Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 3, 1961

Hiring A Priest

George T. Jones, Kilgore, Texas

In Judges chapter seventeen is an interesting narrative concerning "a man of Ephraim, whose name was Micah." These events transpired in an interval when no judge was ruling in Israel and chaos was prevalent. (Judges 17:6) This "man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest." Not being of the Levitical tribe, Micah's son could not be a priest according to the law. A priest of the Levitical order would lend more prestige to Micah's idol than otherwise.

At this juncture there came to Micah's place of residence a young man "who was a Levite." The Scripture says this young man was out looking for a place to dwell. Micah inquired of the young man, who told Micah that he was a Levite and that he was seeking a place to dwell. Micah immediately made him this proposition: "Dwell with me, and I will give thee ten pieces of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals." The Levite went in immediately, was content to dwell with Micah and was consecrated as his priest. This narrative teaches some apposite lessons.

I. Seeking to hire a priest. There are numerous brethren seeking justification for their actions, concerning which actions they have considerable doubt as to their righteousness; or, they are even fairly certain there can be no scriptural justification for their actions. If these brethren can get some preacher to approve their course, it gives them great comfort. After Micah had hired him a priest, he said: "Now know I that Jehovah will do me good, seeing that I have a Levite to my priest." There are brethren equally as eager as Micah to hire themselves a priest (preacher) to lend honor and respect to their deeds.

II. Priests for hire. Just as in Micah's day there are priests (preachers) now ready to sell out for silver, apparel and victuals. There are readily available preachers, willing to give their tacit or otherwise endorsement to the actions of brethren who feel they need endorsement as Micah did. There are preachers who can be hired to preach or not to preach certain matters. There are editors who can be hired to print or not to print certain matters of truth. (Their names might be surprising to our readers.) We recall that as a young student preacher, one of our teachers said to us: "Boys, if a man can be hired to preach, he can be hired not to preach." The instability of a hired priest (preacher) is demonstrated in this very narrative. Five spies of the men of Dan came into Micah's house and offered Micah's priest a greater reward not to cry out to Micah. Micah's priest closed his mouth and went with Micah's enemies!

III. The hiring may be implicit rather than explicit. When a brother sets forth to hire him a priest (preacher) to give approval to his nefarious plans, the offer and acceptance will not be set forth in contractual terms. The one seeking to hire a priest (preacher) may have already ingratiated himself with the one he seeks to hire. Or, it is possible no contract exists between the one who sells himself and the one who hires. The one who sells himself may do so with an eye to future recompense. The mere absence of contractual specifications does not say there was no hiring or selling done.

It is painful to recognize the existence of such conditions in Zion. It was, no doubt, painful to the writer of the Book of Judges to recognize such conditions in ancient Israel. Only the weak and compromising will quail or quake from the portrayal of such conditions now. We thank God that not all preachers can be hired. It thrilled us some years ago to hear the venerable C. R. Nichol declare: "There are others, among them a host of young men, unsullied souls, stalwart characters, with deep convictions who would suffer themselves 'quartered and drawn' before they would deny the Lord or compromise his word at any point, or conditions. Men who are willing, if needs be, to suffer even death before they would withhold, or compromise the truth. Jehovah's blessing attend them!"

We thank God, too, that not all brethren are seeking a preacher whom they can hire! Such do not seek approbation by a preacher's endorsement. Their appeal is "To the law and to the testimony!" May their number increase.