The prophet Micah delivers grim warnings, and forecasts war and punishment to those who will not obey. He focuses on sin and the destruction it brings. Yet, despite the impending doom, Micah also predicts deliverance and peace. How does his message of utter despair contrasted with joyful hope and the promise of restoration, apply to us today? In this study we’ll examine these ideas in relation to the question, “Who is like the LORD?”
[Steve Myers] Good evening, everyone. Welcome to our bi-weekly Beyond Today Bible study. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing in our series of the minor prophets. And so we’re certainly glad that you’re able to join us here in the room this evening as well as those that are visiting with us on the web as well. And so we’ve got a lot of information to cover tonight. I think we’ve got some interesting material that I think you’re going to be able to glean some interesting aspects of God’s Word that will not only show back the history of the minor prophets, but also apply to us today. And so we begin tonight let’s ask God’s presence and His blessing upon our Bible study and then we’ll begin.
Great loving heavenly Creator, Father, we are so thankful that you are the great God that You are. Thank You for upholding the universe. Thank You for by Your mighty hand You do such amazing things. God, we pray for Your presence here tonight as we delve into Your word. We pray as we examine the minor prophets that You would help us and guide us as we look at Your word and strive to understand Your way at a deeper level. Certainly, God, as we look at these things help us to recognize ways that we can apply them to our own lives so that we can draw closer to You and live Your way. So, Father, we put this study into Your hands. We pray for Your presence and blessing and we ask it all by the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, tonight we start into the sixth of the minor prophets. It is the prophet, Micah. Micah is the sixth in the order. And Micah is it interesting individual. His name Micah itself is a shortened form of Mikayahu, Mikayahu. And if you look at that word in the Hebrew, you’d probably be able to recognize something about it. It’s taking two words: the Mika and the Yahu . And it literally means, “who is like the Lord?” or “who is like the Eternal?” And so Micah comes from Mikayahu.
And it’s interesting. If you were to read about Micah himself, there are some who think that perhaps Micah was not really his name. Some think, because as he prophesied and he went about preaching God’s way, teaching them, proclaiming God’s truths that he would often say, “Who is like the Lord?” And his prophecies would begin in that way. And so, some of the scholars feel that because he said that so often, his nickname became Mikayahu or Micah, and so kind of an interesting aspect to this prophet, Micah.
Now Micah was one of those who preached at about the same time as some of the famous prophets like Isaiah, also at the same time a contemporary to Amos, as well as Hosea. They were all preaching and prophesying about the same time. Now, this book itself was an interesting one because it wasn’t just specifically to one people. It wasn’t just to Judah or wasn’t just to Israel. It was actually written to both, to both. Now, it focused more on Judah, as we go through it, but Israel had not been conquered yet at this time.
And so, if you were to look at the various passages, you can kind of recognize that it was probably written a number of years before the fall of the Northern Kingdom because that message was to the Northern Kingdom and to the Southern. And so, if you remember, maybe we could look at our map. You could recognize the fact that Israel was divided. We had Judah in the south and Israel in the north. And so, the northern tribes were taken into captivity first. And so they were still there at the time that Micah is prophesying. So many of the scholars feel that it was probably written around 735 or so B.C., just before the fall of Samaria.
And so you see, our capital of the north is Samaria and those northern tribes were taken into captivity somewhere around 722 B.C. and it wasn’t for a number of years later that Judah was taken into captivity. Judah’s fall was somewhere around 586 B.C., so quite a bit later. And Micah prophesied during some halfway decent kings. But he also prophesied of the time where there were some very bad kings. The time of Ahaz, one of the very bad kings who were ruling at the time of Micah’s prophecy. During that time, when he was preaching and teaching to Israel and then to Judah as well. So there was a warning message.
There was a warning message because there were bad leaders. It was a lawless nation. They had remove themselves from God in so many ways. And so, as you consider the message of Micah. Yes, sometimes it can feel like a downer. There’s a lot of difficult situations that he refers to. There’s quite a few areas that just bring a lot of despair because he talks about many difficult situations. And so as he discusses those things, he draws attention to the fact there were problems economically because they disobeyed God. There were problems socially. There were many social issues that these nations were facing because they turned their backs on God.
And of course, you put economics and social things, probably the biggest one, and part of the results of the problems with those two things was the fact that religiously, they were a mess. They had removed themselves from the true worship of God. And so whether it was economic, social or really religious, both Judah and Israel were in a total decline.
And so Micah preaches to those things. He speaks to those things. He brings God’s Word. And as he does this, the interesting part is, yes it applied to Israel. Yes, it applied to Judah, but there’s also a message for us today in Micah’s prophecy. So as we go through these prophecies, let’s keep that in the back of our mind because I kind of divided the Bible study tonight up into two sections. What he spoke about, certainly important, how it applied to that day. But also, as we conclude, we’re going to talk about how it impacts us. What difference does it make to us today?
And one of the challenges in the book of Micah is the fact that he jumps around a lot. He doesn’t address issues in a specific order. And so sometimes there’s abrupt transitions. Sometimes he jumps from this issue to that issue. He’ll change from talking about difficulties to talking about wonderful possibilities in the future and goes back and forth many times. But what I thought I’d do in order to help organize the Bible study is look at three areas that Micah addresses. It’s kind of divided up into thirds.
His message is divided up into one-third exposing sin; he deals with the sin of the people. That’s a third of his message. Now another third of that message is what are the consequences to sin; sin has consequences and that leads to punishment. So a third of Micah’s message is about the punishment that sin deserves. The punishment that God will bring because of their sin, but God doesn’t leave it there. God doesn’t leave it at desolation and punishment. A third of Micah’s message is also about restoration; it’s about a greater purpose — ultimately what God’s plan is all about.
So, let’s consider Micah’s message in those three aspects. So first let’s talk about the sin. Let’s talk about the sin of these people and what had become evident in the nations. An example of this is right at the very beginning of the book. If you were to look at Micah 1:5 Micah 1:5For 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?
American King James Version×, we immediately have prophetic warnings for Israel and for Judah. He starts out saying “All this is for the transgression of Jacob…” in other words, the lawlessness, they have been sinning. It says, “…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?”
So what he points to, and maybe it’s a little hidden in the words here, but those high places are referring to false worship. They have fallen into worshiping pagan gods. They accepted pagan culture. And so, that was certainly one of the things that the nations were sinning in. They had lost the true worship of God in so many different ways. And of course, that begins to lead to other things because they lost the true worship of God. You can follow through the book of Micah, and you can begin to see so many aspects of the sin that the people were guilty of.
If we read over in chapter 2, the very beginning of chapter 2, “Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it isn’t the power of their hand. They covet fields…” So the lack of following God leads to covetousness. They had greed and they wanted things that didn’t belong to them. So you’ve got cheating also within the sins of the people.
And Micah continues on and on and on as he shows the people their sin and he demonstrates it throughout the book. He doesn’t just talk about the people either. One of the interesting aspects of Micah’s prophecies is that he also zeroes in on the leadership. It wasn’t just the people’s fault. So oftentimes through the history of Israel and Judah, when you had a bad king, bad things followed. The people had a tendency to follow in the king’s footsteps.
And so, there’s an interesting description over in chapter 3 verse 1. Beginning of chapter 3, Micah prophesies, “Hear now, O heads of Jacob, and you rulers of the house of Israel.” So here we have the rulers condemned for their sin. What do they do? Verse 2, “You who hate good and love evil,” that’s how bad it had gotten. The leadership, the religious leadership, even as well as the rulership in the country, even the princes, had fallen into this state of mind.
In fact, he even says, “You make My people stray.” So the impact of bad rulers, “They abhor justice,” Micah says, “and they pervert equity.” Those are aspects that are mentioned here in chapter 3. If you look down to verse 9, that’s where he gets into that abhorring justice and perverting iniquity. And the amazing part is how they come to a wrong conclusion. You look to verse 11, chapter 3, “Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, her prophets divine for money.” So, they’re doing all these evil things.
But what do they say? What do they say about their relationship with God? End of verse 11, it says, “They lean on the Lord, and say, ‘Well, isn’t the Lord among us?’” Well, because they had a tabernacle or because they had a temple in Jerusalem, they could say, “Well God’s with us.” So they had an appearance of religion, but it was all a sham.
And they use this excuse like, “Well, we’re still here. We haven’t gone into captivity. Don’t we have the temple?” And they’d look at it in that way and yet they’re oppressing the people. The leaders are oppressing the people. There’s bribery among the judges. The priests are disloyal. The people have agreed and a covetousness. And so God cannot allow that to continue. He just cannot allow them to continue to live in sin without consequence. And so the sins of the leaders, the sins of the people, the sins of the nation, that has consequence.
And so, when we look back to chapter 1, there’s an interesting section here as God draws His judgment on sin. And if we read it in English, we might miss it. If you look at chapter 1, notice verse 10, as it comes down to judgment on sin, Micah uses quite a few plays on words. He does a play on words as he goes through this little section from verse 10 up to verse 13. And he’s going to drive this point home that God hates sin. God will judge sin. And so, he uses these words.
Notice what the words talk about here. We miss it in English but let’s glean what he’s actually saying here. God’s judgment on sin, verse 10, it says, “Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all…” Now it’s interesting that the word Gath means “to weep.” Gath means to weep. So if we were to read this in Hebrew, “You guys in weep town, quit weeping.” That’s what he’s saying about Gath.
Then he says, “…in Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust.” Well, guess what Beth Aphrah means? It means “dust,” so town of dust. “In dust town, roll yourself in the dust.” In other words, God’s going to judge sin, so watch out for what your name means.
He goes on. He says, “Pass by a naked shame, you inhabitants of Shaphir.” Shaphir can mean “beauty.” So in beauty town, you’re going to be shamed. Your real nakedness is going to be revealed. In beauty town, there’s not going to be beauty. Beauty is going to be shamed because of your sin.
He goes on in Zaanan. Zaanan , that means “to walk” or “to march,” to walk or to march. “The inhabitants of Zaanan does not go out.” “You guys in march town, you’re not going to be marching.” So Micah is driving home this point.
Now there’s also another town mentioned. “Beth Ezel mourns; it’s place to stand is taken away from you.” Beth Ezel means “the place” or “the house that’s near.” The house that’s near. Well, whose house is near your house? Your neighbor. Your neighbor. So you could get the idea that in neighbor town, you’re going to have lousy neighbors. You’re going to have useless neighbors in neighbor town.
He goes on, verse 12, “For the inhabitant of Maroth pined for good…” They pined for good. Maroth means “bitterness.” Bitterness. In bitter town, they’re going to grieve bitterly. They’re going to grieve bitterly.
And just to top it all off, he goes to verse 13 and talks about the inhabitant of Lachish. “Inhabitant of Lachish, harness the chariot to the swift steeds.” You’ll never guess what Lachish is connected to — horses. In horse town, you are a one-horse town, right?
That’s exactly what Micah is prophesying. He’s prophesying, you cannot, because of your sin, you cannot escape God’s judgment. And that brings us to the second third of Micah’s messages because the result of sin, the consequence of sin, God’s judgment on sin, brings punishment. And so punishment is an important aspect of what Micah preaches about. And one of the sections in the book of Micah that really brings that out is he sets a picture, kind of a scene so that people can really get a feel for what God is doing and why He’s doing it.
And so, if you can’t imagine this scene, turn over to chapter 6, Micah 6. Remember, we said sometimes Micah’s prophecies are a little disjointed and he transitions to different sections pretty abruptly. But in chapter 6, he paints this very vivid picture to really paint the scene so that the people cannot escape the meaning of what is prophesying about. So in chapter 6, see if you pick up the scene here. Chapter 6 verse 1, “Hear now what the Lord says: ‘Arise, plead your case…’”
Did you get the scene? Where are you when you plead a case? You’re in court. Right, you’re in court. “You plead your case,” he says, “before the mountains, let the hills hear your voice.” So imagine Israel and Judah are in court. They are standing in court. So we’re going to see lots of legal language throughout chapter 6.
And one of the interesting things is who’s on the jury in this courtroom. Did you catch it there right there in verse 1? He says it a couple of times here, “Plead your case before the mountains, let the hills hear your voice.” Or go on to verse 2, “Hear you, O mountains, the Lord’s complaint, and you strong foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel.” So here we see the jury, it’s the hills, it’s the foundations of the earth itself.
Why would you have that for a jury? Well, do you want a novice on the jury? No, you as somebody who’s been around awhile, you think the hills and the foundations of the earth have been around a while? Yeah. They’re going to hear this case and God is the complainant. He’s the one bringing the charges. In fact not only that, we see how he says that very clearly, “the Lord’s complaint.” It’s not just His gripe against them. We’re in a court case. We’re a court case and He is the plaintiff, right? He’s the plaintiff. He’s the complainant. He’s the prosecutor, I guess you could say in that sense that that’s God. That’s God.
Now one of the interesting things that we see about that is that as we consider what it was like in ancient Israel, Judah for that matter as well, when the people had to plea a case, they wouldn’t go to court like we would today, in that sense. Do you know where they would go? Generally, they’d come to the gate of the city. And at the gate of the city that’s where the elders would be.
And so, here’s an example of what a gate at a typical city. This is the archaeological uncovering of a gate. Well, at the gate to the wall of the city, where they would come in and go out, the elders of the city would be there. And oftentimes, they would judge those cases. If it got to be a real difficult case, the king himself could step in and adjudicate the case. The king could.
Can you think of an example of that? How about the example of Solomon and the two women? “And we’ve got this baby, what are we going to do with it? Should we just cut it in half?” Yeah, the king would get the difficult cases. So, when we consider this case that Micah’s speaking, we have the ultimate of elders at the ultimate gate, before the mountains and the hills and the foundations, who’ve seen it all, witnessed it all, have been there. Probably the most qualified jury to hear this case, they’re going to recognize this testimony, and God Himself brings it against them.
And of course, who is it that is the defendant? Who’s the defendant in this case? It’s the people. It’s the people themselves. That’s the complaint. Look at verse 2, “The Lord has a complaint against His people,” against His people. And so, as we consider that, it says, “O My people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Testify against Me.” So, more of this court jargon again. So the defendant is the people, the people. God is judging the people. He’s holding them accountable for their sin, for all of those things: the sins of the leaders, well the sins of the people. And in that sense, the sins of the nation, all of those come into play.
And when you go through chapter 6, with the hills and the mountains recognizing this testimony, what are the people going to say? Did they know God’s word? Well, wow, we could turn to prophet after prophet who declared God’s word, declared God’s plan, talked about his message. Really when you got down to it, the people were without excuse. So, what in the world are they going to to testify? What are they going to come up with?
Well, this is interesting, what the people say. Look at verse 6… or verse 7, here’s some of the testimony of the people. Look what they say about God. They say, “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” So imagine hearing this testimony. Talk about exaggerated testimony. Talk about something that’s ridiculous. God would never have required that. How in the world have they come up with that idea?
You see it kind of gives us the impression how far they had been removed from the one true God. They had gotten so far away and so far off the mark that that’s what came to mind when they’re giving their testimony. What a strange answer! Of course, that’s not what God expects, and to consider the circumstances of how God had saved His people over and over and over again. And yet, that’s the story that they come up with. They come up with that idea, that perspective on God. That’s not what God wants.
In fact, God says wait a second. Let’s cross-examine here for just a moment. Verse 8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” You see these are all those things that counter the behavior of the rulers, the priests, and the people. It counters all of their actions to do justly. There should be justice in the land. People need to be treated fairly. There should be equality.
Under God’s government, there must be equality. But they didn’t know how to apply it. They didn’t follow through on that. That was God’s expectations. That’s what He really wants. In fact, He goes on. And He says it’s based on love. God’s system of government is based on love and they should have had that basis as well. That unchangeable law of love was what all the people should have. That should be their perspective and they should have rest — the government their attitude their rulership, everything, on that concept of love and loving mercy, loving mercy.
And so, that aspect of humility before God is also a major part of that. So doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly, how should we live our life? Well, here it is. How ridiculous to think about all this oil and all these rams and all that. That’s just silly. So then at this point, we could say the prosecution rests. You think the hills and the mountains know that this is what God intended all along? You think the hills know that God has actually shown them all of these things? Absolutely!
So the prosecution is done. It’s finished. And so now justice remains. What’s the verdict? What’s the verdict in this case? Well, if you read through the rest chapter, it’s not really spoken, maybe that’s because hills and mountains can’t talk. It’s not spoken but there’s no doubt it becomes obvious. They were guilty. They were. And they remain guilty. And if we think about us, have we some of those same issues, those same problems? They were and we are guilty! And so God calls on them to change, to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly.
The problem is, yeah, there are consequences to sin. And if you were to look just back a couple of pages to chapter 3, chapter 3 verse 12 deals with the consequences to sin. You talk about justice being meted out. Chapter 3 in verse 12 says, “Because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.” Jerusalem is going to be laid bare. Israel is going to be taken into captivity. There will be utter destruction because that’s the consequence of sin. The verdict is irrefutable. There must be consequence.
And so when you read through that section of Micah’s prophecies, it’s utter destruction. And it’s, yeah, it is. They are doomed. The people are doomed. There’s no escaping God’s judgment. And that is a fact. Now, God doesn’t leave it there though because that brings us to the final third of Micah’s prophecies. And that is the promise of restoration, the promise of restoration.
So despite the warnings, despite the dire state that they had become, despite the punishment that had to come upon them because they didn’t repent, the amazing part of Micah’s message is he doesn’t just stay with the doom and gloom Micah’s message is really one of the most amazing, one of the most inspiring and encouraging sections of scripture that deal with hope. That deal with peace. That deal with fairness for everyone. That deal with a future that is a good future for everyone, for everyone. Everyone will have that opportunity.
And so God promises restoration. And Micah talks a lot about it, many, many, many times over. Maybe we can just look at one example of that. Look at the example we’ll find in Micah 4:1 Micah 4:1But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it.
American King James Version×, right after discussing the destruction of Jerusalem, he says some of the most encouraging words. He says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains…” It says, “…and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it.”
Now, this is future hope. We’re talking about the latter days. We’re talking about at the end of the age. We’re talking about far into the future. Ultimately, but the interesting part is it applies even in this situation. Verse 2, he says, “Many nations shall come and say ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…’” Of course, we know mountains, oftentimes in Scripture, represents governments. Let’s go to the government of God. That’s where we should go.
And so, they “…shall come and say, ‘Let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples…” You see this message of hope and restoration. He’s going to judge, He’s the ultimate ruler, He’s going to “…rebuke strong nations of far off…”
And what’s going to be the result of God’s judgment? He wants to restore people. He wants to give them hope. He wants them to change and do what’s best. And so, ultimately, one of the most inspiring passages in Scripture, “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Talk about a powerful message of hope.
Do you think this applies to our nation as well? Are we a nation that should know better? We should know better. And there are those that would argue that “Oh, we didn’t have Christian forefathers. Our nation wasn’t based on Judaeo-Christian values.” But when you really study history, that’s ridiculous. When you understand what God promised to Abraham, that’s ridiculous because God has poured out His blessings on us and there is no doubting that.
But have we followed God? Have we put His principles into practice? No, there is inequity in our land. Will God judge our land for that? Have we had fairness among all our peoples? I think we have to say, no, we haven’t. Have we discriminated? Have we coveted it? Have we done the same things that Israel and Judah did? I think without a doubt we have. And so what’s on the horizon for us?
You see that’s the challenge of the message of Micah as well. It wasn’t just for that day. And so, because of sin, God must judge. But ultimately, after that judgment, there’s going to be a time of restoration. We think of that, you know, you think of the United Nations. That’s where we picture the solution for mankind. And of course, they take this passage in Micah and they made a beautiful statue about it.
But has the United Nations brought that about? It hasn’t happened, probably in one way more arguing among the nations now than in the past. But that hasn’t happened. They haven’t beaten the swords into plowshares. That’s going to take God’s government in order to make that happen.
And so, as Micah talks about that, the ultimate solution isn’t in man’s government. Look at Micah 4:7 Micah 4:7And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from now on, even for ever.
American King James Version×, a little bit farther down from where we left off. He says, “I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever.” You see that’s the solution. We need the return of Jesus Christ to establish the government of God on top of the governments of this world to replace those governments. So that there will be justice. So there will be mercy. So there will be a walk that’s directed in the right way. And that’s the challenge for all of us.
As we read this message of Micah that God gave to him. It’s not just a message for ancient Israel and ancient Judah because you could read all of this and say, “Okay. Well, so what? So what? What’s the big deal? How should I care about this? Why does it matter to me? Should it matter to me?”
Well, hopefully, we’ve kind of felt a couple of these things as we’ve read through it. Got a little inkling on how it actually does apply to us because I don’t think there’s any doubt that Micah’s message applies as much today to us, to us as individuals, to us as a nation, to all the nations for that matter. It applies to all of us today as much as it did in Micah’s time.
So, as we consider that. How does it apply? How does it apply to us when you consider that? One of the things that’s interesting is that the people grew tired of hearing that message. They don’t want to hear Micah talking about that. They wouldn’t listen. And what a message for us! We need to listen to the warnings. We need to listen to the warning.
The people didn’t listen at that day. They didn’t listen to Micah’s warning. And he spoke out against how they sinned. He spoke out against how the rulers ruled. He spoke out against the judges. He spoke out against the religion, the priests. What about us? Are we are we listening to that warning? Is our nation listening to this warning?
I mean Micah is not the only one to do this. If you were to look at the ministry of Christ and what He spoke about over and over and over again, He spoke about these same issues. There’s a whole section of Matthew 23 where He goes over and over and over much of the same message of people having a phony religion, doing things to be seen by men.
Matthew 23 talks about that, making a pretense of long prayers in public. Acting like they’re really religious people but what do they do? Their actions betray them. He talked about the fact that even the leadership, those who are supposed to be His people, oh, they look really good on the outside. Right, they washed the outside of that cup. But what’s on the inside? It’s a mess. It’s full of, he said, extortion and self-indulgence. That’s what God looked at.
That’s what He saw, the outward appearance. People look pretty good. But on the inside was hypocrisy. And so, Christ reiterated this message. He reiterated those warnings. In fact, if you look at chapter 7 verse 21, Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×, notice the way that Christ spoke to this same aspect — similar to the warnings that Micah gave, warnings for us, warnings for us today. Notice how this fits into this Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×, He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” He who does the will of My Father in heaven… that’s where it’s at.
He says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, haven’t we prophesied, cast out demons, done many wonders?’” Verse 23, “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Boy, I suppose if you summarized Micah’s message to Israel and Judah it was, yeah, those who practice lawlessness, they’re going to be taken away. We better listen to that warning. We better make sure that we’re not in that frame of mind. We have to be so sure that we’re following God’s teachings. That’s what He says to us over and over and over again. Listen to the warnings.
Listen to the warnings because they’re packed throughout God’s word. And whether it’s the gospels or whether it’s Paul’s epistles or whether it’s the general epistles, whether it’s a book of Revelation — that same message appears over and over and over again. God’s warning us, “Get your act together. I want a relationship with you. I want a relationship with you. Listen to Me.” So God says that.
What that also means then is like the people in that day who proclaimed to be religious, who proclaimed to have God on their side. Yeah, nations do that today. They proclaim to have God on their side. But do they act like it or are they deceived? You see part of the message of Micah is that we have to watch out for self-deception. We have to watch out for fooling ourselves religiously. Watch out for religious self-deception because the people of Micah’s day, the people of Christ’s day — very similar, they were deceived into thinking that they were spiritual. There was this false sense of righteousness.
We have to ask ourselves then, do we have a false sense of righteousness? Yeah, how do we really measure up? You know we’re told throughout Scripture, we’re to rise to the standard, to the measure, to the stature of Christ. So we can’t fool ourselves. We can’t deceive ourselves. We have to look at ourselves honestly. And so, that’s certainly a personal thing that every one of us have to do. And of course, as a Christian nation, as a Christian nation, we have to look at ourselves in that way as well.
You know many would claim we are a Christian nation, yet can we avoid the consequences of our actions? You see, Micah says, “No, we can’t.” Christ says, “No, you can’t.” Don’t deceive yourself. And the apostle Paul spoke to that over and over and over again. He might just jot down 1 Corinthians 6:9 1 Corinthians 6:9Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
American King James Version×. And through that section of scripture, the apostle Paul was inspired to say, “Don’t you know the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” And we say, “Well, yeah, I know that. I know that.”
But you know what Paul says next, “Don’t be deceived.” Now, why would he say that? Because we could be deceived. We could be deceived. The people of Israel were deceived. The people of Judah were deceived. The Sadducees, the Pharisees, the priests during Christ’s day were deceived. Could we be deceived? And so, Paul says, “Yeah, we could be. Don’t be deceived though.” Watch out for that. Watch out for self-deception because it comes down to something so critical. And we might fall into it a different way than they did.
But I think for us, I mean, we have God’s Word. We have it right here. So, we would say, “I’ve got the truth. We have the truth.” But the challenge is more than that. It’s not just having the truth. It’s doing the truth. It’s doing the truth. Yes, we have the truth. And so when we consider those things, we have to be sure we are doing the truth. Having the truth is just not good enough, we have to live it. We have to breathe it. It has to be found in all we do. That’s what’s critical. So, watch out. We’re told to watch out.
All right, the third thing that we can do. The third thing I think that Micah emphasizes, certainly Christ did when He said in Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×“Seek first the Kingdom of God.” What’s most important? Put first things first. Let’s get our priorities straightened out. If we really want to be a part of God’s way, we really want eternal life? We’ve got to be sure we put first things first.
Great example of that is found in Luke 10, notice verse 25, Luke 10:25 Luke 10:25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
American King James Version×, we have a real-life example here where a lawyer comes to Christ. And he poses this question. I think in one way trying to trip Christ up, trying to fool Him, maybe a little bit of the spirit of the people during Micah’s time kind of shows itself here. This lawyer comes to Christ, verse 25, “He stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”
What does Christ say? “What’s written in the law? What is your reading of it?” What’s your reading of the law? Well, he says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” So, he summarized the Ten Commandments in two: You love God, you love your neighbor. Christ’s response, “You have answered rightly; do this and live.” Do this and live.
In saying it a different way, put first things first. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Recognize the times that we live in. Recognize where we are living in time. And despite the distractions, despite the difficulties, despite the kind of nation we live in, we have to demonstrate our willingness to put first things first. Just because we’ve got it pretty good, things aren’t all that bad right now… Yeah, at the time Micah was prophesying it wasn’t that bad. But it didn’t take too long before Assyria was on the doorstep carting people off. It wasn’t that much longer before Babylon came and took Judah.
See the urgency of the times that we live in. Recognize what this world is like. Recognize our own spiritual state because that becomes so critical. Are we honest with ourselves? What is most important in our lives? How often do we put first things first?
Maybe that’s a little bit different way to ask it. Am I putting first things first more often than not? And where I’m not, I need to change. I need to repent. I need to recognize these warnings. See myself honestly and clearly and get right with God. I’ve got to repent and change my thinking, so that my actions show that God is my God. My actions show I not only have the truth but I love the truth. And so, Micah’s message is a powerful message that that certainly is one that applies to each and every one of us and applies to our nation as well. It applies to all of us.
And one of the aspects of what Micah prophesied about, yeah, he prophesied about sin, he prophesied about the consequences to sin, but he also prophesied about how great our God is. In fact, a powerful passage, if you go back to the book of Micah it’s found as we get near the end of the book. In the last chapter, chapter 7, notice verse 18, chapter 7 verse 18, Micah says something interesting as he comes to a conclusion to his prophecy.
Here’s what he says, “Who is a God like You…” Who is a God like you? Now if you remember where we started, who is like the Lord? There’s Micah, Mikayahu, who is like the Lord? A little play on Micah’s own name here, who is like the Lord? “Who is a God like you…” We have an awesome God. He says, “…pardoning iniquity…”
You see the sin that so easily ensnares us can be forgiven. We have that wonderful opportunity. We can change. We have a God who pardons. Who is a god like our God? Our God pardons sin. He “…passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?”
So ultimately, we have an opportunity to repent right now and change and come into a right relationship with God. Israel didn’t do that. Judah didn’t do that. So is their story over and done and that’s the end of it? They’re going to have their opportunity to truly come to understand God. And so, Micah says, “He’ll pass over the transgression…” They’re going to have an opportunity to repent and truly change. And so, he says, “…He doesn’t retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” He delights in mercy.
What an amazing God we have. We have a God that has a perfect plan. We have a God that is like none other. Who is like our God? Who’s like the Lord? Who is a god like our God? He’s given us a solution for sin. He’s given us His Spirit. And so, we have to submit our lives to Him. We have to respond to that, we have to change. And so, when we take this message of Micah to heart, yeah, we’ve got to listen to those warnings. We’re got to put those sins behind us.
We’ve got to change. We’ve got to come before God and we’ve got to confess that sin, that guilt before Him. And we’ve got to repent. We’ve got to change our way of thinking so that we can look to Him like Micah says here that we can look to Him as our pardoning God, as our merciful Father, as the one who gave a sacrifice for sin that extends mercy to us. That’s the kind of God we have.
And so, we can see ourselves for who we really are. And we can have a humble perspective in life; we can walk humbly, we can be open, we can be honest with God. We’re not putting on any kind of a show. We’re not trying to hide from God who we really are. We recognize that — we don’t pretend to be something we’re not. We come before God and we recognize we need a Savior that without the Savior, we’re lost too.
And so, we dedicate our lives to Him and we commit ourselves that no matter what, we’re going to strive to follow Him. That no matter what, we’re not going to let the distractions of this world get in our way and pull us down. We’re not going to let the despair that’s all around us drag us down and separate us from a right relationship with God. That no matter what, we’re going to stay focused. No matter what, we’re going to watch out and not be deceived by our own ways of thinking.
And that certainly, we’re going to order our lives. We’re going to order our lives differently than Israel did. We’re going to order our lives with a different priority than Judah did. We’re going to do different than the Pharisees and the Sadducees. We see their example, we recognize it and it’s going to be different for us. We’re going to rely on God and we’re going to respond to His warning message.
And we’re going to submit, submit to God’s Holy Spirit and come to Him in repentance so that we can truly say that we are striving to do justly. We can truly say we love mercy. And certainly, when we do those very things, there is no doubt that we will be humbly walking with our God.
Well, that’s Micah’s message in a nutshell. There’s a lot more to it. I hope you’ll take the time to actually read through all of Micah’s message because it is such a powerful positive message. Yes, there’s, you know, condemnation of sin. Yes, there are consequences to sin. But the ultimate message is a message of hope. And that is the wonderful nature of our God that He doesn’t give up on us. He’s going to give us every opportunity to come into a right relationship with Him. So we certainly don’t ever want to forget that.
So let’s read through it all. Read through it all. Enjoy what God has given us and be sure that don’t put it just as a place in history. Recognize the fact this is written to me too. This is written to me as well. And I think that can help us to get so much out of God’s Word that Micah delivered.
All right, that will do it for tonight. Thanks for being with us. We will have our next Bible study in two weeks and we’ll continue with our series on the minor prophets. So be safe be careful driving home and we’ll look forward to next time.