Tag: Micah

Perverted Politicians

Micah 3:1-4

Micah focused in first two chapters on people as a whole without great regard for particular place in society. Changes here in chapter 3 – turns focus to rulers / leaders in different spheres of responsibility. Singles out in succession politicians, prophets, priests – those charged with leadership in two divinely appointed institutions… church and state.

“The three sections of this chapter each begin with a formulaic introduction: “Hear this” in both 3:1 and 3:9, and “Thus says YHWH” in 3:5. The first section, 3:1-4, provides accusations against the political leaders of the land (heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel). The second unit, 3:5-8, confronts prophets who do not speak on YHWH’s behalf. The third unit, 3:9-12, expands the judgment pronouncements, including not only the leadership and prophets but also the priests. …who act for their own benefit and not for the sake of the people.” Nogalski

Principles found here apply specifically to target audience, also have application to leaders in general throughout a culture… including home. Many have used Micah as basis for public activism – promoting issues of social justice relating to “underprivileged”. Miss much of Micah’s point when he frequently returns to God’s character, God’s mission in the world, God’s plan for his people, duty people of all kinds have to honor God by thought/word/deed. They make it about politics and legislation and while quotes from Bible may be prominent, God isn’t.

Easy to look at news, conclude that world going to hell in handbasket, come on Jesus, hurry up and rescue us – no, world not headed into oblivion by itself apart from God’s governing oversight. In light of that, God commissions messengers for benefit not only of his people but also culture / nation / world in general. Don’t have prophets today called by God in same way for same purpose as Micah. However… important aspects of prophetic ministry do continue today and are vitally important.

No matter what part of world you consider, plenty of bad behavior to go around. Take particular note of countries where public proclamation of Biblical truth is allowed vs where it is forbidden. Is one of significant means Holy Spirit uses to restrain evil, especially among leaders. Even where allowed, still need those with God-given courage and wisdom to proclaim God’s truth.

Here in our text, prophet claims attention of leaders, confronts with evil they practice, caution about coming repercussions.

A. call to attention v.1

listen up

not a subtle clearing of throat followed by timid “excuse me” – is command stated with voice of authority: “listen, you”

given Micah’s roots, probably had appearance of one belonging to class of people despised / discounted by audience

immediate response one of surprise.. that Micah had audacity to challenge power structure – had been able to intimidate into silence… similar to Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood big deal, one of long line of perps

when some kind of scandal / injustice uncovered, more revealed more outrageous – Micah doesn’t take time to start small

intends not only to get attention but also to keep it until done talking – had potential to put not just career but life at risk

Micah bringing charges against leaders all the way to the top – could have been taken as treason, punished accordingly

even where are freedoms and protections, those in power have their ways to silence critics when they choose

audience identified

no doubt who Micah was addressing, from whom demanded attention: leaders at all levels of government, central…outlying

“When a land in general is culpable of defection, rulers in Church and State have their own eminent guilt in it.” George Hutcheson – in this setting, nation defecting from God’s laws and expectations

nation as whole guilty before God, but God deals with individuals… individually as well as collectively – means individuals don’t escape responsibility by belonging to group

reminder here that those who make rules are not above rules – whether God is acknowledged or not, kings and presidents all under law of God

rhetorical question asked

two ways question can be understood: should you not understand principles / application of justice? should you not experience weight of justice applied to you?

answer to both: “yes”, given positions of responsibility and misuse of them – everyone, w/o exception, because of imago Dei understand basics of justice

“Beside the general obligation lying upon all men, (especially within the visible Church,) to know and obey the Will of God, it is especially incumbent to rulers and great ones among the Lord’s people, so to do; as being, by reason of their education, meanes, encouragements, leisure, offices, &c. enabled with advantages, and bound to know more than others, and to put their knowledge in practice, that they may be examples to others.” Ibid

none of listeners could have missed significance of question, most probably recognized veiled threat of retribution

is third question implied – are you really immune from justice? – tone of Micah’s voice could have helped hearers to know which nearest front in his mind

pleading with leaders to stop and think, are on self-destructive course, headed for certain destruction unless repentance

B. confronted with evil v.2-3

Micah didn’t pull punches, sugar coat words, speak ambiguously – came right out with it, plain / simple / rightly outrageous

perverted people

not expressed as opinion, take it or leave it – declares without apology the leaders guilty of crimes against God and humanity

disregarding God-given responsibility – were supposed to use power to uphold justice and do what was best for citizens

in order to do what is good, must love good / hate evil – their operating principles just opposite of that, upside-down – were not ignorant, had instead chosen to follow different worldview

not occasional or temporary thing out of ordinary – “these judges were always hating (participle=continuous action) the good and continuously loving evil” WBC

what they stand for diametrically opposed to God, his character – have worldview of own making, contrary to Bible

keep that in mind when have opportunity to participate in selection of leader – worldview matters and so does character

perverse actions

Micah and all those being oppressed knew exactly what kind of leaders they had – made it clear by ongoing actions

using figurative language here, probably little if any exaggeration – not actual cannibalism, although had same basic effect

were foxes minding the chickens, wolves dressed up as shepherds, yet with difference – foxes/wolves kill to satisfy hunger

2-legged foxes tormenting and terrorizing, misusing power to cause harm because they could… for pleasure, and gain

supposed to be using power and authority to protect, to heal from injury not cause it, and bring to justice evildoers

not only perverse people in power, have used that power to turn institution of civil government on its head so it works opposite to God’s intent

read Rom 13:1-5 – this the standard any government should strive for, regardless of time, place, belief system

supposed to maintain / promote what is consistent with character of God; instead were relishing inhuman cruelty

perverse desires

is one thing to do something distasteful that causes harm but is necessary – entirely different to cause harm and enjoy taste

picture painted by Micah – perpetrators acting out desire to cause harm, receiving pleasure from inflicting suffering, gratified by end result that brought profit

bottom line here: way of thinking, acting, desiring absolutely contrary to God and what was good; all they did tainted by their inherent perverseness

Paul was right: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9) – cannot use few good looking / sounding things perverted person does to justify overlooking the rest

human nature such that we do what we desire the most – actions are reflection of desires, indicator of loyalty

C. coming consequences v.4

rhetorical question answered

yes, they will know justice… in all respects, and no, will not be immune to punishment/judgment for their evil behavior

as God brings judgment on nation, will fall particularly on those in leadership who so displeased God… not to exclusion of others, just precise justice for them

would have opportunity to be taught by firsthand experience just what true justice looks / feels like, perhaps lex talionis

experience would include crying out for help… to no avail – the oppressed had done so to them and not been heard; now…

will receive no mercy

will be their turn, cries will fall on deaf ears… God’s – doesn’t sound fair, yet it does – God is supposed to hear and answer, yet…

they had refused repeatedly to hear God’s voice – have no sound basis to expect him to respond just because they changed

once again, another indication that God has limits – when individual / group presses beyond limits, God not obligated

must also factor into how God responds – how God relates… to his people – not just authority figure, caretaker, closely enough related that action against God’s people equals action against God

encouragement for God’s people

God does not give us liberty to take law into own hands, to act on our own as agents of justice; however, God is not asleep

God has perfect knowledge and understanding of how his appointed agents are behaving – he still has limits, what he permits before taking action in interest of justice

we can rest, encourage others to rest in confidence – if not before, then when Christ comes perfect justice will be carried out

God has power and prerogative to act sooner – he has in past, may very well do so in our day; either way we can trust him

and… we can each make our voice heard in public sphere… in a lot of different ways – conversation, voting, blogging, etc.

we can also pray: that God would raise up those who will graciously yet fearlessly proclaim uncompromising truth publicly for leaders at all levels of government to hear

 

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Future Regathering

Micah 2:12-13

People are funny. I know, you’re thinking “so what’s new?”! I include all of us in that broad statement. Even Christians, if only for short periods of time, fall back into bad practices. Things like – being anxious about what we cannot know, fretting about what we cannot change. Truth is, worst things we worry about… are ones that never happen. Instead of groundless fear and uninformed speculation, should look seriously at God’s word the Bible, take careful note of what God says he will do. If are comfortable making plans based on weather forecast, should have no problem whatever trusting God, planning accordingly. Especially when God speaks emphatically, as he does in our text.

Messages God expected his servants we know as minor prophets to deliver some of strongest in all of Bible. Harsh condemnation, threats of complete destruction, seems much of time God intends to wipe his people from face of earth, leaving behind no trace of their existence. Yet that is not God’s ultimate goal for his people – does not intend to abandon them, leave to sort out on their own, no matter how rotten and rebellious.

Because of both their inheritance from Adam, own personal sinful actions, people of Israel and Judah were ruined – in “an irrecoverable state of devastation and destruction”. WordNet As apostle Paul put it, Ephesians 2:12, “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Condition that describes all mankind as they come into world; remain that way until Someone changes them. God from before Creation has had intent not to leave all in state of ruin, rather to rescue and redeem from ruined condition those he has chosen.

Yes, are dire threatenings throughout Minor Prophets, sincere warnings from sovereign Lord of all things that will not tolerate wanton rebellion forever. At same time, intermingled with warnings are promises of deliverance and great glory. In every case, not about how God helps those who help themselves, is about how God does for his children what they are totally unable to do for themselves. True of present text: God declares what he will do… after his agents have brought God’s judgment against his people. Is a pleasant and promising picture of future blessing as God himself brings his people together again and leads them to victory.

Important note: frequently prophetic promises have dual perspective – partial or typical fulfillment in anticipation of later fuller/richer one. True of this text: near, fulfillment in Israel’s return from Assyrian and Babylonian exile – like other events, intended to show in miniature what God will ultimately do in big picture. God honestly communicating what he would do following judgment on his rebellious people. At same time, telling what he will do on global scale, gathering all his people together.

A. I will assemble

an emphatic declaration

same kind of verbal structure as Gen 2:17 – verb is doubled to show certainty: dying you will die; here… assembling I will assemble; next best thing to an oath in Jewish understanding

to be no uncertainty about the promise – it would be kept without fail: God’s people could count on God himself to keep it

btw, same kind of construction at beginning of next phrase – gathering I will gather the remnant; not only double word, entire concept repeated to emphasize certainty

strong reminder: God’s anger and how he expresses it is different from ours – at same time as judgment actually in process God graciously declares good purpose for afterward

looks to future after exile

in quotes “assumes” present course of corrective action will run out its course – no repentance forthcoming like with Nineveh

God wasn’t kidding when said he declares end from beginning, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’

what would come next for his people already part of his eternal plan – God can accurately reveal his plan: is his and he will follow through and do it

provides hope even before judgment

one of things lacking in human justice systems: no guaranteed outcome, no one able to give any kind of firm assurances – makes easier for those in confinement to maintain, even feed negative view of future

not so with God: graciously makes plain even before worst had come that would not be hopeless situation

once hard times that would certainly come had achieved God’s purpose, those faithful to him could rightly expect blessing

hope helps to make discipline more effective – minimizes “why change/repent if life never going to get better?”

keeps focus on YHWH

false prophets say what God will / will not do according to people’s desires, their own whims – totally manufactured, speculative, no genuine basis in fact or revelation

God himself declares what will / will not do according to his eternal purpose – makes sure Micah’s audience knows it is the true God who will graciously provide future for them

something need to keep in mind when God brings things our way – God’s purpose not to cause undue harm to his children

he keeps his end in view – “this is the will of God, your sanctification” – God’s goal / purpose for us is holiness, all he brings into our lives / brings us into particularly designed to bring about that end

B. I will gather

not a new promise

readDeut. 30:1-4

not an unanticipated circumstance – God told them 700 years before: both blessing and curse would be their lot, iow, they would disobey to point God himself would drive them from their land, scatter among nations

notice also, v.2, God’s purpose in disciplining: that they would “return to the LORD your God and obey His voice”

God bringing back from captivity conditioned on sincere repentance obedience – not simply because x # of years elapsed

important note: people (like us) unable to meet God’s expectations on their own – cannot along with children obey God with all heart and soul… unless He enables

if God left his people (or anyone) to straighten out on their own, would never happen – God must enable his children

not the entire people – a remnant

should have clued in people of Jesus’ day – “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”

God’s promise through Micah of a blessed future not made to all of Abraham’s children but to a remnant – select group that meet certain criteria God established

remnant in view here: those chosen by God who show their election by as Jesus said “doing the works of Abraham”

would be some fingered by God who returned to Israel after captivity (Ezra-Nehemiah) but greater number never went back

God also has in view spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who “are of faith”, who “are Christ’s”, thus Abraham’s seed

don’t underestimate what God will do

remnant in God’s view does not equal small – we equate remnant with leftover piece, too small to do anything significant

notice how God describes group he will gather together – “a noisy multitude of men” ESV, loud “because of so many people”

is significant that immense God of universe pays particular attention, not to main group of people, but to the remnant

cautioned by Zechariah not to despise “the day of small things” – under God’s direction will ultimately result in big things

scope of what God promises requires God

no human agency could achieve what is in view here – a regathering of a particular people from among the nations

true of ancient Israel, restoration to the land; more true of modern people of God, gathered into the church from all nations

C. I will bring them together

is all part of God’s particular plan

is to be hand-picked flock assembled together for specific purpose – not random gathering of whoever decides to show up

again, clear from repeated emphasis that God is prime agent – not “of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”

God never has only physical / temporal considerations in view – always more to picture, things of spiritual/eternal significance

delivered from and to

out of captivity – given military aggression toward Israel by Assyria, later by Babylon, no way Jews could rescue themselves

required intervention by outside authority – captors would not simply let them go (remember Pharaoh), needed to be delivered by God

into single group under God’s care – God not satisfied with knocking down prison walls, breaking chains… ok, now free to go

is way God has always operated – has specific destination / goal / purpose in view for people when delivers from captivity

shepherd / sheep relationship

not just former shepherd who described relationship between God and people this way – God himself taking position / role of shepherd gathering flock together

not only simple aspect of relationship identified, includes all elements that accompany that kind of relation – duties and responsibilities of a good shepherd

D. I, the Lord, will lead them

will be barriers

live happily ever after in pasture of God’s provision not last page of story – are insurmountable obstacles, barriers that enemies… including arch-enemy… put up

one who goes first breaks barriers

sheep have no “weapons” either offensive or defensive – are totally dependent on shepherd… who goes first to make way

no question who, the LORDa

is going to be YHWH himself who is at head of flock, overcoming enemies and obstacles, leading his people to victory

knowing / understanding this what reinforces hope and confidence – is all-powerful holy gracious God leading his people… along road he has already traveled

Heb. 6:19-20This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Not always an easy road – God’s people not insulated from hardships of human existence in fallen world among fallen sinful people. Yet even when corrective discipline, God’s work of sanctifying his people at its most intense, can/should keep this in view:

I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture;”

Important to remember in both our way of thinking about the lost, also actual conversation / interaction with them: must keep whole Gospel in view. For Gospel to be good news, must be some bad news first – sin and sinfulness and condemnation and judgment. While must accurately portray natural man’s condition as hoplessly lost in sin, must be careful not to leave individual without hope. God does not do that; yet he is careful to present good news of Gospel against proper backdrop. So must we, offering genuine hope through repenatance and faith in Christ to those without hope.

 

Hiding Jesus

Micah 2:6-11

Prophets have had uphill battle from beginning of ministry – called out of obscurity to do what no one else wanted to do. Usually for little reward except abuse and rejection, no positive fruits from their labors they could see. Micah like most of minor prophets, sent to rebellious people with kind of message were not interested in hearing. Certainly some obvious parallels in world today, not just in America. That’s because responses have strongest connection to human nature; circumstances lesser factor.

Pretty much universal principle – person who seeks out pain isn’t quite right. Pain tells us something is wrong, bodies designed to avoid things that hurt. True on non-physical level too – tend to avoid hearing what makes us uncomfortable. Often react pretty strongly to people who give bad news. Many take to next level – actively seek out what gives pleasure. See all the time in relation to physical / emotional desires.

Happens regularly in spiritual arena as well. For example – local church sent pastor and core group to start new church. In less than five years, except for pastor and fmaily, complete turnover in those attending. Neighboring church to that: attendance pretty constant, continual flow of new people. People moving from church to church, not putting down roots, seeking what will satisfy felt needs. More distressing: those in various levels of religious leadership who promote that sort of behavior – striving to make listeners comfortable at expense of Gospel truth. In process, pretty effective at hiding Jesus. Truth is many work diligently to hide real Jesus, present one of their own styling with everything objectionable stripped away.

Not new phenomenon, was alive and well during Micah’s day as well as every other. Pray God will keep supplying true prophets, pastors and others who courageously stand for God’s truth, who proclaim the real Jesus.

Micah’s language here somewhat stilted, abrupt – not always obvious who is speaking. Is clearly language of rebuke and warning, putting people on notice that God is well aware of their sin and intends to deal with it. In fact, is already in progress, agents God purposes to use to discipline Israel begun to move against her. As clear as danger is, Micah’s audience has no intention of heeding the warning. Rather, quite the opposite.

A. Don’t tell me that v.6

don’t get excited

people/false prophets take Micah (and any like him) to task – situation not nearly as serious as you claim, you’re exaggerating

used various arguments trying to persuade Micah was making much bigger deal out of things than necessary

God didn’t really mean when he said….; that was for then, for those people, not for us; we’ve developed beyond that mindset

common approach to message / messenger like Micah – try to minimize / ignore the bad, hold up / emphasize the good

don’t talk like that

really shouldn’t use those words in polite company, in public, around children / people of other religions / unbelievers

if really want people to listen, have to feed it to them slowly – build relationship first, then slide in key words one at time

nowadays have more questions than answers, ought to show folks you’re open to discussion – let’s talk, can try to reason way to consensus about what is true for you, for me

that will never happen

we’re God’s special people, have been for generations, God said so, that kind of thing can’t happen to us, God won’t let it

are all descendants of Abraham / people on Mayflower / Billy Graham – don’t have to worry about bad things for us

fill in any kind of name on badge – national identity, ancestry, church membership, charitable org, work of merit

based on practical or rational argument why calamity won’t happen, never sound spiritual reason given

goal not to figure out how to please God, have his favor – more about maintaining status quo, manipulating for a particular outcome, turn down volume on whatever increases sense of guilt

unless conscience thoroughly seared, everyone has knowledge of both God and guilt; knew Micah’s warning was really warranted, knew were guilty before God and in danger of judgment. Didn’t want to deal with guilt God’s way, so… limited options: make themselves the victim, someone else guilty, or… minimize/deny their own guilt

B. My God isn’t like that v.7a

another approach: redefine God into deity who is less threatening / dangerous, more easily managed, make it a matter of interpretation

God won’t run out of patience

remember all promises he has made, declarations about his character – slow to anger, longsuffering, forgiving, merciful

if God truly infinite in his being and character, then patience is infinite also – will never lose his temper with his people

he would never do that

God didn’t just make promises, he made covenant with Abraham… kind of covenant that gives goosebumps – can’t break that

promised the land, promised descendants, made all kinds of promises along with covenant – God can’t be God and not keep those promises

one missing detail

God never relaxed his expectations of obedience when he made covenant – yes, he obligated himself to be their God, they still obligated to do their best to obey

God never overlooks willful rebellion indefinitely – is incredibly patient but does have limits – Judah had reached theirs

another good thing to keep in mind: God never conforms to our definition for him, to what we might make up as an ideal. God is who he is, not who we want him to be. And… must not emphasize one aspect of his nature at expense of others – frequently the root of what becomes serious error.

Liberal denominations, for example – emphasizing issues of social justice, God’s love and compassion; give little attention to his holiness and righteousness. Consequently little about sin, need for repentance, much about good works and community service and tolerance.

What about closer to home? Churches focused on growth, new church starts, etc? Broad brush: many have Gospel motives included in mission statement but… consider two things – how they self-promote after startup, what is publicly proclaimed on regular basis. Too often distinctives emphasized to attract a following have more to do with personal tastes and temporal desires than sound biblical teaching. And… content of regular teaching geared more toward self-help how-to’s and little if any core Gospel truth.

If you want to go deeper, listen for descriptions of God those same reputedly evangelical churches proclaim – “God is not mad at you” (Joyce Meyer, Proverbs 31 Ministries)); “you matter, God wants you” (Rick Warren); and on it goes.

C. God wants you wealthy v.7b-9

you will be rewarded

all you have to do is… and God will reward you – God’s commands are formula to follow that automatically gets results

kind of approach even genuine believers can fall for – more interested in recipe than principles: just tell me how to do it

contributed to by full lives, distractions, competition for time and attention regardless of era in history

slight spin: God wants you wealthy, all you need is enough faith; God wants you well, same recipe; successful, same idea

and maybe sow a little seed with this particular ministry that God will be sure to return 10-fold, even 100-fold

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

ones most culpable – not those who fall for the line, rather those who spin the lies… the false prophets opposing Micah

because that’s what God wants, I must deserve… fill in the blank – this kind of clothes, that piece of property, what belongs to trusting and vulnerable people

sad fact: typical people gullible / greedy enough to fall for lies – “prosperity gospel” term may be new, principles are not

worked in Micah’s day, continues to be effective today – nobody catches on the prosperous ones are those up front… at expense of those in the pew

truth is “prosperity gospel” is false gospel, just as false as what Micah’s opponents promoted. They gain following because many want benefits God can provide without relationship he expects. The drawing card – the gifts, the goodies, not the Giver. Any reference to God made only in passing, in relation to what he will do if you make the cut.

D. your kind of preacher v.10-11

your turn is coming

false prophets and their followers convinced were exempt from hardship, would never come under God’s heavy hand of judgment

Micah’s warning: as they had mistreated others, they would be treated – actually even more severe, they would be forced to leave not just their property but the country

stripped of prized possessions would be carried off captives into exile, many never to see homeland again

you want comfort, not conviction

given choice would call pastor / attend church where were made to feel comfortable – “God loves you just the way you are and doesn’t want you to change a thing”

also given choice would silence all who spoke truth that convicted of their sin – try to write off as harsh, unloving, old-fashioned

you don’t want what you most need

most needed to hear truth of sin and condemnation, need for repentance to escape judgment to come – must be accompanied by true Gospel, God’s solution to sin and condemnation through repentance and faith

was last thing either false prophets or their followers wanted – would require them to abandon what they loved, their sin and its brief pleasures

Not sure exactly what Micah’s dates were – know from 1:1 during days of “Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah”. Warnings thoroughly rejected in time of Jotham and Ahaz; under Hezekiah, Micah and Isaiah did see movement to repentance among target audience. Means Micah carrying on prophetic ministry for 15 to 25 years before seeing positive response. Same may be true for us – praying for lost loved ones, co-workers, neighbors for years before God moves.

Meanwhile, must not give up, get discouraged, lose focus. Must keep eyes and attention focused firmly on Jesus, committed to following him, receiving from him all we need and desire.  And… keep Jesus in plain view for everyone to see. That is who they need the most!

 

Sins of the People

Micah 2:1-5

Favorite pastime in many parts of world, not just here – complaining. Is activity that shows no respect for categories: rich/poor; young/old; healthy/sick; much responsibility or little. Comes just as easily for those who appear to have everything as those who appear to have nothing. Does not seem to be any shortage of things to complain about, either. Weather, neighbors, other drivers, price of (fill in the blank), and on and on. Complaining not necessarily sinful – complaining with right motive about right issue to the right audience, maybe ok.

Might wonder, you sure ’bout that? Well… approx. 50 Psalms are either individual or community laments. Basically specific form of complaint, directed to God, about person or situation believed to be unjust or evil. God is displeased with both evil behavior and injustice, is pleased when his people view same way. Also expects us to do what we can to overcome bad behavior by others. When is beyond our ability to change situation or person, is right to complain to God, seek his intervention.

Behaviors identified in text to one extent or other common in 21st century world. God makes his displeasure plain, there are steps we can / should take also. First, accusation brought against defendants; then description of how God will intervene and change their circumstances; prophet’s conclusion of what that action will produce; then what our response should be in similar situation.

A. accusation v.1-2

plot evil

will be consequences for those who purposely make sinful plans – comes with opportunity for repentance instead of rebellion

will not be simple slap on wrist – rather, major calamity / disaster that brings intense suffering and loss, clearly not accidental

class of people with economic / social / political power plotting how can use that power to their own advantage

during day, lay awake nights or dream of ways to further own agenda at expense of others, sining against God and neighbor

practice evil

some, a very few, content to make plans to do evil but not implement – lack courage, conscience kicks in, no opportunity

for most, things lead to things, plans lead to practice – James 1:15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

prophet’s target – those who plot and put into practice ASAP… at morning light, eager to move agenda forward

often motivation not thought out – plan evil because they are evil, enjoy evil, have power to carry it out – do because they can

specific evils

covet

basic sense – strong desire with eagerness – is used both positively and negatively in Bible: Do not covet (Ex. 20:17); Covet [earnestly desire] the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31)

becomes sinful when what is forbidden is covet, when desire exceeds proper bounds, or sinful motivation

in view here: desiring what is forbidden to the individual/business/agency, wanting what is not theirs to have because rightly belongs to another

specific objects of desire – houses and lands, tangible property; principle applies to anything, not just real estate

steal

compounding sin of covetousness, add to it by theft – seizing property without just compensation, in this case probably $0

little warning if any of planned action – simply show up with sheriff and boot ’em out; no opportunity to avoid disaster

not property acquired by other questionable dealings – has come to them by family inheritance traceable to Joshua

oppress

“abuse of power or authority, the burdening, trampling, and crushing of those lower in station” TWOT

two-edged sword: deprives individual of shelter and probably its contents and means of earning to replace what was lost

made homeless with no job, no money for sec. dep. / first / last month’s rent, no way to earn monthly rent either… or provide for daily needs

modern parallels abound, all the way from individual to corporations to nations and national leaders; do not need to think very hard to come up with those for whom evil is way of life, make their way up ladder on backs of others; ones who promote public policy and personal agenda with resources belonging to others… may be given “cover” of being for greater good yet same principles apply

B. intervention v.3

devising divine disaster

therefore… in direct response to unabated evil desires and behavior God will act, in his time and way – must remember, God does indeed have limits to what he will tolerate

unlike those whom he will judge, God gives fair warning – what Micah promises was imminent but not immediately present

perps had adequate time to turn from evil and demonstrate commitment to righteousness before judgment actually arrived

keep in mind – “devising” used to show some time would elapse, not God needed time to make his plan

inescapable humbling

what God intends to achieve will take place without fail – if evildoers tried to use warning as opportunity to escape, God would still accomplish his purpose

ancient custom: conqueror put foot on neck of conquered to clearly demonstrate who was in position of true authority – read Josh. 10:24-25

in judgment God brings on them, he would demonstrate his authority, they would be humbled, would know who did it

iow, they would justly be on receiving end of same treatment they had inflicted unjustly on others

stripped of illicit gains

for those who pride themselves on power, possessions, losing all they had gained a huge blow to pride – can be so devastating as to remove all hope

in this case God did not intend material possessions to be returned to original owners – they had their own sins to repent of

further issue: getting all their stuff back can encourage trust in material things rather than God, not something God wants

an unwelcome effect of Israel becoming independent political state w/territory in 1948: greatly renewed confidence in land promises, etc. rather than One in whom promises have already been fulfilled

not to say God withholds blessings from those who seek to please him – he does bless his children… in ways intended to promote holiness, not happiness

the one who pursues holiness will experience lasting joy and happiness; the one who pursues happiness will be constantly disappointed… in this life and the next

C. conclusion v.4-5

object of ridicule

“take up a proverb” = “sing a taunt song” – God using them as object lesson for others, humbling in process, ridiculed

“how the mighty have fallen” – you thought you were such a big deal, look at you now and what God has done to you

need to be careful not to stop there, simple tit for tat – acknowledge greater principle: God will not be disregarded forever, will not allow evil to run wild with no restraint

lost heritage

they gloated when others lost their property to evil plots and practices – others will rejoice when they experience similar losses of property and standing

evildoers and neighbors needed to remember: neither were owners of those things; belonged to the Lord, they were stewards

obligation to use land, possessions, inheritance ultimately for glory of God and not personal gain – still true worldwide today

no hope of recovery

an even worse sentence on evildoers than expected – would lose all gained illicitly; ok, good, forfeiting is simple justice

would also lose right to inheritance – no one would assign land to them; as if they were “excommunicated” from community

“the dreadful harvest of their sins would one day appear. Their proud self-confidence would be taken from them, their authority would be gone, their crooked accomplices would turn against them and laugh at them, and their vast holdings would be snatched from their hands. They would see everything they lived for and sinned to acquire be taken over by the enemy and wasted. Many of them would go into exile and die away from the land they had coveted and stolen from innocent people.” Wiersbe

D. response

pray

first, that God would keep us from similar sins – make sure we are pursuing God and godliness, not goodies that attract

“robber barons” aren’t the only people who commit these sins. Parents rob their children of time and companionship by working at several jobs so they can make more money to buy more “fun.” People rob God of tithes and offerings that are rightfully His just so they can enjoy “the good life” (Mal. 3:7–12). People forget Matthew 6:33 and put everything else ahead of the kingdom of God.” Ibid

when see what appears to be this kind of sinful behavior, God would grant wisdom and discernment so we see accurately

God would supply courage to respond in way pleasing to him, not according to personal desire to be agent of justice

intervene

not every situation is ours to fix personally… for variety of reasons; some situations are indeed ours to address

if we can act so as to halt or reverse wrongdoing, we should – not responsibility of civil government alone to hinder evil

if know evil is taking place, something we can do, and we don’t do anything, God not pleased – see Lev. 5:1

e.g., if know elected official misusing power / authority, can at least not vote for them again, vote for better candidate

lament

“Woe” at beginning can be cry of anguish, grief, sorrow over evil being practiced – we can respond in similar way

media coverage being what it is, can easily become insensitive to plight of others – “oh well, way it is in fallen world”

may be true but… doesn’t have to be that way in all situations; and when it is, should bother us, since both God and neighbor are being sinned against

encourage others

to complain properly – to right person with right attitude/motivation in right way about right issue, not complaint for own sake

encourage those experience hardship/injustice to do same, assure them we will join with them in pursuing remedy

Above all must be continually mindful – all we have whether little or much comes from hand of Heavenly Father. Is given in trust, to use wisely in his service and for his glory.

 

Her Disease Is Incurable

Micah 1:8-16

Many issues, maybe even most issues facing Israel and Judah at time of Micah have present-day parallels. Listen to news, voices on street and in homes, back-room political or financial maneuvering, mostly just need to change few minor details and rest stays the same. World’s explanation for that: what goes around comes around, history repeats itself, is what wheel of life is all about. May appear that way on surface, however there is broader and deeper reason/explanation:

goes all the way back to the Garden, mankind’s fall into sin – “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12)

fundamental reason why looks like history repeats itself: man’s basic nature has not changed – born in sin, live in sin, act out our sin day after day, generation after generation, no indication or real expectation of improvement

sounds pretty depressing, perhaps pointless, even hopeless – after few thousand years still dealing with same basic issues — is true, sounds that way… but consider this: if basic problem has not changed but remains the same, same goes for solution… and God’s instruction concerning it

whatever right solution was then is same today – God sought out sinners, sacrificed for them, restored their relationship

Average sinner doesn’t want to even hear that, more determined sinner actively fights against God and his solution to their need. Instead, does utmost to come up with alternative fix based on human wisdom, that’s why broken sinful humanity still does what is sinful. Biblically informed Christians should expect it… that sinners will act according to their nature… until God changes it. Here’s why all this important to us – so long as God leaves us to live in fallen sin-corrupted world, we get to deal with it… around us as well as within us. How, then, do we respond to what is going on in neighborhood, nation, world?

Has been plenty of opportunity for response in last several months – immigration and the wall, black lives matter, confederate flag; more broadly – megalomaniacs in the Far East and closer to home, what goes by name of terrorism, and list goes on. Sad truth is: Christians too often respond like their neighbors and fail to follow example set for us in God’s word the Bible. Compare modern response, including professed Christians, to sin/injustice and Micah’s response:

primarily anger vs sorrow, human solution vs divine help, reacting to symptoms vs addressing root cause, pleasure over destruction vs personal sense of loss, etc

Whether you have monkey in the circus or not, all God’s people have obligation to respond in godly way to cultural issues. In this case, Micah sets example for us – he laments for his people and calls for others to join with him.

A. Micah laments for his people v.8-9

verbal distress

wail and howl – common widely recognized / accepted response to hard news that causes grief and sorrow; in fact, Jewish tradition to hire professional mourners… to give loud voice to grief over loss of loved one

wail like jackals – cry of wild dogs (think coyotes) esp. at night something not only sounds like grief, prompts response in those who hear it… kind of thing that draws others in to participate in sorrow

mourn like ostriches – would be obvious to all w/i earshot something was seriously wrong – Micah in great distress, not play-acting, everyone needed to pay attention

visible distress

disgraceful appearance – not just the sounds of mourning, had look of one in mourning being carried off as prisoner of war

whether disaster still in future or presently in progress, Micah using variety of persuasive devices to gain attention – not seeking to be center of attention, drawing focus to God and his just judgment

distressing diagnosis

an incurable disease – Samaria gone past point of help, even if repentance did occur – once sequence of events beginning with overthrow by Assyria began, Samaria would never recover

obviously talking about large group, the people group, not individuals – remember Samaritan woman, yet cannot now point to Samaritans as distinct group

an infectious disease – important to remember… moral and spiritual issues that plague one nation or group can easily spread

couple quick examples: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Russia, officially identified as “extremists”, on list of banned organizations

prosperity gospel (no gospel), that financial prosperity a sign of God’s favor – exported from charismatic circles US to Nigeria and elsewhere, now exported from Nigeria around world

doesn’t even begin to touch infection that gets spread through entertainment, publicly funded social programs, etc.

Micah takes no pleasure in coming judgment – rather, overcome with grief, sorrow at incredibly high price his “countrymen according to the flesh” will have to pay

B. Micah calls others to lament v.10-16

towns represent Assyrian advance toward Jerusalem

list of 10 cities, number that routinely signifies completeness, in this case of coming disaster – chosen b/c of names, wordplay

the prohibition in Gath (sounds like word for “tell”) – don’t bother tell Philistine city… had enough troubles already… if not completely overrun by Assyrians

Beth Aphrah (means “house of dust”) (10) – you will live up to your name, wallowing in dust/ashes to show (typical) grief

Shaphir (means “pleasant, beautiful”) – will be nothing pleasant or beautiful about their conquest and subsequent captivity

Zaanan (sounds like “come out”) – are too afraid or demoralized to put up any kind of fight, stay huddled inside town walls

Beth Ezel (means “house beside another”) (11) – friends cannot come to her aid, she cannot go to anyone else’s, can only weep

Maroth (sounds like word for “bitter”) (12) – like Beth Aphrah, live up to name and experience only bitterness… hoped fruitlessly for good, will receive judgment for disobedience

Lachish (sounds like word for “team”) (13) – will need all their chariots, yet to no avail… 2nd in size to Jerus., equal in idolatry, eventually defeated by Sennacherib

Moresheth – (sounds like “betrothed, dowry”) – would receive gift, “going away” kind as she goes into captivity bound to foreign master

Achzib – means “place on the dried up river” (similar to “deceive”) – would surrender to Assyrians, fighting against Judah

Mareshah – sounds like word for “conqueror, possessor” – would become possession of another, whoever could escape take refuge at Adullam (David hid from Saul)

picture of utter defeat and misery

remember who Assyrians were – first world power to have standing professional army used (quite effectively) for expansion

portion of army devoted to conflict in Israel numbered almost 200K, force typical neighbor would be unable to resist

then was fear and intimidation factor, used to greatest advantage – copied by Napoleon in advance into Russia: take all you can use, destroy the rest… scorched earth policy

had no mercy on those they conquered – not only practiced brutality in war and conquest, boasted about it in artwork displayed throughout their territories

continued barbaric treatment of captives after war ended – more concerned with adding territory, material resources than people

notice in Micah’s sorrow and warning, offers no complaint that his people are object of Assyrian terror – didn’t question justice

how could God possibly send or allow those horrible people to have upper hand over his own chosen nation?

even more personal than simply national issue, he was from Moresheth, was his own family in Assyrian sights

would seem Micah grasped awfulness of sin as God sees it – yes, Assyrians were bad, so were Israelites in their idolatry, injustice, rebellion against God

Judah’s exile began long before 586 BC

captives from conquered SW towns resettled – towns listed by Micah

not like modern warfare, mostly between armed forces, victor setting up new government to suit their own preferences – no interest in that

intended government to stay pretty much the same, have a compliant and unarmed people living in conquered territory

massive resettlement – Jews marched off in chains to be forcibly relocated in distant scattered parts of empire, many dying long before reaching destination

practice probably continued by later marauders

those who continued to harass border areas, later Egyptians and then Babylonians caused their own damage to Judah

toward end of Jeremiah’s ministry many voluntarily escaped to Egypt because of harsh conditions in Judah

inhabitants of Judah called on to mourn

conditions would justify this response – pretty much the extreme of mourning, might pull out hair or beard because of distress, but shaving bald?!

a last resort, no hope that anything less would maybe cause God to relent – also outward sign that life has come to end

once children carried off into captivity, no longer any hope nation can continue – Naomi… sons died, too old to have more

this not a warning, rather a prophecy – remember Micah’s diagnosis at beginning of our text: terminal disease, no cure

history does bear that out – once entire nation, both northern and southern kingdoms, had been overthrown, never recovered

true, was return from exile and Jewish people lived on the land for another 500 years, but… – not the nation as God had established; still his people, but… never really regained what had been lost

A worse fate did/does exist than what Micah’s contemporaries faced – total exile from God. Every bit as true today as then, what many in the news are facing. As far as raw numbers go, more true of our nation and others than ever before. Yes, need national leaders in every nation including our own who do their divinely appointed job according to Rom. 13and need those who work at grass roots spreading the Gospel.

A good civil government doing its God-appointed job makes for safe environment for Gospel to be proclaimed: “But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” In any circumstance, Christ-followers need to see various societal ills as what they are at root: result of sin practiced by those who need to hear / respond to Gospel. And… should respond to sin and God’s judgment as Micah did – sorrow and grief accompanied by proclamation of truth.

 

The LORD Is Coming

Micah 1:2-7

Since just short time after beginning, mankind has held to distorted view of responsibility and accountability. In fact, was part of substance of Satan’s deception in Garden and mankind’s response. Eve believed Satan’s insinuation that she was accountable only to herself, not God. Adam and Eve both denied responsibility for their sin, attempting to shift responsibility to someone else. Pattern has been followed for millennia, generation upon generation of people who think and act as if there is no God to hold them accountable.

At least in our country, has grown even more pervasive and troubling – children and young people trained to believe they can act with absolute autonomy – do as they please, expect whatever they desire, no personal responsibility to any external authority, certainly no consequences for behavior. Not only God who is not on radar, no authority of any kind recognized. Only one thing causes modification of behavior – superior force. Are training up generation (maybe 2nd or 3rd) of basically lawless individuals.

Micah has strong message for all people, especially lawless ones – those who fit description given as conclusion to Judges 21:25

“everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

His prophetic message addressed to world at large and specifically targets Samaria and Jerusalem. the covenant people of God. Keep in mind as we go along: Micah has fearsome message for those who rebel against God and at same time message of hope interspersed.

A text note: God’s personal name Yahweh usually pronounced Adonai by Jewish people as way to avoid violation of third command – not take Lord’s name in vain. Here in v.2 Lord GOD = Adonai Yahweh, pronounced Adonai Elohim (favorite of Ezekiel, 174x). Many versions translate as Lord GOD, some as Sovereign Lord. Should be no question in anyone’s mind who rules his creation and requires accountability of all mankind.

Begins with call to attention, then declares Yahweh is coming… for this purpose… and with this result.

A. Listen up v.2

all nations in general

God sovereign over all the world, all peoples, all of his creation… without exception – principle not accepted by all, incl Christians

lost people refuse to acknowledge God’s rule, believe and act as though doesn’t apply – many Christians agree, believe man can do as he pleases even when God desires otherwise

see Prov. 16:9; 21:1; Isa. 14:27; even Nebuchadnezzar got his theology right on that score: Dan. 4:35

God’s message, though targeted to specific individual or group, has benefit for all who observe / listen… true of Micah

Samaria and Jerusalem in particular

figure of speech in use here – metonymy, part for the whole – Samaria, capital, Israel; Jerusalem, Judah; Washington, USA

during time of divided kingdom yet God not lost sight of “his people” – prophecy for each individually as well as collectively

not uncharacteristic, God acts in judgment / discipline on his people first – often uses heathen nations as his instruments

in this case, Assyria and Babylonia – Assyria to overthrow Israel, threaten Judah, Babylon to finish task century later

majestic sovereign Lord has a case against the nations

language of courtroom – God takes stand as witness for prosecution; don’t forget – God also the Judge… and executioner

purpose of Sovereign Lord giving testimony against people not for Judge’s benefit – is for instruction of accused and spectators

will be no question how have broken God’s laws… in face of mercy and grace and longsuffering, how judgment is warranted

he speaks / comes forth from real Holy of Holies

in earthly tabernacle, Holy of Holies represented God’s dwelling place – were a copy or shadow of real thing

remember what was in that room: Ark of the Covenant, three things in it – golden pot with manna, Aaron’s rod, tablets

God will give perfect testimony in accordance with his perfect law – standard no one measures up to, yet his people gone far over on other side

flagrant willful rebellion, openly doing what displeased God, not even making attempt to sincerely obey / please him

one more thing to remember: the lid / cover on Ark – represented God’s throne / seat, dwelling between the cherubim (1 Chr. 13:6)

also known as mercy seat, where blood was sprinkled to make atonement for priest and people each year (Lev. 16:14-15)

God both just and merciful – will see that more than once throughout book of Micah

B. Look, the LORD is coming v.3-4

not only overseeing, actually participating in judgment

concept is particularly uncomfortable for many Christians – idea that God would be actively involved in bringing judgment on people, even his sworn enemies

yet truth of God’s word is inescapable – Yahweh himself has brought judgment and will do so again, personally

would not be much of a God who either could not or would not defend himself and his people from enemies – is true even of temporal king/ruler

ruler who does not enforce his rule cannot rightly be considered ruler – Yahweh sets boundaries… and enforces them

will come forth / descend

not anything like modern military action carried out by drones piloted remotely from thousands of miles away

God himself directing course of events in person – not without precedent: Josh. 5:13-15, Commander of the Lord’s Army

very well may be accompanied by human combatants (here the Assyrians), is Lord and his forces carrying on real battle, directing outcome

will be unstoppable

pictured as coming down from heaven to stride along mountain tops unhindered – nothing on earth can prevent his advance

demonstrates his absolute supremacy over all created things – even mountains simply melt and move aside out of his way

his advance should be source of terror for all enemies; at same time, source of great comfort for all who are his friends

almost goes without saying – will be nothing secret or hidden about Yahweh’s presence and moving in judgment

C. for this purpose v.5

general charge against defendants identified

rebellion – intentional breaking of God’s laws, refusal to submit to his authority – in this situation, one region led, other followed

Samaria and northern kingdom began trend, made it easier for southern tribes to follow their example, turn away from God

Jacob and Israel occur together 5x first three chapters, refer to entire covenant people of God; Jacob either northern kingdom or whole people, Israel designates Judah with nation in view

Jacob has rebelled

transgression implies knowledge – people in view, like Adam, not deceived but know God’s standard and intentionally make different choice

would have reason(s) for doing so, not ones found in Bible – ones that appear practically justified according to human thinking

Israel has sinned

looked at how life was going for brothers to the north, looked really attractive and effective so they followed example

later history showed Judah more open to correction than northern kingdom, more often had good kings and followed God

is primary reason for why northern kingdom overthrown by Assyria 722 BC, Judah not until 586 BC by Babylonians

Samaria is Exhibit A

a nations troubles usually start with decline in morals as result of decline in the church, not poor selection of gov’t leaders

goes right back to time of Jeroboam, first king of divided kingdom after Solomon – establishing system of worship in competition to Jerusalem Temple

calf worship in Dan and Bethel, installed priests not from tribe of Levi to oversee idolatry, went downhill from there – Baal, Ashtoreth, Moloch

might blame Jeroboam – he certainly bore great responsibility; yet Jeroboam could not rule peoples’ consciences – they freely rebelled against God by worshiping gods of their own choosing

Jerusalem is Exhibit B

Judah certainly hasn’t been that foolish, have they? actually did worse, were more guilty than Samaria

had Temple in Jerusalem, all they had to do was maintain – failed to do that, instead took unauthorized liberties with worship

continued to keep up externals of lawful worship but with idolatrous additions – burning incense to bronze serpent (2 Ki 18:4), Baal worship, sacred pillars, wooden images; even added Assyrian model altar to Temple worship

God just as displeased with syncretistic worship as idol-worship – both corrupt heart of true worship, become idolatry

D. with this result v.6-7

Samaria will be leveled

“land flowing with milk and honey” turned into wasteland – everything people sought to gain by corrupt worship destroyed

not going to be slap on the wrist, probation, commuted sentence – God takes especially this kind of sin seriously, will not be longsuffering indefinitely

her idols destroyed

Yahweh will make his supremacy over all other gods absolutely undeniably clear – idols and all they were used to acquire demolished beyond recognition

shattered gods, helpless idols, as worthless as Dagon who had to be stood up when knocked over, …and shattered dreams and fantasies of their worshipers

will be as if they never existed

gods leave no lasting imprint, something impossible re: true God – his fingerprints on all his creation… forever

Two things: the LORD is coming… again, to bring final judgment, bring this age to end and usher in new heavens/earth. Knowing that and that God takes sin seriously should encourage us to boldness in witness. Second, God is closely attentive to what we call worship, what we do in his name. Must be careful to do what we are certain will please him.

 

Prophet to the Cities

Micah 1:1

Overall theme for study of minor prophets, Redeemed from Ruin. Redeemed from ruin, yes! Redeemed from slavery, absolutely!! Is message usually emphasized in typical evangelistic presentations – clearly articulating mankind’s fallen sinful condition, the consequences of that according to God’s law, and then good news of salvation from sin through faith in Christ. Too often is where conversation stops… when it needs to keep going. Micah in particular makes plain there is more to full gospel message than what God redeems his people from.

All prophets “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21) spoke a balanced message. Confronted and condemned sinful behavior, threatened judgment for continued rebellious disobedience, also promised hope for people of God. No hope – no change; if all gonna die anyway, what difference does it make how we live? Prophets made that clear, also – how we live is important, does have consequences. God has redeemed from certain ruin, and redeemed to what? Submission and service to the Righteous Ruler, the Redeemer King, the Lord Jesus.

Micah summarizes what other prophets declared Mic. 6:8 = Luke 10:27 = Luke 9:23

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?’

“So he answered and said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Micah was a preaching prophet so what we have in book is collection of transcripts. Can be divided in 3 major sections starting with imperative “Hear”, “Listen up!” Chapters 1-2 address judgment on Samaria and Judah, on all who reject God’s call to submit to the God-ordained Redeemer-King. Chapters 3-5 underscore the contrast between present devastating judgment and future exaltation – those who rule their own lives will be condemned but those who put their trust in the God-ordained Redeemer-King will enter into glorious days. Chapters 6 & 7 present Yahweh and Israel in a judicial contest over the way to salvation; the ingratitude of the self-ruled life is contrasted with the blessedness of the Christ-ruled life.

A. who was he

from Moresheth

25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near border with Philistia – area overrun by Assyrian army under Sennacherib

likely prophesying during time of capture, likely that family members killed or captured and enslaved by Assyrians

area throughout Israel’s history in Canaan had experienced conflict, skirmishes between Philistine raiders and locals

750-686 BC outside

during time of particular kings: sets date boundaries during time when Assyria dominated Near East, time of trouble for both Israel and Judah

can probably safely narrow range to 735 to 700 BC – no mention of Uzziah, spoke of distress at time of Assyrian invasion in 701

much upheaval, uncertainty because of threatening moves made by neighbors, lots of military activity throughout region

country boy

yet with significant name: Micah, short for Micaiah (compounded from parts of 3 words), “who is like the Lord”; introduces play on own name 7:18, “Who is a God like You”

an outsider to city life, not a part of corrupt political and religious circles at core of country’s problems stemming from failed leadership

perhaps better known to contemporaries than us but little direct information about him in Bible other than this verse, reference to his ministry by Jeremiah, 26:18

B. who were his contemporaries

Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

Jotham son of Azariah, aka Uzziah, given all responsibilities of king but without title at time Uzziah afflicted with leprosy

had some successes, subdued Ammonites and required tribute from them for a time; completed father’s building projects, undertook some on his own incl. entrance to new court of Temple

was in some ways good / successful regent but mostly in material ways; moral condition of leaders and people in sad shape

Ahaz – shortened form of Jehoahaz, perhaps truncataed on purpose – like father Jotham in early/mid-20’s when came to power

early on encouraged revival of Baal worship throughout Judah, also despicable worship of Moloch incl. sacrificing own children (2 Chron. 28:1-3)

described as following practices of evil kings of Israel, not doing right in sight of the Lord as his ancestor David had done

Hezekiah – much different character from his father, at one point described as doing “what was good and right and true before the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 31:20)

abuses and sinful behaviors Micah addressed a problem to be sure when Hezekiah came to power; under influence of Micah and Isaiah, made significant progress throughout his life

Isaiah, Amos and Hosea

Isaiah – if Micah one of common folk from country town, Isaiah at other end of social spectrum, perhaps even related to Uzziah

both a preaching and writing prophet with literary style unmatched or even rivalled by any other

prophesied over longer period both before and after Micah, was used by God to firm up Hezekiah’s resolve and preserve Jerusalem from capitulating to Sennacherib

Amos – like Micah not a professional prophet nor from big city; native of southern Judah, called to prophesy to northern kingdom

time of outward prosperity in Israel, guarded peace between Israel and Judah; however, all of evils present and criticized in surrounding nations alive and well in Israel also

Hosea – along with Amos a prophet to Northern Kingdom, modeling for people faithfulness of God to an unfaithful people

in addition to words of his message, demonstrated in personal life love and compassion God shows by pursuing his wayward people, restoring to right relationship

C. to whom did he prophesy

Samaria and Jerusalem

prophecies pertain to both parts of divided kingdom (still one people in God’s view), ministry more focused on Judah

probably about halfway through his ministry Samaria, having been under siege for 3 years, fell to Sargon – then began major resettlement program

Jews carried off into exile, dispersed around Assyrian territory, colonists brought in from other places to replace them

all you peoples

warnings and condemnations in Micah’s prophecies have application far beyond Israel and Judah – relevant for people in other places and times including our own

also equally applicable to all strata of society, social or economic; has especially strong language for spiritual and political leaders acting in ways displeasing to God

D. what were the issues

“The sins he rebukes are peculiarly those of cities: Oppression and violence, corruption of princes, prophets and priests, bribery, robbery, dishonesty, pride.” G. Campbell Morgan

oppression and violence

society changing in Judah, becoming more urbanized – people’s expectations changing, increasing disparity between rich and poor

corruption

more and more of “economy” dependent on some kind of currency, less on barter – investors buying up family farms… against specific principles in God’s law

not just tangible products exchanged – favors and concessions available for purchase by highest bidder both domestic and international

dishonesty

when one involved in transaction has no sweat equity in what is being traded, greater tendency for dishonest practices

pride

increasing pride in possessions, wealth, societal position; on national level… ability to defend against outside aggressors by combination of military strength and strategic alliances

E. what was his message

judgment is coming, but there is hope

certainly deserved God’s judgment for their rebellion; at same time (on human reasoning level) needed assurance if they changed, the outcome be different

God appears in order to judge but he will shepherd the remnant (2:12-13)

promised disaster on those who willfully disobeyed his laws, treated neighbors unjustly – at same time promises a remnant that He would care for

Disaster will come but not permanently (4:1-7)

political and religious leaders who oppressed and deceived their people would be judged – yet in latter days, great blessing for all nations in the mountain of the Lord

2 reasons for future hope: God’s character and God’s promises (7:18, 20)

God’s character as revealed to Moses: forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; longsuffering; merciful and gracious

God’s covenant made with Abraham: offspring become mighty nation, victorious over enemies, all nations blessed

calls people to follow God’s standard – 6:8

here’s what you are doing (6:6-7), now this is what God expects (6:8) – turn from sinful rebellion, do that and live

only possible through submission to Christ, the Righteous Ruler

the Good Shepherd who leads his people, the flock of his heritage

Micah is ideal follow-on book to Jonah – when 6:8 describes us, will delight in greatness of God’s missionary heart to bring Gospel to nations, work he is doing to accomplish it, perhaps using us in process.