Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Tammy and Jim Bakker, the famous, and wealthy 1970's televangelists. Image from ABC News.
And his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
— Judges 17:4b-5
The story of Micah the Ephraimite is a parody of idolatry which epitomises the Israel of his time as a lost and fallen nation. Micah essentially starts his own cult, making a shrine, robes and artefacts in mimicry of the temple, and even consecrating his own son, his first convert. Later he hires an unscrupulous Levite, touting his priestly services to the highest bidder, Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.1 Micah's church has all the makings of the American prosperity cults we see today, ego-centric men (it's always men, it seems) creating God in their own image, to suit their own ends, and making false promises to lure people in to their churches.
In other words the prosperity gospel is not new. It is symbolic of a fallen people, a depraved culture, and will always appear in desperate, Godless times as a substitute for faith.2 It attracts Christians, of course, who pour all their money into the pockets of the preachers in the belief they'll soon grow rich, but the atheists who look on in mockery are not spared this fall either, as they just as willingly pour their own money into the stock market and pyramid schemes, with promises of big financial rewards. It's exactly the same thing. We seek instant salvation in the form of money, property and goods. We serve our bodies over our spirits, yet the more we consume the hungrier we become.