Posts Tagged 'Micah'

VIdeo Sermon: 10 January

Good morning, everybody. What a week it’s been. 2021 was barely weaned before it was worse than 2020!  We’re living in strange, though hardly unparalleled, times in America. I have a feeling things will get worse before they get better.  For the Christian, it’s crucial that we don’t get sucked into the cultural rot surrounding us. Our response to a collapsing society will be a testimony to the faith we possess. The prophet Micah has some very timely advice for the Church in 21st century America. Click HERE to watch this timely message.

Video Sermon: 18 October

Good morning my friends. Thanks for dropping by today. On today’s VIDEO SERMON we’re looking at God’s amazing forgiveness, so open up those Bibles to the book of Micah.

If you have mind to give, click HERE to access our church’s secure giving page.

The Minor Prophets, Part 5

He has shown all you people 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. (Micah 6:8 | TNIV)

Micah prophesied to very religious people; the kind of people who never missed a service! In his day, throngs of people streamed into the Temple to be a part of the worship services. Whatever the divinely appointed occasion, the people were there.

While Micah’s people were very religious, they weren’t at all godly. You can be religious but not godly; our churches are full of people like that. People who behave one way in church on Sunday, but another way outside the church during the other six days of the week. These very religious people, like the people of Micah’s day, don’t think that it might be important to the Lord how they conduct themselves in the world outside the church.

The behavior of his people troubled Micah. And that’s his main message and the main message of this book of prophecy that bears his name.

Micah lived and ministered in the last half of the eighth century B.C. Micah is frequently compared to Isaiah, who was prophesying at roughly the same time, and the messages of these two men of God are in harmony. Some have suggested that Micah was a disciple of Isaiah, and while there are similarities in their writing, the two prophets are very different. Isaiah was a member of the upper classes while. Micah was a commoner. Isaiah was polished, and moved in royal circles. Micah was a rough man of the countryside, a prophet of the regular folks.

His background made Micah familiar with the problems of the poor and lower classes of society, and at the same time he was well acquainted with the political corruption of Judah and royal palace. He also knew about the corruption of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and was a contemporary of Amos and Hosea. While the political corruption of his day was rampant, Micah’s biggest concern, and the burden of his heart, was the treatment of the poor and most disadvantaged of his society.

God rebukes sin

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. Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. (Micah 1:1, 2 | TNIV)

From the get-go, the divine origin of Micah’s message is made obvious – it’s “the word of the Lord” the prophet will speak, not his own word. As Walter Kaiser noted, Micah’s calling is both the source and the authority of what he is about to speak. The Lord’s word is directed to two great cities: Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdon of Israel, and Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Lord has an axe to grind against these capital cities, and He’s calling the whole world to listen to the moral and spiritual failure of His people. Sin is never a private thing; no believer can hide his sin for long. God essentially called all creation to stop and listen to His words against His people. One scholar put it this way:

Where God has a mouth to speak we must have an ear to hear; we all must, for we are all concerned in what is delivered.

Indeed, God’s Word is for all people, even for those who don’t think they need to hear it.

Micah’s message was a fearsome one, but this prophet was prepared and empowered to give it:

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8 | TNIV)

A personal God

Verse three gives us some very important information about God:

Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth. (Micah 1:3 | TNIV)

First, God is transcendent for He has a heavenly dwelling place. But, second, God is also immanent, He comes down from that dwelling place to be among people. Those who think God is living afar off and uninvolved in the affairs of His creation are dead wrong. And the appearance of God causes creation to respond.

The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. (Micah 1:4 | TNIV)

In this instance, God enters the human sphere for judgment, but there are other reasons for His coming to “tread on the heights of the earth:”

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. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18, 19 | TNIV)

For now though, God is coming not to pardon and forgive, but to render judgment:

All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. What is Jacob’s transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem? (Micah 1:5 | TNIV)

The sin of idolatry was at the root of God’s judgment of both Judah and Israel. Because of the influence of the Canaanite cults, Israel (Samaria) was giving only the barest of lip service to Yahweh. Meanwhile, the ethical and moral aspects of the Law were also being ignored. Society was breaking down in both Kingdoms, although in the Samaria and the Northern Kingdom, the slide away from the Covenant and the God of the Covenant was happening at a much quicker pace than in Judah to the south.

It’s interesting that how a society treats its own descends from what it thinks of and how it treats the Lord. When a society has a God-centered world-view, or a world-view that takes seriously Biblical teachings and admonitions, it will treat its citizens with dignity and respect.

He has shown all you people 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. (Micah 6:8 | TNIV)

This is what God expects from His people, and this single verse is probably one of the most memorable in the Old Testament. Let’s take a look at what this verse says. First, there is an expectation on God’s part. He is right to expect a certain type of behavior from the people He created. Man is not ignorant and he knows right from wrong. Even sinful man is expected to maintain a certain level of ethical and moral behavior, but more so from people that are in covenant relationship with Him.

And even though these verses were written to and about Hebrews, Christians are expected to go along with these admonitions because we are in a covenant relationship with God in which the laws of God have been placed within our hearts.

It’s not that God didn’t want His people to be offering sacrifices, even though that’s what it sounds like in verses like this one:

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7 | TNIV)

The people of Micah’s day had got the sacrifices down pat – they were scrupulously religious. But their behavior didn’t live up to their religion. As far as God was concerned, if your behavior is boorish and if you can’t be bothered to live right, then don’t waste your time offering a sacrifice. You’re not only wasting your time, but God’s as well.

Society breaks down

Here what society looks like when that society ignores God and the teachings of Scripture:

Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—your enemies are the members of your own household. (Micah 7:5, 6 | TNIV)

When God isn’t in the picture, all restraints against bad behavior are tossed off. Kay Arthur made an interesting observation about our society today:

Our society is filled with runaways, dropouts, and quitters. We have seen others faint or walk away and we have followed in their weakness. We have fainted when we could have persevered by exchanging our strength for His.

She’s not wrong when she writes, “We have seen others faint or walk away and we have followed in their weakness.” Why wouldn’t we follow the bad, horrid example of the majority? Our generation has been told that being in a real, strong relationship with God through Jesus Christ is a myth or is dangerous and that being a person faith is to be a “religious extremist.” Christians today have become just terrible at taking a stand for Christ because it’s been politically incorrect to have that kind of objective faith.

So not only has secular society broken down, Christian society is also circling the drain.

God restores the humble

And that’s the world in which Micah lived and preached. It was a world filled with very religious people whose religion was all show; it was not life changing; it didn’t change the lives of its practitioners or anybody else’s . The people of Micah’s day weren’t serious people, they were people who were playing with their faith and because they didn’t take seriously the covenant they had entered into with God, they were forcing God’s hand of judgment to literally slap them down.

Yet, it’s not all bleak.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 | TNIV)

There’s always hope. Micah knew God and he knew God was a God of mercy who had more than enough power to protect him and meet his needs even while judgment was falling on everybody else. The prophet was sure that God wold vindicate the faithful, after all, not everybody in Israel or Judah was committing idolatry. There is a remnant, and that’s who speaking in verse 8:

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (Micah 7:8 | TNIV)

Over in the New Testament, we learn that the remnant of believers in any age may have complete confidence that God hasn’t forgotten about them and God will help them and will eventually vindicate and restore them.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 | TNIV)

That’s really a stunning verse. Nothing, not even the gates of death, can stop the church. The “gates of death” or “gates of hell” is the extreme, meaning that if something as extreme as the “gates of death” can’t stop the church, then nothing else can. Ultimately the remnant of the faithful will triumph.

Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. (Micah 7:9 | TNIV)

Micah knew God was right in judging His people. They deserved it. But the remnant would sit and wait patiently to be restored. The punishment would only last a little while; the true believer would be vindicated and restored, if not in this world then certainly in the next.

A SURVEY OF THE MINOR PROPHETS, Part 5

Micah 3:1—12; Malachi 2:1—9

“Judgment is coming!” declared Micah, and there is way to escape it. Because of gross injustice in the land and because wealthy and/or influential people wanted it that way, judgment was on its way. The leaders of the land were taking advantage of both their privileges and their responsibilities.

1. Wicked leaders rebuked, Micah 3:1—4

Micah was a prophet who came from small, rural village in Israel but his ministry struck at the heart of the seat of power in the land. He prophesied during the 8th century BC when the future of the Jews was a little fuzzy. Babylon was in ascendancy as a world power, and the Jews were aware that they were flexing their military muscles. At the same time, the Jews were confident in their Covenant with God; that He would protect them. But Micah gave them a dose of reality. Trusting in the Covenant only worked when you were holding up your end of it. The leaders of the nation, by their sinful, rebellious actions, were steering the entire nation toward sure destruction.

a. Sins of injustice, vs. 1—3

Back in chapter 2, Micah wrote about the Shepherd:

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. (2:12)

In contrast to that Shepherd, the rulers of Micah’s day behaved in exactly the opposite way. They had a total disregard and disrespect for God, His Law and the people they were charged to care for. The present rulers of the nation “hated good and love evil.” As we read these powerful verses, we see that these rulers were like cannibals, who were guilty of butchering God’s people, skinning them alive, and leaving them to fend for themselves.

God does not like people being treated unjustly by a nation’s leaders. When wickedness and evil take the place of justice and righteousness, there is only Person the people can appeal to: God. Those who practice injustice will ultimately face the God of justice; they cannot escape.

What makes leadership—at any level—fail? When leaders, civic and religious, place their personal preferences, their own ideas, evil, unfairness, and corrupt practices ahead of God’s Word and what God has ordained, that leadership will absolutely fail. These kinds of leaders were spoken of elsewhere in the Old Testament:

Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD. (Psalm 14:4)

…those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humankind. (Proverbs 30:14)

b. God’s refusal to listen, vs. 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.

It’s worse for leaders who plunge onward in ignorant or careless rebellion to God’s will than just ordinary people. People like that have no sense of the sacred stewardship that they has been given them, and of the negative influence they have on people. A leader with no moral authority, though he may say all the right things, will take a nation down the wrong path.

God’s answer to this situation is found in verse 4. Those who abuse their position of authority will find themselves on the outside looking in; utterly alone and without any resources if and when they cry out to God for help. Truly you reap what you sow.  We call this “poetic justice,” and it’s something Solomon taught in Proverbs 21:13—

Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

And in the New Testament, James writes about this as well:

…judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

2. God judges corrupt leaders, Micah 3:5—12

Micah zeroed in on the nation’s leaders in the preceding verses, and now he takes aim at another group of leaders: the false prophets of his day.

a. The curse of false prophets, vs. 5—7

For those who could pay their fee, the prophet would give a comforting word. But for the poor, who could not afford to pay a prophet, they were met with another word:

As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if you feed them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if you do not, they prepare to wage war against you. (verse 5)

These “men of God” were as corrupt and greedy as their political counterparts. They were yes-men, mercenary in their motives.

God will not permit this sin of misleading His people to go unpunished. To speak for God is no small matter, and those who do it in an intentionally inaccurate manner, would a “blinding” judgment from God.

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God. (verse 7)

The judgment on false prophets reminds us of what Jesus said in Matthew 15:14—

Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.

And this was precisely what was happening; the false prophets were deluding the people. These religious hucksters would face an unenviable end. Their false words would be exposed for the lies they were and their false predictions of peace would be exposed by the fact of the Exile and Captivity.

b. Exile predicted, vs. 8—12

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. (verse 8)

In another contrast, Micah is totally different from the false prophets whom he just slammed. He was full of God’s power, and was able and qualified to speak for God.

But people do love the “placebo preacher,” who smiles broadly and dishes out homey bromides by the page. But when times get truly tough, that kind of preacher finds it hard to get work. At critical times, true believers yearn for the truth of God’s Word. The empty, brainless talk of “used car preachers” is cold comfort when it is not backed by God’s dynamic power.

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. (verse 12)

In the face of all this blatant hypocrisy, Micah told it like was going to be! This must have taken amazing courage. True servants of God, those of yesterday and today, don’t care about what happens to themselves; they proclaimed the unvarnished Word of God with total disregard for the consequences.

The teaching of James Wolfendale ring true:

When teachers corrupt doctrine, and preachers withhold the gospel; when rulers and princes pervert equity, and neglect special duties for the defense of which they are put in office; they poison the stream of life and turn it into deadly fountains.

Because of all the poison in the land, Micah makes it crystal clear the the Exile on the horizon is a direct result of its corrupt leadership. Jerusalem would fall. The Temple would be destroyed. The leaders would have no one to blame but themselves.

3. A warning to spiritual leaders, Malachi 2:1—9

The last Minor Prophet is also the last book of the Old Testament, and his book is a little different from those of the other Minors. Malachi’s message was not written in poetic form, but in prose. Just like Micah, centuries before, Malachi’s message is full of power, especially for those in power.

Malachi’s message was a direct challenge to the a corrupt priesthood of his day. Malachi accused the people of a lackadaisical attitude toward the Temple and sacrificial system, but their attitude of complacency and indifference to God had grown out the sorry state of the priesthood.

a. A curse on the priests, vs. 1, 2

And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.”

The priests were not taking their position seriously; they did not even come close to honoring God in the proper fashion. Malachi, whose name means “my messenger,” was prophesying to the people during the time of Nehemiah and probably shortly before the days of Ezra, as Israel was trying to rebuild Jerusalem and their lives after their return from Exile.

During that Exile, the people had no Temple to worship in, and by the time they were released and allowed to return home, most of the people had never been in a Temple of God and no clue about the importance of the Law and the traditions that made their religion work.

Even the priests were like this. In particular, among other sins, the priests were allowing the sacrifice of lame or sick and diseased animals to the Lord, in defiance of the Law. These priests had no fear or awe of God and certainly no sense of responsibility.

There is nothing worse than a minister who goes into the pulpit with an unbelieving or unfaithful heart; who doles out “Readers Digest”-type sermons and pious platitudes to their congregation. It would be better for them to be the worst sinner on the block.

God’s curse on these priests had already begun, and they probably didn’t even know it. Their words of blessings upon the people would be turned into curses. Things would never improve for the the people as long as these despicable priests were there.

b. Covenant with Levi, vs. 3—6

God was about to make things very difficult for the priests, and ultimately the people. The days of any kind of prosperity were coming to an end. This curse would have far reaching implications for all except those from the tribe of Levi.

c. The true priesthood, vs. 7—9

What the priests should have done and how they should have behaved is held up in contrast to what they had actually been doing. The priests were supposed to be the teachers; the leaders in scholarship. But they had fallen from that ideal in Malachi’s day!

For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. (verses 7, 8)

Instead of leading people to the truth, these priests did the exact opposite! This kind of recklessness violated the covenant God had with Levi. God would not tolerate this kind of thing to continue. To have an ill-prepared minister, a lazy or incompetent pastor, a preacher only interested in lining his pockets is bad enough, but there is nothing worse that a deceiver, a schemer, a wolf in sheep’s clothing behind a pulpit!

So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law. (verse 9)

This seems to be a common judgment on wayward ministers: shame and humiliation. As many commentators have noted, not all the priests were bad, but because of the bad ones, all were tarred with the same brush.

Once again, as has been noted several times in our survey of the Minors, we see the law of reaping and sowing coming into play. Galatians 6:7—

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.

The religious leaders of Malachi’s day thought they could live as they pleased; that they could dishonor the Name of God with impunity. But the learned, to their everlasting shame, that they were terribly mistaken. They received in their own lives what they had sown in the lives of others.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

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