In Micah 1 judgment is declared to be coming to Israel because of her unfaithfulness and persistent rebellion. They had constantly broken the covenant and were simply not listening to the prophets sent to warn them. The northern Kingdom was already too far gone, and the Southern Kingdom was following the same path. “Would faith survive in such an environment?” or “Would the idolatry and unbelief spread like a cancer and leave God without a witness on the earth?”
God’s promises apply to those who abide in Him. Judgment is the consequences of our decision to turn our backs on Him and live outside of His will.
In Micah 2, God declares that the whole nation was going astray and His people had become His enemies. Not only had they broken the covenant and chosen the way of disobedience, they were also refusing to admit that there was anything wrong. The north was about to be evicted, and the south was arriving at the same situation. A reprieve or even a reversal could happen immediately if only they would repent. But, few were listening. The chapter ends with hope. A remnant that would remain true to the Lord and the covenant, despite the pressures and compromise and rebellion around them, would be the means for Him to bless the world. God would bring the seed of promise (Messiah) through them. Zerabbabel (seed of Babel) lead a large group back from exile (south kingdom), over two centuries later, and he became part of the genealogy of Jesus.
God looks for people who willing to stand in the Gap for Him in every generation – to testify to the truth no matter what the cost. Without the truth, we have no hope, no testimony and eventually no witnesses. The truth can be lost in one generation, or it can transform the next.
Salvation Army (Church or Welfare Organization?)
How would General Booth view the Salvation Army today? He had such a passion for the lost – especially those whom society had given up on – and started the Army to reach them. He offered care with the Gospel, but he did not look to be part of the welfare state. Many people I know, don’t even realize that the Salvo’s (That is what we call them in Australia) are a Church.
Mercy Ministries (Gospel of Compassion) Nancy Alcorn was a social worker who became frustrated by the System because it failed to bring real change and real hope to people. Compassion without truth becomes a band-aid that can give relief but never healing. God told her to start Mercy Ministries without Government funding. Why? Because the money came with other agenda’s and often demanded compromise.
CORRUPT AND UNJUST LEADERS
When corruption, injustice and unbelief get entrenched in positions of power, sometimes disaster is the only way to dislodge them. The people had the leaders they wanted, but when they went bad the people couldn’t get rid of them. Corruption and injustice amongst the leaders of a society make it very difficult for those who rely on them to do the right thing. Unfortunately God couldn’t help them, because they themselves were unwilling to turn away from their evil deeds.
CORRUPT AND BLIND PROPHETS
The prophets and religious leaders on the other hand had turned religion into a profit-making business. They were no longer interested in what God was really saying. They preferred to turn some of the things He’d said in the past into slogans that sounded great but never addressed their lifestyle contradictions. Truth (especially as it related to their situation and time) was far from their consideration because it didn’t pay well and was too negative. Speaking nice positive words was their bread and butter, but they could be very nasty and negative when threatened (especially by truth tellers like Micah). They were experts at taking the ‘high moral ground’ in debates. In a climate of false optimism, it would be very easy for these spin-doctors to manipulate the people and make those who spoke for truth sound like ‘party poopers’ or even ‘traitors’.
GOD’S PROPHET (MICAH) SPEAKS THE TRUTH BOLDLY
Then Micah contrasts his own ministry with the false prophets by saying that He speaks the truth – even when it may be unpalatable – because that is what is required of someone who represents God and speaks for Him. But, the truth can be a dangerous thing (for the messenger) when it contradicts the sea of consensus in a society. And societies like to make an example of those who dare to say something different. Modern examples include Gays Rights and Climate change. The greater the pressure to conform (political correctness, intimidation), the greater is the temptation to compromise for the sake of peace and popularity. This issue of faithfulness applies not just to our message but also to our lifestyle. Ezra 7:10 makes it very clear that we must be learns and doers, before we can be teachers. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge in a given situation, not the accumulation of knowledge.
YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND MAMMON
Money and power is the driving motivation in Israel amongst its leaders and prophets and as a result truth is often sacrificed on the altar of personal gain. Some would argue that everyone has their price – it’s just a case of finding out how much. But it’s the more subtle arguments– especially the religious ones – that can shift our allegiances before we realize it. Affluence in Western society is just as dangerous to God’s people as persecution in other places.
Micah’s message of judgment is a warning against refusing to listen to the truth which can turn us away from the path to disaster. In the next chapter we will see that God’s desire is to bring mercy and hope – IF ONLY HIS PEOPLE WOULD COME BACK TO HIS WAYS. Despite the fact that a whole generation had gone astray, the truth still had the power to set people free and give them hope. And we know from first hand experience that the gospel can completely change the direction of a person, a family, a community and even a nation, when it takes root in hearts.
1. It is very hard to go against the consensus when you know the truth, but impossible when you don’t. Discuss.
2. Will we be faithful to the truth when it becomes unpopular? Will we be true to what scripture clearly says, even when our educated elite tell us otherwise?
3. Does our lifestyle reinforce the message we represent or do others see serious contradictions (hypocrisy). Do we allow Scripture to challenge and question the culture we live in and the values that we take from it.
Share a personal insight.
4. What did the Bereans do when faced with the teachings of Paul? (Acts 17) Why is their example so important in todays challenging times? How should we respond when there is corruption and false teaching coming from the pulpit?