In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.Judges 17:6
Chapters 17-21 of Judges aren’t necessarily in chronological order, and don’t have to be read as coming late in the period of Judges. In fact, there’s indications that the events of chapter 18 may have happened prior to the first of the Judges rising. These stories are just a collection of wickedness that was happening around the country in the days between the death of Joshua and the establishment of the kingdom.
There was no king in Israel, this doesn’t mean there was no law, because the law had been given to them through Moses. It’s just that civil authority was very lacking, and as the periods between judges showed us, they needed to have constant authority on hand to keep the people from falling into the same wickedness that their predecessors in the land had committed.
We’re introduced to a man named Micah, and right from the start he’s obviously twisted around morally. His mother was missing silver coins and had cursed them, but he revealed that it was him who stole the money. She then takes some of it and has it melted down and made into an idol as a sign of thanks to her son for returning what he had stolen. So that’s two commandments broken, and we’re only a couple verses into his story.
He makes several liturgical vestments and worship aids, and installs his son as a priest for this silver idol in his house.
Then a wandering Levite comes into the story, and Micah has a lightbulb moment. He insists that this Levite stay with him and become his personal household priest. Apparently his son got fired at some point, because he was originally his household priest.
The final verse shows that Micah is doing all these external actions to try and gain favor with God, when all he wants us to do is to obey and love him. We don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to earn God’s love, it’s already there. Micah had a twisted understanding of God and how to earn his favor.
The chapter opens with Jesus watching people drop their donations in the box for the temple treasury. The rich people came by and put in large amounts of money, but Jesus takes notice of a widow that gave two pennies. She gave her all to God, literally. This was a greater gift than the hundreds of gold coins given by the others, because it was deeply sacrificial.
This is like the first ever sacrificial offerings of Cain and Abel, where one gave his best and the other just gave some. Or how there was restrictions on sacrificing lame or sick animals. You’re only supposed to give your best to God, not your leftovers.
Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.Ccc 2544
One of the disciples remark on how beautiful the temple is, and Jesus tells them that soon it will be utterly destroyed. They ask when it will take place and he goes into a series of signs to look for. Many dispensationalists read these passages as pertaining to the end of the world, but Jesus is primarily telling the disciples what to look for when the end of Jerusalem will take place (in AD70).
On the threshold of his Passion Jesus announced the coming destruction of this splendid building, of which there would not remain “one stone upon another”. By doing so, he announced a sign of the last days, which were to begin with his own Passover. But this prophecy would be distorted in its telling by false witnesses during his interrogation at the high priest’s house, and would be thrown back at him as an insult when he was nailed to the cross.CCC 585
Jesus warns them, that when they see the city surrounded they should flee for the hills. Evidently many Christians took this advice literally, and fled to the hills outside Ammon towards the end of the First Jewish revolt, saving themselves from the slaughter that fell on Jerusalem when Titus sacked the city.