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A Bird's-Eye View of Micah
The story of Micah is a most interesting and instructive study concerning one of God's greatest men.
1. The key to Micah's unusual gifts (Micah 3:8 ). "But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin." Here is a message for those of us who would seek to do the Lord's work and will. If we would go forth to victory in a successful service, we must not go clothed in our own innate powers, or in our own wisdom. Schools and seminaries cannot panoply the child of God for a successful ministry.
There is a wonderful promise for all of us in Acts 1:8 . Here it is: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me." Is it not true that all of the disciples went forth clothed with the Holy Spirit and with power? When God called Micah to declare unto Jacob his transgression, He clothed Micah with that power of the Spirit which would make his testimony effective. May we also be so clothed!
2. The time of Micah's prophecy. In Jeremiah 26:18 , are found these words: "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest." This tells us that Micah lived in the days of one of Judah's greatest kings. Hezekiah was a good king, and he ruled under the power of the Lord. Micah, however, was giving Israel due warning concerning her coming devastations.
3. How Micah summed up man's obligation to God. We find this in Micah 6:8 . Let us read it: "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."
If we would epitomize man's religious obligations toward God and toward his fellow man, as expressed by Micah, we would immediately go over to the Words of Christ, as found in Matthew 7:12 : "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets."
If you want to turn to one of the later Epistles in the Bible, we might read from the Book of James. In the 1st chapter is this expression: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." It is still true that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. This age of grace never lends any leniency to the one who walks in sin.
I. A MAGNIFICAT TO THE LORD (Micah 1:2-4 )
We have in our verses several wonderful statements of adoration and praise concerning our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
1. The first statement is this: " The Lord from His holy Temple." This means that the Lord is speaking unto His people from His Temple. His Temple, of course, is in the heavens, and from thence, through the Prophet, He is giving His message to a sinful and rebellious people.
We believe that the Lord also dwelt in the midst of the cherubim in those days, and there He met His people, as the high priest came once a year, but not without blood, into the Holy of Holies.
We believe also that the Lord is now in His holy Temple. Even where two or three are gathered together in His Name, He is in the midst. In the Book of Malachi the Lord is described as coming suddenly unto His Temple. This is when He leaves the Temple above, which is in Heaven, and comes to Jerusalem.
2. The second statement is : "For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place, and will come down." Here is another place of adoration, for the Lord is coming in power and in great glory. He is coming with ten thousands of His holy ones. In the day of His Coming, His feet will stand upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem to the East. It will be a wonderful day.
That Micah is prophesying of the Second Coming of Christ in our key verse we do not doubt. The Prophets, not one, but many, foretold the literal, personal, visible, corporeal Return of Christ. Micah describes Him as coming forth out of His place, and coming down.
In the Book of Isaiah we read: "Oh * * that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy Presence." Here is, practically, the same thing. The Lord is coming down to "tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under Him, and the valleys, shall be cleft, as wax before the fire." This is the message of the whole Bible.
3. The third statement is: " Declare ye it not at Gath." Gath, of course, stands for the leading city of the Philistines. The Philistines gloried against Israel. Now that the Prophet is giving his testimony against God's chosen nation, he cries, "Declare ye it not at Gath." In other words, do not let the Philistines know of the great judgment which is about to fall upon the chosen race.
How careful we should all be lest the judgment that falls from on high, should hinder the Name and glory of our Lord.
II. A QUERY CONCERNING THE SPIRIT (Micah 2:7 )
Here is the way our key verse reads: "O thou that art named the House of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?"
1. Is it possible for saints to straiten the Spirit? The word, "straiten," suggests the thought of His inability to move, act and accomplish His Word and work. In the 78th Psalm, we read this amazing word, Ye "limited the Holy One of Israel." Israel limited God, because Israel walked after Balaam.
The Lord Jesus Christ went into the city of Nazareth. At first the people marveled at the gracious words which proceeded from His mouth. It was not long, however, until Satan filled them with rage, and they led the Holy One of God to the brow of the hill upon which the city was builded, that they might cast Him down. Then it was that we read concerning Nazareth, "And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
Certainly, we may limit God.
2. God can do good only to those who walk uprightly. This is the expression in the last part of our key verse. When Christian people are walking close to the Lord in prayer and in trust, then it is that the Lord will work in their behalf.
3. God will punish His people for their unbelief and their sins. This is the message of Micah. It was true in his day. It is also true in our day.
III. A WARNING TO THE PRINCES AND THE PRIESTS (Micah 3:1-3 )
In our 3d chapter, there are four things we shall suggest.
1. An exercising of lordship. We read: " Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the House of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones."
Here was a tremendous charge against the rulers. They were, so to speak, eating the flesh of God's people. They were flaying them, breaking their bones, chopping them in pieces. The whole vision is that of the rule of a demagogue, heartless, and cruel.
Even in our day we find something similar to this. There are rulers in the church, as well as there were rulers in Israel. These men often lay heavy burdens upon saints, while they, themselves, would not lift a finger to bear them.
In the Epistle to Peter we read: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
2. They made the people to err. They abhorred judgment and perverted equity. They judged the people for reward, while the priests taught for hire, and the prophets divined for money. While they were doing all of this, they were deceiving the people; they were crying, "Peace," even while they were preparing for war. There are marry who prophesy falsely. In doing this, there are thousands who follow their "pernicious ways." There is no great truth of the Bible that is not profaned and denied by a large group of clerical leaders. They even go so far as to mutilate the inspired Word, itself. God help us to remain true.
IV. A FAR-FLUNG PROPHECY OF ISRAEL'S FUTURE GLORY (Micah 4:1-4 )
1. God's people are to be established in their own land. Micah 4:1 says: "In the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it." Thank God for this wonderful promise of reestablishment! The people who have been scattered among the nations will be restored to their own land, and the Lord shall dwell in Zion.
2. God's people will head a universal and world-wide kingdom. Micah 4:2 says, "Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the Law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Here is something that has never been fulfilled thus far, yet every Word of God is Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. The men of the nations will say, "Let us go up to * * the House of the God of Jacob." The glory of the Lord will arise in Jerusalem, and it will cover the whole earth, "as the waters cover the sea."
3. God's people will know a reign of world-wide peace. Our verse says of Christ, "And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Every jot and tittle of this prophecy will be fulfilled. This is not the age of peace, for the simple reason that it is not the age of the Prince of Peace. When the Lord comes, however, His Name will be called "The Prince of Peace," and the nations shall practice war no more.
4. There shall be a rule of universal righteousness and equity. Our key verse says (Micah 4:4 ): "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath spoken it." We hear much of socialism these days, and we are ready to grant that from the ethical view, it presents many beautiful dreams. It is seeking to bring in that which alone can be brought in when the Lord returns to earth. The trouble with these high reaches of ethical conception is that the heart of man is not prepared during this age to carry them out. The heart is deceitfully wicked, and it cannot produce the dream of righteousness and equity which many have vainly sought to establish under the rule of Law.
V. THE CHRIST OF BETHLEHEM (Micah 5:2 )
We now have a very remarkable prophecy hidden away in this remarkable Book. Read it in Micah 5:2 .
1. Let us observe how God can magnify the small and insignificant. Our key verse says: "Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth." Here is a truth that has been verified. Bethlehem was indeed but a village, but it became a village magnified and glorified the world over. There is not a wee child who rejoices on Christmas who has not heard of Bethlehem and its manger.
Is it not true that everything that God touches is glorified? He comes to a human heart and a life deluged in sin, and He touches that life; and lo, one is born again who shall dwell in the realms of light forevermore.
2. Let us observe the eternity of our Lord. He is spoken of here as One "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." How wonderful is this! It is, however, in line with all other Scriptures. "In the beginning was the Word," and the Word was none other than our Lord and Saviour. That Word "was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father)." Our Lord is the eternal Son, He came forth from the Father, and again, He goes to the Father.
3. We have before us a Ruler in Israel. The Babe whose goings forth were from of old, even from everlasting, is announced as One who is to be Ruler in Israel. This statement is in line with the message of Isaiah: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder." Micah's statement is also in line with that of the angel, Gabriel, who said to Mary, "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, * * and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end." Thank God for this marvelous promise!
VI. THE LORD'S CONTROVERSY WITH ISRAEL (Micah 6:2-3 )
1. As we read the Prophet, we think of Israel's past glory. Far back in history the Lord called Abraham. From Abraham came Isaac, and then Jacob. From Jacob came twelve sons who headed the twelve tribes of Israel. God found Israel in a desert land. He brought her unto Himself. He blessed her. He clothed her with His own righteousness, and she was beautiful because of His beauty which He had placed upon her. Her renown went to the ends of the earth. There was none among the nations of the earth like unto this nation.
God reminds Israel of the marvelous prophecy of Balaam, the son of Beor, and of how Balaam said, "[God] hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob." Thus we find the climacteric glory of Israel. She was clothed with the righteousness of God.
2. As we read the Prophet Micah we find this query: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?" We wonder if such a question has not often come to us? Micah cried out: "Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?"
In answer to this query, the Prophet says, "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?"
In the 1st chapter of Isaiah, we have a similar message. Israel is seeking to approach God with formal sacrifices. Read Isaiah 1:10-20 . How can we set forth our faith in the buried and risen Lord, and our union with Him in His death, and our resurrection with Him to walk in newness of life, unless we are walking in, and living out the righteousness which these ordinances proclaim?
VII. THE MERCIES OF GOD (Micah 7:18-20 )
1. "Trust ye not in a friend." This is the statement of Micah 7:5 . It does not mean that human friends are never true. It does mean that they may fail in the hour of our need. A son may dishonor a father, even a daughter may rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies may prove to be the men of his own house.
This is the reason that Micah cried, "Trust ye not in a friend."
2. "I will look unto the Lord." When our father and mother forsake us, the Lord will take us up. When our friend becomes our foe, then the Lord will call us into the covert of His secret place. That is the reason that Micah calls upon Israel to look unto the Lord, and to wait for the God of her salvation.
3. "The Lord shall be a light unto me." Somehow or other this marvelous Prophet grips us. No matter how deep Israel's darkness may be, she shall some day walk in the light. If she falls, she shall arise again.
4. "Who is a God like unto Thee?" Here are some of the statements concerning Israel's God, and our God in Micah 7:18-20 .
(1) A God who pardoneth iniquity.
(2) A God who passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage.
(3) A God who retaineth not His anger forever.
(4) A God who delighteth in mercy,
(5) A God who will have compassion upon us.
(6) A God who will subdue our iniquities.
(7) A God who will cast our sins into the depths of the sea.
(8) A God who will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham which He swore unto them in the days of old.
Such an One is our God. To such an One we may come. Upon such on One we may lean. Surely, salvation is of the Lord.
Micah pressed home to Israel and to us the need of Christ as precedent to victory.
If you ever visit Florence in Italy, and go into the Uffizi Gallery, you will see there a magnificent painting of the Battle of Ivry, in which the forces of Henry IV of Navarre are contending against the host led on by his enemies. The picture, true to life, represents a terrific struggle. There is no suggestion of retreat by the one side, nor a suggestion of victory for the other, but both are mingled in awful onslaught, fierce and bloody. But there is one part of the picture from which the artist's brush speaks in no uncertain evidence of the issues of the day. On one side of the picture, up in the corner, hovers a great company of warrior angels, with swords drawn. You know, at once, that God is on the side of Henry IV of Navarre, and you know whose is the victory.
When the Syrian host surrounded Elisha, the man of God, his servant trembled and cried, "How shall we do?" But Elisha said, "Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." And when he had prayed, the young man's eyes were opened and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about them.
Sometimes when the forces of evil have arrayed themselves against the good, the conflict has seemed uncertain and sometimes it has seemed as though iniquity was destined to prevail. Even the bravest souls of earth, have been tempted here and tried, because the days were dark, and it seemed, for the time, as if there were no God. But, if we only had the eyes to see, we'd find an angel host about us, leading us on to victory. It is true that vice often wears the purple and virtue is clothed in rags. Truth is often on the scaffold and wrong is on the throne. But you may be sure that within the shadow of the scaffold, God is standing, keeping watch over His own. W. E. B.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Micah 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30