Tag: Micah

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.