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CRITICAL NOTES.] Judgment has been pronounced in general, now special sins are described. The conduct of the nobility is denounced. Devise] Heb. to form plans (Psalms 36:5). Work] Fabricate, mature the plan (Psalms 58:2). Practise] To execute (Isaiah 41:4). Beds] i.e. by night (Cf. Psalms 4:5; Job 4:13). Morning] i.e. at break of day. Hand] Their hand is their God; right is overruled by might.
Micah 2:2. Covet] Cf. Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18. Oppress] Defraud.
THE CONCEPTION AND PRACTICE OF INJUSTICE.—Micah 2:1-2
Special sins are now condemned. The injustice and oppression of the rich are denounced and threatened with punishment.
I. Injustice in its purpose. “That devise iniquity.” Iniquity is first conceived, purposed, or planned. They plot and forecast before they act it. Actions are traced to principles. Devising is the incipient working of the principle. The thought is the fountain of the deed. God calls it the work of evil, and holds us responsible for it (Proverbs 14:22; Matthew 9:3-4). It is bad enough to be led into wickedness by others, but to devise, to scheme it is the depravity of “inventors of evil things” (Romans 1:30).
II. Injustice in its maturity. They “work evil,” mature it in thoughts and desires.
1. It is matured in the night, “upon their beds.” In the rest and stillness of night when they should commune with their own hearts and their God. They turn the chamber of sleep into a place for plotting, and abuse retirement by wicked designs. “He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good.”
2. It is matured in the day. “When the morning is light.” Early, very soon after conception it is perfected. On their bed, and in their waking hours; no leisure between deliberation and practice. It is done
(1) Openly, in the light.
(2) Deliberately, in full light.
(3) Shamefully, against knowledge and conscience.
3. It is matured by might. “Because it is in the power of their hand.” Might, not right, regulated their conduct. The lust for power increases in strength and lawlessness, until it becomes a law to itself, the master passion of the soul. Then no sacrifices are too costly, no measures too atrocious, for the attainment of its object. “This they begin to do, and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.”
III. Injustice in its practice. “They practise it.” There is a gradation in evil. First they sin in thought, then desire, and afterwards in act. To covet and to rob, to desire and to take, were the same thing with them.
1. It is a forbidden practice. They covet, disregard law, and seek to add field to field.
2. It is a violent practice. “Take them by violence.” Grossly and openly, by force and fraud, did they seize the property of others.
3. It is an inhuman practice. “They oppress a man and his house.” They took away houses and heritages, and ruined whole families and their offspring. Human life was not held sacred. Like Ahab, they first coveted, then sought to destroy their fellow-men by violence and false accusation. “Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.”
4. It is a cursed practice. “Woe to them!” Woe in Hebrew means all kind of pain, sorrow, and misery. Covetousness is the root of all evil to ourselves and others (1 Timothy 6:9-10). A covetous man is cursed in this life and in that to come. “Beware of covetousness.”
“You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live” [Shakespeare].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
The reign of selfishness.
1. Each one strives and plans for himself alone.
2. Each one trusts in his own strength.
3. Each one disregards the law [Lange (adapted)]. What a temptation it is to have the power to do what evil spite suggests! What would many a one do if the power of the hand were as great as the boldness of the heart! As it is, however, God judges according to the counsel of the heart, and brings to light what a man has been occupied with even on his bed [Ibid.].
1. Notice the gradation of the evil. Conception, earnest preparation, and execution by force. “They say, they coveted, they took,” like Achan.
2. The relation between wicked thoughts and wicked deeds. The oppressor in his bed, in his heart, and in his life. Resist the first attacks of sin lest ye be eventually overcome.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Micah 2:1-2. Covet fields. No passion so deeply agitates and degrades, so effectually enslaves and destroys, the soul as covetousness. The man who sets his heart upon riches must be a stranger to peace and enjoyment. Fear, care, anxiety, suspicion, and jealousy place him on a constant rack. To the toil of getting is added the trouble of keeping his pelf. Avarice is insatiable as the grave, or rather as a gulf without bottom. The more this passion is supplied with fresh fuel the more vehement is the flame [Rusticus]. No houses, no fields content those who cannot rest in the lust of concupiscence. Yet only seven feet of earth will suffice them at last.
Micah 2:3. Family] Nation. Devise] Cf. Micah 2:1, “to set clearly before our eyes the jus talionis prevalent in God’s providence” (Exodus 21:23; Isaiah 33:1) [Lange]. Necks] You cannot shake off punishment as ye have done law. Haughtily] Stiff necks will have to bend; they will not carry themselves loftily (Psalms 58:9), for their iniquity causes an evil time.
Micah 2:4. Par-] Wickedness and punishment will be subjects of common conversation. Doleful] Lit. laments with a lamentation of lamentations, i.e. a mournfully mournful song. Say] “Actum est! it is all over! an exclamation of despair.” Turning] i.e. causes the inheritance to pass to the heathen; some, “to a rebel, our fields he divideth.”
Micah 2:5. Cast] No possession left for the usual mode of division.
RETRIBUTIVE PUNISHMENT.—Micah 2:3-5
Sentence is now pronounced against the sins specified, and the woe threatened (Micah 2:1) is explained. God will inflict such judgments, and bring such times, that will effectually humble their pride and recompense their wickedness.
I. Punishment in kind. God is not an idle spectator of oppression, and delay in punishment is not disregard.
1. They devised evil against others, and evil is devised against them. “Against this family do I devise an evil.” Retribution is measured and planned against wicked men. Infinite wisdom will frustrate and punish human designs.
2. They took the lands of others, and their own land shall be taken from them. The inheritance was given to the foe and would never be divided by lot again. Mercies given by special providence may be removed in righteous judgment for our sin. If we forsake God he will forsake us. Riches, honour, and pleasure he can turn into captivity, and unjust gain will pass into the hands of others. Words are not sown in the wind, and actions written in the dust; but like imperishable seed they spring up and fructify in human life. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”
II. Punishment most humiliating.
1. They would be humbled in their pride. “Neither shall ye go haughtily.” Men dream that if they cannot avoid judgments they will be undaunted and courageous under them. God can humble the proud, subdue the self-willed, and throw the mightiest into captivity and sorrow.
2. They would become a by-word in their sufferings. “In that day shall one take up a parable against you.” The calamity was not an ordinary one, but a common proverb in the mouth of others. Sinners are often an example of God’s justice and a warning to others. When others insult and jest at our grief it is most bitter to endure. The most haughty and prosperous will then be dejected and sad.
3. Their condition would be most lamentable. “Lament with a doleful lamentation.” (a) Because the change was so great. God had taken their possessions and fixed others in them. “He hath changed the portion of my people.” (b) Because their case was so hopeless. “We be utterly spoiled.” What reverses in life to prove the folly of men and the providence of God. “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.”
III. Punishment most irretrievable. “An evil from which ye shall not remove your necks.” It was a yoke they could neither avoid nor shake off. From the two tribes the joke was removed, but the ten were never able to withdraw their necks. The punishment was most severe and proportioned in justice to the sins. Those that will not be ruled by grace will be overcome by judgment. Prefer the easy to the iron yoke. Flee now from sin that you may be saved from judgment at last. “For this time is evil.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Micah 2:4. The dirge which follows is purposely in abrupt brief words, as those in trouble speak, with scarce a breath for utterance. First, in two words, with perhaps a softened inflection, they express the utterness of their desolation. Then, in a threefold sentence, each close consisting of three short words, they say what God has done, but name him not because they are angry with him. God’s chastisements irritate those whom they do not subdue (Amos 6:10) [Pusey].
Spoiled. Joel spoke of the parting of their land, under this same term, as a sin of the heathen (Micah 3:2). Now they say God divideth our fields, not to us, but to the heathen, whose lands he gave us. It was a change of act; in impenitence they think it a change of purpose or will. But what lies in that we be utterly despoiled? Despoiled of everything; of what they felt, temporal things; and of what they did not feel, spiritual things. Despoiled of the land of promise, the good things of this life, but also of the presence of God in his temple, the grace of the Lord, the image of God and everlasting glory [Pusey].
Blessings abused are at last removed by the Almighty Giver.
None by lot. Wickedness casting out a people,
1. From the protection and blessings of God;
2. Will cast out from the presence of God hereafter. Neither part nor lot in this matter (Acts 8:21).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Micah 2:4. He hath divided our fields. The land was but the outward symbol of the inward heritage. Unjust gain kept back is restored with usury; it taketh away the life of the owners thereof (Proverbs 1:19). The vineyard whereof the Jews said, the inheritance shall be ours, was taken from them and given to others. So now is that awful change begun when Christians, leaving God, their only unchanging good, turn to earthly vanities, and for the grace of God which he withdraws have these only for their fleeting portion, until it shall be finally exchanged in the day of judgment [Pusey].
Micah 2:6. Prophesy] Lit. to drip, to cause words to flow, prophesying (Amos 7:16). “The people, the false prophets, the politicians, forbade God and Micah to prophesy. Prophesy not] God, by Micah, recites their prohibition to themselves, and forewarns them of the consequences” [Pusey]. Shame] Lit. shames, manifold shame (cf. Amos 7:16).
Micah 2:7. Straitened] i.e. shortened, impatient. These] i.e. the punishments threatened; a speech which claims for itself the promises regardless of moral condition. God not less merciful than formerly (Exodus 34:6); but their sins have changed his proceedings towards them.
OPPOSITION TO GOD’S WORD AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.—Micah 2:6-7
A second accusation is brought against them, for contempt of God’s Word and opposition to his servants. The wicked could not endure the threatening of judgment, sought to silence the Prophet (Amos 7:10-12), or make him preach to please only, as their false prophets did. This conduct adds to their sins, leaves them without true teachers, and throws them into deeper shame.
I. Man’s opposition to God’s Word. “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy.” Opposition to God’s Word is an insult to his character, and a denial of his authority.
1. Men are offended with the faithful preaching of the Word. The truth is unwelcome to those who live in sin. Judgment terrifies them and conscience accuses them in guilt. The cross is an offence, and the gospel a stumbling-block to many. They want the preacher to please them, withhold the truth, and speak peace when there is no peace. “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”
2. Men are offended with the constant preaching of the Word. “Drop not,” distil not; indicating habitual and unceasing warning and lamentation. Occasional appeals may be overlooked; but to be constantly threatened is disagreeable and offensive. It is vinegar and nitre dropped in the conscience instead of dew and refreshment to the heart. It argues an ungodly life and a degenerate age to resist the warnings of the gospel. “Did we not straitly command you, that ye should not teach in this name?”
II. God’s purpose to fulfil His Word. When the wicked said prophesy not, the Lord answered, they shall prophesy. The Word must be published. Men must be warned whether they hear or forbear.
1. God’s servants must obey their commission. Persecuted and opposed, they must be faithful to their trust and to their God. “Of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears” (Jeremiah 26:10-15).
2. God’s Spirit cannot be restrained. “Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?” Can you overcome God by opposing his servants? Can you restrain the Spirit from uttering the truth, or resolve its purpose to what you please? Can you quench the sun or imprison the light? Then you may limit the Holy Spirit in its operations. If God thunders in judgment, it is not because he cannot give mercy. His power is not diminished, and his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting (Cf. Isaiah 1:2; Psalms 103:17). But sins and iniquities hide his face from you, hinder his word, and procure your punishment.
III. The awful consequences of opposing God’s Word. God takes them at their word. They shall not prophesy, and their shame shall not be removed.
1. This will deprive them of the faithful ministry. If men silence God’s ministers and hinder God’s word, God will leave them without light and reproof. They will have their wish and be righteously punished for their choice. Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone.
2. This will offend the Spirit of God. In silencing the prophets they did what they could to silence and limit the Spirit. “Is the Lord’s Spirit straitened?” But impenitence cannot shut out conviction from the heart. Human sinfulness cannot frustrate Divine purposes.
3. This will rob them of religious privileges. “Thou art named the house of Jacob,” but this conduct is most unreasonable for such dignity. Men study to keep up a name, but it is only a name, without anything to answer to it in life. God discerns between show and substance, fair titles and truth. Men may boast of descent, rely on false security, and flatter themselves that they are Abraham’s children; but God will reject them, call them a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity. Their privileges will be taken away, and their profession will bring a curse and not a blessing. “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”
THE ADVANTAGES OF REVELATION.—Micah 2:7
The Word of God must operate according to the principles and dispositions within us. If it be food, it is nothing to the dead, but to the living only. The benefit is only to. them that walk by it. We are not to expect that his words will do us good mechanically, that is, without our consciousness or activity; or that they will act in us as physical causes operate in the body, where the concoction of the food and the circulation of the fluids go on when we are asleep as well as when we are awake, being independent of our volitions and thoughts. The Scriptures can only affect us morally, in a way of motive, in the exercises of the mind, and in the use of the means which God has appointed. This is the only way in which we are authorized to look for it to work We must read, hear, and understand them; we must pray over them, speak of them, and reflect upon them. It is endless to describe the benefit they will then do for us. They will do us good in a way of information. For the soul to be without knowledge it is not good. There is no knowledge like that of the Scriptures. It is clear, full, and blessed. It gives life to them that have it. It is an advantage in duty and perplexity to hear the voice: This is the way, walk ye in it. They will do us good in a way of excitement. We get dull and formal, have a name to live, but are dead. God quickens us according to his Word, endears it to us, and enables us to remember it. “I will never forget thy precepts; for with them thou hast quickened me.” They will do us good in a way of rebuke. They never flatter, but deal truly with us, and frequently reprove us. If we are concerned for our welfare we shall not esteem them our enemy because they tell us the truth. It is improper to limit the benefit of the Word to encouragement, to suppose that we have never a good opportunity, unless it comforts us. It is a blessing to be humbled and emptied of self, to see our vileness, and cry “God be merciful to me a sinner.” We talk of benefactors! What good has the Bible done! What millions has it blessed! How much do we owe it! Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift [Jay].
GOD’S APPEAL TO EXPERIENCE.—Micah 2:7
God’s Word does good and not harm. It is folly, therefore, to oppose it. You are then acting not merely in opposition to God, but against your own benefit and the best interests of your country.
I. The words of God design to do good. Words express mind. God’s Word reveals God’s will and design, and this design is merciful. There are mysteries, but no proofs of malevolent feelings, in the world. Benevolence predominates in nature, notwithstanding sin. Providence wears a benign aspect. The sun shines and the rain falls on the just and the unjust. But in the gospel we have the purpose of God to save, the words of God to bless. “God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
II. The words of God have done good in human experience. Their truth has been confirmed within us. The greatest sinners have received good. Saul of Tarsus, Bunyan, and Newton have been forgiven and saved. We can point to trophies of its power in characters most sinful and profligate. “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified,” &c.
III. But the good which the words of God effect depends upon our moral condition. To him that walketh uprightly. They operate not on outward but moral nature, and influence us according to our relation to them. The sun that melts the wax will harden the clay. Good must be within us before good can come to us. An evil disposition will bring a curse and not a blessing. “To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Micah 2:6. The words are very emphatic in Hebrew, from their briefness: Prophesy not; they shall indeed prophesy; they shall not prophesy to these; shame shall not depart [Pusey]. I. Opposition to God.
1. In his servants.
2. In his Word. II. Consequences of opposition.
1. Shame shall rest upon them.
2. The Word shall be proclaimed to others. “God would have turned away the shame from them; but they, despising his warnings, drew it to themselves. It was the natural fruit of their doings; it was in its natural home with them. The sinner hath but to remain as he is; the shame encompasseth him already, and only departeth not. The wrath of God is already upon him and abideth on him [Pusey].
Micah 2:7. Named. The name is belied,
1. By conduct which contradicts profession.
2. By claiming the promises of God regardless of moral condition before God. Jacob was not copied in spirit and example by those who boasted of his name, a name which reminded of favours, which they abused, and of which they were deprived.
Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? No, for that would—
1. Contradict his Word.
2. Be at variance with the facts of human experience. It is free and unfettered, gracious and abundant in its operations (Cf. Malachi 2:15; 2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.”
1. The benevolent nature of God’s words, “do good.”
2. The power of God’s words, “do good.”
3. The persons who enjoy the benefits, “the upright.” Those who return to the way of righteousness and do not forsake it (Proverbs 4:26-27).
That is the old and still practised way of avoiding God’s threatenings, namely, that men so readily form conceptions of God, and imagine that he cannot be angry because he is merciful. Let one learn, first of all, to understand God from his own sayings. He who hates the light may for a while resort to imaginary comfort, but it cannot help him [Lange].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Micah 2:7. My words. They do evil and injury to many. Thousands will curse for ever the hour they became acquainted with the Scriptures, for they derive from them only an increase of guilt and condemnation. But this is not the effect of design or of natural tendency in them, for the Bible is intended and adapted to do us good only, but is the accidental result of depravity; and therefore it is confined to those who pervert it, abuse it, neglect it, and thus turn the blessing into a curse [Jay].
Micah 2:8. Late] Lit. yesterday = not long since; or again, recently, the people stood up, took an hostile attitude. Pull off] Not content with the outer garment, they rob passers-by of the ornamental robe, strip them of their habiliments as spoils of war.
Micah 2:9. Women] Widows, unprotected (Isaiah 10:2), were driven from houses to which they were attached, and which they inherited from their husbands. Children] Orphans of widows not spared. Glory] My ornament, i.e. garment or upper-coat. For ever] No repentance, no return of the coat according to law (Exodus 22:25-27).
Micah 2:10. Arise] As you have cast out others, so must you be cast out. Canaan was no longer a rest to them.
GRIEVOUS SINS AND RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION.—Micah 2:8-10
The Prophet describes the sad change that had come over the people. Their fathers were famous in war, heroic in the defence of their country against the enemy, and humane towards others. But they had barbarously treated peaceful subjects and innocent women and children. God threatens to do to them as they had done to others.
I. What are the sins denounced?
1. Rebellion against God. “My people is risen up as an enemy.” (a) This rebellion was recent. “Even of late;” only yesterday you have added to former sins. When men cast off the restraints of God’s Word and God’s Spirit they will commit greater folly. No bonds will check the ungodly and rebellious. (b) This rebellion was unprovoked. God was not their enemy, but designed their good. They had risen up vehemently (Cf. Micah 5:4; Micah 7:14; 1 Kings 11:14) against God and man, and become Ishmaelites rather than Israelites. (c) This rebellion was universal. They rose up as one man. Whatever their profession, they were one in their sympathies and conduct. Sin is determined opposition to God. Those who assume this attitude are enemies to God and their country, put themselves away from the benefits of God’s Word, and prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil.
2. Hostility to man. Casting off the fear of God, they had no regard for man. (a) They robbed peaceful travellers. Men averse from war and strife were hindered in their journey, stripped of their comely dress, and violently treated as prisoners of war. What injustice to permit this! What inhumanity to man! “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked; out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” (b) They abused defenceless women. “The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses.” God, the preserver of men, has tender regard for the weaker sex, and will punish aggravations against them. “They devoured widows’ houses.” (c) They maltreated innocent children. They robbed them of the fitting apparel which God had given them, kept the garments for ever which they had taken, and never made restitution. They sold into captivity, and never ceased their oppression. Sex did not save the women, nor age the children. Human rights and human happiness were disregarded. Thus they provoked God, who is a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless.
II. What is the punishment threatened?
1. They were treated as enemies. They had set upon quiet citizens as if they were suspicious characters; ill used friends as if they had been enemies. God now considers them as enemies. “My people is risen up as an enemy.”
2. They were deprived of their possessions. As they had driven helpless widows from their homes, so God gives them corresponding punishment. The land shall not be their rest; they must quit it by force, for it is polluted by their sin. “Arise ye and depart.” There can be no resting-place in sin. A place polluted by guilt will soon become “the sore destruction” of its inhabitants. “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.”
THE CHRISTIAN’S CALL FROM EARTH.—Micah 2:10
We may take these words as a call to Christians to arise from the world with all its attractions—an admonition not to live too much for earth. For everything proclaims the transitory nature of things below, and reminds us that “here we have no continuing city.” Every condition justifies the sentiment of the poet—
“Too low they build who build beneath the skies.”
I. Earth is not the scene of repose. “This is not your rest.” We get no repose physically. Outward circumstances, however smooth, get upset and changed. Intellectually we get no satisfaction. The more we know, the more we desire to know. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the intellect with knowing. But spiritually rest is impossible on earth. Earth is an inn, not a home; our passage, not our portion. Only at the end of our journey will be “quietness and assurance for ever.”
II. Earth is not the place of destination. Many idolize the world, and live as if they had not to depart hence; but the Christian is a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth. “I am a citizen of the whole world,” said Diogenes, when asked what countryman he was. Our citizenship is in heaven, and, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” “a better country, even a heavenly.”
III. Earth is not suitable for our residence. “It is good for pilgrimage, but miserable for residence,” says one. With all its beauties and pleasures it is polluted. Sin and death abound and blacken its fair skies. Sin defiles the land in which it is committed. “Corruption in the world through lust.” If you do not keep yourselves unspotted from the world, but settle down in it and make it your rest, you will be overturned “with a sore destruction.”
“It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,
Or building my hopes in a region like this;
I look for a city that hands have not piled,
I pant for a country by sin undefiled.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
I. The description of the world.
1. It is polluted.
2. It is dangerous. “It shall destroy you.”
3. Hence it is not a rest. II. The command to depart from it. “Arise,” &c.
1. It is comprehensive. Separate yourselves from the world, and touch not the unclean. Avoid its company. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” Renounce its maxims and conversations. “Those who are bound for Canaan must not speak the language of Ashdod,” says Philip Henry. Live above the allurements and pleasures, the anxieties and cares of the world. Set your affections on things above.
2. It is urgent. “Arise and depart.” Like Israel from Egypt, and the pilgrim from the city of destruction, we must hasten and delay not.
3. It is needed. We are apt to grow careless, settle down and say, “In my prosperity I shall never be moved,” but God wakens us by his providence and Word, “Arise, and depart.”
The present is not our rest. It was not designed to be our rest. It is not fit to be our rest. If we are Christians we have relinquished it and chosen another rest. But many, like Reuben and Gad, prefer an inheritance on this side Jordan. The godly themselves have need to have their pure minds stirred up by way of remembrance. God sends them therefore the message, “Arise ye,” &c. There are five ways by which he sends it. The first is his Word. The second is affliction. The third is worldly success. The fourth is the earnests and foretastes of a better world. The last is death. This orders us to depart really as well as morally. Every apprehension and approach of it cries, “It is high time to awake out of sleep,” &c. [From Jay]
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Micah 2:8-9. Women and children.
“The cries of orphans, and the oppressor’s rage
Doth reach the stars” [Dryden].
Micah 2:10. Not your rest.
“This is the scene of combat, not of rest;
Man’s is laborious happiness at best;
On this side death his dangers never cease,
His joys are joys of conquest, not of peace.”
Micah 2:11. Spirit] Lit. walk in the wind, sig. what is vain or worthless (Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 41:29); some, “the man of spirit, i.e. claiming inspiration.” Prophesy] Soothe you in gluttony and drunkenness; he would be listened to because he flattered you.
Micah 2:12.] A sudden transition from judgment to joy. The remnant of Israel after sifting shall be gathered together, multiplied, and governed by Jehovah as their king. Bozrah] Rich in pastures and flocks.
Micah 2:13. Breaker] “A traditional Messianic expression,” will break a way for them in every hindrance and enemy. Cyrus delivering from Babylon is an eminent type of Christ redeeming from sin. Gate] of the city of captivity. Before] them, as in going up out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21; Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 1:33), to lead the way. “The fulfilment of this prophecy commenced with the gathering together of Israel to its God and King by the preaching of the Gospel, and will be completed at some future time when the Lord shall redeem Israel, which is now pining in dispersion, out of the fetters of its unbelief and life of sin” [Keil].
THE MINISTRY OF FALSE TEACHERS.—Micah 2:11
Predictions of judgment were unwelcome to corrupt men. They opposed the true, but would listen to false prophets who flattered them in sin and declared lies. The ministry of such is here described.
I. It is lying in its nature. Falsehood and lies. It misrepresents God and his Word, the gospel and its claims. It is not purity, light, and power, but false and misleading. It ignores or sacrifices truth, and springs not from the Spirit of God, but the spirit of man. They pretend inspiration, but walk in delusion and believe a lie. “Woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing.”
II. It is sensual in its purpose. Its great design is to minister to the sensual enjoyments of the people. “I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink.” The false prophets pleased the rich and emboldened the self-indulgence of all by promising abundant harvests and rich vintage. The promises of God are often emphasized, but the conditions of those promises are forgotten. Congregations are assured that without exception and without penitence they will be free from judgment and sure of salvation. False teachers pander to vitiated tastes, sanction sinful customs, and disturb not the consciences of the people. But true ministers strike the prejudices, condemn the carnal gratifications, and seek to save the souls of men. They handle not the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
III. It is pleasing to the people in its method. Unwelcome truths would not be heard, but a prophet of lies would be popular. “He shall even be the prophet of this people.” Spiritual appetites crave for food, conscience is dissatisfied, and the heart restless. Men want rest and God. If any come in God’s name to set them at ease in sensual pleasures, him will they receive with joy (Jeremiah 5:31). All they desire is freedom from reproof and licence to sin. “They teach their teachers how they wish to be mistaught,” says a writer, “and receive the echo of their wishes as the voice of God.” “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?”
IV. It is disappointing in its results. It is “walking in the spirit,” or “walking with the wind,” as the margin gives.
1. There is no nutriment for the soul. It is a ministry empty and unsubstantial as the wind, mixed with error and falsehood, not “sound speech that cannot be condemned.”
2. There is no efficacy in the word. It is not truth spoken in tenderness, love, and concern for the hearers. None are enlightened in mind, quickened in conscience, and converted from sin. The words are mere echoes of the wind, devoid of results in heart and life, barren to God and man. “Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; he daily increaseth lies and desolation.”
THE GLORIOUS FUTURE OF ISRAEL.—Micah 2:12-13
There is now a sudden transition from threatening to promise. Mercy is the end of all punishment to the penitent. A remnant shall be delivered and gathered together, increased and governed by Jehovah their Shepherd and King.
I. Israel shall be delivered. The captivity threatened will come; but, as of old, they shall be delivered from it. Babylon, no more than Egypt, can detain them in slavery. Iron gates and massive walls will give way before the Breaker’s power. An entrance will be made into the city. The Conqueror will go in, and the captives go out through it into liberty and joy. The prison shall open and set them free. This deliverance from earthly Babylon is a type and pledge of redemption from spiritual bondage, by Christ Jesus. Men are bound in ignorance, prejudice, and sin. Christ gives light and redemption to the soul, and opens the prison to them that are bound. “He redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.”
II. Israel shall be united again. “I will surely assemble Jacob.” They shall be gathered together in tenderness and care, in families and social privileges. God will bring his people from the greatest distance, and gather them into his fold. Public calamities and vicissitudes of fortunes hide not his face nor obliterate his covenant. Under the law believers could foresee, and under the gospel we may enjoy, this promise.
1. This gathering is certain. I will surely gather.
2. It is constant. The repetition indicates the progressive and persistent nature of the work.
3. It is extensive. Though God’s people are a remnant, yet all shall be gathered, and not one forgotten. “All of thee.”
III. Israel shall be increased. Not a small number, but “the multitude of men.” God can turn remnants into multitudes, and multiply his people as a flock. In the Church it shall be said, “The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell,” &c. (Isaiah 49:20). At last angels will gather the elect from the four winds into that “great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and people, and tongues.”
IV. Israel shall be defended. They will not be united and left to themselves or to others. God will possess them and rule them by his love.
1. They will be secured as a flock. “As the flock in the midst of the fold,” in perfect peace and safety.
2. They will be guided as a people. “Their king shall pass before them.” As in olden time, his presence shall go with them and make an easy passage through death and the grave to eternal life.
3. They will be governed as a nation. “The Lord on (at) the head of them.” As a captain and conqueror to lead and rule them; to overcome all opposition, to “break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
The Breaker. Notice—
1. The object in view. To set free.
2. The opposition to God’s work.
3. The destruction of this opposition. Complete and utter ruin—Breaker.
The words present Christ as—
1. The Redeemer.
2. The Guide.
3. The Defender of his people. “A magnificent transition from Cyrus to Christ, as in Isaiah 40:1-5. The Prophet sees the conqueror Cyrus breaking into Babylon, smiting asunder the bars which kept Israel captive, as in a prison; and how they went forth, after the issuing of his decree, in joy and triumph to their own land. And from this prophetical view of Cyrus and his victory, and its blessed consequences, he passes on by a rapid prophetic flight to speak of the Divine Cyrus, Jesus Christ, and of his triumph over death and the grave [Wordsworth]. There is no passing on, nor going forth, without Christ our King, who is both King and Lord [Jerome].
Broken up. “The three verbs—they break through, they march through, they go out—describe in a pictorial manner progress which cannot be stopped by any human power [Hengstenberg].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Micah 2:11. The horrible subtlety of false teaching in each age or country is to meet its own favourite requirements, without calling for self-sacrifice or self-oblation, to give it a god, such as it would have, such as might content it. “The people willeth to be deceived, be it deceived,” is a true proverb [Pusey].
Micah 2:12-13. As the flock. Now the sheep are scattered in all lands; but the shepherd shall search them out and bring them into the fold, where they shall be (a) constantly supplied, and (b) eternally safe from beasts of prey. Breaker. The image is not of conquest, but deliverance. They break through, not to enter in, but to pass through the gate, and go forth. The wall of the city is ordinarily broken through in order to make an entrance, or to secure to a conqueror the power of entering in at any time, or by age and decay. But here the object is expressed to go forth. Plainly they were confined before, as in a prison; and the gate of the prison was burst open to set them free (Cf. Isaiah 43:6; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11-12 [Pusey].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Micah 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29