The tribe of Dan was the group of people who descended from the fifth son of  Jacob, Dan. Jacob went on to have twelve sons who became the patriarchs of the  12 tribes of Israel. The history of the tribe of Dan is especially instructive  to us in that it contains multiple examples of the tendency of people to follow  man-made religion over biblical faith in God. This is totally contrary to the  Scriptures that teach us “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by  observing the law” (Romans 3:20)  and “without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews  11:6).

As the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, by lot  certain areas of territory were assigned to each tribe. The tribe of Dan was  given a tract of land that was smaller than the other land grants, but was  fertile and also had a boundary along the Mediterranean Sea where there was  fishing and commerce available to them.

However, the tribe of Dan never  fully conquered this area as a result of a lack of faith in God. This was true  of the other tribes as well as the early chapters of the book of Judges clearly  teach, and led to a time during the period of Judges where it was said, “In  those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own  eyes.” Judges  18:1-31 tells the story of the people of Dan falling into idolatry. They  also did not like the territory that was theirs, so they sent out spies to find  a better area. In the north, some representatives of Dan learned of an area  where a peaceful group of people lived. The tribe of Dan took things into their  own hands and wiped out the people of that land so that they could then move the  entire tribe up to a region close to the sources of the Jordan River, just south  of present day Lebanon. There they established their main city and called it  Dan.

Later in the history of the Hebrews, the kingdom was divided after  the reign of Solomon. The kingdom was split, with Israel’s ten tribes in the  north and Judah in the south with two tribes. The people of Dan were in the  northern kingdom of Israel. We learn in 1 Kings  12:25-33 that King Jeroboam was afraid that those who lived in his kingdom  in the north would still go down to the southern kingdom to worship at  Jerusalem, since that was where the Temple that God had authorized was located.  So he built two additional altars for the people of his nation to worship. He  established worship in the south at Bethel and in the north at Dan. He built a  golden calf at each location, and instituted special days and feasts where  people would meet. Sadly, this man-made worship at Dan has been one of its  lasting legacies.

Today, many people follow various man-made religions  and are convinced that all ways lead to God. Unfortunately, these groups follow  in the ways of the tribe of Dan. Proverbs  16:25 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end  is the way of death.” Jesus taught that the way to God was specific when He  said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except  by Me” (John 14:6). John 3:36 teaches that “He who  believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son  shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To learn from the  mistakes of Dan would be to worship the God of the Bible alone and live for Him  by faith.

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