Micah (day 894-900)

Micah 1 (day 894) 12 June 2012

             1: This verse contains all we know about the prophet Micah. Moresheth was a small village southwest of Jerusalem. He claims to have been active during the reigns of three Judean kings; Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, which places him somewhere between 742 — 687 B.C. He is thus a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah, though he prophesies mostly against the northern kingdom of Israel.

             2- 7: Initially the two thrones are cast alike: the high places (shrines and altars) are God’s targets, both in Jerusalem and in Samaria. Therefore Samaria will be wasted because of the worship of pagan deities on the high places. The comparison of Samaria with a prostitute reminds of us Hosea’s characterizations.

             8-9: The prophet laments the coming destruction of Samaria, and warns that Judah will suffer the same fate.

             10-16: Many scholars think these verses allude to the invasion in 701 B.C. by Sennacherib. The towns listed here, most of them unknown, are thought to lie along the coastal plain west of Jerusalem, the route Sennacherib took to lay siege (unsuccessfully) to Jerusalem. Gath was a Philistine stronghold in the same general area, and Micah does not want them to know about the fall of Judah’s cities; thus he says, “Tell it not in Gath.”


Micah 2 (day 895) 13 June 2012

             1-2: Micah describes the kinds of atrocities committed by the rich and powerful against the common people.

             3-5: God, he says, will turn the tables on them, and the deeds they commit so wantonly against others will be committed against them.

             6-11: But they do not wish to hear such things, and preach to Micah that he should not preach. Micah counters that his words do good to those who are upright, but the rich and powerful are mistreating the common people and depriving their children of the blessings God would give them. They don’t want to listen to Micah, but they’ll listen, he says, to anybody who preaches prosperity to them.

             12-13: In a sudden shift from the present to the future, Micah says that God promises that the survivors, the remnant left behind after the destruction, will be led by a king who is led by God.

Micah 3 (day 896) 14 June 2012

             1-3: Micah continues the attack on the rich and powerful rulers of Israel. He paints an awful picture of the way they treat the common people; surely it is figurative language to emphasize the hopeless position they put the people in.

             4: Eventually the rich and powerful will cry to the LORD, he says, but it will be too late: God will “hide his face from them.”

             5-8: Now the focus is on the religious leaders who have been making themselves prosperous at the expense of the people. The seers, the diviners and the prophets will have nothing to say when the day of God’s justice comes. Their words will be weak and powerless, but Micah will be filled with power, the spirit of the LORD, justice and might to enable him to continue pointing out their misdoings.

             9-12: Micah turns again to the southern kingdom. The rulers and priests are all in it for gain at the expense of the people. They think God is with them but God is about to turn Jerusalem into a heap of ruins, and nothing will be left standing on Mt. Zion.


Micah 4 (day 897) 15 June 2012

             1-4: An idyllic vision of things to come: the raising up of Zion as the highest of the mountains is an image we have seen before, along with the beating of plow swords into plowshares, for verses 1-3 are nearly identical to Isaiah 2:2-4. The saying about sitting under the fig trees is a picture of peace and tranquility.

             5: The other nations need instruction because they each live according to their particular religious cults and thus need correction from the one nation that lives according in the way they have been taught by the true and only God.

             6-8: Now Micah pictures a return of the exiles to Jerusalem where God will be the ruler and the kingdom of David will be restored.

             9-10: An interesting idea is here: the poor ravaged people are being sent into exile to Babylon because that is where God will rescue them! The curse of exile becomes a blessing.

             11-13: The nations that gather for the spoil — Edom, Amon, Moab — don’t realize that the fall of Jerusalem is part of God’s plan to elevate Jerusalem above them all, and they will be “as sheaves on the threshing floor.”


Micah 5 (day 898) 16 June 2012

             1: A difficult verse to translate, scholars differ on whether verse 1 should be connected with the previous passage (in the Hebrew Bible this verse is labeled 4:14), with the following passage, or stand alone. I have no opinion in the matter, but the tenor of the verse seems to connect it to the conquest of Israel which resulted in the displacement of the population.

             2-5a: Following verse one, which seems to leave Israel defeated, these verses herald a new beginning. The ruler (a general term distinct from “king”) who will come from Bethlehem hearkens back to the anointing of David, who was from that village. For Christians it also hearkens ahead to the birth of Jesus according to the interpretation given by the wise men to Herod (Matthew 2:6). Christians have also often interpreted verse 3 as a reference to the Virgin Mary. It could as well simply be a metaphor for the time of painful suffering the people must go through before the restoration begins. Verse 4 seems to refer most clearly to a reestablishment of the line of David, who was a shepherd. The prophecy that the new ruler will be “the one of peace” is often taken as a description of the teachings of Jesus.

             5b-6: Perhaps the best way to understand these verses is to take Assyria as a reference to any empire that seeks to overrun the land of God’s people, and the shepherds and rulers who will govern “Assyria” is then a way of saying that God’s protection will be seven or eight times as great as before.

             7-9: In any case it is clear that Micah believed the time would come when the Jews would be strong and independent and in no danger from other nations.

             10-15: These words seem to be addressed to the Assyrians and other nations that eye Israel/Judah as a target for expansion. It also could be Micah’s condemnation of the northern kingdom of Israel, for it was their worship of other gods that raised God’s wrath against them.


Micah 6 (day 899) 17 June 2012

             1-2: Here is the familiar court scene where God summons Israel to make his accusations, and offers them the opportunity to mount a defense.

             3-5: God recites their history together, from Egypt to Gilgal. The story of Balaam, the diviner who is paid to curse Israel but blesses them instead, is told in Numbers 22-24. Shittim was a locale in Moab where Israelite men engaged in immoral sexual liaisons with Moabite women, resulting in a plague that killed 24,000 (Number 25:1-9; also mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:6-8, and referenced again in the New Testament at Revelation 2:14). Gilgal was the first camp of the Israelites when they arrived in the Promised Land. Joshua erected an altar there to commemorate their crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 4:19-24).

             6-8: Verse 8 is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important verse in the Old Testament that deals with our relationship with God. Religious rites and rituals aside, the virtues of justice, kindness and humility is that God wants of us.

             9-15: The verdict is announced. The sentence is severe. The punishment will be total deprivation and destruction.

             16: Omri was the Israelite king who moved the capital to Samaria. His reign is summarized in 1 Kings 16:21-28. His son Ahab succeeded him. Under Ahab the worship of Baal became widespread as a result of his marriage to the Sidonian princess Jezebel (see 1 Kings 16:29-34).


Micah 7 (day 900) 18 June 2012

             1-3: The primary charge is against those in charge — officials, judges, and “the powerful.” They are all corrupt, and God will deal with them.

             4-6: What’s more and what’s worse is that the corruption of the rich and powerful has corrupted everyone else, to the point that deceit and treachery can be expected from even one’s friends and family.

             7-10: The prophet turns to the LORD for vindication, knowing that he too has sinned, but willing to bear “the indignation of the LORD,” and certain that God will ultimately vindicate him. The woman mentioned in verse 10 has been the subject of speculation among commentators. The most likely explanation is that she simply represents the opposition the prophet has faced from the people.

             11-17: The prophets never can seem to let doom be the last word, can they? Micah sees a day of restoration for Israel and even an expansion of their territory. He asks God to shepherd them to greener pastures, certain that the nations that have been Israel’s bane will see in Israel’s restoration evidence that the God of Israel rules supreme over the earth.

             18-20: The prophecy of Micah ends with a statement of faith that God will forgive and restore. It is a remarkable thing that God’s prophets, living as they did in the darkest days of their people, saw even in their suffering evidence of God’s sovereignty and God’s love. We should be so hopeful in our darkest days.


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