Today: [Micah 1] Micah Takes a Stand. We meet the prophet Micah, a man from a rural area far from Jerusalem and Samaria, who was deeply grieved by the decadence of the upper classes in northern and southern kingdoms. He declares that God will come from between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies to wreak havoc upon the pagan altars and hidden groves of the people and that the sin they gave themselves to in leisure would result in captivity for their children and the children’s children in time to come.
[Mic 1:1-16 KJV] 1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. 2 Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. 3 For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, [and] as the waters [that are] poured down a steep place. 5 For the transgression of Jacob [is] all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What [is] the transgression of Jacob? [is it] not Samaria? and what [are] the high places of Judah? [are they] not Jerusalem? 6 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, [and] as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof. 7 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered [it] of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot. 8 Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. 9 For her wound [is] incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, [even] to Jerusalem. 10 Declare ye [it] not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust. 11 Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing. 12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem. 13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she [is] the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee. 14 Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib [shall be] a lie to the kings of Israel. 15 Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel. 16 Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
The book of Micah is the 6th of the 12 minor prophets. These prophets are called the minor prophets because their writings are not as lengthy as that of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah. Micah prophesied 800 years before the time of Christ during the reings of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His name means “who is like God”. In his writing, Micah decries the unjust policies that favor the wealthy and grind the faces of the poor, a theme familiar to us from our study of Amos. There is also found in Micah a Messianic theme looking forward to the coming kingdom and the righteous rule of the kingdom of God.
Micah was born far from the northern kingdom in a city in southern Judah called Moresheth. His message is very much an advocacy of the plight of those living in the small towns and cities of his homeland. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, and as other prophets he predicts as well the fall of Samaria in the north which took place during his lifetime. Micah is believed to have written his messages out himself which were passed down to the time of Jeremiah, familiar enough with Micah’s writings as to quote him in Jer. 26:18. The background events of the book are described to be the same as found in the book of Jeremiah. Micah understands that Samaria in the north is in an apostate condition and that her destruction is inevitable.
The major events in Micah’s time include the rise of Assyria against the northern nations including Samaria; the subsequent fall of Samaria to the Assyrian empire; and the revolt of Judah against proposed Assyrian rule of the southern kingdom, which was put down, although the city of Jerusalem was spared. The book is arranged in three sections, each beginning with a cry for the people to “Hear” what God is saying to the nation. It is a message of judgment and promised restoration of the southern kingdom of Judah to Messianic glory – when the people repent and reform their ways.
After introducing himself in v. 1 Micah cries in against the people declaring that God from His holy temple was witness against the backslidings of the people. Micah describes God’s glory coming out of the temple of Solomon and treading in conquest over the mountains and the high places of the earth. This is a particular indictment of what was taking place in the mountains and high places in terms of hidden groves and altars to pagan God’s that the people of the southern and northern kingdom were fond of maintaining although they had been prohibited of so doing by the law of God.
In v.5 Micah refers to Judah and Jacob (a reference to her rebellious nature) and the sins of the house of Israel. In so doing he is including in his indictment those who were openly sinful and those who considered themselves to be the standard bearers of righteousness and godliness. He asks the question “where are the high places of Judah, is it not Jerusalem?” In other words, why are the people of the north worshipping at Bethel rather than at Solomon’s temple and why are the people of the southern kingdom defiling themselves at their pagan altars in secret? Because of the systemic idolatry of the people, Samaria is prophesied to be turned into a garbage heap, covered with stones and the fragments of their idols, beaten into small pieces and burned with fire.
In v. 8 Micah is overcome with what he sees contrasted by the complacent attitude of the people. He strips himself naked, wailing and moaning because he sees the wound of his people is incurable and spreading throughout all the tribes of Israel. He admonishes in v. 10 that this news not be declared in Gath (his home area) because he doesn’t want the rural peoples in the small towns and villages of the south to face just how terrible the backslidings of the people are in Samaria and Jerusalem and he doesn’t want them to be burdened with the reality of imminent judgments to come. He speaks of the city of Maroth, a small town similar to where he came from, as waiting diligently for good news from the capitals of Samaria and Jerusalem, but laments that the word that comes is of evil and judgments from Samaria right down to the gates of Jerusalem herself. V. 13 describes sin spreading as a fleet horse hitched to a swift chariot throughout the nation, even to the ruling class in Zion where the kings of Judah built their palaces and buried their honored dead.
In v. 14 Micah declares to Samaria and Jerusalem that the bribes they are paying to pacify the people from civil uprising would not shield them from the judgments of God upon the nation. To the high ranking elites in Jerusalem he declares they shall be usurped by low born men of no social ranking to rule over them, which took place when the king of Babylon appointed such men to rule over Jerusalem after it fell decades later. In verse 16 Micah commands the decadent peoples of the upper classes to shave their heads bald in mourning for the suffering that will come upon their children that as far as Micah was concerned had already gone into captivity, even though they were safe in their beds as children under the care of their backslidden parents.
In reading Micah I am reminded of the preaching of men such as William Branham in the 1940’s and 50’s who spoke so vehemently against the social ills he saw as a prophet coming upon the nation in the 60’s and 70’s. He was laughed to scorn and to this day is not held in high regard, yet he stood like a man in the face of a horrible wind of destruction, decrying the decadence, carnality and godlessness that he saw coming, and the subsequent suffering of untold 1000’s because of the decisions made by the generations before him. We look back to what we no consider simpler times as though society was not very sophisticated in the past, but we can but lament that Micah’s words ring hauntingly valid as applying to our own nation and our own people.
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