Last week we began our study of Micah, see here. Today we embark on chapter one. With this book as well, we must reading asking “How does this point me to Christ? How does this help me understanding God’s redemptive work, in relation to His promises and covenant faithfulness and Sovereignty?” So open up your Bible, and read along.
This book begins by showing God coming as Judge. He is “coming” though we know He is omnipresent. He has been patient, sending prophets to call them back, now His prophets come with the message that judgment is coming–and they describe what it will feel like. Micah is passionate, and does not attempt to harness his emotions as he views the coming destruction of Judah and Israel–the coming of Sennacharib and invasion of Babylon that would last 70 years.
The Judge, The Sins
Micah 1:2 a call to all people, not just elders, to be witnesses to God’s judgment. There were many present who thought God would not judge; others who were too hard hearted to care; and a faithful remnant (including Micah) who take comfort in God’s nearness, but know that His coming for judgment is not a mere formality.
1:5 all this for rebellion and sin. Not for naught. Not a knee-jerk reaction. Earned. Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah (and the former Israel) and center of worship for the One True God has become a ‘high place’ just as Samaria. This city was the heart of the country.
1:8 mourning, groaning, grief. Micah was dressed for mourning, and similarly to Isaiah was called to this as a prophet. God is showing His people how deeply He is grieved by our sin and rebellion, our idolatry and fickle false worship.
Similarly–2 Cor 5 and Romans 8–we groan with the first-fruits of the Spirit at work in us. He lives in us, prays for us, comforts and helps. Yet He spurs us on to groan with all of creation–wanting desperately what we were created for. We either grieve the Spirit, or groan with Him. We should groan over sin, longing to see God at work, lavishing His grace on us and others around us. We should groan over the evil we see at work in the world.
1:9 incurable wound. Picture being shot and the bullet grazes your bicep. Now picture getting shot in the heart. One of those is incurable. Jerusalem, the heart of their LIFE is supposed to be the place of true worship and not a high place. This is incurable. It will be judged as such.
We want EVERYTHING to be redeemed, do we not? We want even the high places to be ‘redeemed’ and ‘repurposed’ for God’s glory. But here we see that ripping apart Samaria is to God’s glory. Worshipping according to our own hearts desire rather than according to God’s revealed will is non-negotiable. He does not redeem our idols, our high places, our false worship, our incorporation of pagan practices.
If we abandon what He has revealed we do not worship in spirit and truth. If we add to it, or redeem other religions for His sake, we do not worship in spirit and truth.
Q: How is this seen today, in your corner of the world? How has this crept into your own worship?
Tell it not in Gath, why? How would the Philistines react to hearing that God is judging His own? Would they not mock?
Weep not at all. Why? Micah is about to call Israel to lament, but first he addresses those whose weeping would be the weeping of Esau at this point.
Time to Grieve Your Own Sin
1:11 go on your way in shameful nakedness. Genesis 3 “naked and ashamed.” Also similar to Micah’s own nakedness; grieving, mourning. In our western culture, most tend to view all shame as evil–nothing one chooses should be considered wrong or sinful and to address something as such is pure evil.
Rather, in this cultural context, shame was often used to restore one into the covenant community, and into communion with God. Shame was felt by one who knew he had sinned, and wanted forgiveness and righteousness. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes” by Richards and O’Brien. What should they be mourning? Cf Jer 6:12-15, Isaiah 22:12f
Micah 1:12 Calamity (also 2:3, 3:11) cf Isaiah 45:7; 41:23; Amos 3:6-10; Isaiah 22:6-7 . Micah was telling the people very clearly that Assyria taking over was a calamity, one that came from God.
Do these come from the hand of a Loving Father? A Wise and Faithful God? Omnipotent? Yes. Are these for our good and His glory? Jeremiah 29, yes. Spending time meditating on these passages, asking Him to teach you, will lead you further into the love of God and steadfastness of Christ (2 Thess. 3:5). Knowing this will keep you from despair (2 Cor 4) as you face trials in this life. We are never called on to figure things out, like “why this calamity? Who sinned? What should I learn? What is He trying to tell me through this?” We face the calamity, walking with Him–the One who will never leave you nor forsake you. The One who loved you all the way to the cross (Romans 5:8) and whose love endures forever.
Not Trusting God
God’s people turned to false gods, were spiritual harlots, looking for new innovative ways to worship and to incorporate idols and foreign practices. God’s people also turned to chariots. They want want their nation to look like all the others, with security that is tangible; so they defy God’s command and amass chariots and take pride and security from princes rather than God.
Pause here, turn to Psalm 146.
They looked to princes and chariots, and to their well-to-do cities, like Achzib, which in Hebrew means “lie,” similar to brooks that are dry in summer, see Jeremiah 15:18. You think a prosperous city will keep you, and life will be fine; it is a lie. You think that if you work hard enough, spend well and have nice things, that you are blessed (another lie).
Micah 1:15 Adullam, and Israel’s glory. Adullam had a Cave–1 Sam 22:1, 2; 2 Sam 23:13; the very cave David hid in, and built up and fortified. But Adullam was also a city with surrounding villages that would later be restored, Nehemiah 11:30. This place was a picture of wealth, strength, and safety. This is the glory the world looks for, not the true glory of God’s people. When God comes as Judge we lose all our false glory.
Micah 1:16 see 2 Kings 20, especially vs 16-19; worldly wisdom creeps in whispering ”well sucks to be my kid, but I’m ok!” Hezekiah was comforted that he would not suffer though his sons would. Consider your children who go into exile on account of you! This is not judgement on your children, though they feel the impact of your sins greatly. The children will return, God has chosen a remnant.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash