November 6, 2015.
Daily Reading: Micah 1-7.
Background: The book of Micah is the sixth of the twelve minor prophets in Hebrew scripture and contains the word of the Lord delivered through the prophet Micah in the 8th century BC. A contemporary of Isaiah, Amos and Hosea, Miach’s ministry spanned from approximately 737–696 BC in the land of Judah. His ministry was during the times of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, during which the people of God were not following the will of God (until Hezekiah’s reforms), which is evident in Micah’s prophecies of judgment. The book can be generally divided into three sections, judgment against nations and leaders, the restoration of Zion and God’s lawsuit against His people, and it the structure of the book follows a series of alternating concepts of judgment and restoration. Micah prophecies of the coming judgment and divine punishment for the children of Israel, along with the concept of the remnant that would be saved, similar to Isaiah’s prophecies.
Concepts and Connections.
Oracle against Samaria and Judah: The book of Micah opens up directly in to an oracle that is set against Samaria and Judah for their transgressions that have gone up before the Lord. All the earth is called to attention as the punishment is laid out against the people of God, for God is witnessed against them. He had been roused from His holy temple and was going to bring disaster. Note how the creation melts away before Him, showing His power and sovereignty. Why was He coming? The transgression of Samaria an Judah- idolatry and spiritual adultery. The people of God had left there God and fallen down to worship those who were no gods at all. A lament is called for the sin of Judah. The oracle then turns to the towns of Judah warning of their destruction, which would come to pass in 701 BC with the invasion of Sennacherib (see II Kings 18-19). The Lord was bringing a conqueror against them because of their transgression.
Oppressors and evildoers: This chapter of the oracle turns to those who devise wickedness and the oppressors in the land. He points out the wickedness that has overtaken Judah, covetousness, oppression and pride. Though these people feel secure at the moment, the Lord is bringing disaster upon them, so that a taunt will be taken up against them because of their ruin. Notice here the hard message that Micah is preaching to the people. It was a message that they did not want to hear- so much so that they told him not to preach these words. Ironically, Micah points out that they were preaching at him not to preach. They did not want to believe the words, so they simply denied what he said. Micah continues on, however, noting that the word of the Lord is good to the righteous, but the people of God have recently risen up agains Him as an enemy. They rob those who are not looking for trouble and spread oppression around. They have made the land of Judah one that was without rest because of their uncleanness. They stopped their ears to the word of the Lord, but any who would preach to them of things they wanted to hear (wine and strong drink) they were more than happy to listen. They last two verses, however, speak of the later promise of the salvation of the remnant of Israel, after the bulk of Israel has fallen by the punishment of the Lord. They Lord would not make an utter end of His people, but rather save the remnant for future glory.
Bad leadership: Micah turns to the leadership in this chapter and sets an oracle against them for leading the people astray. They were the ones who were supposed to know justice. But they hated good and loved evil, and they tore the flesh off of the people of God through their corruption. Note the responsibility that is placed on leadership here, as the blame is set heavy on them for the transgression of the people. This did not let the people off the hook, however, as the Lord would not answer their cry because of their evil deeds. But their deeds were evil because of the bad leadership. The prophets of the people lead them astray by prophesying peace when there was no peace coming and claimed the Lord was in their midst when in reality they had long pushed the Lord from them. A darkness was coming over the prophets, for the Lord would no longer give them vision or sign, for they prophesied falsely. Micah, however, continued on with the word of the Lord, for he was willing to speak against the people’s sin and corruption as the Lord gave him utterance. The leaders of the house of Jacob and Israel built Zion with blood and iniquity. They took bribes, taught for money and gave deviation for profit. Because of this, the Lord was coming against them, and Jerusalem would be left in ruins.
Restoration: After the oracle of destruction, a word of redemption comes as a future peace and glory is promised for the remnant of Israel and the nations of the earth. The house of the Lord would be established on the mountain and all the nations will come and learn to the ways of the God of Jacob that they might walk in HIs paths. Note here the inherent salvation that would be offered to all the nations, not just the children of Israel, showing that it was God’s plan even here to take the gospel to the Gentiles. That day will be a time of peace, where there will be no need for swords or spears, for nation will no longer rise against nation for war. The Lord will judge between all the nations of the Lord and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever. The Lord will call together the lame and the outcast, the oppressed, to be the remnant and to become a strong nation. Though lamenting and captivity would come first, the Lord would save them in that day, redeeming His people. They glory of His people would once again be seen.
Redemption and deliverance: Continuing on with the message of future redemption, the birthplace of the Messiah is given: the little town of Bethlehem. Matthew 2:6 cites this passage when recording the birthplace of Jesus. It is interesting that this is the town where the Messiah was to be born since it was such a small clan and not one that we might think a strong deliverer would come from. But it has been coming from ancient days, and in the right time Bethlehem would give birth to the deliverer that the children of Israel had been looking for since the fall of man (see Genesis 3). He would shepherd His flock in strength and the majesty of the name of the Lord, and ultimately bring peace. They Assyrian would no longer oppress His people, for they would be delivered. The remnant is again discussed as becoming strong among the nations, and those who opposed the Lord, those who worshipped vain idols and false gods would be cut off from the Lord as He executed His vengeance against them for their disobedience.
The indictment of the Lord: This chapter lays out the lawsuit that the Lord is bringing against His people for their transgression and sin. He calls them to plead their case before the mountains as the creation hears the inducement of the Lord against His people. When the Lord speaks to His people, He asks them what had He done to warrant their betrayal, all the while reminding them of the great things that He had done for them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt, leading them by Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and protecting them from the harm that Balak wanted to bring on them through Balaam (see Numbers 22-24). Then the rhetorical question is asked of what the Lord required from His people. Did He want burnt offerings, rams, oil, or even the firstborn of the people for their transgression? What could they bring to them? This question misses the point, however, for the Lord wanted their hearts, not what they could bring to Him. He wanted them to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with their God. But because they had done wickedly, a rod was appointed for them. They were full of deceit and violence, and the Lord would not acquit them for their unrighteousness, for they would not return to Him. They had clung to the ways of Omri and Ahab, wicked kings of Israel (see I Kings 16), and because of this they would bear the scorn as the Lord made them a desolation.
Waiting on the Lord: This chapter opens with the continuation of the evil that is found in Judah. Notice how the unrighteousness is emphasized, as it is likened to the fields just after harvest when there is no crop. There was no one who could be trusted, friend or family alike. For all did evil, and would not be reliable. The day of punishment for their iniquity had come, and they would fall for their wicked deeds. Micah tells them not to rejoice over the fallen of the Lord, for they will rise again. They Lord would lift them up, those who had been waiting on Him, and He would save the remnant. Those who taunted them by asking where their God was would be put to shame, for He would indeed reveal Himself and tread down His enemies. They would all be put to shame, as the Lord would again show marvelous things. The dread of the Lord would come upon them, and finally they would fear the name of the Lord. The book of Micah ends with three verses that are set on praising the Lord for His mercy and compassion, as He pardoned His people for their iniquity. Their sins would be cast off and thrown into the depths of the sea, and He would show faithfulness to Jacob and Abraham, remembering the promise He made to the fathers long ago. May we ever wait on the Lord, for His love and compassion endures forever.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 5-6.
Hear the word of the Lord.