In the old Advent Christian Church in Seattle there used to hang an abstract painting donated by one of the members. After it was hung up on the wall, the artist saw his painting and was surprised because it was upside down. He was even more surprised because he liked it better.
In today’s Bible lesson, the people of God are shocked when Micah turns the world upside down. Everything they thought important, the life they have come to love and cherish, is turn around (READ Mic. 3:12). When God upends life, it may be hard at the moment, but the truth leads to the fullness of life.
- For those who listen, Micah 3 is not words of judgment, but a warning so our lives will turn around. Like the 1, 2, 3 warning of parents to misbehaving children…
- For those who don’t listen, Micah 3 is judgment leading to destruction.
If God had determined the people had gone too far away from him and were doomed for destruction, there would be no need to send prophets. 30 years ago I enjoyed a quirky tv show called Wally George’s Hot Seat. Wally George debated guests. The only specific show I remember is the guy from the flat earth society… around and around they went about whether the earth was flat or round. Finally, when Wally George had enough, he pushed his button-ending-debate sending an electrical charge to the seat of his sparring partner and the debate is over. [Side note: I want Wally George back to moderate a presidential debate!]
God does not put us on the hot seat to condemn us eternally to hell as soon as he grows weary of us. He warns. He teaches. He gives opportunity to respond to His truth. He expresses His love. He forgives. God sends Micah to give the people opportunity to repent, an opportunity to allow God to change us… Today he sends leaders. He needs leaders of integrity. Christians today are given the tremendous privilege to be modern prophets and leaders, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a world desperate for answers. People need to hear that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
False prophets are attractive. There is a demand for false prophets even among Popular Christianity: tell me what I want to hear. Don’t judge me. Don’t tell me I am wrong. Only preach God is love but don’t tell me about his Lordship over every aspect of my life. Tell me about what I will receive when I become a Christian not what I have to give up. Encourage me but skip accountability. Tell me I am a good person but suggesting I live by strict standards is too painful. Gloss over obedience. Eliminate hell./// No doubt but that the false prophets and leaders Micah has in mind are popular. If they were not popular, they would have no standing and the people would already have their hearts right side up.
The false prophets Micah targets preach peace to those that are good to them and destruction to those that don’t treat them right READ Mich. 3:5…. I understand the temptation to please people, to keep people happy…If I only tell people what I think they want to hear, I do nothing to help people mature in faith.
Perhaps the most significant word/phrase in Mich. 3:5 is God’s affectionate description, “MY PEOPLE.” All leaders, teachers, pastors, preachers, and prophets would do well to never forget nobody owns anybody ~ all belong to God. When God says “My people” it is a term of endearment. Too many churches, act as if they have rights to the people. Not so… each of you belong to God, you listen to Him, you seek to serve Him, Jesus Christ is the head of the church, not the board, not the pastor, not the elders… When God is upset about the teaching of the false prophets, it is hurting people who belong to Him. God declares, “As for the prophets who lead MY PEOPLE astray…” A tremendous truth to know God is fighting for us because he loves us passionately….
God’s word says all false prophets have limits. READ Micah 3:6-7. Listening to the words of False Prophets sounds good, but the wisdom is limited. The day will come when the words of those who only speak what you want to hear will be hollow, “the sun will set…” the teaching of false prophets is a dead end. We as a society have been sold a bill of goods. The more laws of “freedom” that are passed the more discontent we grow as a society. I believe the sun is now setting on the voice of the false prophets of our popular culture. Our world is running out of answers which explains why there is out of control discontent, violence, extreme voices ~~ the wisdom of the world has had it’s chance and it is falling short of the promise of world peace. The sun is setting… READ Mic. 3:7.
I’ll come back to Mic. 3:8. This verse speaks to God’s need for leaders of integrity.
Mic. 3:9-12 emphasizes once again the upside down world of the false prophets. He is speaking to the leaders, phrases like despise justice, distort all that is right… sounds like our flip-flopped world with crazy priorities, the anger, accusations… people no longer talk with respect, instead we yell at each other with angry monologues. Sally can hardly stand some of the news shows I used to watch [the last six plus months I’ve turned most off] because the talking heads yell over the top of each other rather than listening and responding. Our politicians no longer answer questions but talk around the topic to avoid real solutions. Our society is competing pitting the “rights” of one group over another rather than working together for the common good.
Listen to Mic. 3:9-10. READ. This is similar to the words of Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” We live in a crazy making world! Divisions. Isolation.
Mic. 3:11 lists the patterns of the day and describes the double mindedness of the misguided leaders. READ first half. If you have a legal problem do to the judge, a religious problem see the priest, a personal problem the prophet will help you. Who are the false prophets today? advertisers who want to sell you products and experiences that are guaranteed to make you happy. Politicians with easy answers. Preachers who tell you everything is good and nobody is wrong. Society says you are a victim. The self help industry says take charge of your life and think happy thoughts.
Not surprisingly false prophets even fool themselves? READ Mic. 3:11b. False prophets yell loud and long because they are so sincere! Many people proclaim they have insight into the true God of their creation, building a false sense of security… watered down versions of God are hollow. The sun is setting…
Mic. 3:12. READ. For those who have ears to hear this verse is GRACE ~~ it is a warning to change. The sun is setting. I do not know how much longer the world can go on following after false prophets with their dead end promises. If it were only judgment, God would zap the people like they were on Wally George’s Hot Seat, but He warns.
God needs leaders of integrity to confidently speak truth. Mic. 3:8 is an amazing verse because Micah contrasts his own calling as a prophet with the false prophets. READ. God needs leaders of integrity who speak the truth. He needs people to step up in positions of influence so the message of Jesus Christ will penetrate into the confusion of people’s lives and turn the world upside down. He needs leaders who refuse to only tell people what they want to hear and instead tell people what they need to hear.
Micah is willing to point to himself as a good example of what it means to be a leader of integrity? “as for me, I am filled with power with the Spirit of the Lord.” This is NOT arrogance… Even we in little old Sumas need to be able to have confidence and boldness to declare God is with us. God does give Carl Crouse words at times, he does put me in amazing situations, I think even this past week of the people I’ve talked to, personal heartaches, major money issues, hard living conditions, unrealistic expectations, disputes, I think I bring a measure of wisdom from God, a spirit of peace, a smidgeon of sanity…I hope you are able to make the same declarationyou’re your world! My prayer is that I am not a false prophet only telling people what they want to hear, but willing to point out sin, misguided ideas, unfair goals… Micah says that unlike the false prophets, he does declare sin to be sin, wrong to be wrong, craziness to be craziness.
Micah is filled with power, but not his own: “I am filled with power with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might…” I know right from wrong because God through His Spirit is in me. The world around us needs leaders of integrity who are focused on justice, right and wrong, leaders who represent God and the truth of Jesus Christ.
God will use leaders of integrity with truth and justice to turn the world upside down so that people will return to God and hearts will be right side up. Be those leaders. Let’s shed our passive ways in which we sit back waiting for others to risk and instead ask God to use us to speak truth, seek justice, love people so much we’re willing to tell them they are sinners that can only be saved by grace.
There are too many false prophets motivated by their own gain telling people what they want to hear.
At some level, God is calling every person to impact other people around them. He will use you in your world to make a difference to others. Take on leadership roles, formally and informally. Our church needs leaders. Our community needs leaders. Chad and I and the elders are not called as leaders of everything, but rather to help empower others in their roles to take on the tasks within their gifts and opportunities. Talk to us. Pray for God to reveal where he wants you to serve, who he wants you to reach with the good news of salvation. God needs leaders of integrity in every area of society. Be a leader of integrity in your family. May you be able to say boldly with Micah, I am filled with power through the Spirit of the Lord, seeking justice, telling truth, and eyes wide open to sin.”
The world is out of kilter with many false prophets, way too much yelling at one another and fighting with competing ideas. It is time for God’s people to take on the mantle of the prophets of old, seeking justice, telling the truth, and proclaiming the only answer is the forgiveness of sins through the cross of Jesus Christ. Amen.