Message of Condemnation
Beginning with 1:2, God, through Micah, calls on all of the
people and on the earth itself, to witness against the sin of
His people as He speaks from His holy temple. Verses 3 and
4 give us some insight into the omnipotence of God. He: treads on the high places of the land; mountains melt under him; valleys split and run down like wax when it is close to a fire and like water when it is poured down a steep hill. We know this will literally happen when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and places His feet on the Mount of Olives.
The mountain will split and all of the mountains will collapse. They will
melt, and the low places will be raised up. But here, Micah uses these
physical phenomena as symbolism of the future destruction on the nations of Israel and Judah.
He says, “This is for the transgression of Jacob.“ Isn’t it interesting
that the prophet uses the old name of Jacob, not Israel, because the old name described his old character? Even Esau said, “He is rightly named Jacob because he has supplanted me these two times.“ So God said that His people are supplanters and He cannot use the new name He gave Jacob at Penuel, because these evil descendents of Jacob are not deserving of the new name which means Prince of God.
Then He uses the names in parallel fashion, “And for the sins of the
house of Israel.“ And he asks, “What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria?” Remember in Amos 8:14? “They that swear by the sin of Samaria and say, Thy God, 0 Dan, liveth. “ This is a reference to the worship of the golden calves which was established by Jeroboam I, back in 931/930 B.C.
Then Micah continued, “What are the high places of Judah?
are they not Jerusalem? “ Decades later, during the reign of
Josiah in the southern kingdom, we read (II Chron. 34:3-4):
For in the eighth year of his reign while he was yet young, he
began to seek after the God of David his father. and in the twelfth
year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places,
and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.
And they brake down the arms of Baalim in his presence: and the
images, that were on high above them.
So it is obvious that all of the people, north and south, were polluted
with their idolatrous worship systems. Because of their sins, God says, “I will make Samaria a heap.”
We know that Micah began to prophesy after 739, but before 730,
because he links his ministry with Jotham, who reigned from about 750 as co-regent with his father Uzziah (who died in 739), until 730, but he does not mention Uzziah. He made an accurate prediction regarding the destruction of Samaria in 722 B.C., which occurred about a decade after the time he preached this message.
All the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the
hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof
will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and
they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
This is the same message Hosea preached approximately thirty years earlier in 2:5. The same sinful Baal-inspired activities were still continuing. Realizing this,
Micah began a personal lament, saying, “Therefore I will wail
and howl, I will go stripped and naked.“ This is interesting be-cause
his contemporary, the prophet Isaiah, had been instructed by God
to go barefoot and naked. That was Isaiah’s example of the concept of pedagogy in biography.
At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying,
Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe
from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the
Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and bare-foot
three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;
So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners,
and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and bare-foot,
even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Isaiah’s pedagogy in biography was a visual object lesson regarding the future captivity of Egypt and the defeat of Egypt by the Assyrians. Now, Micah laments, saying that the whole scenario is so terrible, that he also must go mourning just like that, lamenting like the jackets and mourning Eke the ostriches. Why, Micah? Verse 9 says, “Because her wound is incurable.“ It was bad enough when it was in Israel, but now it had come down to Judah, it had even reached Jerusalem, the location of the temple of Jehovah.
Then Micah said in verse 10: “Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at
all.” The exact translation is “weeping, weep not.“ Then, “In the house of Aphra roll thyself in the dust.“ He used a term we know as paranamasia. Paranamasia is a satirical play on words. What he says is, “In the house of dust, roll in the dust.“ The balance of chapter one has several examples of paranamasia.
In chapter 2, Micah reiterated the theme of Amos, his predecessor from several decades earlier. His message is, there is oppression by the upper classes. He says, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds!” There is an interesting contrast here between evil men and godly men. The evil man schemes iniquity on his bed, whereas the godly man says, “My tears have been my meat day and night, While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psa.
42:3). An ungodly man may spend his night burning with schemes of
iniquity for the dawn, but the godly man lies in sorrow and heartbreak
if he has offended God. His tears stream down his face and he says they are his meat night and day. What a dramatic contrast!
Continuing his description of the evil man, “when the morning is
light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hands. And they covet fields, and take them by violence.“ This is reminiscent of I King 21, where Jezebel conspired to take Naboth’s vineyard and seized it for her sullen husband, Ahab.
Verse 6: “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy.“ The
inhabitants of the land were commanding the prophets of
God not to speak. That also happened, you recall, in the time of Amos when he was confronted by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. But, he said, “they speak out because if they do not, their reproaches shall not be turned back. Is the spirit of the Lord straightened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (vs. 7). The Word of God is not going to do any good for the evil man who will not listen. But the one who walks uprightly, who loves God’s Word and looks into it as a mirror, then makes needed changes, the Word does good because he is an upright man.
Continuing with verse 8: “Even of late my people have risen up
as an enemy.“ It was bad enough when the Israelites had to
worry about invading armies from the surrounding nations,
but now the people in the land have become so wicked that they would strip the robes from their fellow Israelites. There were muggers in the streets who would snatch personal belongings from unsuspecting passersby.
Even the wounded soldiers, returning from war, were not safe
from vandals. The wealthy found reasons to evict women - probably
widows - from their homes. The people, seeking religious support for their wickedness, wanted prophets who would talk to them of wine and strong drink (vs. 11). “He shall even be the prophet of this people.“ The same thing is true today. If a Bible study session and a wine-tasting seminar are advertised for the same evening, which event do you think will attract the largest crowd?
Chapter 3 opens with an address to the heads of Jacob -
leaders, rulers, priests and princes. Micah asked, “Is it not
for you to know judgment?” That was a rhetorical question because of
course it was. That was their business. But, Micah continued, “You hate the good, and love the evil.” They were like cannibals, tearing the skin from God’s people and eating the flesh from their bones, chopping them up like meat for the pot. Even so, when the mistreated cry to God, He will not answer because even they have practiced evil. Do you remember what God said earlier, “I will go and return to my place“ (Hos. 5:15)?
That threat by God is the theme of Micah 3.
“Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people
err” (3:5). Micah addressed the professional prophets, the
yes-men of his day. When they have something to bite with their teeth, they cry peace. Their politics and their messages were determined by the satisfaction of their appetites. Do you remember how Ahab asked his professional prophets, “Shall we go up against this city?” And they replied as one man, “Go up.“ They knew who signed their paychecks. The only man who spoke for God was the one who never prophesied good concerning Ahab.
The verse continues and Micah denounces the fury of the evil
prophets against those who “putteth not into their mouths.“ In fact, they
even declare “Holy War” against them. But, verse 6 continues, God
would make sure their prophecies were not successful.
Following his exposure of the false religious system and its
leaders, Micah began to speak for himself. His words in
verse 8 were dangerous and inflammatory. He had rebuked the false
prophets, and he spoke the Word of God saying their prophecies would not come true and that their contrived methods of divination would fail. When they failed, they would be embarrassed and ashamed. Then he said, “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.”
Filled with courage and the power of the Spirit, Micah addressed
the heads of Jacob and rulers of Israel. You “abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.“ These corrupt politicians twisted everything out of shape for their own advantage. “They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity” (vs. 10).
Notice the synonymous parallelism in his words.
The heads there of 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
(Parallel passages are in Judges 18:4 and I Chronicles 28:3.)
What a false security those professional prophets had, “None evil
can come upon us, “ they said. But Micah retorted, “Zion will be plowed as a field.“ With the spiritual eye, he looked into the future to 586 B.C. “Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest. “ Read Lamentations to see how this came to pass just as Micah prophesied.
Grace Beyond Judgment
Chapter 4 is eschatological and demonstrates the ultimate
triumph of God’s grace. Verses 1-3 are identical with Isaiah
2:2-4 except for a very few words. This similarity has resulted
in some controversy. Some scholars believe that Micah originated
this section and then Isaiah borrowed it. Another group believes Micah copied from Isaiah. A third group believes that both men borrowed from some original document. Still another group says that Micah wrote it and a redactor inserted it at a later time in both Isaiah and Micah. The position I personally believe is the conservative one which says that, since they are not quite the same, both men received independent revelations of this tremendous truth. I believe the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to write Isaiah 2:2-4, and also inspired Micah to write Micah 4:1-3.
Security Micah says in verse 4, that a time is coming when every man
will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there will be no one to make him afraid. This is a tremendous promise, when considered alongside the prophecy of future destruction. Once again, it is the light at the end of the tunnel. Micah had prophesied that Samaria, Jerusalem, and the temple, would be destroyed. But, immediately following these statements, he exclaimed this promise of comfort and future restoration when every man would sit under his own vine and no one would have anything to fear.
In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I
will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted, And
I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off
a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion
from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 4:6- 7)
This is very similar to the cry of the people back in Hosea 6:1-2.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he
will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two
days he will revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we
shall live in his sight.
God gave the inhabitants of the land, through Micah, the assurance that even though He must afflict them, the judgment would actually be remedial since there would come a time when He would regather them.
Continuing in verse 10, Micah made a prophecy which
would be fulfilled more than 140 years later. “For now shalt
thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and
thou shalt go even to Babylon.“ This is tremendous; who would have
thought it could happen? At that time, Assyria was the dominant power.
A little later, Egypt would become strong. Who, except God’s prophet,
could have looked far enough into the future to know that Babylon
would become a power strong enough to defeat Assyria and then take them captive?
And if one could have comprehended this prophecy, who would
have thought that after becoming captives in Babylon, they would be
allowed to return? But, verse 10 continues, “There shalt thou be delivered, there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.“ Not only did Micah prophesy the captivity in 586, but the later release under Cyrus in 539 B.C.
Chapter 5:2 contains the outstanding prophecy regarding
the birthplace of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is especially
meaningful because of the insignificance of the city of
Bethlehem. So, the aggregate prophecies from Micah’s vantage point in about 730 B.C., look sequentially down through the corridors of time to 722, 586, 539, the birth of Christ, and the Millennial Kingdom.
The balance of chapter 5 is eschatological and details the vengeance which will be carried out on the nations which have not obeyed God.
God’s Controversy with His People
All 16 verses of chapter 6 contain God’s controversy with unfaithful
Israel. We saw this theme earlier in Isaiah 5, when God asked, -”
What more could I have done?” This seems to be a recurring theme in the messages of the prophets.
Micah was also similar to many of his predecessors in using
the technique of historical review. God often used this
method to remind His people of everything He had done
for them. As creator, He called upon the mountains and the foundations of the earth to hear His controversy against them.
Micah continued with his explanation about the ingredients of
true worship (vss. 6-7):
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the
high God? 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? shall I give my firstborn for my
transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
The priests of Moloch would build a fire in the hollow brazen replica of
Moloch until it glowed red hot. Then, without showing any outward
emotion, the worshipers would place their firstborn on the idol’s outstretched red hot hands and watch emotionless until the child fell into the fire below. “Must I do that,” Micah asked, “to atone for my sin?” Look at the beauty of verse 8: “He hath showed thee, 0 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 balance of the chapter, Micah echoes Amos in condemning unjust business practices. Can God justify short
measures, wicked scales, and deceptive weights? What these
evil businessmen sow they will reap. They will eat without
being satisfied and lose what they save. They will be given
over to destruction. God said to the entire nation that He would “make
thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing” (vs. 16).
Micah 7:2 laments that the godly person had perished from the
land. None was righteous among them. Each man waited for bloodshed and they hunted one another with a net. The illustration is of the hunter who used a net to ensnare his prey. The men of Judah were so evil, that they would hide while waiting for their prey, a fellow Israelite. David similarly described the wicked in Psalm 10:8-9:
He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages; in the secret places
doth he murder the innocent, his eyes are privily set against the
poor. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den; he lieth in wait
to catch the poor, he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into
The treachery which was prevalent was both eschatological and historical. Listen to the words of Micah as he describes the decline in family relationships.
Trust ye not in attend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the
doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. 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. (7.5-6)
This was also a foreshadow of life in the Tribulation period which Christ spoke of when He said that a man’s enemies will be those of his own household (Luke 21:16).
An Ultimate Hope
Micah knew the only source of hope: “Therefore I will look unto the
Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me” (vs. 7).
The balance of the chapter is eschatological. Micah looked for-ward
to that future day and spoke for both Israel and Judah as a united
nation when he said,
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 eye shall
behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree
be far removed.
What tremendous eschatological promises about the time when God’s ways, and His mistreated people, will be vindicated. Parallel passages are found in Zechariah 2:2; 14:4-10; Ezekiel 47:13; 48:30-35.
Finally, Micah said, the other nations will be ashamed when they
see what our God is like (vss. 18-20):
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth
by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth
not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. 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.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham,
which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
LXXVIII NAHUM THE ELKOSHITE
Our study now continues on into the middle of the seventh century
B.C., where we meet the prophet Nahum. In the Septuagint, Nahum
follows Jonah as a complementary book. Both books concerned the
Assyrians (Ninevites), but while Jonah described how they repented in his day, Nahum is completely prophetic. Nahum’s book was written
while Assyria was still strong. The best estimate for the date of Nahum is somewhere between 663 and 612 B.C. We arrive at this from internal evidence and the history of Assyria, considering the historical date of the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians.
Unlike his predecessors, Nahum did not name the king who was
on the throne during his ministry; perhaps this was because the focus
of his message was not on Judah but on Nineveh. However, Nahum
was probably prophesying prior to the time of Josiah and Jeremiah. If
so, the evil king Manasseh and later his son Amon, would have been
reigning in Jerusalem. Manesseh, you recall, had been taken with hooks to Babylon, which at that time was an Assyrian stronghold.
It may be that the preaching of Nahum, regarding the destruction of
Nineveh, provided inspiration and encouragement for good king Josiah, who began his reign very soon after Nahum’s time. It would have been natural for Josiah to come to the throne and continue to pay tribute to the Assyrians because his father and grandfather had done so. But possibly Nahum’s preaching, (along with encouragement from Jeremiah) that Nineveh was going to be destroyed, encouraged Josiah to begin his national reforms.
An Avenging God
Verse 1 begins, “The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum
the Elkoshite.“ This was near Capernaum. God, through Nahum, introduced Himself as an avenging God. “He reserveth wrath for his enemies. “ Since time has no meaning to God, His judgment does not always occur immediately, but is often held in check until the proper time. God has reserved His wrath. He is slow to anger and great in power. Second Peter 3:9 is a parallel passage.
An Omnipotent God
Verse 4 introduces God as all-powerful. “He rebuketh the sea, and
maketh it day.“ Upon reading this, one thinks of the Red Sea experience during the Exodus. “And drieth up all the rivers.“ We are reminded of the drying up of the Jordan River. “Bashan languisheth, and Carmel.“ Those were the revered sites of Baal according to the authors of Canaanite poetry. “The flower of Lebanon languisheth.“ The flowers wither for lack of water. It is Yahweh, not Baal, who controls the rain. “The mountains quake at him.“ Remember how Mount Horeb was quaking and smoking when the people feared (Exod. 19:18)
“The hills melt and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world,
and all that dwell therein.... His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.“ I am reminded of Elijah standing on Horeb while God went forth before him when the mountains split apart. (I Kings