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Scheme and Work Out Evil
In Micah 1, Micah has listed the sins against God. In Micah 2 it is about the sins against one’s neighbor. Micah turns to those in power, the people with money and influence, who are only interested in self-enrichment, and in doing so, stop at nothing. With a “woe” he announces God’s judgment on them. The “woe” he pronounces on these people is reminiscent of the six fold “woe” Isaiah pronounces (Isaiah 5:8-Amos :). Just like Isaiah, Micah then also pronounces a ‘woe’ over himself (Micah 7:1; Isaiah 6:5). Announcement of judgment to others cannot be made without judging ourselves.
The people Micah is speaking to here are purebred criminals. Evil does not attack them, they devote themselves to it. They have well considered their plans for self-enrichment. They have done so in the night, when people are supposed to be asleep. And when it gets light, they start to carry out their nefarious plans. They are so shameless that they do not shy away from the light, but rather carry out their sinful business in the light. Their entire existence is devoted to it. They can think of nothing else.
These wicked people use the night to plot evil (Psalms 36:4). This is in stark contrast to what occupies the heart of the God-fearing David. When he is in the wilderness, on the run from Saul, he does not lie down at night thinking about how to eliminate Saul. He thinks of the LORD, of Who He is (Psalms 63:6). And when he thinks of the iniquity that surrounds and is done to him, he wants to surrender everything in his heart to the LORD and not avenge himself (Psalms 4:4).
Led by God’s Spirit, Micah reveals the wicked reason for their actions. They reason: ‘We have the power and therefore the right to act as we wish.’ The sentence “for it is in the power of their hands” reads literally: ‘Their hand is to them their god.’ That is to say, the power they have applies to them as god; they recognize no higher power than their hand (cf. Habakkuk 1:11). They have the power to do what they want (cf. Genesis 31:29; Proverbs 3:27).
It is the fault of many, often the rich and strong, but also people with intellectual power, that they believe they are allowed to do what they are able to do. It is the kind of people who have no sense of goodness, in whom there is no fear of God (Romans 3:18). There is no inner or outer limitation, nothing that prevents them from carrying out their nefarious plans. They think and do.
An application for today can be seen in many writers, makers of films or inventors of computer games. They keep coming up with new methods to sin. They sell them in their latest editions. The readers, viewers and buyers are the victims who willingly allow their money to be disposed of by investing it in a purchase of the products of these inventors of evil. As they take in the fruit of these people’s thinking, their moral awareness, without being aware of it, is increasingly degraded. The evil that comes out of this is a society that becomes more and more hardened and turns more and more against God and His authority and, as a result, also more and more against his neighbor.
Covetousness, Robbery and Oppression
Their evil practices, conceived in the night, consist of robbing and oppressing. They result from their coveting of what belongs to their neighbor. When the rights of God are violated, the rights of one’s neighbor are also violated. It is already forbidden to covet something that belongs to someone else. It is a violation of the tenth commandment of the law (Exodus 20:17). It declares the coveting of what belongs to someone else to be a sinful act (Romans 7:7). Paul states that greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), because it is putting your heart on something other than God.
But it does not stop at coveting. First they sin in their hearts. Then they sin in practice. And it seems that they are successful in their evil intentions. What they do is aptly illustrated in the history of Ahab who wants Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-Exodus :). Ahab shows his complete indifference to the fact that the land belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23). God has given His land as a hereditary possession to the families of His people.
Naboth appreciates what God has given him and under no circumstances wants to get rid of his land (1 Kings 21:3). He is aware that Ahab’s covetousness does not only concern his own house, but his ancestral house and also the house that will be of the next generation. But Ahab does not care about that. He takes possession of Naboth’s inheritance by placing the business in the hands of his still more wicked wife Jezebel. She sees to it that Naboth is murdered and the vineyard comes into Ahab’s possession (1 Kings 21:4-Ezra :).
The people Micah has in mind are all little Ahabs. They do what Ahab did. It is not flattering, but it is a clear comparison. Isaiah also denounced and punished these practices (Isaiah 5:8). The history of Ahab and Naboth is therefore not merely an incident, but happens repeatedly and takes place wherever covetousness prevails. The characteristic of covetousness is that you never have enough. That is how it is with these people. In our twenty-first century, criminal trials against directors of large companies bring to light the same behavior.
The prophet speaks of ‘robbing’, but they will certainly have denied that. They will have acted in such a way that they can defend themselves against these kinds of accusations. They will present it so that they have appropriated the possession of the other in a ‘neat’ way. But they are people who move the boundaries to their own advantage (Hosea 5:10) in order to take possession of another person’s inheritance. They do not care about the boundaries of others.
The Calamity That the LORD Plans
The word “therefore” with which this verse begins indicates that the previous list of sins is the basis for the disaster that Micah is about to announce. It is a word of the LORD, a decision taken by Him. If they consider evil (Micah 2:1), He will also consider evil. We see His government in this, which means that the evil we do will affect us. It is the law that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).
There is similarity between what we sow and what we reap. When we sow evil, we should not think that we will reap goodness. If we think that it means mocking God, be warned God will not be mocked, His government is proof of that.
The righteous God warns His people that He is planning a calamity. They are plotting to satisfy their greed through violence. That is why God also makes plans to meet them with His judgments. He exercises these judgments through the Assyrians. He speaks about “this family”, in which we hear a certain contempt. Because of their sins, God will impose a yoke on them. This yoke is the enemy whom He will send on their necks, from whom they will not be able to free themselves and to whom they will have to bow down.
The proud, haughty attitude with which they look down on the wretched will turn into a bowed head because of the misery that comes over them. This will bring a dramatic turn in their time of prosperity. They will be humiliated personally, but also as a nation. Of all their pride, nothing will remain. Opposite the peoples around them they will stand with bowed heads.
The “evil time”, that is the time of their imprisonment, will come. In Amos 5, where this expression also occurs, it is about the evil behavior of the people (Amos 5:13). Here it is about the loss of everything to which they have attached themselves. They will lose their own inheritance as punishment, as well as the robbed inheritance, of course.
To the disgrace of imprisonment is added mockery, in which the enemy will mockingly use their own words. The words of the lamentation are known to the enemy. Therefore, they can represent them as a taunt.
“We are completely destroyed” is an exclamation of despair. As soon as they have enriched themselves, that wealth will be taken away from them again. Destruction always comes suddenly. People who imagine themselves to be rich know that it can suddenly disappear from them. Yet that does not bring them to humility. They will do anything to secure their wealth.
With all their calculations, however, they do not take God into account. Yes, they do think of Him, but as Someone Who will be very satisfied with them. After all, they are regularly present in a religious meeting and occasionally offer a sacrifice. God shouldn’t make a problem of it if sometimes there is something wrong with that.
The undertone we listen to is therefore: ‘How can God do such a thing to us? Why does this evil affect us who faithfully fulfill our religious duties? He takes it away from me, that’s terrible. But as if that were not bad enough, He also gives it to apostates! This is unacceptable, isn’t it?’ It does not bring them to repent for their sins, but only to a bitter lamentation about what they have lost.
The word “therefore” is the introduction of the logical conclusion of the foregoing. Because of the sins of Micah 2:1-Exodus : the people will be deported, as announced in Micah 2:3-Numbers :. As a result, no inheritance will be given to anyone.
The use of “the measuring line” can be seen in the division of the land under Joshua (Joshua 13:6; cf. Psalms 16:6). The division of the land will now be done by Israel’s enemies and not by themselves; among them there will be no one who has that authority. They will be completely at the mercy of the enemy. Nor will there be any residents to whom the land can be allotted.
Do Not Speak Out
The part of Micah 2:6-1 Kings : is about the false prophets. In Micah 2:6 and Micah 2:11 they are speaking. In the intermediate verses, Micah shows the consequences of their false imaginations. He also shows how the LORD judges their actions and what His answer to that is.
Micah is forbidden by the false prophets with the command “do not speak out” to raise his voice any longer. These false prophets are the friends of the scrawny great landowners whom Micah addressed earlier in Micah 2:1-Exodus :. They do not want their social vices to be denounced by Micah. They do not want to hear of a condemnation of their evil practices. His sharp accusations and serious threats do not enter the minds of corrupt magnates.
It is the general feeling of people today in Christianity. They only want to hear pleasant things, happy things (Isaiah 30:10; Amos 2:12; Amos 7:16; 2 Timothy 4:3). People are looking for a church where everyone is allowed to do what they want, where it is easy, where there are no Micah’s. As long as you have fun. A meeting should most of all be funny and amusing.
But Micah knows that the judgment comes when things in Israel and Judah don’t change. It is not proof of love if you are silent about it. Pointing out evil, denouncing it, has to be done. Its purpose is to confess sin, because then the way is free for God to start blessing again.
To the seekers of pleasure his message is completely irrelevant. They think: ‘As long as he does not speak out, as long as he keeps his mouth shut, the judgment will not come either.’ It is the kind of thinking that if you shoot the doctor who tells you that you have a deadly disease, you no longer have the deadly disease. This is the way the false prophets react to Micah’s preaching. They think he keeps whining endlessly about the things that they like and that he taunts and calls sin. They are tired of that.
Deceiving and Walking Uprightly
It seems that in the first part of this verse we still hear the false prophets speaking to the people. By addressing the people as the “house of Jacob,” they confirm the impression that they really are the covenant people of the LORD. That is also what the people are boasting of. They claim to be the people of God, denying it with their deeds (Isaiah 48:1; John 8:33; John 8:39).
From that hypocritical attitude they say that Micah gives a very wrong idea of God. Do the people really believe that the Spirit of the LORD speaks through Micah, a man who only imposes limitations on them? Surely God is not God with shortcomings, is He? They don’t know Him that way. He is always so good to them. They only know Him as that ‘dear God’ who will never deal harshly with His people and gives them everything they need. Does Micah really think that God acts in such a way, that these are “His deeds”, that He is only out to punish? Is He so short-tempered, as Micah pretends? They know better.
The answer, or rather the rebuttal, to the claims of the false prophets comes in the second part of this verse. Here Micah introduces the LORD speaking. The LORD takes the floor. When the punishment comes, it is not because of His lack of patience or His failure to bless them, but because of their sins. His good words are for “the one walking uprightly” and not for the unrighteous of walking as they are. The upright has nothing to fear, but is encouraged by Him. The good words of the LORD contain strength for the upright to continue to please the LORD in his walk.
The People Have Arisen as an Enemy
In Israel, the upright of walk mentioned in the previous verse is not to be seen. The word “recently”, or yesterday, is connected with an action that occurs again and again, even just recently. The people behave hostile toward the LORD by acting hostile toward their own people. Their victims are unsuspecting passers-by, people who are not out to fight, who are peaceful themselves (Psalms 120:7). While they feel safe, they are robbed of their garments by their greedy companions.
A garment can serve as pledge when an Israelite is so impoverished that he has to borrow (Exodus 22:26). The LORD has determined in His grace that the garment must be returned to him before night (Exodus 22:27). These robbers have no sense of grace. The LORD observes their deeds and records them. They will not escape their righteous punishment.
This performance as an enemy of the LORD is the result of listening to the false prophets. False prophets are people who have left the righteous way and have strayed and come to “the way of Balaam” and follow that way (2 Peter 2:15). The “way of Balaam” is the way of people who are guided by money in religious matters. They do not care if they speak truth. They are empty word producers who present the lie as truth as long as it brings in money.
Exploitation of the Vulnerable
The women we are talking about here will be widows. Deprived of their husbands, they are unprotected, outlawed. This makes them easy prey for the impudent and merciless scrapers who consider nothing sacred. While God’s special care goes out to these vulnerable, they see only an increase in their wealth.
Heartlessly they evict the widows from their homes. In this way they tear up the precious memories of the happiness these widows once knew. Nor do they feel sorry for their children. They deprive the women of their most precious possessions.
By depriving these women of their small children, they are depriving the LORD of His jewels. Precisely children and infants are a precious jewel to Him. From their mouths He receives honor (Matthew 21:16). This they take away from the LORD. It may be that they not only claim these children as slaves for themselves (cf. 2 Kings 4:1), but even sell them abroad as slaves. Everything is taken away from them. There is no end to this heartless act.
It is done by those who profess to be the people of God and occupy a place of prestige in them. On the one hand, they boast of their meticulous walk. On the other hand, they trample the rights of the defenseless. It is the spirit of Phariseeism (Mark 12:38-Matthew :). That spirit was not only active at that time, we also see it now. Men who precede and preach about God’s Word and grace and at the same time violate that Word by leaving their wife and children for someone else.
Satan is out to destroy families. He does this in many ways. One of them is that he separates the children from the parents. Father and mother must both be able to work. The children can go to all kinds of shelters. The government subsidizes this and stimulates this separation. In those shelters they come into the hands of professionals, while they still need the love, warmth and security of the mother so much.
This Is No Place of Rest
“Arise and go” are the words with which those who have the power to evict others from their inheritance in order to take possession of it. God now uses these words against them. Those who let others arise and plunder their possessions will have to arise and leave from what has been given to them. Here we see again the law of reaping what one sows. Arising and departing is also God’s judgment that fits in with their actions of rising up against and departing from God.
The trespassers of iniquity have made the land unclean through their sins (Leviticus 18:25; Leviticus 18:28). For the evildoers there is no longer a resting place in the land of the LORD, which it has been in times of obedience (Deuteronomy 12:9-2 Samuel :; 1 Kings 8:56). They will no longer be at rest in the land and will be carried away into exile.
With this call there is also a calling voice of the LORD to all who have ears to hear, to separate themselves from all this iniquity. How can the saints of the LORD rest in such a state of affairs? How can a land where such abject iniquity takes place be a place of rest?
The land is unclean through violence and idolatry (Ezekiel 36:17-Job :; Jeremiah 2:7). The evil actions of people lay over the land a haze of uncleanness, as it were. That atmosphere causes everyone who enters it to be corrupted by it. As a result, corruption increases and proliferates. With the departure of the evildoers there will also come an end to the rampant corruption.
A Spokesman the People Love
With this ironic depiction of how a false prophet works, Micah rounds off his speech about the false prophets. The false prophet is popular because he speaks what the people like to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-Numbers :). False prophets proclaim that the people are allowed to indulge in earthly pleasures. Their religion is one of drinking and making fun.
They can even abuse statements from the Bible which they simply take out of context for that purpose (Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 28:4; Joel 2:24). In this way they ignore the sins of the people that make the coming of these blessings as blessings from God impossible. That is why they are loved by the greedy rich, because they never speak of judgment, but always of prosperity, even though their lives are still so contrary to God’s law.
The people are so far removed from God and their spiritual discernment is so blunted that they joyfully embrace the message of these deceivers. It escapes them that by following false prophets they are in fact following wind. To follow the wind is to let what is only wind determine the direction of one’s path, that is, vain, empty, through deceitful dreams (Ezekiel 13:3).
The rise of false prophets is the result of the unpopular message of the true prophets. Who is following a real prophet? After all, he preaches only depressing sadness, doesn’t he? Then it is better to follow a false prophet. He at least lets pleasant words ‘flow’, which is the literal meaning of the words ‘speak out’ here, as well as in Micah 2:6 (cf. Deuteronomy 32:2; Ezekiel 20:46; Ezekiel 21:2; Amos 7:16; Job 29:22). It really makes you feel cheerful. How great the sobering will be when they discover how great the deception is that they have embraced!
The Remnant of Israel Gathered
Micah 2:12-1 Chronicles : finalize the first part of the book. It is a promise of blessing and deliverance after the powerful accusations against the people. The emphasis is on what the LORD is going to do. Here He is the One Who acts, as before in judgment, now in blessing. He makes known what that blessing means. Judgment is not the last word God has for His people.
In these verses Micah sees the people as a people over whom the announced judgment has been executed. The people have been taken away. But that is not the end of the people. The LORD pronounces here that He has not given up the people, in spite of so much iniquity, and that He will bless them.
After Micah has pointed out so much that is wrong, it is surprising that he suddenly starts talking about a promise of future blessing and restoration. This only refers to a remnant in the end times, while the unbelieving masses will be struck by the announced judgment. That remnant will be “all Israel” (Romans 11:26) or, as Micah says here, “all of you, Jacob”. The prophets always distinguish between the unbelieving, apostate mass of Israel and the believing, faithful remnant.
This also makes it clear that the salvation that Micah proclaims here lies on a different basis than the announcements of the salvation of the false prophets. Micah does not pass judgment. “Assemble” and “gather” presupposes the preceding scattering among the nations (Jeremiah 31:10). Restoration takes place from the judgment that has been executed. And when the people are restored, they will also be greatly multiplied (Isaiah 54:1-Leviticus :), “they will be noisy with men” (cf. Ezekiel 34:31; Ezekiel 36:38). This will be the wonderful result of God’s actions.
The LORD here is the Shepherd. Thus He is seen more often in the Old Testament. For example in Psalm 78 where it is said about Him that He led His people as a flock out of the slavery of Egypt (Psalms 78:51-1 Thessalonians :; Psalms 80:1). The LORD is the same as the Lord Jesus in the New Testament, where He is called the good Shepherd (John 10:11). With Him there is safety, protection and food.
The Lord Jesus has given to the church shepherds who represent Him (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-Numbers :). These shepherds have the task to make sure that the flock gets food, safety and protection. Therefore they teach the foundations of faith. They also provide guidance and direction on the way the sheep must go and protection against the dangers of wrong doctrine (Titus 1:9).
This verse shows how the result of the previous verse is achieved. It is not about gathering, as in the previous verse, but about deliverance. Here the redemption of Israel from exile is painted under the picture of the release from a prison.
Further on, Micah compares Egypt, where the people were once imprisoned, with a house of slavery (Micah 6:4; Exodus 20:2). Here he compares the exile with a prison with walls and gates that have to be broken through. The Breaker clears the way for all who follow Him and removes obstacles. This Breaker is none other than the LORD, the Messiah (Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 59:20, 21; Romans 11:26; Hosea 1:11; Hosea 3:5). He goes before them (Isaiah 52:12), just as He went before them as the Angel of the LORD in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21).
He will lead His people out of the gates of the cities where they were imprisoned. He goes before them as the Breaker, King and LORD. The three verb forms ‘break out’, ‘pass through’ and ‘go out’ express a progress that cannot be stopped by any power.
As has been mentioned before, the LORD is the Lord Jesus. He is the good Shepherd Who leads His own sheep out and brings them into freedom and cares for them. His resurrection also shows Him in a wonderful way as the Breaker. After all, the Lord Jesus breaks open the prison of death and grave, He breaks through the guards and all the hatred of the devil and his instruments, the godless leaders of God’s people. Thus, in the resurrection, He went out before His redeemed ones who follow Him (1 Corinthians 15:23). They too break through the gate, after Him.
The ‘gate’ is first and foremost that of Jerusalem. In the end time Jerusalem will be captured by the king of the north. But then the Lord Jesus will appear in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives. From there He will rescue the remnant that is in distress in Jerusalem. He is the Savior who will come “from Zion” – not to Zion (Romans 11:26; Psalms 14:7), which means that He first came to Zion (Isaiah 59:20).
The Lord Jesus is also the Breaker for every new situation or period of time. He is always there to go out before us and break any opposition that opposes or limits us. Then He goes out before us and sets us in space. We have to go close behind Him, just as the armor-bearer stays close to Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:13).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Micah 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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