictly as an activity, or that you can somehow earn God’s favor through a certain behavior (Eph 2:4-9)?
• Do you see any parallels in Micah to our experience of modern day religious pluralism? Can you name a few examples? How can we keep our eyes focused on Jesus? How can we successfully navigate conversations in our families or workplaces?

3. According to Rich, the definition of idolatry is something you “can’t give up” or “can’t live without”.

• Take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to highlight anything for you that fits this definition.
• Is there a family member or loved one who is causing you to compromise in your obedience and faithfulness to Jesus? Pray that you can confront this person/situation with grace and truth and be free to obey the Lord.
• Like Micah, are you feeling any confusion about how to keep your eyes focused on God? Pray for Jesus to reveal himself clearly into your life and situation.