We’ll be spending this Summer in Micah. Little Micah oftentimes gets overshadowed by his contemporaries Hosea, Amos and especially the towering Isaiah. Today an overview of Micah: highlights, what is a prophet, who is God, and what the message of Micah means for us.
~~ Prominent politicians speak in prophetic terms: if we don’t pass this law there will be death, the U.S. will slip to become a third world country, the middle class will disappear…
~~ Environmental talk is prophetic; those with the loudest voices preach doom and gloom and the end of the earth.
~~ Most superheros are prophetic at their core. Sally and I saw Wonder Woman Friday. very entertaining, I’m not buying into the Greek Pantheon of gods as the backdrop of the story, but what I appreciated is that the bottom line message of Wonder Woman is that she concludes humankind is essentially evil and so the work of doing good must continue. If I were to translate the Bible into a modern paraphrase, I’d consider describing the prophets of God as God’s superheros…. (probably not but it’s a fun thought), I like the idea of Micah the Superhero.
~~ Many folks start with the premise humankind is basically good, which means prophetic voices with that assumption such as communism, secularism, atheism are always wrong in the solutions.
True prophets speak from the perspective of God. With many noisy prophets all around, it takes wisdom, prayer, scripture, listening to God, to know false from true…
Micah is a true superhero… I mean prophet…“The Word of the Lord came to Micah of Moresheth…” Moresheth is a small town in Judah. Micah seems to have preached entirely in Jerusalem. If that is the case, Micah is country boy moved to big city. Perhaps that colored the way the people of the city heard him and responded… , it also means he brings a fresh set of eyes to the city. All prophets are real people with a background, personality… A true prophet speaks for God….
All books of the Bible are written in a context. The date and place can be elusive, but in the case of Micah it is specific: “during the years when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. The messages concerned both Samaria and Jerusalem” I know this gets confusing, but the historical times in which Micah preached is good to understand. In our country we have 100’s of references to our past evoke impressions of the times: e.g. The Civil War, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, the 50’s, 70s, 911, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump. The Kings of Micah’s times brings to mind feelings. Jotham is the King followng the great Uzziah. Micah’s contemporary Isaiah uttered the words, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord High and Lifted Up…” (Is. 6:1). Transition times are always times of nervousness. Uncertainty. This is why most people who make a commitment to Christ do so when there are changes.
Micah begins preaching in the mid 700’s b.c., Israel is a separate nation from Judah. Mic. 1:1 says the message is about Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah. The two nations are brothers, estranged brothers, but brothers, descendants of Jacob. Micah preaches to the people of Judah, but he has one eye on Israel.
About 20 years after Micah begins his 60+ year ministry the Assyrians destroy Israel. Micah points to the north: “if we in Judah do not remain faithful to God, we are going to suffer the same fate as Israel…” Uzziah, the king of 52 years who brought stability and God honoring practices, has died. A transition in Kings is always a time for nations to be tested…
I hope this brief history helps put Micah in the context of the times. Just remember Micah is pointing to the bad behavior of Judah’s brother Israel as a warning to NOT go down that path but remain faithful to God. Transitions are critical times for any person, any nation, our world. In todays world we have non-stop changes. Remain faithful. The time of history may be different for Micah as for us, but the message is the same: remain faithful, remain faithful, remain faithful, keep looking to God. I’m learning to love Micah, a contemporary superhero.
By the way, if you look at a list of Kings of Israel compared to a list of the Kings of Judah, it’s easy to classify each King good or bad. In Israel, for almost 200 years, the list of kings is entirely bad Kings who dishonored God. In Judah, the list is a mixture of God honoring and God rejecting kings. After 200 years of rejection, God said to Israel enough is enough, the game is over. With Judah, the nation went back and forth, a mixed bag, sometimes honoring God, sometimes rejecting God, impure worship too often but always a remnant of believers. I am not a prophet, only a student of the Bible, but I like to think that the United States and other god fearing nations are more like Judah, a mixed bag of God honoring and God rejecting. The message of Micah for us: stay pure, stay focused, buck the trajectory of society in rejecting God and stay focused on the high calling of honoring Jesus Christ.
A few highlights of Micah that help me understand the book:
Key group of words in Micah: Hear…listen…Look… READ Mic. 1:2-3. Scattered through-out the book are similar commands to listen to God. Micah sounds like the parent whose children don’t believe the warnings. If I sound judgmental of society so be it, if I sound judgmental of the Christian community in the U.S. so be it: There sure are a lot of sloppy Christians that are half listening to God and the Bible picking and choosing the portions of living the Christian faith that are easy for them. Too few truly sacrifice their time, energy, resources, emotions… Listen, Listen, Listen… sounds like Jesus who says over and over, “He who has ears to hear let him hear…” That means many people don’t. LISTEN. I asked a nice young man earlier this week, never met before, if he went to church. No. Why not? I asked, I have no need, he said Why, I asked. I just have no reason to go… When Micah says “Listen” it’s like he knows many won’t. Be different and Hear God.
An important concept in Micah is the Remnant of God. READ Mic. 2:12… for those that will hear remain faithful do not get sucked up by society, do not compromise that which is true and good, conduct yourself in the manner described in Micah 6:8…. Two important Remnant truths:
1 We can have confidence because there will always be a remnant. We do not need to worry about the church or Christians….
2: All are invited to join the remnant. Living for God is an open invitation. The Road to Salvation may be narrow, but anyone is welcome to walk the path.
Twin truths of Micah for how we are to go forward in faith: God is a God of judgment and God is a God of Promise. Judgment is always followed by a promise. Much of our society rejects the judgment of God, but it is His character. God is a God of incredibly high standards. Large sections of Micah are devoted to judgment. It can be depressing. As a prophet, Micah is the messenger with a simple message that if you continue down the road of destruction living in sin, living in disobedience of God, then this is what is going to be the result.
BUT///// keep reading through the harsh words of Micah, the woes, the fate of the wicked, and you will always come to a PROMISE…. Here is surely the most famous promise found in the book of Micah and one of the most famous promises of the Bible: READ Mic. 5:2-3. This is a prophecy of Jesus Christ when seven centuries later the Savior of the world is born in Bethlehem. Check in this Christmas and you will certainly hear this scripture read.
Judgment is ALWAYS followed by Promise.
Micah’s message is a message for yesterday and TODAY. Remain faithful, the world is headed to destruction, people are turning away from God, but LISTEN, HEAR, LOOK… for those that can HEAR remain faithful, remain bold, remain a people of joy because the God of Judgment is also the God of PROMISE… Mic. 5:10 says, “In that day…” This is the bottom line truth, the Lord is Coming, the Day of the Lord is near. This is why we must not put off till tomorrow getting our act together with plans to do better in following God tomorrow. The lie of Satan is that you can wait till tomorrow. To HEAR is to be obedient today, To LISTEN is to put into practice the ways of God in our daily lives. The Day of the Lord is coming, it is not a time to be complacent, to put off, to half follow the Lord.
For those that hear and choose to remain faithful, you can remain in the comforting arms of the covenant God who loves YOU. I love Micah 6:2, 5, 6 which all have God saying “My people” We belong to God. That is the God who promises us blessings, God who loves us and cares about us. Anyone can be a part of the remnant of God, it is an open invitation to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me end with just one more thought from Micah found near the end, Mic. 7:8: “Though I have fallen, I will rise.” Amen! I am making this my personal caption for the book. “Though I have fallen, I will rise.” You are wrong if you reject God because he is too judgmental, keep reading, and you will see that the promises of God overshadow the judgment for those that HEAR. “Though I have fallen, I will rise.” The LORD is speaking to those who will listen. The message is not exclusive, but it is for all who HEAR. The Lord is coming, listen, remain faithful. May the message of Micah give us confidence and Hope because the promises of God are life giving and true. Amen.