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Micah was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom (Judah) during the last one-third of the eighth century. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and primarily addressed his message to the prophets, priests, and rulers of the land.
A Message of Judgment
Micah had the difficult task of pronouncing God’s judgment on a nation that refused to hear and repent.
Like a prosecuting attorney in the courtroom, God spoke through the prophet.
Hear, you peoples, all of you;
listen, O earth, and all that is in it;
and let the Lord God be a witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. (Micah 1.2-3)
The “high places” were primarily places of worship and importance in the country. Like someone treading grapes in a vineyard, God threatened to smash his rebellious people.
Maroth was one of 10 cities that symbolized a complete destruction of the nation.
For the inhabitants of Maroth
wait anxiously for good,
yet disaster has come down from the Lord
to the gate of Jerusalem. (Micah 1.12)
Reason for Judgment
The only way to hurt God is to harm his creation. The leaders of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), were complicit in committing injustice against the people they should have served.
Listen, you heads of Jacob
and rulers of the house of Israel!
Should you not know justice? –
you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin off my people . . . (Micah 2.1-2)
There were two kinds of prophets in Jerusalem. Some were paid and expected to give good messages to their benefactors. Their behavior was one more example of what made God displeased with what was happening in the Southern Kingdom.
Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against those
who put nothing into their mouths. (Micah 2.5)
The prophets had a transactional relationship with the people who paid them. They didn’t speak for God, but rather spoke what their benefactors wanted to hear.
All three levels of leadership were involved in the corruption of Jerusalem – the rulers, priests and prophets.
Its rulers give judgment for a bribe,
its priests teach for a price,
its prophets give oracles for money;
yet they lean upon the Lord and say,
“Surely the Lord is with us!
No harm shall come upon us.” (Micah 2.11)
Notice how money corrupted the influence of leaders. Rulers could be bribed. Priests taught for money and prophets “spoke” for God if the price was right.
When leaders in government and religion are corrupt, you can expect their followers to emulate their example.
All of the God-sent prophets faced a stone wall of resistance when they called the religious and governmental leaders to repentance. They then turned their message to everyday people in the hope that they would return to a faithful relationship with God.
Micah had a message of hope that certainly would be welcomed by the average person in the Southern Kingdom. If it sounds familiar, it is because it prophesied the birth of the Messiah, Jesus.
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days. (Micah 5.2)
Instead of the arrogant and oppressive rulers whose corrupting influence was experienced by the nation, God had another ruler from one of the smallest towns in the nation, Bethlehem.
Good news! This ruler would care for God’s people, rather than oppress them. He would glorify the name (the character) of God. All people would experience God’s peace.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace. (Micah 5.4-5)
Application of Micah in 2021 America
What can we learn and apply to our lives from Micah’s message?
(1) God loves people and is hurt and even angry when the powerful harm the vulnerable.
God’s judgment is a righteous response to human injustice.
If we desire to align our lives with the will of God, we will not turn a blind eye to injustice, but find ways to lift people out of oppression and pain.
I praise God for the people I know who are performing great service to help the homeless and addicts. They are putting feet to the love of God.
(2) Powerful leaders for the most part will resist the message of the prophets.
The prophets take to task powerful people in authority and challenge their vested interests. History has shown that it is very difficult to get people who are intoxicated by power and privilege to change their attitudes and actions.
The average person who has little to no say in the momentous events of life are also the target audience of the prophets. If enough people in a nation respond to the message of the prophet and change their behavior, judgment may be averted.
(3) God is merciful and his kingdom is real.
Seven hundred years after Micah delivered his prophecy, the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. As a grown man he proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4.17).
The good king that Micah pictured was embodied in a man. Yet, he was so much more than Micah could have ever predicted. To see him and to know him was to know God himself.
The powerful insiders in Jerusalem rejected Jesus, but with a message similar to the prophets Jesus could say, “The poor have good news brought to them” (Matthew 11.5).
God’s last word isn’t judgment, but it hope and salvation. When we hear the message of God’s love through Jesus and receive it in faith, something happens in us. It allows us to be transformed into friends of God.
My blog articles are currently alternating between the Letters of Paul and the Old Testament prophets. Both Paul and the prophets remind us that a relationship with God will change our lives.
If friendship with God does not change us, we need to examine our relationship.
The leaders of the Southern Kingdom in Micah’s day were deceived into believing that they could live opposed to God’s direction and still experience his peace.
The Corinthian church needed two letters from Paul to correct their self-centered behavior.
Let’s learn from their experiences and live as faithful friends of God.
About This Blog
Tomorrow’s article will return to 1 Corinthians and consider the theme of the seventh chapter: How does living in self-giving love affect our relationships with others?
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.
God must be our focus. Moment by moment. Difficult to achieve but impossible to ignore.
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