When rebellion and evil take hold, people will become a law unto themselves and push the boundaries as far as they can. The people of Israel were not listening to God, His prophets, or the Scriptures and they were not keeping the covenant either. Consequently, God gave them notice that they will be evicted from the land. Sin, like a cancer had overwhelmed the Northern Kingdom, and was threatening to do the same in the South (Judah) so God had to do something. If faith was to be preserve on the earth then He would have to restrain the forces that were trying to destroy the faithful.
God had made a covenant of blessing with His people but He had also warned them that if they removed themselves from under His dominion and protection that there would be consequences. In His compassion (mercy) and great patience, God gave them every opportunity to come to their senses and turn away from idolatry and rebellion. Even as He told them of the impending judgment, repentance was always what He wanted. It may not reverse the coming troubles but it could re-establish hope.
God’s unconditional love drives Him to seek us out and invite us to return our lives to their rightful place UNDER his dominion, but His conditional approval results from His commitment ‘not to violate our right to choose’. It is not His desire that any of us perish, yet He will allow us to choose to do so – for that is the consequence of our rebellion. Everything Israel was about, pointed in the final analysis to the coming Messiah – Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the seed of promise spoken of to Abraham.
ABUSING YOUR POWER
“For it is in the power of their hands” v1
Micah addresses those with power and influence, and focuses on them for special condemnation because they had abused their authority and lead many of the people astray. The result was that God’s people had become like God’s enemies.
James 4:8-10 talks about clean hands and pure hearts as indicators of a persons standing before God. Hands devoted to doing Gods will and a heart that is single-minded in its focus is what drawing near to God is about. The people Micah was preaching to knew nothing of such things, and increasingly this is becoming true in the West where true Christianity is being compromised in an attempt to remain relevant.
AN EVICTION NOTICE
“To the apostate He apportions our fields.” v4
So corrupt were many of the people, that God was seriously thinking about their eviction. They coveted, schemed and broke every commandment, polluting the land. They were making the other nations blush. They not only had forfeited the right to receive God’s blessings, they were also in danger of losing what they still had. And, it concerns me that we in the West are at a similar crossroads.
It wouldn’t be long before the Assyrians overran the North and they even reached the doors of Jerusalem. Fortunately, King Hezekiah and the people of Judah listened to the prophets and experienced a miraculous deliverance.
Unfortunately, judgment was only postponed. The Southern Kingdom would also be overrun around 150 years later, because of its unfaithfulness. Ironically, it was the son of Hezekiah (Manasseh) who would seal their fate when he allowed child sacrifice. And, how long will God put up with the West where millions of unborn babies continue to be sacrificed on the altar of “My Choice”
APPROVAL MUST BE CONDITIONAL
“Do not MY words do good to the one walking uprightly.”v7
Many of the people could not/would not see that they were reaping the consequences of their own rebellion. They seemed to have little or no awareness of their sin and how God felt about it. The false prophets only encouraged this by telling them positive messages and putting all the emphasis on the blessings of being God’s people, while ignoring the conditionality of the covenant. The land was supposed to be a place of rest, security, peace and blessing. Instead, it had become a place where uncleanness, rebellion, idolatry and selfishness had been legitimized by giving them a religious veneer. Sin had become fashionable and was given a facelift to make it more palatable – a bit like what has happened in the West today.
The majority is not always right, but it is often easier to go along with the crowd rather than contradict them. Truth is not about votes, it’s about what is right according to God. If we want God’s approval, we will often find the world disapproves of us.
Scripture tells us that in the last days lawlessness will reign. What this means is that the whole idea of right and wrong and sin is rejected in favor of “whatever is right for you.” Repentance can turn the tide, but if people don’t believe in sin as God defines it, they wont see the need to repent.
“I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.”v12
The land would have to be cleansed because God must restrain sin if He is to preserve faith on the earth. He promises to preserve a remnant and send a Messiah King when the time is right - a glimmer of hope in dark times. Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations but so often simply became just like them and sometimes worse. When a society turns away from the Lord, He seeks a remnant who will stand with Him and remain faithful no matter what. They can become a catalyst for revival that can bring a nation back from the brink; they can also guide people back to the light after the dust of disaster settles.
Micah had some hard words for Israel but the hope was that they would repent rather than continue on their path towards destruction. God’s blessing can never be unconditional and so when we refuse to live under His dominion, obey His commandments and trust in His promises, we expose ourselves to the harsh consequences inherent in a fallen world. Even the faithful cannot always be spared from the harsh realities of this fallen world, but they can at least find consolation in the knowledge that God has promised to work all things together for their good.
The Lord is always looking for people willing to forsake all to do His will – both in Micah’s day and today.
Revelation 12:10 tells us that “They overcame him (satan) by the blood of the lamb, by the word of their testimony, and because they did not love their lives even unto death.”
1. Why can’t God give unconditional approval? How is unconditional love different?
2. Micah was someone God could count on to speak the truth, even when it wasn’t popular nor wanted. What are the scriptural themes that our society – and even some churches – prefer not to talk about?
3. God is constantly looking for faithful servants to Stand in the Gap as His representatives on the earth. How have you been called to do so, and how are your going?