How many of us expect to be blessed as Christians but don’t pursue Christ? We have the Christian catchphrases down; we have the look—the Bible on our end table, the Jesus bumper stickers, and the obligatory Sunday service seat in church. But inside we are unchanged.
Jesus’ name is on our lips but His warnings and implorings to conform to Him sail over our self-sufficient heads.
If we don’t see ourselves in need of healing, like those in the prophet Micah’s day, the cancer of covetousness, pride, and heartlessness, grows. We cannot heal ourselves.
Our wound is incurable (Micah 1:9).
Only God can clean our rotten flesh, our ugly spirit, and renew our lives from an inevitable and deserving death sentence.
The book of Micah delivers a message of hope that promises a miraculous recovery in the form of a Savior and the coming grace we all need to live out a newly-healed life.
Welcome to Hearts Unto Wisdom
A Bible Study of the Minor Prophets
I thank you for joining me as I share biblical insight into the twelve books commonly referred to as the ‘Minor Prophets’. These Old Testament books, starting with Hosea and ending with Malachi, are minor only in regards to their length, and not because they lack significance.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
[Underlines, brackets, and words in bold are added for emphasis to scripture verses throughout this study.]
Aggressive greed and violence were rampant from the high priests to the princes to the average resident of Jerusalem. Israel was judging wrongfully, being deceptive in trade, worshipping idols instead of (or alongside) God.
What’s in it for me? How can I get even more? Who cares if it belongs to someone else. Take, horde, profit.
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. Micah 2:1
We don’t want to admit that we ever think like this.
Yet how often do we wake up with a self-serving agenda coursing through our minds? Thoughts of personal gain and selfish wishes? Thoughts of forcing our ‘rights’ and hoarding forgiveness from those who’ve hurt us?
And we believe God is on our side through it all.
The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. Micah 3:11
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is his name. Isaiah 48:1-2
The problem is not with wanting to excel in life. There is nothing wrong with the desire for good things. But when we—and the preachers of God’s word we listen to—focus solely on a me-first prosperity doctrine and omit the weightier matters of repentance, obedience, and self-sacrifice, then we foolishly believe in peace where there is none!
These false teachers make mention of God but not in truth and righteousness.
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:11
Christ is our peace (Micah 5:5). He brings us prosperity and peace of mind in a world full of takers and haters and lies.
The few Bible teachers who don’t just speak ‘Jesus’ but who defy popularity and preach personal change instead of personal gain, won’t get the same fawning love (or donations). People naturally prefer words that lull them into a pillowy sense of security over words that jolt them with the truth that hey! that’s a cliff of destruction you’re precariously leaning over.
God repeatedly sent His prophets to warn His people of that sharp drop but they didn’t want to hear about it or turn around.
Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. Micah 2:6
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? Jeremiah 5:31
The beginning of sins
The prophet Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah and Hosea. These men were given God’s Spirit to proclaim His message to the same errant people at roughly the same time.
Micah’s years of speaking spanned the reign of three kings: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Micah 1:1). Father, son, and grandson respectively.
But the people of Israel and Judah still reverenced the statutes of Omri and of Ahab, the despicable father and son kings of their past, and walked in their counsels, instead of the righteous counsel of the Almighty (Micah 6:16).
King Omri ruled Israel from Samaria; a mesa-like territory he purchased and named Samaria after its former owner, Shemer. Omri built altars for Baal in this newly-built city with a view that became the king’s throne and seat of rule.
Ahab, Omri’s son, married the notorious Jezebel, worshipped Baal even more than his father did and provoked God above all other kings before him! No wonder God destroyed Israel’s splendor and allowed His chosen people to be enslaved yet again. They refused to honor, worship, and put their trust in Him.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Isaiah 30:1-2
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong;but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! Isaiah 31:1
Remember Lot’s wife
Israelites were always looking back. Like Lot’s wife, they wanted what they had before even though it was not of God.
In Lachish (the beginning of sins; Micah 1:13), they were trusting in the saving power of a former adversary, Egypt, the place God helped them escape from earlier, to save them from a present adversary, Assyria, instead of trusting and hoping in their true Savior, the God of heaven.
Christ warned us of this thinking in Luke 17:32-34.
Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. Luke 17:32-33
Are there areas of our lives where we turn back to the perverse comforts of things God helped us escape from? Idols are not just objects of gold and silver to worship but ideas and hopes and ways of living that God has already said ‘no’ to for our good.
O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Micah 2:7
God’s word does us the most good, but we reach out to the wrong people and pursuits in an attempt to find rest. God warns us in Micah:
Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. Micah 2:10
The world cannot provide us the rest we long for. Keep in mind, dear Christian, that each day you struggle and weep (labor) is a day closer to your true rest, God’s coming kingdom.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. . . Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9,11
What was Balaam’s answer?
O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord. Micah 6:5
When confronted by anyone (including your own inner voice) who entices you to go against the God’s word and the calling He’s given you to live out, give them Balaam’s answer to King Balak found in Numbers 22:18: “I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.”
We have our orders, so to speak, which are obedience to the word of God and a faithful attitude. We cannot do less than what we know is right, nor can we pile on more than what He’s given us to do. When we follow the path God has paved for us, as narrow and rocky as it is, we will be immeasurably blessed.
Blessed if we are willing to ‘birth’ our bitter troubles along the way and follow the lead of God.
Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. Micah 4:10
As did the Israelites, we, too, have to enter our ‘Babylon’. We have to be willing to leave the comfort of our false thinking and trust God. Doing so feels like labor pangs, but only in our surrender to God will we find deliverance.
We emerge stronger in faith when we allow God to take us away from where we started.
We live mighty is Spirit and power to beat our enemies (Micah 5:9)—the physical, spiritual, and mental enemies that hold us down and shackle us to joylessness, ungratefulness, and meanness of spirit.
The Lord’s controversy
Even with all God had done for Israel, they still turned away. The pull of the world they lived in was stronger than their love and gratitude for Him.
O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. Micah 6:3
Like ancient Israel, we are not exempt from this pull. We must resist the world’s glittering deception dangling in our faces each day and not be offended by what God requires us to do.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. I John 5:3
And what are these commandments?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
Micah knew that it wasn’t the rituals, the rote obedience, the ‘letter of the law’ that would please God but simply this:
- to do the right thing
- to love one another (even when it hurts)
- and to live quietly content and respectful toward God
Sounds simple. But these three edicts require an earnest heart change of self-sacrifice, patience, trust, long-suffering, forgiveness, and accepting the answer of ‘no’ to our manifold dreams.
Three ‘simple’ things found in Micah please God above all. But without Christ, they are impossible to do.
A life of self-denial is impossible if we don’t look beyond this life and keep our focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And when we do, look what God has promised His faithful:
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19
God showers us with undeserved grace! He pardons our sins because He delights in mercy (Micah 7:18)!
Micah 7:18 declares, “Who is a God like unto thee?” Interestingly enough, the name Micah means “Who is like unto Ya?” Ya translates to Jehovah, the self-Existent or Eternal God.
And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart. I Kings 8:23
When family is your enemy
Micah witnessed perverted justice, bribery, hatred, and mischief of all kinds. He was so distraught that he believed there were no godly people left in the land.
He felt alone and despondent (Micah 7:1-4) and could not even confide in his own wife.
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. Micah 7:5
Micah refers to his enemy as “she” instead of the more common pronoun “he”. How sad! To be unable to trust your own mate, to come home to contention and grief.
For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Micah 7:6
Spiritual war between family members is heart-rending (I know). Christ warns of this possibility in the Christian’s life in Matthew 10:36.
Micah understood his personal responsibility to own up to his sins and to not blame others for his trials. He knew that being humble before God is the only path to forgiveness. Micah trusted God to judge righteously.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Micah 7:9
When we admit our sins, God lifts us up. He brings us to His light so we can see His mercy firsthand.
But when a man and his wife refuse to admit their sins to God and each other, when the two do not live as one god-fearing unit, there is no peace. Divisions, arguments, and mayhem abound.
Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. Micah 7:10
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Psalms 42:3
How troubling when someone taunts your faith in God, like Micah, David, and Job dealt with. When those closest to you don’t listen and the grip of loneliness tightens your soul, remember Micah’s words:
Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Micah 7:7
Christ’s birth foretold in Micah
Micah has the distinguished honor of being the only Old Testament book to proclaim Bethlehem as the birthplace of Christ. Matthew 2:5-6 makes reference to this same passage.
But thou, Beth–lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Matthew 2:6
Christ’s Millenial Kingdom
Isaiah 2:2-4 and the almost identical wording in Micah 4:1-3, speaks of the end-times prophecy of Christ’s millennial kingdom.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Isaiah 2:2
At the end of the tribulation described in the book of Revelation (chapters 19-21), Christ descends with a shout and the trump of God (1 Thess. 4:16) to usher in His thousand-year reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “In that day”, Christ will thoroughly destroy all witchcraft, falsehood, iniquity, everything contrary to Him (Micah 5:10-15).
People still living at this time will begin to learn a new way to live their lives.
God says they will learn war no more, but “beat their swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks” (Micah 4:3; Isaiah 2:4), meaning they will stop living in hatred and violence and start living in the love and mercy of He who is Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11).
Interesting thought here: Micah 4:5 says “For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever ” (Micah 4:5). Is this reference to god (lowercase g) referring to us?
In the Millenium, those of us who follow and obey God now, who are His children of light, will be transformed into spirit beings, like unto Him (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
But many of our unbelieving friends and family who do not join the Beast power (Rev. 13) will enter the Millenium as physical human beings. They will need to be taught the ways of the Lord. We will be their “gods”, so to speak. We will be kings and priests of God (Rev. 5:10) guiding and teaching them of the righteousness of God. Exciting times it will be!
God is the God of truth and mercy
These parting words in the book of Micah should comfort us all.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. Micah 7:20
God is love (1 John 4:16). It is by truth and mercy that He shows us His love.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved. Ephesians 2:4-5
We are inundated with lies and liars and unmerciful acts every day, something Micah knew intimately about. But he knew God’s justice would prevail.
Thankfully, as followers of Christ who call upon God, we rest in that knowledge, too.
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deuteronomy 32:4
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Psalms 86:5
Abiding in the Vine,
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