In a small Jewish town in Russia, a rabbi disappeared each
Friday morning for several hours.
His devoted disciples boasted that during those hours
their rabbi went to heaven and talked to God.
A young stranger who moved into town was skeptical,
so he decided to check things out.
He hid and watched the rabbi.
The rabbi got up in the morning, said his prayers,
then dressed in peasant clothes.
He grabbed an ax, went into the woods, and cut some
firewood, which he then hauled to a shack on the outskirts
of the village, where an old woman and her sick son lived.
The rabbi left them the wood and went home.
The newcomer became the rabbi’s disciple.
Now, whenever he hears a villager say, “On Friday
morning our rabbi ascends to heaven,” the newcomer quietly
adds, “if not higher” (McGuiggan in Larson/Elshof).
Our sermon today is based on the book of Micah.
Let's look at some introductory information, and then
we'll consider some passages and some challenges that Micah
presents to us.
Micah's name means "Who is like God?"
Of course, "No other pagan gods are like Him."
Nothing is said about Micah's family or occupation,
but his place or origin was a small rural town about 25
miles southwest of Jerusalem.
He was a contemporary of the prophets Hosea, Amos,
Hosea and Amos were prophets to Israel while Isaiah and
Micah were prophets to Judah.
Micah was the first prophet to let the Jews know that
God would punish Zion for her wickedness and failure to keep
The date for Micah's work is from about 740-700 BC.
Politically, these were turbulent times in Judah.
The Assyrians were the major power in those days, and
they invaded Israel in 730 and finally conquered Samaria in
Assyrian king name Sennacherib attacked Judah in 701BC.
He took the city of Lachish south of Jerusalem and
left posterity a large picture of his victory, which is now
in the British Museum.
He attacks Jerusalem, but because of King Hezekiah's
prayer and trust in God, Jerusalem was spared from these
Socially, injustice and corruption were rampant.
Just as Amos thunders against social oppression and
religious ritual in Israel, so Micah did the same in Judah.
Someone described these times in this way: "Socially
and morally Judah presented a dark picture [since there was
corruption and idolatry everywhere]; these conditions fanned
the indignation of Micah into white heat, and he did not
hold back from declaring to the [leaders] their sins and to
the people their transgressions. . . . The social injustices
are sternly rebuked as the people are brought before the bar
of Jehovah in a spiritual lawsuit" (Hailey).
Religiously, the situation was also deplorable.
Micah denounced the Baal worship that had filtered
down from Israel.
But there was another problem as well.
The people thought that if they went through the
worship motions on Saturday, then they could live like they
wanted to the rest of the week.
"There was a widespread misapprehension that as long
as the external acts of worship were scrupulously performed,
then the people were entitled to God's favor and protection"
Now let's talk a little about Micah's preaching style and
was more like a "country preacher” rather than a “trained
preaching jumps around, and he changes subjects abruptly.
His tone was crisp, clear, and forceful.
Someone else observed: "God used Micah to burn His
message into selfish hearts" (Yates).
The theme of the book is God's punishment for Judah's
sin and God's comfort because of His faithfulness to His
covenant promises and His steadfast love for the Jews.
Unlike previous prophets who spoke of a brighter
future at the end of their books, Micah is a little
different in that it has a pattern where condemnation and
consolation are repeated three times throughout his book.
Micah is sort of like a lawyer bringing God's lawsuit
against the Jews of Judah.
A helpful outline of the book is the following one (Hendirksen):
Jehovah's controversy with the capitals of Israel and Judah
Idolaters, exploiters, and false prophets shall be punished (1:1-2:11)!
shall be gathered by God (2:12-13)! [2:12-13]
Jehovah's controversy with the leaders of Judah (ch. 3-5)
Oppressive rulers, false prophets, and greedy priests shall be punished (ch.
The remnant shall be blessed by God with a spiritual kingdom (ch. 4) and
eternal Ruler (ch. 5)! [4:1-2; 5:2-5]
Jehovah's controversy with the people of Judah (ch. 6-7)
False worshipers, deceivers, and liars shall be punished (6:1-7:17)!
The remnant shall be forgiven by God (7:18-20)! [7:18-20]
The numbers in brackets are passages that will be read a
little later to support the point that has been made.
So we see that God has a controversy, a lawsuit or a
debate with Samaria and Jerusalem (the capitals of Israel
and Judah), with the leaders in Judah, and with the people
of Judah. But
along with each of the condemnations and punishments given,
there immediately follows statements about the remnant to
show God's consolation and comfort, which were not merited
by the Jews' actions, but were given as a result of God
being faithful to His covenant promises and being steadfast
in His love for Israel.
God would treat the remnant of the Jews graciously;
He would gather them together, bless them, and forgive them.
And subsequent history shows us that God did exactly
what He promised!
Now let's read the passages in brackets so that you get a
feel for how Micah communicated to his countrymen in Judah.
Under God's controversy with the capitals, we see
that idolaters, exploiters, and false prophets shall be
read 2:1-4: "Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work
out evil on their beds!
At morning light, they practice it because it is in
the power of their hand.
They covet fields and take them by violence.
Also houses, and seize them, so they oppress a man
and his house, a man and his inheritance.
Behold, against this family, I am devising disaster,
from which you cannot remove your necks; nor shall you walk
haughtily for this is an evil time.
In that day, one shall take up a proverb against you
and lament with bitter lamentation saying: 'We are utterly
has changed the heritage of my people; how he has removed it
from me! To a
turncoat, He has divided our fields.'"
To those who destroy families, they will be utterly
those who take others' fields, those same fields will be
given to an invader.
But in contrast to this, notice how the Good Shepherd
will one day gather together His flock.
Look at verses 2:12-13: "I will surely assemble
all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of
Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold,
like a flock in the midst of their pasture;they
shall make a loud noise because of so many people.
The one who breaks open will come up before them,
they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by
it; their king will pass before them, and the Lord at their
This great gathering of flock reminds us of Jesus' words in
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold
[referring to the Gentiles];
them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and
there will be one flock
[referring to the church] under one shepherd
[referring to the reign of Jesus'
With the preaching of Gospel to all mankind, we see how a great
gathering of the remnant occurred as both Jews and Gentiles
were united in Christ!
And we see it still happening when people from all
nations make Jesus their Great Shepherd by being united
through baptism in His name!
What consolation Micah gave after his condemnation.
But there is still more to come!
Now let's read 3:9-12 under controversy with Israel's
leaders, where we see how the oppressive rulers, false
prophets, and greedy priests shall be punished: "Now hear
this, you heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the
house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity,
who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity:
Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and
her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, 'Is not the Lord
among us? No
harm can come upon us.'
Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a
field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the
mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest."
But then notice again, how such destruction is followed by
The first is the new spiritual kingdom that will one day be
founded in Jerusalem itself!
Let's read 4:1-2: "Now it shall come to pass in
the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall
be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be
exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it.
Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go
up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of
Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His
paths.' For out
of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord
This reminds us again of Jesus' statement in Luke
24:46-47: "Thus it is written and thus it was necessary
for the Christ [the Messiah] to suffer and to rise from the
dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of
sins should be preached in His name to all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem."
People from many nations were present in
Jerusalem when that first Gospel sermon was preached (Act
2:9ff gives a listing)!
The second great promise is that an eternal Ruler of
peace would be born!
Let's read 5:2-5: "'But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah,
though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out
of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel,
whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.'
[Drop to verse 4]
And He shall stand
and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the
majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they
shall abide, for now He shall be great, to the ends of the
earth; and this One shall be peace."
The Ruler referred to here is the Great Shepherd
and the Prince of Peace whose spiritual kingdom endures
is no doubt about this affirmation referring to Christ
because this very passage was used by the religious leaders
under King Herod the Great's reign to tell the wise men
where Jesus was born (Matthew 2:5-8)!
Magnificent comfort after punishment is seen once
there is still more to come!
Now let's read 6:6-8: "With what shall I come before the
Lord, and bow myself before the High God?
[This is a question regarding worship.]
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with
calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten
thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the
fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
Notice the terrible attitude of the worshiper here.
It looks like they are really offering to God some
kind of great sacrifices, but, in reality, all they are
trying to do is buy God's favor, by suggesting more costly
gifts. Have we
ever known people who think that a huge offering given to
God on Sunday morning will make up for their ungodly lives
lived during the rest of the week?
But now notice Micah's answer to these questions in
verse 8: "He has shown you, O man, what is good: And what
does the Lord require of you [here's what God really
wants each day from our lives] but to do justly, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Seeking Gods' standards, demonstrating kindness
towards others, and being submissive to God's will daily are
the foundations to a truly religious life that God desires.
There's a summary of the entire Old Testament in
about a dozen words!
Now let's read 7:12-13 where we see how false
worshipers, deceivers, and liars will are condemned: "For
her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have
spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
Therefore, I will also make you sick by striking you,
by making you desolate because of your sins."
But consolation for the remnant again follows
desolation in 7:18-20: "Who is a God like you, pardoning
iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant
of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever, because He
delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our
will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham,
which you have sworn to our fathers from days of old."
"The great hallmark of the New Covenant lies in the promise
of God to forgive the sins of His people. . . . The promise
that God would 'bless all the families of the earth' in
Abraham is now being fulfilled in the glorious Gospel of
Jesus Christ" (Coffman).
Because of Christ's sacrifice as the Lamb of God, our
sins can be totally washed away and continually cleansed
each day if we strive to live as Jesus lived!
So, we have clearly seen, in Micah's structure, God's
punishment for Judah's sin and God's comfort to the remnant
because of His faithfulness to His promises and His
steadfast love for the Jews.
We can learn from Micah four important challenges for our
lives. First of
all, we must be good citizens, noble leaders, and honest
people! We must
not follow Judah's wicked cities, oppressive leaders, and
Peter has told us how to be good citizens in 1 Peter
2:15-17: "For this is the will of God, that by doing
good, you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as
free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as
bondservants of God.
Honor all people.
Love the brotherhood.
Honor the king."
Oh, how we need noble leaders!
Someone has rightly noted that there are only two
kinds of leaders in the world: the first kind are those who
are interested in fleece, but the second kind are those who
are interested in the flock.
We must be honest people.
Two researchers made these comments: "Just about
everyone lies [in America]—91% of us lie regularly.
The majority of us find it hard to get through a week
without lying" (Patterson and Kim).
Have we forgotten that one of the seven things that
the Lord hates according to Proverbs 6:17 is a lying tongue?
Let's strive to be good citizens, noble leaders, and
Secondly, we must expect God's punishment for our continued
The Jews thought that just their Sabbath worship would keep
God's favor and how they lived their lives during the rest
of the week was their own business!
Micah shows us that they were wrong, fatally wrong, and God
would punish them for such thinking.
"[Micah] pictures God as thoroughly aroused over the
serious situation in the land.
God is not asleep.
He is alert, active, anxious about His people.
Giant wrongs and rank injustices must be dealt with
by a visitation [of discipline from Him].
God sat in judgment upon the people who had caused so
much grief and agony among their fellow men" (Yates)."
In fact, we know that God DID allow the Babylonians
to take the Jewish people captive and to burn the temple and
Continued wickedness in our lives will still bring
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for
whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap
corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit
reap everlasting life" (Galatians 6:7-8).
We must expect God's
punishment if we chose to be continually wicked!
Thirdly, we must imitate God's steadfast love and keep our
covenant with Him!
God is so consistent!
He remembers His promises and covenants, and always
You can never find in the Scriptures where God failed
to keep His end of a covenant.
God's steadfast love causes Him to take such
responsibility, and we should strive to do the same.
God has made a new covenant with us, which Jesus
brought into effect with His blood.
We should feel it our obligation to live up to God's
expectations in this new covenant.
“Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on
the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he
be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot,
counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified
a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?"
Let's take the new
covenant seriously and show God our steadfast love for Him
through our obedience!
Lastly, we must realize that one day Christ will gather,
will bless, and will reward His righteous remnant!
Just as God kept His promises to gather, to bless,
and forgive the remnant of Israel, so now we also know that
Christ will gather, will bless, and will reward His
righteous remnant who are anticipating His coming once
again! All the
righteous will be gathered together, both those past dead
and those still living: "Then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1
We will be blessed with seeing God face to face
and living in a glorified dimension with all the saints in a
prepared place for a prepared people.
Our reward will be heaven: "Then the King will say
to those on His right hand: 'Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
the world ...'" (Matthew 25:34)!
Christ's righteous remnant will be gathered,
blessed, and rewarded!
As the promises to the Jewish remnant were fulfilled,
we can rest assured that Christ's promises to the Christian
remnant will be made a reality as well!
"Dennis Lee Curtis was arrested for stealing in 1992 in
Rapid City, SD.
In his wallet, the police found a sheet of paper on which
was written the following code of conduct: '1. I will not
kill anyone unless I have to.
2. I will take cash and food stamps—no checks.
3. I will rob only at night.
4. I will not wear a mask.
5. I will not rob mini-marts or 7-11 stores.
6. If I get chased by cops on foot, I will get away.
If I get chased by a vehicle, I will not put lives of
innocent civilians on the line.
7. I will rob only 7 months out of the year.
8. I will enjoy robbing from the rich to give to the
poor.' Well, we
see that Curtis had a little sense of morality about him,
but it was very flawed.
When he stood before the court in Rapid City, he was
not judged by the standards that he had set for himself, but
by the higher laws of the state.
Likewise, when we stand before God on that great day,
we will not be judged by the code of morality that we have
written for ourselves, but we will be judged by the statues
found in the new covenant written by Christ's disciples"
How well have you sought justice, loved mercy, and walked
humbly with God daily?
Would God have a controversy with you for your
Jesus offers you His righteousness today and His
reward in the hereafter.
He is ready to give you a new start and throw your
sins into the depths of the sea!
Or if you have strayed, the Good Shepherd is looking
for you and wanting to gatherer you back to the flock.
Who is like this God?
Nobody, Jesus is one of a kind!
Follow His code of conduct, and His next arrival will
just bring you more blessings.