WHO IS A HOLY GOD LIKE YOU — AWESOME IN JUDGMENT?
THE SOVEREIGN LORD JUDGES IDOLATRY
(:1) INTRODUCTION: THE BURDEN OF THE PROPHET
Allen: An editorial introduction to the book briefly gives four fundamental pieces of information: the divine source of the following oracles, the identity of the prophet through whom they came, the period over which he ministered, and the scope of his oracles. The prophetic books generally have introductions of this type prefixed, although the amount of information supplied in them varies.
A. Source of the Message
“The word of the Lord”
B. Herald of the Message = the Prophet Micah
“which came to Micah of Moresheth”
prophet Micah = “Who is like Yahweh?”
how can idolatry even be an option in light of the uniqueness and majesty of our God? We should listen because the message has divine authority.
Allen: This was a country village or small town over on the western and lower side of Judah, halfway between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean coast.
Moresheth — SW Judah on border by the Philistines —
– significant from standpoint of military campaigns;
– Micah identified with common people in rural areas who suffered much — both from foreign armies and from exploitation by fat cats in the big cities
C. Time Period
“in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah”
Ryrie: Though for the most part a good king, Jotham did not remove the idolatrous high places from his kingdom. Ahaz, a wicked king, adopted a pro-Assyrian foreign policy, and during his reign the captivity of the northern tribes took place. Hezekiah, one of Judah’s best kings, was anti-Assyrian and withstood the siege of Jerusalem which Sennacherib led in 701.
D. Target Audience
“which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”
focuses on the capital cities
I. (:2-7) THE COMING DEVASTATING JUDGMENT OF A HOLY GOD LAYS BARE THE IDOLATRY OF HIS OWN REBELLIOUS PEOPLE
A. (:2) Call to Attention (cf. Is. 3:13)
1. We Should Listen Because God is the Universal Judge
“Hear, O peoples, all of you;
Listen, O earth and all it contains,”
2. We Should Listen Because God is Sovereign and Omniscient
“And let the Lord God be a witness against you,”
His Judgment is Accurate and Certain; there can be no argument; there can be no escape
Allen: God appears as witness for the prosecution, with incriminating evidence to present against the peoples of the world. He is witness, plaintiff, and judge at one and the same time, for He has the knowledge of wrongdoing, the right and concern to prosecute as the upholder of social welfare, and the wisdom and authority to judge with equity.
3. We Should Listen Because God is Holy
“The Lord from His holy temple.”
There is a great gulf between our dwelling place on earth in sin and the habitation of God in His holy temple — He is the one deserving of all worship and service.
God’s Judgment is Just & Righteous — based on His Holiness
B. (:3-4) Catastrophic Coming Judgment
“For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place.
He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.
The mountains will melt under Him,
And the valleys will be split,
Like wax before the fire,
Like water poured down a steep place.”
We should look because the intervention of our transcendent God — (the Creator) — is Powerful in its Destruction;
“He shall come down and shall tread” — repeated action;
Similar descriptions of such awe-inspiring manifestations of Jehovah occur in Ex. 19:18,19; Jud 5:5; Isa. 64:1; Hab. 3:6;
The Lord can come in blessing or He can come in judgment
Here God is angry at His people because they have broken the covenant.
Constable: The Lord was about to intervene in the affairs of His people. He is not only transcendent above all but immanent in the world, one of the most basic concepts in Old Testament theology. When He came, all the earth would melt, split, and quake before His awesome power (cf. Judg. 5:4-5). Since He could affect the physical creation so drastically, His people needed to fear Him. Treading on the high places of the land, where the Israelites worshipped in idolatry (cf. 2 Chron. 33:17), probably also implies that He would crush pagan worship.
C. (:5) Charge of Rebellion and Idolatry Against Both Judah and Israel
Why does a loving God have to judge and destroy?
“All this is for the rebellion of Jacob
And for the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the rebellion of Jacob?
Is it not Samaria?
What is the high place of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?”
1. “transgression” — rebellion, breaking away, apostasy
2. “sins” — missing the mark (as when a marksman shoots and misses)
God sets up the target
3. “high place” — Idolatry — locations for idolatrous worship
the two capital cities are charged with being the focal point for the sins of the whole nation
These are obviously capital offenses (pinpointing the blame at the highest levels – in Samaria and Jerusalem.)
D. (:6-7) Certainty of Complete Devastation – the Extent of God’s Judgment
1. (:6a) City in Ruins
“For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country,
Planting places for a vineyard.”
2. (:6b) Foundations Laid Bare
“I will pour her stones down into the valley,
And will lay bare her foundations.”
3. (:7a) Pride Smashed
“All of her idols will be smashed,
All of her earnings will be burned with fire,
And all of her images I will make desolate”
4. (:7b) Shame Exposed
“For she collected them from a harlot’s earning,
And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.”
very graphic language; God gives us pictures we can remember
Constable: God would smash Samaria’s idols proving them incapable of defending themselves much less helping others. He would burn the luxurious ornaments that the people offered as temple gifts in the conflagration that would accompany Samaria’s overthrow. All the pagan images that the people had made would perish. The Lord viewed these physical treasures as the earnings of harlot Israel who had been unfaithful to Him (cf. Hosea). The Israelites had committed adultery with temple prostitutes, but the Assyrians would destroy the gifts that they had brought into their temples and use them for their own idolatrous worship.
II. (:8-16) THE CORRESPONDING SHAME AND CAUSE FOR MOURNING SPREADS ACROSS THE ENTIRE LAND
A. (:8-9) Severity of the Offense Cause for Mourning
1. (:8) Expression of Mourning
“Because of this I must lament and wail,
I must go barefoot and naked;
I must make a lament like the jackals
And a mourning like the ostriches.”
Our hearts should be broken so that we would be repentant and contrite in spirit. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” — Prophet identifies himself with the nation
Nakedness was the common lot of a captive.
Kroll: I suggest to you from this passage of Scripture that the point is this: When repentance is real, you’ll be able to see it. It will not just be inside. There will be signs of repentance when repentance is real.
2. (:9) Severity of the Offense
“For her wound is incurable,
For it has come to Judah;
It has reached the gate of my people,
Even to Jerusalem.”
Prophet foresees the coming Assyrian invasion; its progress, city by city — from the Philistine coastal plain through the Judean hills to Jerusalem. Samaria was captured by Assyria in 722; Jerusalem was besieged by Sennacherib in 701 (2 Kings 18:1316) and by Nebuchad. In 605 and later.
City Gate — refers to the place of counsel and power;
the king’s counselors or cabinet — this sin had reached to the very top and defiled the entire nation
There is no hint here of accusation or condemnation toward his people. He identifies with them empathically, sympathetically. There is an incredible intensity to this determination to lament because of what is happening in the north with the fall of the northern kingdom, but in verse 9 he adds an additional reason for the lament–because of his own country, his identification with his own people. In other words, Samaria’s illness is communicable and terminal. Her sin sickness has already infected Judah, and the cure for Judah is going to be just as radical as for Israel; it will be the cure of God’s judgment. Micah weeps as he delivers this sermon, as we notice in the language he chooses: “lamenting,” “wailing,” “lamenting in mourning,” “through tears.” In his weeping, Micah is not trying to manipulate his congregation’s emotions. His lament comes from real inner agony.
B. (:10-15) Scope of the Shame – 11 Cities Cited
The Meaning of the City Names (they sound like what they symbolize):
Stewart Briscoe (Hearing God’s Voice Above The Noise) says that it would be like an American preacher on prime time TV saying, “Living in Pittsburg is the pits…. Los Angeles is no city of angels…..Wisconsin should only be pronounced Wiscon-SIN.”
1. Gath — sounds like the Hebrew word for “tell” – Tell it not in Tell City
“Tell it not in Gath,
Weep not at all.”
2. Beth-le-aphrah – House of dust – Roll in the dust in Dust City
“At Beth-le-aphrah roll yourself in the dust.”
rolling in the dust signifies abject mourning;
Prophet dreaded the outpouring of the scorn of these heathen cities when they should learn of the terrible judgment experienced by God’s own people
3. Shaphir – Things are shameful in Pleasant City
“Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness.”
sounds like Hebrew for “beauty, pleasant” contrasted with shame
4. Zaanan — sounds like a verb meaning “to go out”
“The inhabitant of Zaanan does not escape.”
people are unable to escape; will be terrified to go out of the house
5. Beth-ezel — sounds like “foundation”
“The lamentation of Beth-ezel: He will take from you its support.”
but they had none “God lay bare her foundations” — vs.6
Wiersbe: Beth Ezel means “house of taking away,” and the city would be taken away.
6. Maroth — like a word meaning “to wait for good”
“For the inhabitant of Maroth
Becomes weak waiting for good,
Because a calamity has come down from the Lord
To the gate of Jerusalem.”
they were waiting for evil (or sounds like Hebrew word for “bitter”)
“Harness the chariot to the team of horses,
O inhabitant of Lachish –
She was the beginning of sin
To the daughter of Zion –
Because in you were found
The rebellious acts of Israel.”
Wiersbe: Since Lachish sounds like the Hebrew word for “a team of swift horses,” he warned them to harness their horses to the chariots and try to escape.
“Therefore you will give parting gifts
On behalf of Moresheth-gath”
Wiersbe: sounds like a Hebrew word meaning “betrothed”; and brides were given farewell gifts. In other words, the town would no longer belong to Judah but would “leave home” and belong to the invaders.
9. Achzib — place of deceit
“The houses of Achzib will become a deception
To the kings of Israel.”
defense against the invaders will be helpless or even turn traitor
“Moreover, I will bring on you
The one who takes possession,
O inhabitant of Mareshah,”
Wiersbe: sounds like the word for “conqueror,” and the town would be conquered by the enemy.
“The glory of Israel will enter Adullam.”
C. (:16) Sign of Identification with the Shame and Suffering
“Make yourself bald and cut off your hair,
Because of the children of your delight;
Extend your baldness like the eagle,
For they will go from you into exile.”