Entry Ninety-One: Prophecies of Micah

Submitted by johnlo on Wed, 2008-06-25 23:53

 

 

ENTRY NINETY-ONE – JUNE 26, 2008

 

91-THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - PART XI (aka "The Prophecies of Micah") -  Micah 

 

  • This entry, which covers three days of reading, provides more minor prophet warnings about EMPTY RELIGION and IDOLATRY, and one of my favourite verses on the simple truth about WHAT GOD WANTS FROM HIS PEOPLE!

 

  • Dr. Smith begins his narration of Micah by saying that, just as Amos had prophesied to the people of the north (Israel), so the prophet Micah gave a similar message to the people of Judah, namely, “that God doesn’t appreciate empty worship from those whose lives are morally and ethically bankrupt.” Isaiah preached much the same message at about the same time, but Micah’s warnings contain more specific predictions in his relatively short book.
  • The book of Micah is divided up into three discourses, the first of which begins with a pronouncement of judgment against Israel. A picture is painted of God as one who comes in power – the mountains split apart at the sight of this God, the way that wax melts in a fire. What a visual!! God promised to destroy Israel because of her idolatry, and then goes on to promise the same for Judah, who has followed in Israel’s footsteps.
  • Many of the prophets described the people of Israel/Judah as having wounds. Micah said that Judah’s wound was incurable, and that they were going down!
  • Like Isaiah, he mentioned specific sins. He begins with the sin of covetousness. Of course, God had condemned this sin in the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, God’s people were planning and scheming about defrauding others to get their things. This kind of thing happens when we segment our Christian life from our “professional” or business life.  People have been known to say, “Well, that is the church, but business is business.”
  • God would disagree, and it is just this kind of hypocrisy that got Judah ruined. If you can’t do your work the way Jesus would do it, then get another job! Remember Jesus’ words in the book of Mark, “For what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
  • It is just not worth it!!

 

  • The next sin Micah rebuked the people for was greed. (Notice the warnings against the same sins come up in all the different prophets. Just goes to show that human nature hasn’t changed much over the years… we all still struggle with the same things and are tempted by the same things. Satan may have become more crafty and subtle, but he is also bold and flagrant in our godless day and age. We MUST take these warnings seriously. As the old saying goes, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”) The people had fallen into Satan’s trap of loving the world the way John describes it in 1 John 2:15-17; i.e., pride in one’s possessions is loving the world. When we trust in our possessions or get so-called “self-esteem” from what we have, we are setting ourselves up for a big fall, because God loves us too much to let us stay in that state, and he will see us ruined and bankrupt before he lets us go to hell from the sin of greed.

 

  • Micah ended his first discourse with a challenge about the way they desired false prophets. He was not only angry at the prophets; he was indignant that the people liked it that way. He used dark humour to make his point: “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for these people.” As I have said in previous entries, let us never become the kind of church that only likes preachers who say things that make us feel comfortable and good about our Christianity, but let us always desire the truth, even if it makes us squirm occasionally. Without that, we are in danger of becoming like the proverbial frog in the pot – when thrown into boiling water, the frog will automatically jump out. However, when put into water at room temperature and set on the fire, the temperature will increase gradually and the frog will not notice it and eventually you can have hard-boiled frog for dinner! (Yuk!!)

 

  • The second discourse starts with a rebuke to the leaders. This is fairly similar to what Isaiah said to the leaders, and for those of us who lead, we will do well to take all of these warnings and rebukes to heart! We must always lead for the benefit of the people, the glory of God, and in the name of Jesus, a true servant. Micah chastised the false prophets for giving whatever message people wanted to hear, as long as they got fed! He prophesied for them that their future looked very dim! The prophet then challenged the rulers of the country of Judah and Israel for distorting what was right and despising justice. Despite the fact that some of the rulers were good, most were not, and they were contributing in a big way to the downfall of the people. Micah told them that they were in “La-la Land” concerning where they stood with God and that they would be humbled soon enough.

 

  • Micah changed course and began to encourage them, with promises of the Messiah and how he would be a true righteous leader for the people. Similar to Isaiah 2, this also contains the swords into plowshares metaphor, and talks of the peace and unity that will eventually come to God’s house. The good news is that there would be a remnant – all was not lost. Yes, they would be destroyed and taken into exile in Babylon, but would eventually be able to rebuild. Chapter five contains a beautiful description of the Messiah to come, saying that the true ruler of Israel will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord. Praise God for Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd!

 

  • The prophet warned that, even though God used Assyria to discipline Israel, he would eventually bring judgment against them for their sin. As we know from history, the Assyrians were defeated by the Babylonians less than two centuries later.

 

  • Micah closed out the second discourse promising that paganism would finally be destroyed among his people. Amen!! He delivered a stiff message from God, repeating the words, “I will destroy” over and over to let them know that he would no longer tolerate even an ounce of idolatry!! God hated idolatry then and he hates it now, because he knows that, when we put anything about him, we are not seeing him as he truly is, and he will always make sure that we know he is God!

 

  • The third discourse begins with God’s charge against Judah. As he did with Job, God put the people “on trial” and demanded that they answer his charges. “What have I done to you? What is your excuse for why you have repeatedly not kept your covenant with me?” God wanted to know their defense! No one can stand before God with a good answer to these questions. What would happen if God put us on trial? Maybe that is what will happen on judgment day??!! Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep starred in the movie, “Defending Your Life”, about this very thing. Highly recommended for a bible talk movie night to generate “Meaning of Life” and “Judgment Day” questions/discussions.

 

  • Now the next paragraph contains one of my top 100 favourite scriptures in the whole bible! The prophet asked rhetorical questions using hyperbole to make his point. “Ok, if God is unhappy with us and the whole of Judah were to repent and wanted to come before the Lord, what would God really want? Does he want us to bring a specific number of sacrifices, or a certain kind? A thousand rams? A thousand rivers of oil? Will God be satisfied if I give up my firstborn child in exchange for my sin?” Then he answered his own questions with the simple yet profound, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • I have found that when I get unspiritual (which leads to unhappiness), it is because I am not doing one or more of these three basics! Sometimes it is because I have been selfish with a family member or in my leadership or given into some indulgence, perhaps I have had bitterness toward my husband over something or felt superior to someone, or maybe I have been self-reliant and acted like I know everything! Whatever the case may be, any of these kinds of sins can lead me into a spiritual downward spiral. Then there is guilt, lashing at others or indulging in overeating to squash my own guilt, more cover-up, yada yada yada, you get the picture, and it ain’t pretty! If I would only remember, act justly, love mercy and walk humbly! Words to survive by!

 

  • For the remainder of chapter six, God told the people of Judah that if He didn’t discipline them for their sins, it would be as if he were acquitting a business man who had been using uneven scales of fraud! He told them that they would have to suffer, and be given over to ruin!

 

  • In the closing chapter of Micah, the prophet told the people of the misery he felt when looking at their sin and its consequences. Micah finished off his lamentation with the verses quoted later by Jesus in Matthew 10“a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.” 

 

  • He then promised the renewal of Israel in the future and told them that someday the enemies who had gloated over them would eat their words when Israel’s glory was restored. Micah ended his book with prayer and praise.  “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You don’t stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” What a wonderful view of God. Thank you, Father, for the bible, which shows us your love, your mercy, your perfection, your holiness, your expectation, and your salvation!

 

karenlouis@seachurches.org