This is the first in a series of studies on the book of Micah. Micah spoke to a people who did not want the truth if it meant hearing bad news. They were proud of their religiosity and loved the prophets who told them what they liked to hear. Sadly, they had closed their ears to the words that could have brought them to repentance and averted the disasters that came upon them. God was not impressed by their superficial spirituality that neglected the things that matter most to God. We would do well to learn the lessons today that they failed to take seriously back then.
1. Messages against Samaria, Jerusalem Key verses Micah 1:8,9
2. Evils of Israel’s people Key verses Micah 2:8-10
3. Sins of Israel’s leaders Key verses Micah 3:11,12
6. Actions of injustice rebuked Key verses Micah 6:6-9
7. Hope in God’s Promises, future Key verses Micah 7:8,18
Key Verses Micah 4:11, 12
“And now many nations have been assembled against you who say, “Let her be polluted and let our eyes gloat over Zion.” BUT, they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand His purpose.”
*Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos and Hosea.
*Assyria was the power of the region and the period.
*Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, after the split during the reign of Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) about 80 years earlier.
*Jerusalem was the capital of all of Israel when she was one nation, but became the capital of Judah the Southern Kingdom.
*Assyria would take the Northern Kingdom at the end of Micah’s ministry (722)
*Babylon overcomes Assyria and later takes Jerusalem 150 years later.
*Assyria took siege of Jerusalem (Sennacherib) but failed when God intervened and 185000 soldiers died. Hezekiah saw Jerusalem miraculously saved, and gained an extra 15 years of life. But, his son Manasseh was born and became Judah’s most evil king.
*The remnant refers to all those who remained faithful to the covenant and walked with the Lord, despite the internal and external pressures. They continued to stand in the gap between God and the world He was seeking to save.
Micah preached during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah and was a contemporary of Isaiah.
He addressed the PEOPLE and RULERS of SAMARIA and JERUSALEM telling them they were doomed to destruction because of their idolatry, injustice and greed. The Assyrians will judge the Northern Kingdom, and the Babylonians would judge the Southern Kingdom about 150 years later. The only thing that could change the situation would be a major revival and a deep repentance from the heart.
Despite the doom and gloom, a third city, BETHLEHEM, is mentioned as the focal point of HOPE. From her will come the MESSIAH who will reign in Zion over a spared remnant of His people. He will crush all His enemies – symbolized by the Assyrians – and bring peace to His people. In that day the remnant will say, “Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.” Micah 7:18
SAMARIA AND JERUSALEM
Today, we will look at chapter one, where Micah speaks to the people of the divided Kingdom. Prophets like Micah were rare in a nation infected with false prophets and false shepherds. He was trying to tell the people the unpalatable truth while all the others told them what they wanted to hear.
Micah begins with a bang as he addresses his message to the two capital cities as representatives of God’s people. “For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country…..” and “…a calamity has come from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.” With such lines, no wonder Micah never got invited back to any place he preached at. He was competing with a multitude of others who spoke “Peace” and “Is not the Lord in our midst?” Each had behaved more like prostitutes – willing to sleep with anyone that had what they wanted – than as faithful wives to the Lord.
Over a century later, Ezekiel refers to these two cities as he tries to teach the Babylonian exiles and prepare them for the time when God would return them to the land,just as He promised. In Ezekiel 23, they are referred to as sisters who had both lusted after the enemies of God and turned their backs on the Lord. When one sister (Oholah – Samaria) was judged, the other sister (Oholibah – Jerusalem) failed to learn anything and eventually suffered the same judgment. Yet, from out of the disaster, a remnant had survived to keep the faith alive.
FAITHFULNESS OR POPULARITY?
Micah was dealing with a people who claimed to be “Seeking God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness” while they were in fact “Seeking their own kingdom and their own righteousness.” In many ways, they looked like the people of God yet their hearts were elsewhere.
God refers to them in Isaiah 58 when he tells Isaiah to say, “…raise your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression…their sins. They delight in the nearness of God [saying] Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and thou dost not notice? [God replies] Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself…bowing one’s head…Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free?...Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh…”
But, they weren’t listening to Isaiah either.
SO, how do you stack up next to the people of Micah’s day”? Are you going through the motions while your heart is elsewhere?
PRESERVING THE FAITH MEANS SIFTING THE SAINTS
Jesus asks in Luke 18:8 “However, when the Son of man comes [again], will He find faith on the earth?” and this is the issue that most concerns the Lord, including in the time of Micah. The northern Kingdom had totally turned its back on the Lord and the people had given their hearts fully to idolatry. But it gets worse. Micah 1:8,9 tell us that the idolatry was spreading like an infection such that it had reached the gates of Jerusalem. If the Lord didn’t do something, there may not even be a remnant left to be His witnesses amongst the nations and Israel would not give birth to the seed of promise, the Messiah. The northern Kingdom had to be sifted and the encroaching evil restrained. Ironically, it was unbeliever who would help to preserve faith on the earth.
MY WORD SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY
If you follow the history of Judah after the demise of the Northern kingdom, there continued to be faithful and evil kings. The worse of all the kings in Israel’s history was Manasseh, who practiced child sacrifice; but the best, Josiah, was the one whom God was able to use to lay the foundations for a remnant to return after the Southern Kingdom was exiled to Babylon. He was responsible for some major reforms, but more importantly for a revival of the Scriptures amongst the people. Sadly, many hearts remained unchanged and so judgment was only postponed for a time, but enough hearts were touched so that there were people left to return 70 years later. Hilkiah was the one who found the scrolls that got Josiah on the right track. His grandson was Ezra. And Zerubbabel, the leader of the first group to return from Babylon, is one of the descendants of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel genealogies.
STANDING IN THE GAP AS GOD'S REPRESENTATIVES
Micah spoke to a people who had turned their back on the Lord, and yet they still went through the motions. They failed to see that they had shifted allegiances from seeking and building God’s Kingdom to their own, and from seeking the righteousness of faith (see Romans 4:22-24 – a faith like Abraham) to seeking their own righteousness. He was one of only a few willing to Stand in the gap and faithfully represent God. And God is still looking for such people today. That is what it means to be a disciple. Until Christ comes again, we are His representatives and witnesses on the earth.
1. Are we seeking His Kingdom and His or are we actually building our own kingdom and pursing our own righteousness?
2. And, what is the real state of our churches in the developed countries, even the really successful ones that have thousands coming to them each week?