We know that this chapter was most likely preached during the reign of Hezekiah–as we’ll see later in Jeremiah’s quote. Hence Micah denounces all the rulers, priests and prophets–yet not the king. The king is not without sin, but this king loves YHWH and has reinstated worship of YHWH and torn down high places etc…
“Hear now, heads of Jacob, rulers of the house of Israel” (3:1); “Now hear this, heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel” (3:9). The ones who should know justice, and who were entrusted to carry out justice, will be hearing about the LORD’s justice directed toward their wickedness.
Good, Evil, Calamity, Darkness
3:2, we see the rulers and authorities love evil and hate good; this is not unique to them, this is the human condition apart from God’s work in our hearts. We exchange the truth for a lie, we define “good” and “evil” from our own reasonings and opinions rather than admitting there could be a foundation for such knowledge. We do not seek knowledge, we claim to have “our own truth,” “my truth.” Personal truth is not a Christian construct, it is a sinful human construct. If you are going to be doing any deconstructing–it is “your own truth” that needs to be demolished to make room for God’s light to shine in your heart.
Verse three shows us the brutality to which the leaders have gone; though they should serve the people they have oppressed and abused and destroyed. So what do the leaders, who have distressed the people, do in their own distress? Call out to the LORD. They know He has revealed Himself as YHWH, LORD, the faithful covenant keeping personal God. They take this for granted, but God is not fooled. They call out to Him, and He turns His back to them. This is the essence of hell. What does all sin deserve? They are about to find out.
3:6 Calamity and Darkness go together; turn to Isaiah 8:22, Amos 5:18 and 8:9 to see how the words are used by these prophets as well. Think of the people dwelling in darkness, and upon them a Light has shined. The darkness is metaphorical for the condition of our souls apart from knowing God, apart from the knowledge of God.
They have falsely prophesied peace, led the people to seek God in false ways, and have done their business for bribes. God’s specific word to them is that they will not see or hear from Him, they will have to face their darkness. Darkness implies uncertainty, insecurity, fear and dread, and an inability to know what to do.
When the Light shines upon us we can know Him, know ourselves, and have a realistic view of the world around us–including our circumstances. See also John chapters 1 and 3; and 2 Corinthians 4. When we realize our wickedness our tendency is to stay in the dark, to creep further into the darkness, to hide. God delights to shine His light; revealing our sin and shame–and His redemption. The false prophets kept this knowledge from the people.
Cover their mouths: to cover the beard is a cause for shame according to Leviticus 13:45; so as they cover, they cover their “glory” and are visibly ashamed. Their sins will be known, not hidden. God is ending their time of misleading His people.
3:8 Micah is a contrast from false prophets! We also know from the history books and Isaiah that Micah was not the only faithful prophet; yet they are the minority compared to the whole school of prophets.
In Micah was the Holy Spirit!!! See also Jeremiah 5:13 & Ezek. 13:3. It is wonderful to ponder the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament. Because of the Spirit in him, Micah knows justice and courage, and will make known to the people their sin.
3:9-10 All the rulers are once again addressed, namely that their love of money takes away their ability to carry out justice. Not only do they act unjustly, they have built the kingdom up on “violent injustice” with “bloodshed.” They do not act on conscience, or in virtue, or according to God’s ways–they act according to the bribe given and their own deceived hearts.
Priests are commanded to teach without charge: Num 18:20, Deut 17:8-11 and 18:2, Lev 10:11. The prophets are not the only ones serving their greed, the priests too will only teach for gain. All their needs were cared for in the Mosaic law, freeing them to teach without gain, yet their love of money leads them astray.
“We are fine!”
After all that is known of their actions, yet they casually say “yes, but, YHWH is with us, for us! No calamity can come on us!” Yet, it is on account of them that it comes. The calamity promised during Moses’ ministry among them; the calamity spoken of by other prophets previously; yet they think they can casually dismiss this word.
3:12 Quoted in Jeremiah 26:18; see also Lam 5:18. Prophets do not typically quote each other, though by the Spirit their messages can be similar and all working together beautifully.
“Therefore on account of you Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.”
Notice what is spoken of in Nehemiah 2:17 and 4:2, Micah’s prophecy has been fulfilled. We take to heart from this that God’s word is sure, and trustworthy, and full of hope for us. He carried out His purpose in sending calamity (see here) and He carried out His purpose when He gathered them from captivity. He carries out His plan of redemption still!
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.’”Nehemiah 2:17
“He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?’”Nehemiah 4:2
Their home and land will be cleansed, purified, and brought back to a flourishing condition. The LORD is indeed in their midst, but not to be taken for granted; His mercies are new every morning–but He has mercy on whom He has mercy, we cannot expect Him to merely ignore sins and unfaithfulness.
YHWH is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.Psalm 145:18
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