Tag: Micah

Where is Wisdom?

Micah 6:9-16

Concept of covenant one found throughout Bible. Covenant – word use to identify binding relationship between God and individual or group; a covenant is established by God with conditions, promises, consequences. God initiates it, defines its terms, administers it, determines whether it has been kept or broken.

While God’s providential care extends to all his creation, there are special benefits promised to those who are participants in his covenant. The particular covenants God has made provide structure to his special revelation, the Bible. Even use it to find way around – books of the Old and New Covenant.

Covenant not identified here in Micah but surely forms basis for prophet’s message, God’s charges against Jewish people. Referring in particular to Mosaic Covenant, instituted at Sinai with Moses as God’s designated mediator. Expectations summarized in 10 Commandments, further conditions recorded later. Was Israel’s repeated failure over extended period that resulted in God taking action. Will back up to review the standard, then look at how Israel failed to keep the covenant and what God promised the consequences would be. Encourage you to consider how closely this parallels situation in own nation today.

A. covenant terms v.8-9

the standard (8)

not new information: Deut. 10:12-13; 30:15-16

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”

they really knew not only what God expected for proper worship, knew what he wanted from them in everyday life

justice balanced by mercy relies on second table, summarizes love for neighbor; walk humbly, first table, love for God

Micah not first to remind people of God’s expectations – was one in long line of faithful servants sent by God to warn people

significant problem by this time in Israel’s history: large numbers of unfaithful servants, failing to uphold biblical standard

were a lot of them, they were loud – making much noise to convince themselves / others nothing to worry about, their way was best

came with conditions (Deut. 7:12)

always true for God’s covenant – he lays out expectations, standard, requires his people to follow – promises reward for obedience, consequences for disobedience

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.”

God not obligated to provide blessings promised when people blew it, yet he did… graciously and mercifully… for generations

like good father promised reward comes first and more prominently – at same time, threat of judgment not far behind

is a set of principles absent in too much of our society for few generations now – practice too often is reward without conditions, disobedience without consequences

little understanding / respect for authority, the idea of an objective standard of right / wrong, acting as gods to themselves – ultimately comes from absence of God’s standard in the home

but you need to listen and heed (9)

they knew but they disregarded – treated God and standard as ultimately meaningless… a practice neither wise nor safe

it is wise to fear Your name” – “the fool has said “there is no God” (Psa. 14:1) – both Old & New Testament saints recognized outcome when men fail to fear God (Abraham, David, Paul)

Gen. 20:11 “I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.”

Psa. 36:1-4 “An oracle …concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes….”

Rom. 3:10-18 “There is none righteous, no, not one; …There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

only way to avoid full force of God’s retributive justice – fear God, heed his warning, stop adding to guilt by further sin

understand that pleasing God requires changed heart, only he can do that – however… total pagan does not need to run into sin, pile up guilt at such an alarming rate

B. covenant failure v.10-12

wrongful profits (10a)

little if any efforts made to correct sinful behavior – “are there yet/still treasures of wickedness” – practice still continuing

still enjoying fruits of dishonest gain – treasures that had been acquired by wrongful means – numerous ways for that to occur

hidden costs not obvious to buyer; substandard performance/workmanship; bait & switch – offer one thing, sell something less; could be flat out theft

have clear NT example of how to deal with that sort of circumstance: Zacchaeus – “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 17:8)

cheating in business (10b-11)

dishonest weights and measures especially unjust / sinful because cheated in both directions under barter system

item / product / service being sold weighed or measured, amount would be overstated – e.g., 15 oz being sold as full pound, 55 minutes billed as full hour

reverse would happen with what was offered in payment, amount would be understated – a bushel only 3-1/2 pecks; 8 hours labor compensated < day

today: charge for work not actually done; overstate bill of materials; claim higher costs than actual

customer / laborer both overcharged/overworked and undercompensated – no wonder such practice so displeasing to God

violence (12a)

word used here has fairly broad range of meaning, almost always sinful in some way – includes malicious cruelty, injustice, wickedness against God or others

those with significant wealth use power associated with it to manipulate people / situations to their advantage – bullying, coercion, backroom deals, may involve real harm

sometimes individual with wealth directly involved, other times may manipulate from distance – election outcomes, staged protests (BLM, Keystone), volatile situations in other nations, media coverage

not ever the result of pursuing the right end with right means for right reasons – some degree of purposeful wickedness

dishonesty (12b)

sinfulness not limited to people in high places – all inhabitants, all residents guilty of speaking lies, promoting what is untrue

is the exact opposite of truth, groundless, without basis in fact or reality – consequently, contrary to God and opposed to truth

underlying purpose: promote opposite of truth and actively suppress what is true and real – Rom. 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”

deceit (12c)

speaking words intended to deceive, beguile – remember the Serpent’s persuasive and harmful conversation with Eve

includes idea of treachery / betrayal, what is said intended to lead other person into danger or risk – high profile: pimps, drug dealers – understate / hide risks associated with product or behavior

present circumstances, examples abound: big business, big government, even big “churches” serving as tools of Satan and his destructive purposes

C. covenant consequences v.13-16

see Deut. 28 – v.1-14, promises for obedience… “if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God” (1), “if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (13)

“But …if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, ….all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (15ff)

promised consequences for disobedience in effect the reversal of all promised blessings – people’s behavior toward God the opposite of what should be, God’s actions toward people opposite of covenant promises… perfect justice

sickness (13a)

Deut. 28:58-61“If you do not …fear this glorious and awesome name” – plagues, sickness, long-lasting afflictions, severe enduring illnesses, diseases, madness, blindness, confusion of mind

think for moment: all diseases/illnesses hear about today vs. 50 years ago – easy to blame gov’t, business, medicine

given parallels of current outrageously sinful behavior, no stretch to think God and not others the Prime Mover, and list of consequences goes on

poverty (13b)

possessions and production stripped away leaving people destitute – efforts to reduce poverty made ineffective by enemies

hunger (14a)

produce of land and labor taken by others leaving people hungry – outside enemies will leave nothing for locals to eat

disappearing savings (14b)

invest in construction / property only to lose it – labor more for smaller return, subject to various forms of oppression

diminishing productivity (15)

frustrated purposes because God will oppose / reverse plans and efforts; pests eat the harvest, disease strikes plants

ruined by wrong heroes (16)

Omri / Ahab encouraged Israel to sin yet Micah’s contemporaries followed their practices instead of God’s law… to their doom

should carefully consider ones thought to be suitable heroes, worthy of following and copying

The wise person fears the Lord, does their part to follow his commands. Also encourages as many others as possible to do likewise. A people cannot continue in sin against God without eventual consequences… no matter how many times we sing “God Bless America”.

 

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God, What Do You Want?

Micah 6:6-8

Common question – implied in Nicodemus’ “unspoken” questions; rich ruler; Philippian jailer. Is perhaps most important of ultimate questions – how can a person be right with God? Countless millions not even bothered by idea they might have a problem. Others figure their genius adequate to sort it all out. Some genuinely troubled by thought they might not be on good terms with God, seek until they find answers. Then are ones like Jewish people of Micah’s day, especially ones living in Judah.

Had been content to just live one day after next, pursuing the great Jewish dream. Life was good, maybe few clouds here and there, but people in charge said no need to be concerned. After all, were God’s special people, he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to them. Just to be safe, made sure they were keeping Sabbath, offering required sacrifices, maybe putting little extra in benevolent offering every so often just for insurance. Along comes Micah, a few other noisy prophets, trying to convince them something was wrong, God upset with them for some reason.

Likely an edge to it in this context – people just been confronted for sinful behavior by God, red-faced defensive challenging “whaddya want” almost. And close on its heels, we’ve done that. So is this ridiculous amount what you really want, it’s impossible for us to do that. Micah reminds them – you already know what God expects, what will please him. Problem not that they didn’t know what God wanted, was that they didn’t want to comply with expectations. Is entirely possible, even likely… some genuinely wanted to know how they could be made right with God.

Truth is, what God really wants from men/women/boys/girls is impossible by human standards and effort. Bright future for anyone out of the question, is fruitless quest for anyone apart from God, point Micah relentlessly proclaims. And that is where Micah ends, holding out hope because of who God is:

Mic. 7:18“There is no other God like you! You forgive sin and pardon the rebellion of those who remain among your people. You do not remain angry forever, but delight in showing loyal love.”

Meanwhile, Micah doesn’t back off from confronting sinful behavior. Doesn’t lower the bar, keeps it where God put it… not to be mean, but to be honest and faithful.

A. is this what he wants? v.6

what do I bring

question is typical, the one people almost always ask – e.g., Philippian jailer: what must I do to be rescued from certain death

two places to put emphasis – what must I bring: implies there is some way individual can improve standing, negotiate a deal… iow, some kind of self-help plan

what must I bring: implies there is something individual can acquire / perform that will gain them right / good standing

how shall I approach

what is proper protocol – how low to bow, how many steps away, right side or left side; and of course, what to wear

major assumption here, that there is safe and legitimate way to approach holy God – is God after all, not earthly king (e.g. Esther and Ahashuerus)

there really is a way, but not of man’s invention or making – is God alone who established “protocol”, defined what he will accept

is this acceptable

true, burnt offerings something God did require and accept – but… calf more substantial animal than God required for individual – personal sin offering sheep or goat

is this an overstatement intended to impress? or… is is it indication of syncretism, mixing elements of two or more religions

more in line with what would be sacrificed to Baal, other gods – just as important, though… focus here on external ritual

notice how questions address everything but the condition of worshiper’s heart – no indication of acknowledgment of sin, attitude of genuine repentance

the one asking seems to think is good reason to believe they can meet God’s expectations, perhaps a little more effort / expense

mindset persists, even increases in next series of questions – seems may have been some question in minds of people just what kind of God YHWH really was

B. is this better? v.7

if a little is good, is more better

this in line with expectations of false gods – if one sacrifice is good for a little, more or bigger sacrifice good for a lot

even without factoring in idol-worship, questions if sincere show they didn’t comprehend significance of sacrifice to God

questions more likely come from attitude of defensive sarcasm – I suppose you expect me to do the impossible by…

if talking to false rather than true God, response would be yes – remember real source of power… Satan, goal to destroy

since ridiculously impossible isn’t it, let’s compromise

is how sarcastic line of reasoning is supposed to work – way overstate expectations, show how foolish, settle for something less maybe even than real starting position

whole lot wrong with that approach toward God… in what it implies about God and his character, and attitude toward sin

assumes God in dealing with people has floating standard, is room for negotiation, brings YHWH down at least closer to level of his people

indicates a failure to acknowledge seriousness of sin – if strict economics applied, even wildly overstated sacrifice not sufficient to “repay” God for offense done to him

more important question: what is purpose of sacrifice

compare true God vs idols – sacrifice for idol’s benefit, different purpose for God – idols have insatiable appetites

if you don’t get results promised from false god, must be because sacrifice wasn’t big enough, costly enough

no sacrifice required by God from people supplied any benefit whatever to God – different significance for both God/people

sacrifice way of God showing mankind seriousness of sin, ultimately pointing to the once-for-all sacrifice, Lord Jesus

sacrifice way for people to show obedience / devotion to God, trust in his promise that if they sacrificed he would forgive

question really much closer to mark than one who asked realized: “Should I give him my firstborn child as payment for my rebellion, my offspring – my own flesh and blood – for my sin?”

answer: a man’s son cannot atone for his soul… but God’s son can – God would give his own Son as ultimate display of his loyal love to his people

C. this is what he really wants v.8

here’s where Micah brings them back to root problem: their issue didn’t start with worship practice and sacrifice, had its beginnings in worship during daily life

just like religious leaders of Jesus’ day, probably were doing ok with external rituals – problem was they didn’t love God and neighbor… an issue of the heart

whether were following “official” idols or ones of the heart, they did not love neighbor because did not love God

starts with “God already told you what he wanted”… where? Hos. 12:6 e.g.So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.”

even back in Hos. 6:6 “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

act justly… can do that

starts at lowest rung of ladder – basically treating others according to rules of civil society in all spheres of life

does not require going beyond duty, simply act and react as justice mandates – could cover basics with 2nd table of Law

also includes acting so as to promote just dealings among others, especially when in some sort of leadership position

knee-jerk response to prophet: of course, can do that; may not want to, haven’t always done so, certainly have ability to

love mercy… hmm, can do that

turns it up some – love mercy / kindness / faithfulness – tough word to adequately render in English, chesed, used of God to describe his love/loyalty/faithfulness to his covenant people

requires going beyond simple just dealings, also gets into issue of motivation and desire – can maybe act that way, but to love it? maybe not

pretty broad swath of God’s character made evident by chesed, what he expected his people to display to one another

is expected of all who bear image of God, especially so of those who claim to be related to him by covenant, old or new

walk humbly… um, nope, can’t do that

this really is goal – one truly walking humbly with God will do justly and love mercy – an impossible achievement for Jews

had shown over long period were too proud of self and own achievement/ability to walk humbly under any circumstances

is why captivity / exile in Babylon a foregone conclusion by this time – people would have to be humbled first

not a new answer, either, another reason for Micah to say “God already told you” – Psalms of David, Ps. 40:6-8; 51:16-17

Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; …Then I said, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise.”

God’s purpose for his people: that they, having been conformed to image of his Son, would accurately reflect his image to others. iow, God is in business of restoring image that was horribly distorted yet not lost in Fall. Will be fully restored in next age, but… don’t have to wait until then for it to start. In fact, should be doing our part now to encourage growth in likeness to Christ – our own, and that of brothers and sisters.

Walking humbly with God means keeping details of relationship straight – things like dependence, submission, obedience, trust. Doesn’t happen by itself, we need to use means God has supplied so we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18) In the process, “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Heb. 10:24)

The Lord’s Indictment

Micah 6:1-5

Good father when training children does not leave them hopeless. Occasions when something occurs that damages / hinders relationship, father disciplines but without removing hope of reconciliation. Previous two chapters God giving hope to his people – they do have a future, situation is serious but not hopeless. Now, returns to theme of consequences for their sinful behavior.

Is serious business when God confronts his people this way; yet even though a hard subject, God treats them gently. Can almost hear tone in voice as he pleads with them as one heartbroken by their hurtful behavior. God pulled no punches in first 3 chapters – called them on the carpet for sin at all levels of society. Would be justified in writing them off, ending relationship because of their “breach of contract”. Chooses not to do so, here God reveals what it is in his character, his nature that results in their redemption from ruin.

Prophet gets or tries to get people’s attention – are as focused on own agenda as those who walk into swimming pools, fall down set of stairs, other dangerous things while paying attention to cell phone. Micah’s announcment: “Listen up, God is about to speak”.

A. God calls v.1-2

defendants

YHWH himself takes on several different roles here – judge, bailiff, prosecutor for starters – “All rise, court now in session, Sovereign Lord and Judge presiding”

defendants have been summoned to appear before Judge, expected to give reason for their sinful abandonment of God

given opportunity to plead their case, prove before God and witnesses why they should be judged “not guilty”

just as defendants get to present their side, so the prosecutor will declare the charges against them and bring evidence of wrongdoing

God simply because of who he is certainly does not need to condescend in this way – how did he reveal himself to Moses?

“merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” Ex. 34:6-7

witnesses

Creator calls his creation to view the evidence presented by both sides, then give their own acknowledgment that God is just

might wonder what kind of response would mountains, hills, foundations of the earth give to their Creator – whatever he asked / required of them

no more unresponsive in appearance than God’s people are in reality – they really are as hardened as mountains against God

is also significant that God acts from global perspective – is calling whole earth to act as witnesses to proceedings, witness against defendants

outcome of this court case will have effect worldwide – is intimately connected with full scope of Redemption and Redeemer – remember Mic. 5:2

pretty sad when you think about it – out of entire created order, mankind and some angels are only ones who resist God

serious enough that eternal God brings suit against his people – has a case against them and, knowing God, nothing about it is in question

B. God challenges v.3

find fault with actions

shocking development – Judge comes off the bench, moves defendants over to prosecution table, takes his place as defendant

“Testify against me!” imagine that from the Judge, in this case YHWH himself – not stated in overpowering way but pleading

not begging – pressing his people to think about what are doing, take off their rose-colored glasses, do reality check

begins with how God has acted toward his people – “what have I done to deserve / warrant being treated this way in return”

true and objective answer is obvious – YHWH has done nothing whatever to provoke their rebellion, in fact just the opposite

would be similar situation to Hosea asking Gomer, “what reason did I ever give you to run away, back to old life?”

find fault with expectations

second question the flip side – “what have I expected of you to warrant being treated this way? how have my expectations been excessive or unjust?”

probably much people wanted to say in own defense, much that would be critical of God but… still had a little sense of right / wrong

deep down knew God was right, they were wrong, and it irked them terribly – were more determined to satisfy desires than satisfy God… do what felt good, not what they knew to be right

probably did genuinely feel like God’s expectations were burdensome – was that way because they and God did not have shared goals, were working at cross-purposes

for one whose greatest desire is to serve self, serving God is huge hassle – at same time, know God is right, they are wrong

dead silence in courtroom as God challenges them: “Answer me!” – no one has courage to respond audibly, take up challenge

Note: this kind of scene has practical as well as theological ramifications – know about God’s just character, commitment to justice in society, clear instruction about standard his ministers of justice are to follow

but… in what spirit is justice to be administered? God demonstrates here example to follow – not cold / harsh, instead warmed by mercy and grace

at same time, must not ignore what Bible teaches about that Day, final Judgment Day – will be perfect justice, time for mercy and grace ended at that appearing of Judge

C. God counters v.4

expects Israelites to think seriously, consider and compare what could expect for quality of life / future in Egypt vs. Canaan

since God always has more than simply physical/temporal in view, what could expect as friend of God vs estranged

delivered to new home

especially in light of next verse, far more in God’s mind than simply what he took them from – includes what brought them to

had clearly stated good destination in place for them from time of covenant w/Abram on – integral part of it was God’s commitment to supplying all needs… abundantly

released from debt

their situation: hopeless, in many ways little different from conditions in parts of Asia today – e.g. brick kilns in India

Bonded labour is most widespread in South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan. Often entire families have to work to pay off the debt taken by one of its members. Sometimes, the debt can be passed down the generations and children can be held in debt bondage because of a loan their parents had taken decades ago.” antislavery.org

the equivalent of being able to earn less than minimum payment on credit card – debt amount stays constant or grows

God didn’t give better paying job, even in place with better living conditions – took away their liability for debt, prevented collection agents from having access

designated leaders

graciously gave leaders “with skin on” for them to follow – did not expect them to figure out their future on their own

“Moses, Aaron, and Miriam together, are Lawgiver, to deliver and instruct; Priest, to atone; and prophetess to praise God”

God had made provision for civil, social, spiritual life of his people – unlike other gods, did not leave to stumble around in dark trying to figure out by trial and error how to please

had daily reminders of God’s commitment to care for his people – with all this evidence in God’s favor, what more could children of Israel expect, why would they rebel against him

D. God clarifies v.5

but wait, God has more to say – is further compelling evidence God has taken good care of his people, has acted faithfully and righteously not only toward them directly, also on their behalf

and one more thing: if God could accomplish all this for his people in previous generation, their present dire circumstances not God’s “fault” – not lack of power or interest

sovereign over prophets

Balak, Moabite king deathly afraid of Israelites, what their presence across the river would mean for Moab – engaged prophet-for-hire Balaam to curse Israel

Balaam gave lip service: “as the LORD speaks to me” (Num. 22:8) – heart was in different place, really wanted Balak’s money

long story short: Balaam repeatedly prophesied blessing on Israel, contrary to desire of Balak yet according to God’s plan

interesting parallel: Balaam’s donkey asks same question as God, “what have I done to you?” (Num. 22:28) – people’s treatment of God like Balaam beating his donkey?!

sovereign over princes

not just one attempt by Balak to bring harm to Israelites: tried three different locations, thinking one more auspicious than another – each time YHWH prevailed

Balak so frustrated, finally gave up, sent Balaam home… but God not finished speaking – had more to say

God declared his sovereign rule over all Israel’s neighbors, in process used unbelieving prophet to announce Messiah: ​”I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17)

sovereignly good toward his people

couldn’t have made it much simpler at either departure from Egypt or arrival in Canaan – just walked on, dry feet, no loss of life or property

God intended Micah’s audience to remember all that took place between bookends listed, properly acknowledge God for his righteous treatment, acts of deliverance

God made powerful case for his own righteousness and justice, culpability of his people. Not only had Israelites sinned against God grievously, did so in face of repeated undeserved blessing. And again, remember Gomer – rescued from her life of ill-repute, rescued again and restored to right relationship. In similar way, God had acted repeatedly to encourage his people to renew faithfulness, sending prophets/priests/kings devoted to God and with love for his people.

Keep in mind: God from the beginning has redemption of his people in view, he is actively working all things to that end. Gives hope he will not abandon sinners, let any fall through cracks, allow to wander away and not be restored. Being reminded of God’s faithfulness and goodness should incite us to praise and proclamation – praise him at every opportunity, proclaim truth of his love as shown in the Gospel to all who will listen.

The Ruler of the Kingdom

Micah 5:2-15

Anticipation something Jewish people of old understood – seems like much of their history spent waiting… for God’s promises to be fulfilled. God promised Abraham a land… for his descendants. God promised David a kingdom… for Solomon. God promised deliverance from captivity… after seventy years. God promised Messiah the Prince would come… after seventy weeks worth of years. Micah didn’t know about Daniel’s weeks, did know this Ruler from Bethlehem would not be showing up any time soon. We should be able to relate to Micah – confident Lord Jesus will show up again, no clear idea of when, thinking probably won’t be right away.

Yes, waiting can be hard. But for people of God, never simply a wait with no idea whatever of the next thing. God graciously spoke through prophets in old days, more recently by Son the Lord Jesus – purpose to give his people hope. Think how long, bleak all those years would be without some word from God to give hope. For us, no promise of future bliss leave us thinking “life stinks, then you die”. Loving Heavenly Father didn’t leave his people in that condition, present text one of those provided for both ancient people and us as well.

What prophet tells us about Ruler of coming kingdom unbelievably impressive – every other ruler of every other kingdom in history of mankind pales in comparison. Amazing things would take place under administration of this ruler from otherwise insignificant place called Bethlehem.

A. promise v.2

Micah by inspiration already declared there was kingdom coming, even gave somewhat of time reference – that day, latter days

if a kingdom, must also be a King / Ruler to govern subjects of that kingdom – here are given explicit promise of one-of-a-kind Ruler

Ruler would have significance because of who he was, not where he came from – his hometown of little significance, same likely true for residents

chosen by God to rule on God’s behalf – not someone picked out by people – good thing, their track record not very impressive

also not typical individual – watch time references Micah uses… prophesying 8th century BC, says Ruler will come forth (future) whose origins are from of old, from everlasting

only one kind of individual who meets those conditions – human (will come forth) and God (ancient origin) in same person

this text almost certainly in list of ones Jesus identified to those on road to Emmaus – Luk. 24:27And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

this kind of promise would certainly resonate with faithful followers of God in Micah’s day – a righteous Ruler who brings about what is good and lasting for his people

same true for people of all kinds today – those suffering persecution, others enduring effects of corruption and immorality

B. preparation v.3

some things needed to take place first – God’s people not ready for Messiah / Ruler during Micah’s day, neither rest of world

identified later in this section, all that needed removal in order for people to be pure / holy – exile in Babylon achieved much

God would “give them up”, iow deliver / hand them over to their enemies – periods of hardship one time when what is true, important made clear

thought they wanted to worship idols, had more to gain from false gods than true God – given what they wanted, lived for a time in thoroughly heathen culture, largely isolated from sense of true God’s presence

came to understand futility, extremely high personal costs that accompany living in society permeated with idolatry

same holds for truth – spend time with those who in every part of life are committed to faulty worldview, realize value of truth

imagery Micah uses strongly implies whole process of preparation going to become less fun, more painful right up to final moment

talks in terms of labor and delivery – often hope of newborn baby to cuddle not enough make labor pains tolerable

what God needed to accomplish in his people not going to be very tolerable in the moment even though outcome would make it all worthwhile

God’s plan not only about Jewish people, had Gentiles in view also… and their preparation – Gentiles needed more time to grasp futility of their worldview

had whole range of gods designed to meet all needs, satisfy all desires; had pursued study of philosophy, little more to be added by later generations

were pretty sure by Paul’s day that none of them provided ultimate answers – we know… temple to the Unknown God

C. provision v.4

when time was right for this Ruler to come forth from Bethlehem, would not be tyrant or despot like were accustomed to having

of first priority: acts as shepherd to his people, leading not driving, providing not plundering – governs with majesty and authority of God himself

is in line of shepherds God had sent to lead his people: Moses, 40 years as shepherd in Midian; David, called from tending flock to be anointed next king

makes perfect sense that shepherd/sheep imagery would be strongly present in Jesus’ teaching about himself and his people

is God’s power and strength that enables this one to rule well, provides unlimited resources to meet needs of his subjects

this kind of ruler inspires confidence in his people, gives sense / feeling of security – expect him to do as good shepherd, keep sheep safe and secure from harm

picture painted here more comprehensive than simply nation of Israel – greatness of this Ruler not just local phenomenon

his greatness and authority will be acknowledged and exercised throughout the world – will be some hold-outs, e.g. Assyrians

D. peace v.5

need to read and understand carefully what is promised here: “this One shall be peace”, not “this One shall bring peace”

yes, he will give his people peace, he will bring peace to them, but goes deeper than that: this Ruler will be their peace

he is the one who makes his subjects at peace with God and at peace with one another… because of who he is

he is the one who stands between (daysman) and reconciles because he has paid penalty for sin, thus removes source of conflict, reason for absence of peace

in addition… he will through his emissaries deal with enemies of his people, here identified with Assyria, enemy on the doorstep

under Ruler’s direction, two-pronged approach to deal with hostile peoples – 7 shepherds, 8 princes – both necessary for the health and security of God’s people

shepherds go forth against enemies carrying word of God, the Gospel, sword of Spirit sharper than any two-edged sword

those the Gospel doesn’t conquer restrained by power of sword given to civil magistrate to encourage righteous, discourage/punish evil-doers

E. protection v.6

not intended to be lot of God’s people to go through life in a bubble, nothing viewed as negative getting inside the bubble

conflict ebbed and flowed but was present at some level in every part of Jewish history – is what to expect in fallen world

notice Micah does not say this Ruler will insulate God’s people from Assyrians – says he will deliver from their enemies

several versions: “he will rescue us” – use “rescue” when individual/group is in danger, perhaps already received some harm

enemies will at times cause harm to people of God, maybe even death – so how does that reconcile with Ruler rescuing us

remember how God works – constantly moving his people toward goal of Christ-likeness, uses “good” and “bad” in process

Satan and agents want souls, permitted only to cause harm to bodies – they cause physical death, is really deliverance for believer from this life to next

F. propagation v.7-9

widely scattered – people from Israel and Judah carried into exile: think mostly of Babylonian, large numbers relocated to another nation

earlier exile of Israel much different – Assyrians didn’t keep Jews together in large communities – scattered into many places, many from Judah deported to Egypt

over time Jews did return to land of Israel… but mostly from Babylon – majority of those scattered put down roots, stayed

were not forgotten by God, in fact dispersion an essential element of God’s purpose – God’s people, Jew and Gentile, intended to be light to the nations

especially true of faithful remnant – think ahead, apostle Paul, where he went first in each town: synagogue, fertile ground for Gospel to immediately take root

beneficial influence – good proof text against monastic life: intended to be rubbing shoulders w/all kinds, refreshing like dew

don’t have to live in monastery to act like monk – do business, hangout, be hospitable w/Christians only, avoid unbelievers

all those can be good but remember Jesus ate with sinners – we can do same, safely, when focus on doing God’s business

distinguishing mark – their trust not in horses and chariots, not in man’s solution – trust in their Ruler to shepherd them wherever they are dispersed in world

good proof text against “Rapture’s coming” mindset – wherever God has placed his people, intends them to be productive good citizens and ambassadors for the Gospel

Ruler will make certain that his people prevail against adversaries, overcome enemies – not using military but spiritual means

G. purity v.10-15

this Ruler not interested in trying to build up his kingdom on rotten foundation, putting new facade on deficient materials

methodically strips away everything not consistent with his character and principles / priorities – cut off, destroy, remove

new kind of Kingdom where all that represents confidence in man is removed: military power, material accomplishment, self-government, religious rituals

will be nation of kings and priests, a holy people that Ruler will govern, expecting subjects to trust in him alone for all things

all this take place in very small measure in Jewish history, more fully in Church, anticipates final realization in new earth when kingdom present in its fullness

Meanwhile, are still here, so must have work to do carrying on God’s business until Christ returns. Should do so boldly, confidently knowing advance of Kingdom is certain. Primary task – live as good citizen in Christ’s kingdom, telling all who will listen of our righteous Ruler and hope he offers to all.

 

The Kingdom Is Here, But…

Micah 4:9-5:1

Once through preliminaries, Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry begin with Forerunner, John Baptist, announcing “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. (Matt. 4:17) Jesus continued theme, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15) Instructed his followers to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) Then when Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” (Matt. 27:11) So where is it?

Been conditioned to expect instant gratification; impatient with waiting; avoid discomfort whenever possible; strive to be in control. This whole thing with kingdom that is real but can’t really see it, is already in place but not yet in its fullness, still involves hardship and suffering is tough one for God’s people to embrace… in Micah’s day as well as ours!

As we seek to understand God’s word, promises he made to Israel and to us through Christ, must use caution – Israel’s hope never intended to be in earthly kingdom; that one only a faint image of real inheritance. Must be careful not to encourage wrong hope as government policies have done. People “need” place to live, not necessarily an earthly homeland (Matt. 8:20). Must make clear: hope for anyone, including Jews, found only in Christ. He has inherited all the promises, dispenses them to his people (Gal. 3:15-29).

Spoke last time of time references in Bible – this age / next age; former days / latter days; first advent / second advent. Micah and contemporaries, in former days, looking forward to ushering in of Christ’s kingdom. God would have, in fullness of time, demonstrated that earthly kingdom even made up of His people could not achieve ideal, could not provide everlasting hope. Required a better kingdom with better king, covenant with better promises. Is clear to us now that kingdom promised by God through prophets would be founded on Christ and his work of redemption, would formally begin at his ascension.

And yet… full expression of kingdom is still future, even for us. Must wait for next age to experience it. Meanwhile, have all challenges of this age to endure before kingdom comes in its fullness. Just like Jewish people had to endure humiliation, pain and suffering before Christ’s kingdom came. Micah has declared God’s plan for their eventual restoration; now he warns of rocky road they must pass as they move forward.

A. pain is inevitable v.9-10

light dawns (9)

prophet speaks as though audience finally catching on that really is a problem, but not really sure why or what is all about

uses sarcasm – has leader disappeared, has advisor been removed, what’s the matter, why are you crying in pain

were trying to convince everyone nothing was wrong, had nothing to worry about, all good between them and God, yet…

by mocking them Micah tries to show how trusting in wrong things / people has led them to certain disaster – message they would have thoroughly rejected earlier

another principle at work here: sometimes things have to get pretty painful before sinners wake up to what God is saying

use all sorts of rationalization to avoid God – need to work harder, blame the other guy, redefine terms, outright denial

God will do all necessary to bring about not just minor concessions but precise result he intends – confession, repentance

hope is that once there is change of heart that change of circumstances will follow – I’m being good now, don’t need to be grounded

sometimes is how God works, Nineveh for example; but… they responded to first warning; Israel been deaf to many warnings repeated over long time

have reached point where no escaping consequences for sinful behavior; God may mercifully reduce punishment, rarely removes it entirely

exile is coming (10a-b)

God expects confession/repentance whenever appropriate and without regard for outcome – is the right thing to do no matter what follows

Micah makes plain – should repent from sinful rebellion against God and be thankful God is merciful when he punishes

will experience real hardship – will be homeless, deprived of creature comforts had come to enjoy… and depend on… rather than God

God will “withdraw” some of his protection, permitting their enemies to prevail and cause real damage – to property, perhaps life as well

will not be able to count on God’s shelter and provision in same way as before – would be means God uses to chastise / correct

lessons learned the best come at cost – lost things, prestige, freedoms – all good gifts from God but not seen that way by Jewish people

one of greatest lies they had bought into: we’re God’s people, he won’t let bad things happen to us – can substitute “I’m a Christian,…”

so is deliverance (10c)

important lesson for Israel, for God’s people in general, for parents – when God disciplines, he never takes away hope

God gives assurances – discipline is necessary, will be of limited duration, has a particular purpose, results in blessing

Jewish people need not be hopeless – made plain even though exile in Babylon was necessary and certain, God would not abandon them to their enemies

doesn’t give timetable here, that’s elsewhere, e.g. Jer. 29:10 – would not be perpetual, would be delivered from enemies as surely as were delivered to them

B. God is sovereign v.11-13

foreign nations God’s instrument (11)

Babylon to be ultimate destination but by no means their only enemy – Assyria on doorstep, Egypt would get its licks in too

God made clear to Jews going in – treatment by enemies not outside God’s will for their lives, will be God’s ordained purpose for them

and don’t forget, God had something in mind for their enemies too:

these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD”Jer. 25:11-12

gives hope for kind of life to expect after exile ends – enemies not given opportunity for payback, God will keep them in their place and protect his people

oblivious to God’s purpose (12)

nations will have no understanding of their place in God’s plan – to be used as his instruments to bring about his purpose

might think that unjust of God – not so when God is indulging their sinful desires, letting them have their own way… for a time

Israel needed to grasp God’s part in all of it, that he was using willing instruments to discipline his people… for their good

as part of their deliverance God would gather their enemies together – would then use his people as instrument of punishment

because of imagery used is easy to think in military terms – conflict may be of that kind, much more likely spiritual warfare in view

Israel restored (13)

not an invitation, suggestion, rather a command as given to Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter – Israel brought back as from the dead

promise given indicates Daughter of Zion will have place of honor and prominence not experienced before

is also clear that restoration/blessing is not to be for purpose of personal gain – any gain to be devoted to God’s use and glory

purpose of restoration to provide conditions necessary for birth and ministry of Messiah as Micah about to reveal (next chapter)

that means this conquering and subduing of enemies has the Church rather than national Israel in view – will be as Gospel advances that governments topple, Christ’s enemies are overcome

all of this will take place according to God’s sovereign purpose and rule – God is one directing world affairs toward conclusion he has ordained, no one or no thing can alter it

C. already, but not yet v.1

promised but still future

ok, back to the present – that’s what will happen, what happening now much different, Israel under siege and won’t change

real promises of real things that would/will happen at God’s appointed time but time is not yet – would be more suffering, humiliation before Israel finally carted off to Babylon

Assyria the world power in Micah’s day, Babylon not an empire yet – things needed to happen for other nations before God would bring Babylon against Israel

once again, Israel would have to live by faith in promises of God – knowing what they were, maybe not personally experiencing

same for us

we live in similar already-not yet scenario as Israel – have been redeemed from our enemies, restored to honor but not fully – must wait for next age

as Gospel and Christ’s Church advances around world, is conquering / subduing enemies in its path but not fully – must wait for Last Day, Great Day

to be participant in all that is promised requires union with Christ – in him alone will God’s people regardless of country of origin receive promised inheritance

important for us all to remember: One who was hope and consolation of Israel is hope and consolation for all mankind

God didn’t deliver Israel so they could experience his favor all by themselves – he intended they should be witness to the nations… and so should we

must do our part to warn of evils of sin and its accompanying judgment along with hope of eternal life thru repentance and faith

what gives courage and confidence: God is sovereign, has a plan and purpose for his people, committed to using us as his instruments to enlarge his kingdom, our future absolutely secure in him

 

The Kingdom Is Coming

Micah 4:1-8

No surprise we live in fallen world surrounded by things and people afflicted by the Fall. Continually being reminded things not entirely right, things don’t work as expected, results not what we desire. Occasionally something really tries our patience… to the limit – absolutely refuses to cooperate no matter what we do, how hard we try. Eventually reach point where we give up, throw in trash, wash hands and move on, never looking back.

God about at that point with children of Israel. Chapter 3 ends with city of Jerusalem being “plowed like a field”. Would expect to hear next about God turning attention to new people, different part of world, Jews consigned to dustbin of history never to be heard from again. Not way story continues. In fact, exactly opposite. Could not be any more obvious – God has not given up on his people, has not abandoned his plan for them. Instead, everything Micah threatened all part of perfect divine plan to teach mankind powerful lesson.

Israel had 500 years to make government and culture according to man work. Rather than succeeding, they failed miserably – more time passed, worse things got until God finally said “enough”. Not a surprise, he knew would turn out that way but Jewish people thought otherwise. And people still do, confident they can construct a social and civil order that will endure.

That is part 1. Part 2 is what comes next, our text this evening and thru end of chapter 5. God’s purpose not to destroy his people and leave them in ruin. Intends to redeem from ruin, restore to place of favor and blessing. Micah continues his message with instruction about the future, what they and we can expect as God continues working his plan. Going to be some trying times, extremely difficult for many. Yet the faithful have glorious future to anticipate, one found in fellowship in Christ’s church… beginning in this life, experienced in fullness in next life. Micah’s message designed to offer great and genuine hope – no matter what world situation may look like, God wins… and we don’t need to wait for then end to see real evidence of it.

A. instruction v.1-2

when – in the latter days

two ages: this age, the age to come; in this age, two eras: former days, latter (or last) days – in both cases, Jesus is the pivot

first coming divides this age – time before and time after; second coming ends this age, ushers in age to come

also need to bear in mind – when prophets viewed future, did not always see / specify time lapse between events

and… not always clear in prophetic literature things that are process rather than event, reach fullness over time

what Micah describes takes place over time during period between Jesus’ comings, could be referred to as NT church age

what – the Lord’s house established

pictured as mountain range with one peak standing markedly higher than all the rest – that one is the focus of attention

is God himself who will establish his house and its supremacy over all other “houses” – this kingdom that is coming not another version of previous failures

can think of house in several ways: often refers to dynasty, royal family line; also, place where family lives and interacts; when is God who lives there, is place of worship

is a house with one King, Lord Jesus, accompanied by nation of kings and priests… those one with Christ through faith

place of God’s dwelling where he welcomes those adopted into family, fellowships with them, nourishes / guides / teaches

where God’s people gather to worship God as he expects… and people desire: true children love / want to worship Father

result – peoples flow to it

appears as mighty magnet, drawing people in large numbers from all directions – is what God has had in view all along

Lord Jesus not only pivot of history, defining major points of timeline – he is to be object of worship by people of all kinds

thoughtful reading of OT leads to inescapable conclusion – God has always had big family in mind, committed to making happen

reason nations stream to “mountain of the Lord’s house” – God draws them to himself using his appointed means

reason – the law/Word goes forth

Zion, house of God of Jacob, from place of prominence is to radiate God’s truth – is primary / foundational means God uses

Christ’s church will / must proclaim truth inside and outside the building so people will hear / respond in faith as God enables

what Paul means in Romans 10:9-15read

is God’s Law, God’s Word that God uses, accompanied by Holy Spirit to bring men, women, boys, girls to repentance and faith

B. peace v.3-5

rebuke – judge/rebuke worldwide

will be a real kingdom with king, subjects, territory, system of government – one that supersedes geopolitical boundaries

wherever God’s truth goes it declares there is a standard of right and wrong that applies to all people in all circumstances in all places for all time

not what postmoderns in or out of the church want to hear – there is absolute truth, trumps every other kind

serves as searchlight, shining light of truth on men and their deeds – wherever it penetrates, God’s truth rebukes sinfulness

those determined to persist in rebellion faced with two options (until judgment day) – put the light out or hide from it

how that works – John 1:4-5In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

repurpose – swords into plowshares

wherever God’s truth goes in power, it does bring peace – in fact, is only provider of genuine peace: converts sinners to saints, enemies to friends

totally misguided (and hopeless) idea to leave indigenous people alone, try to protect their way of life from change

is effect of Gospel truth on people and cultures that transforms from self-destructive barbarians into civilized peoples

“The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”, Lorraine Boettner, Chapter 28: Calvinism in History

rest – under vine and fig tree

is as people stream to house of God of Jacob that they find true rest – not cessation of labor, rather satisfaction of enjoying fruits of labor… in peace

typical aspect of slavery: work, work, work… for benefit of someone else – Egyptians, employer, government Satan and agents

freedom found in Christ also brings rest found in Christ – rest that ultimately includes physical, goes way deeper: your soul

when trust and confidence is centered on Christ, regularly spending time in God’s house with God’s people, being instructed, realize there is nothing we need fear

if are inside circle of God’s providential care, nothing comes into that circle except what God permits – and is always and only what He intends for our good

redemption – from individual gods to true God

no claim to genius here, all are in same boat to start with, following respective gods; even Christians can fall back into that… temporarily

need periodic reminders, course correction, change of focus – remember who has redeemed you from ruin in slavery

is also distinguishing characteristic of people of God – not all gods are same, just with different names; YHWH is different

C. restoration v.6-8

regathered – from the nations

is God who does all the work – assembles the lame, gathers the outcast, makes something of them when they have no way to make anything of themselves

“God helps those who help themselves” may be effective motivational sound bite but is totally wrong theology – “God helps those who cannot help themselves” more like it

not wise/rich/famous/beautiful people God rescues – is those who never get second glance that he pays attention to

notice also… God does not rule nation of rejects – he makes them into strong nation, making people into something different from what they were before

gathers people of all kinds and colors and cultures into one house, one nation – distinctives we like to maintain have no place in Christ’s church

especially when evangelism is focus, must be sure not to overlook people that are off everyone else’s radar, ones that other people purposely avoid

ruled – by God… in Mount Zion

clear who makes up this dynasty, God himself, in person of Lord Jesus – King of kings, Lord of lords who rules over his people

is in Mount Zion, in they Church that Christ rules – remember, he said “my kingdom is not of this world” Luk. 22:30

is kingdom in hearts of his subjects, active wherever temple of living God is found… in his Church throughout his world

don’t get to vote for this ruler, his portrait not on our money, doesn’t hold press conferences, yet is real sovereign ruler

return – to honor

lost in judgment before exile

Israel close to finally losing all pretense of self-rule – during Micah’s lifetime, Sennacherib would prevail over northern kingdom after siege of Samaria

Judah would hold out for another hundred years, then Babylon would begin to make her moves, succeeding in 586 BC

entire nation under control of foreign heathen nations – people scattered, carried off into exile, territory ruled by others

thoroughly humiliated by God for her rebellion, honor stripped away, any real claim to prestige lost or destroyed

would eventually be restored… in the church, as people of God become a holy nation and kingdom of priests

lost in judgment following sin (Eden)

big picture, honor still not fully restored in Church… in this age – must wait for next age to be restored to original

actually in God’s gracious plan will be better than original, greater honor even than Adam had prior to sin

will be forever confirmed in righteousness, neither desiring nor able to sin, enjoying rest in its fullness in land never touched by curse of sin

And the Priests, Too

Micah 3:9-12

Are times in life of a nation / people God has seen fit to send a prophet, someone with narrow focus and specific ministry. Often is of relatively short duration, sometimes only few months or years, other times much longer. Primary task of prophet to get attention of people, call them out on their sin, exhort them to repent before God brings certain judgment. Some have said if God doesn’t do something soon about our nation, he’ll need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Understand what they mean even though God owes no one an apology for anything. God was merciful to them, has been merciful to us.

Yet… does seem like any time now would be good one for God to raise up a prophet… or several, who will call politicians, pastors and people to attention. Are some who try to fill that role, calling down judgment on different segments of society. Was not Micah’s method, to call down judgment. Instead, he warned sinners of their peril, doing his part to persuade them to do all necessary to avoid God’s heavy hand of discipline. Micah’s message not exclusively doom and gloom; in fact, God revealed through Micah one of key prophecies concerning Messiah… place of his birth. That revelation in context of other descriptions of God’s redemptive purpose for his people.

When confronted with increasing evil in world, neighborhood, even family, is real easy to plead with God – hurry up and send Jesus back to deal with all this, set things to right once for all, punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Better prayer – work powerfully by your Spirit to convert rebellious enemies into friends and willing servants; apply Christ’s work of redemption broadly and effectually in all parts of world, not just our part.

Once again Micah calls audience to attention; “Now hear this”, almost a courtroom drama as defendants are identified, their evil behavior exposed, in process true character revealed, sentence is declared.

A. the defendants v.9a (cf.11a)

leaders across the spectrum

some role reversal going on here – those accustomed to giving orders / acting with impunity are called to attention… and expected to heed what prophet says

leaders of the family of Jacob, rulers of the nation of Israel – spans all positions of leadership: great to small, top to bottom, public especially yet including private (e.g. in the home)

covers both geography – Jacob and Israel

this at time when divided kingdom well established – Israel (10 tribes) in the north, Judah in south – God still views/treats as one people in spite of political division

keep that in mind, too, God has only had one people, those he has called out of the one race we call human – holds true for present and future

and role – politicians, prophets, now includes priests

identified specifically v.11 – heads / leaders who judge, priests and prophets – primary focus on those in public office

these the individuals who set tone for all of daily life… and worship – their attitudes / actions have great impact for many

principles apply very broadly

have specific target, yes, but don’t forget: those in leadership to be exemplary – those they lead should be able to copy safely

really are basic principles of right and wrong with respect to relationship with God and with others – both tables of the Law

B. their behavior v.9b-10

charged with upholding justice

first responsibility of civil government – to act justly and encourage / require others to do same; when others do not, is gov’ts job to intervene

hard, even impossible to effectively do what they hate with a passion – exactly the way it turns out, those who hate justice neither practice nor encourage it

expected to do right, encourage right

Rom 13:3-4 “…rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. …Do what is good, and you will have praise… he is God’s minister to you for good”

they “pervert all that is right” – iow, their sense of right is upside down – perverted actions flow naturally from perverted nature, one blinded / deceived by sin

in fact, Israel’s leaders so corrupt they try to make what is right to be wrong, what is wrong to be right – calling God’s truth hate speech, infanticide woman’s right to choose

achieve their ends through violence and perverse means

prophet may be using hyperbole, more likely not – unjust perverse behaviors / practices could easily cause hardship leading to loss of life

would not be first or last to protect their domain, advance their cause by murder – Solomon vs. Adonijah and Joab (1 Kin. 2)

same true for laws, policies, other practices advertised under guise of good while designed to promote agenda beneficial to select few, harmful to many others

Note: Zeal for a good or right cause can never legitimize sinful or wrong means – even if what they were pursuing somehow good/right, achieving it by methods displeasing to God never acceptable

God may and often does use sinful behavior to bring about what is ultimately good, however… does not magically make that behavior morally acceptable

C. their character v.11

character does matter because governs behavior – is why child training should involve shaping character, not just behavior; why essential to consider character when voting / appointing / hiring

character of these rulers / leaders obvious by conduct, how they performed God-assigned duties

judges who have a price

should be impartial regardless of money – remember Lady Justice: depicted wearing blindfold… for good reason

justice not to be blind, rather not taking one side over the other because of potential for some sort of benefit, whether personal or not

justice centers on maintaining standard of right and wrong with rewards and consequences as established by character and decrees of God

Israel’s judges / politicians deciding or legislating in favor of one who made most worth their while – catering to particular interests or interest groups

they contributed a lot to reelection, better listen to them; you support me on this one, I’ll support you on that one

priests and prophets driven by love of money

implication is “you pay I’ll teach”, no money no teaching; yes, God’s servants deserve to be supported… however, should give freely regardless of who gives what

implication also that priests were assuring those who paid that what they were doing was ok, iow affirming their sinful behavior… leading and encouraging people further into ruin

and all because of their avarice, their desire for money – focus on gain, not good of those in their care

should be motivated by love for people… since that is what “motivates” God to be gracious to his people…and they are his agents

claim to be “doing it for the Lord”, serving God, speaking for God – at same time living and encouraging others to live contrary to God’s character and standard

were quick and loud in assurance that since they were God’s people, nothing to be concerned about, God would protect them

Micah’s tone indicates he had cause to believe Israel’s leaders were not ignorant of truth, rather had chosen to reject it – treading rosy path to perdition with eyes wide open

can you spell “hypocrite”

hypocrisy evident two ways – what they knew vs how they acted, standard applied to themselves vs that applied to others

guilty before God on both counts, especially serious because of influence they had over others, effects actions had on others

D. their sentence v.12

will see all they labored to build up demolished

had built up Jerusalem – many ways you think of as evidence of prosperity – all serving as source of wealth and “honor”

would be plowed – flattened and turned under – without value, hidden from view, no longer source of pride and accomplishment

in fact, “heaps of ruins” are liability rather than asset – must be cleaned up / leveled out to be useful, place for something new

will see all they labored to acquire forfeited to enemy

anything of value plundered and carted off to foreign land, belonging to Israel’s enemies and perhaps not recoverable

2 Kin. 25:13-17 broke/cut up all valuable metals too heavy to carry, carried pieces and all the rest from Temple off to Babylon – same would hold true for valuables anywhere else in city

was practice of conquering armies – take what you can of value, destroy the rest; applied to large cities, places of lesser significance

judgment will affect everyone profoundly

both leaders and those they were responsible for – not just “big guys” who would lose out, everyone would in some way

poorest actually made out best – had little/nothing of value, mostly left alone and left behind – everyone else paid high price

those with most possessions and power lost most – demoted from ruler to servant, stripped of honor/prestige/possessions

no opportunity to shift blame – “because of you”

really because of their willful sin – God didn’t have anything personal against leaders, was their persistent rebellion especially that harmed others that prompted his anger and judgment

When considering events of world history, is OK to look for human explanation. e.g., why did Japan enter WWII? What provoked the War Between the States? Why was Assyria, then Babylonia moving against God’s people? Human reasons were present for sure, but they were secondary. They were the instrumental causes God used to bring about his purpose for his people in his world. And God’s purpose is primary. In this case, his purpose to deal with sin, then restore a remnant. iow, show his power and glory by Redeeming his people From Ruin.

Also need to remember – as slow as God is to bring judgment, he is quick to show mercy… and he does so whenever possible. God’s big picture goal is redemption – he never deviates from that purpose, will do all necessary to redeem every last individual he has chosen, converting enemies to friends, servants, even children. Certainly cause for rejoicing and praise.