Here we are in Micah 7, and the people are in tough shape. It is not a time where you would necessarily believe in the innate goodness of humanity.
Mic 7:2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
Mic 7:3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
Mic 7:4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
Mic 7:5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
Mic 7:6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
Mic 7:7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
I was listening to a debate the other day, and there was a Christian and atheist guest. The host asked the atheist guest if he had any beliefs, and he said that one of his baseline beliefs was in the goodness of humanity.
I find that hard to process. I find that hard to process because of things like this from Micah. I think about the Holocaust. I think about Apartheid. I think about things that are clearly orchestrated by humans, and I think about how it makes a lot more sense to believe that humans are actually fallen creatures who can be redeemed through Jesus Christ.
I know the argument can be made that many Nazis for example were simply brainwashed. That might be true. However, there was someone doing the brainwashing. There was someone who devised a plan to bring all of those atrocities to the earth. Perhaps he was deceived himself, but you cannot have an infinite regression. The evil began with someone.
The problem of evil is as much of a problem for the atheist who believes in the goodness of humanity and the Christian who believes in sin nature. I know that we’ve talked about it from a Christian perspective, but I think the question I would ask this particular atheist is how he can defend the assertion that there is an innate goodness in Adolf Hitler. I think that it is just as great of a challenge as what Christians are normally handed about how God can allow evil.
I appreciate Micah chapter 6 because God pretty much puts the ball back into the court of the Israelites. He wants to know why the people were rebelling. Obviously, God, being omniscient, would know the answer, but it is more of a challenge for the people. They have to evaluate why they are being difficult, and they are given this question.
Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
This is really the Christian life. God has told us what is good. God wants us to be kind to those around us and walk with Him. It makes me think about Jesus talking about the two greatest commandments. It is a common theme throughout the Bible, and obviously we see it here as well.
Now, there are implications to this. Walking with God is a lifestyle type commitment. When I go on a walk down my road, I don’t just go a mile down the road and stop. I have to come back as well. It isn’t like I can go on half of a walk; I have to complete it in some way.
I think the Christian life is similar. It isn’t necessarily something that we can do for a little while on and off. The implication of going on a walk is that we complete it in some fashion. I know that in life people wander away from God from time to time. It can happen to really any of us, but that is obviously not what we are told to do here.
We are told to walk with God. We go with him down the road for a mile, we come back for a half a mile and then go back out for another five. We do not necessarily understand everything that God might have in store, but I think that for all of us, we need to understand that this is something that we give our lives to. It is a commitment.
I know that this is a little late, but allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas! Why is that relevant? In Micah 5, we receive a very interesting prophecy regarding the town of Bethlehem.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Mic 5:3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
Mic 5:4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
Of course, we have to think about whether or not there might be another possibility for this ruler being born in Bethlehem. David was born in Bethlehem, so there had been some things from that town, but Micah is writing after David. It really didn’t make sense that it would be David.
Were there any other rulers born in Bethlehem?
It doesn’t seem to be the case that there were any other people who meet the criteria, and even if there was, this verse has deeper implications. The end of that verse talks about the fact that this king has been prophesied from old. From the Garden of Eden perhaps?
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
I suppose that someone could argue that this prophecy does not point to Jesus, but I don’t think that anyone else fits the criteria. He would need to be king, come from Bethlehem and the prophesied from old. There is no other qualifier in this race.
As we read in Micah 4, it seems to me that we are dealing with prophecy here that is going to be pretty amazing when it comes true.
Mic 4:1 But 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 unto it.
Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Mic 4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Mic 4:4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
Mic 4:5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
I know I copied a lot, but I wanted to give context. Verse five pretty much sums everything up. Right now, people walk in the name of their own god. That is certainly true. People have many different ideas right now, but as for us, we are going to walk with God forever.
This is exclusivism, and I know that is unpopular. In this future time that we are describing, Micah is identifying that “we” are going to be with God forever and ever. He didn’t say that everyone will be. He is self-identifying with a certain group that he is a part of. I think that that is referring back to verse two. Many nations are going to come and worship God. Don’t we see that in the Christian church today? It is a worldwide network of believers in the one true God.
I am not an expert obviously, but it seems to fit together for me. It seems to make sense that there is a later time where a certain group of people was going to walk with God forever, and we are promised in the New Testament that we can have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, I know at least that Christians are part of this picture.
Micah was obviously writing before the New Covenant, so there’s also a group of Old Testament people who are going to be walking with God as well. I think about the Hall of Fame of Faith chapter in Hebrews 11.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
I don’t know everyone who is going to be in this heavenly group, but it sounds like a pretty great place. To be walking with God forever is definitely where we want to be.
In Micah 3, we have judgment occurring, and it is particularly interesting to read about false prophets who had apparently been pretty good at the job.
Mic 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
Mic 3:6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
Mic 3:7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.
These people are going to lose whatever power they did have, but that obviously raises the question of what power they did have. Is false prophecy a real thing?
The short answer is I believe it is. I think it can be something that is encouraged by demonic activity as well. However, I do not believe any demon, including Satan, is omniscient which of course leads to the question of how they have this ability. It is hard to learn the future from beings that do not have unlimited knowledge of the future.
That is a key point to remember about false prophecy. Every time that you see false prophets in the Bible, they are never perfect. For example, I think about Daniel. He was special because he was able to interpret the dreams through the power of God. It wasn’t by his own power since evidently the other prophets were not able to do it by whatever power they had. It wasn’t just human reason. Even if Satan himself had been with those other prophets at that time, he was clearly not able to read the future. Demons do not have perfect knowledge either.
False prophets may indeed make some correct predictions in the same way that I can make some accurate predictions. For example, I might predict something about the stock market correctly. I might predict correctly, and I might be incorrect. No one is perfect on the stock market, but that is because we are not perfect in making our estimates on future activity. Our human reason cannot predict the future perfectly, but that does not mean I am wrong all the time.
In a similar vein, demons are smart creatures. If there was demonic activity influencing the false prophets in the book of Daniel, they are also limited in a similar way. Without that perfect knowledge, even with the potential predictions that might take place, it would be imperfect. They might be right sometimes, but they cannot be perfectly right.
In contrast, prophecy from God is never wrong, so that is an important way to differentiate it. I think about the miraculous predictions of the coming of Jesus Christ. There is no way human way to make these predictions perfectly. That is the differentiation. We might be right sometimes based on human reason, but God, who has perfect knowledge of the future, can certainly impart that knowledge to humans.
With that background, we can advance to this idea of Micah. God is going to take away whatever ability they might have. Their reasoning as humans will be wrong perhaps. I draw this out because I think it is important to recognize that these men were not having godly visions in the first place. Maybe they were following God at one point, but those days seem to be over. They were now false prophets causing the people to wander. However, they still were able to predict certain things correctly by virtue of perhaps human reason for demonic assistance, and it seems as if that is what we’re talking about here. As it says at the end of verse seven, they were not going to be good prophets because there would not be an answer from God. That is the only way to be an accurate prophet.
In Micah 2, there are people who are clearly doing things that are against some of the 10 Commandments. They also know that they are doing wrong, but they continue doing it.
Mic 2:3 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.
Mic 2:4 In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
We see a contrast here. God has a plan in verse three. He does not approve of what these people are doing. At the same time, because the judgment is not immediate, these people in the beginning of the chapter are still going through with it. They are going to have disaster fall on them, and sometimes you have to wonder why people are walking into this bad situation.
They certainly knew the law of God. Being culturally Jewish at this time, you would definitely know the 10 Commandments. It isn’t as if they are violating one particular provision in Leviticus which are still important, but they are actually breaking the 10 Commandments. Even if the people being referred to are not the most religious, there is no way that people in this time and culture would not know the 10 Commandments.
They might not have known the exact nature of the punishment that was going to be coming from God, but they would have at least realized they were breaking the law of God.
The contrast is what they should know they did and what they actually did. I think it was because they did not take what they did know seriously. Maybe they did not think that God was really going to punish them for breaking His law. Maybe they thought that wealth could protect them from whatever consequences might be coming.
I hope that we don’t do this. We know a lot of things about God, but we need to take them seriously.
Welcome to Micah chapter 1. According to my commentaries, he was an approximate contemporary of Isaiah. I find it really interesting that whenever God is going to bring severe punishment to the people of Israel and Judah, one thing that always seems to be emphasized is the fact that the false idols are going to be destroyed.
Mic 1:6 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.
Mic 1:7 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.
I think that this is important to recognize because it helps perhaps point out a purpose in all of these problems. For example, what might have happened if all of this punishment had come, but the people still were worshiping the false gods? There might still be some ambiguity for the people. By demolishing the idols, there was no doubt who remained.
Think about the difference there. Certainly, there was a temple that was used as a worship place for God, but the Jewish people understood that God was not just a statue. In fact, it wasn’t like there was a God statue. When the Temple was destroyed, it didn’t mean that God was destroyed. The Old Testament is rather clear about that point that God is independent from His creation. God existed before anything else was created.
Compare that to the idea of a graven image that is worshiped. Often times, it seems as if the idol itself is the object of worship, so when you trample that, what do you have left? It is much more symbolic to tear down something that is actually a graven image. That meaning probably would not have been lost on the people of Israel.
To answer my previous thought, it seems to me that God was using these times that would’ve been difficult for the people of Israel as a way to help bring them back to Himself. By tearing down the idols, it would have pointed out that these are graven images are inadequate. It would challenge the people think about when was the last time any God came through for them. I know of one that met their needs for their entire history.
In Judges chapter 18, we find out what is truly special about God as opposed to all the other gods that Micah created when we read yesterday.
Jdg 18:23 And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?
Jdg 18:24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?
Micah had been invaded by the children of Dan, and they decided that they wanted to steal away his gods and the priest that he had employed.
Of course, as you read above, he was upset because he had nothing left, and he was actually 100% accurate.
All that he had were the physical idols that he had created because those gods did not exist. He entirely made them up.
That is what is so special about God. He is alive, He does exist and even though people can take away everything else, they cannot take away our God.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
If you think about the implications of these two verses put together, God will always be with us, and He will always love us.
I think it is a lot better than Micah’s gods who were nothing more than molten images.
Judges chapter 17 seems a lot like selective listening to me. Micah knew that God wants our worship, but he decided to take matters into his own hands.
First for some background:
Jdg 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.
Jdg 17:2 And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son.
Jdg 17:3 And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.
Essentially, he stole a large amount of silver from his mother. However, perhaps his conscience instructed him to give it back to her, and she was obviously glad to have it back. Then, she said that she dedicated the money to God, and she wanted an idol to be made out of it.
You can imagine that God was probably not too thrilled about this development given that idolatry is generally what got Israel in trouble over the years. If we advance a few verses, the situation is explained perfectly.
Jdg 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
However, Micah was not satisfied with having his idol. He made an elaborate setup, and even went out to hired a priest to work in his house.
Jdg 17:10 And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in.
Jdg 17:11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.
Jdg 17:12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.
Jdg 17:13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.
In my mind, hiring the priest in this situation was little more than window dressing. By reading that last verse, you can see that that the priest was almost like a steppingstone to success. To make God happy, he decided that he needed to have a Levite living within his house.
There is nothing wrong with that, but he was missing the idea that having all of the idols was wrong. You cannot selectively listen to God. I hope that none of us are doing that. Idolatry is a powerful opponent, and we need to resist its temptation.