Wednesday, February 22, 2012


This morning we will look at the book of Micah.

The Book of Micah is the sixth of the 12 minor prophets. It records the sayings of the prophet named Micah, whose name means "Who is like Yahweh?"

The book has three major divisions, chapters 1-2, 3-5 and 6-7, each introduced by the word "Hear," with a pattern of alternating announcements of doom and expressions of hope within each division.

Micah reproaches unjust leaders, defends the rights of the poor against the rich and powerful, and preaches social justice; while looking forward to a world at peace centered on Zion under the leadership of a new Davidic monarch.

Micah 1

1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

This sounds very much like the first verse of Isaiah.

1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah and Micah ministered at the same time.

2 Hear, you peoples, all of you,
listen, earth and all who live in it,
that the Sovereign LORD may bear witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.

HEAR – that is a clue in Micah that we are jumping into the first of the three sections. This section covers chapters 1, 2 and 3. It is an indictment on the people of Judah, especially the rich and the powerful.

3 Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place;
he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth.
4 The mountains melt beneath him
and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire,
like water rushing down a slope.
5 All this is because of Jacob’s transgression,
because of the sins of the people of Israel.
What is Jacob’s transgression?
Is it not Samaria?
What is Judah’s high place?
Is it not Jerusalem?

Micah talks about the overwhelming judgment that is to come, and what he describes is a judgment against people who think that they are special.

Is this not Jerusalem???

We think this way about our own country. Or we think that way about our race. Or we think about that about our family.

We are special. We might sometimes fall to the wayside, but God will have mercy on us and we won’t be punished too badly. We’ll be forgiven.

But these two cities will be brought down in severe judgment.

6 “I will make Samaria a heap of rubble,
a place for planting vineyards.

And in verse 9

9 For Samaria’s plague is incurable;
it has spread to Judah.

That simple declarative statement, “for her wond is incurable,” must have been a shock to those who heard it. These people had been brought up with the belief, the fond belief that however much God might punish Israel for her sins, he would never actually allow her destruction, much less bring it about himself.

And here is God announcing the full and complete destruction on these two capital cities.

So, what are the problems in these people?

Micah 2

1 Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.

Some evil we stumble into. Temptation comes, and you yield to it. That’s bad enough, but this is evil that is planned. This is premeditated, carefully thought out and well planned evil.

This is wonderful imagery about “Those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because they have the power to do it.”

2 They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.

In Micah’s day, wealth consisted largely of real estate, and the people had a mania about accumulating houses and land. The people often gained property by manipulation and deceit, not through financial negotiation.

3 Therefore, the LORD says:

“I am planning disaster against this people,
from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly,
for it will be a time of calamity.
4 In that day people will ridicule you;
they will taunt you with this mournful song:
‘We are utterly ruined;
my people’s possession is divided up.
He takes it from me!
He assigns our fields to traitors.’”

5 Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the LORD
to divide the land by lot.

This is irony. The people are guilty of taking the land of others by force and deceit. But what is about to happen is that the Assyrians are going to come in and take everyone’s land. And the wealthy who have taken other people’s land, the Assyrians now take their land, and

4 In that day people will ridicule you;
they will taunt you with this mournful song:
‘We are utterly ruined;
my people’s possession is divided up.
He takes it from me!
He assigns our fields to traitors.’”

But what is that cycle we see so often – sin, repentance and deliverance. Judgment and hope.

And that brings us to 2:12-13

12 “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
like a flock in its pasture;
the place will throng with people.
13 The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
the LORD at their head.”

Now we come to Micah 3:1

Micah 3

1 Then I said,

“Hear, you leaders of Jacob,

What does this mean to us? When we see the word “Hear,” or “Listen” addressed to the people, in Micah it means we are starting a new oracle or sermon.

The first thing Micah says in this second sermon is to reach out and try to reason with the people.

1 Then I said,

“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,

But Micah gives up quickly…

2 you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
3 who eat my people’s flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?”

4 Then they will cry out to the LORD,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.

In this chapter, the first sin of the people is false religion, or false prophets.

5 This is what the LORD says:

“As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
who refuses to feed them.

The people did not trust the true faith of Micah, but they trusted simply the prophets they paid to tell them what they wanted to hear.

The other sin that Micah attacks is the belief that money talks

11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the LORD’s support and say,
“Is not the LORD among us?
No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

Where is the hope of this? We have the cycle of doom and hope – and the hope starts in Micah 4:1

Micah 4

The Mountain of the LORD

1 In the last days

the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

This is reminiscent of Isaiah

Isaiah 2:4
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

And remember – these words are flexible

Joel 3:10
Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.

Let’s skip to Micah chapter 5, and find a familiar passage:

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Who is this in reference to?
Jesus Christ. Born in Bethlehem. A small, tiny little place near Jerusalem.

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

Now, the next verse makes you wonder – are we talking about jesus?

5 And he will be our peace
when the Assyrians invade our land
and march through our fortresses.

It is not unusual for the Bible to speak of two futures – the distant, distant future way over the horizon – meaning Jesus – and the more immediate needs, “he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land.

Our hope, sometimes, is in the ultimate future, that sometimes is far beyond our immediate needs and concerns.

In the last chapter of Micah, we see a wonderful example of doom and hope.

1 What misery is mine!
I am like one who gathers summer fruit
at the gleaning of the vineyard;
there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
none of the early figs that I crave.
2 The faithful have been swept from the land;
not one upright person remains.
Everyone lies in wait to shed blood;
they hunt each other with nets.
3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—
they all conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day God visits you has come,
the day your watchmen sound the alarm.
Now is the time of your confusion.
5 Do not trust a neighbor;
put no confidence in a friend.
Even with the woman who lies in your embrace
guard the words of your lips.
6 For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

This is doom and gloom at its worst.

But then comes hope at its best.

7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.

18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.

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