Sunday School Lesson
No Rest for the Wicked
Devotional Reading: Proverbs 11:1-10
Background Scripture: Micah 2
4 In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
5 Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.
6 Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.
7 O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?
8 Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.
9 The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.
10 Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.
11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? —Micah 2:7
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize how the Lord’s people acted unjustly, how they had mocked both God and His messengers, and the judgment that awaited them.
2. Tell how God’s people today (the church) are sometimes guilty of the attitudes and actions of Micah’s hearers.
3. Examine areas of life where he or she has not taken God’s Word seriously in daily conduct or treatment of others and make a plan for change.
A. Cheerleaders or Coaches?
Samuel A. Meier contrasts false prophets with the Lord’s true prophets in terms of cheerleaders and coaches. The false prophets were like cheerleaders during a football game in which the team they root for is getting crushed by an opponent. They continue to cheer and exhort the team to keep playing and giving their best, even though the outlook is hopeless.
The true prophets, however, are more like coaches who take corrective action when they see mistakes and careless play occurring. As these coaches become frustrated with the team’s effort (or lack thereof), they call time-out and tell one or more players in no uncertain terms how badly they are playing, even to the point of benching them. Good coaches will tell the truth and not mince words, which is essentially what true prophets of the Lord always did.
Today’s lesson continues this quarter’s study of some of the Old Testament prophets. These were men who did not hesitate to confront and rebuke God’s people when that was called for, and it certainly was called for in the days of the prophet Micah. His book is the source of our next four lessons.
B. Lesson Background
Like Amos (lessons 1-4), the prophet Micah possessed a great passion for justice and for right living among God’s chosen people. Micah 6:8 (see lesson 7) includes one of the most compelling statements in all of Scripture of what God requires of His people. The Hebrew name Micah means, “Who is like the Lord?” Micah will raise that very question at the conclusion of the book (lesson 8). There are several men of the name Micah (or the longer form Micaiah) mentioned in the Old Testament, so we take care not to get them mixed up. The man of interest to us is mentioned by name only in two places: Micah 1:1 and Jeremiah 26:18 (see lesson 6).
Amos and Micah may well have been contemporaries. While Amos’s ministry is dated during the reign of Uzziah king of Judah (Amos 1:1), Micah’s occurred during the reigns of Jotham (Uzziah’s son), Ahaz (Jotham’s son), and Hezekiah (Ahaz’s son). Jotham’s reign overlapped that of his father’s since Uzziah had to be confined during the latter years of his reign because of a leprous condition he brought on himself. Jotham ruled in his stead until and after Uzziah’s death (2 Chronicles 26:16-23). So Amos and Micah could have carried out a portion of their ministries at the same time.
We know Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah since Isaiah 1:1 mentions the same kings that Micah 1:1 does except for Uzziah. But while Isaiah seems to have been more like a “court prophet,” having contact especially with kings Ahaz (Isaiah 7:1-14) and Hezekiah (38:1-6; 39:1-8), it appears that Micah ministered more in the rural areas of Judah. He notes in his book a number of towns in Judah that are mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. He himself was from a village called Moresheth, located about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Of course, the smaller towns needed to hear God’s message just as much as the city dwellers in Jerusalem.
There was great turmoil and uncertainty for both Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) during Micah’s time. The Assyrians had become a formidable threat to both Israel and Judah when Micah’s ministry began; in fact, they would be the instruments in God’s hands to carry out His judgment against the northern kingdom, whose capital Samaria finally fell in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:1-6).
Micah’s message was aimed at both Israel and Judah. His book begins with a reference to both capital cities, Samaria and Jerusalem (Micah 1:1), and proceeds to indict both on account of their rebellion against the Lord (1:5-9). As chapter 2 opens, Micah declares a “woe” against those who had become obsessed with doing evil and could think of nothing else, even while “upon their beds” (2:1).
In their defiance of God, such people had become so arrogant and smug that they were confident the Lord would do nothing to hold them accountable for their actions. Such people are described as those who “covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away” (Micah 2:2). Such seizure of others’ property was strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses. The promised land belonged to the Lord; in recognition of that fact, land was not to be transferred permanently to another party (Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7-9). The fate of the schemers opens today’s lesson.
I. Prophecies of the Future
(Micah 2:4, 5)
A. God’s People to Be Jeered (v. 4)
4. In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
The Hebrew word translated as parable can mean more than just a story intended to convey a spiritual truth (the common definition of a parable). It can also designate something much more concise—a wise saying, or what we could call a proverb (that is how this same word is translated in Ecclesiastes 12:9 and Proverbs 10:1). It can also describe a poem, perhaps something as simple as a nursery rhyme, such as many of us learned as children.
In the context of the verse before us, the parable that is to come is further described as a doleful lamentation. The lamentation that immediately follows will be used sarcastically by enemies to mock God’s people following the judgment that He will bring on Israel and Judah because of their passion for pursuing evil.
The phrase the portion refers to the sections of land that the greedy have seized from others and claimed as their own, since that is the context of Micah 2:1, 2. But the tables will be turned: the oppressors will find themselves to be the oppressed as the seizers suddenly become the seized. The he in this verse (three times) most likely refers to the Lord. He is the one to change the way the land has been shamefully reapportioned.
On what basis would the Lord do such a thing? Very simple: it’s His land. He had granted it to the nation of Israel, and He can take it from those who have refused to acknowledge Him as the giver. He will allow outsiders to take control of the fields over which the greedy think themselves to be in control.
B. God’s People to Be Judged (v. 5)
5. Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.
To determine land boundaries by lot recalls the process by which the promised land was originally allocated to the tribes of Israel (see Joshua 18:1-7). Those who are guided by selfish interests have ignored these divisions of the land and have taken it upon themselves to reassign boundaries in their own favor by using a cord (measuring line) in some way. Therefore they will be denied any further opportunity to do so; in fact, they will find themselves outside the borders of the promised land altogether—living in exile.
What Do You Think?
When are we most likely to act selfishly? What can we do to resist this temptation?
Points for Your Discussion
In the exercise of authority (at work, in church, etc.)
In thinking about and voting on social issues
In how we handle money
Making Practice Match Profession
When I was teaching in a certain city a few years ago, some students in the class told me of a recent event in their town. Two men robbed a convenience store on a Sunday morning. The store had a surveillance camera, so the thieves took the video cassette from the camera before they left.
The police had been called, however, and they soon caught the thieves with the video still in their possession. One of the policemen inquired, “I know I shouldn’t ask this, but why didn’t you dispose of this tape that proves you are the thieves?” Their answer: “We didn’t have time, because that would have made us late for church.” It is amazing how often people will profess to a particular religious identity—to a religion that has high moral values—but then act in direct opposition to that identification!
Recently my wife was watching a TV program that described the efforts of a charitable organization that was meeting a dire social need. She told me that we should send money to these people. But while doing some research online, I discovered they were under investigation for fraud and financial mismanagement. They were trading on heartrending conditions as a cover for their base dishonesty. Perhaps they had some clever rationalization to justify to themselves the validity of their practice. Jesus had something to say about this in Mark 7:9-13 and elsewhere.—J. B. N.
II. Problems in the Present
A. The People’s View of God (vv. 6, 7a)
6. Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.
The evildoers’ attitude toward God’s appointed messengers (prophets such as Micah) is now exposed. We see in this verse what seems to be the very words the false prophets use to try to counter Micah’s message of coming judgment. The false prophets have the audacity to tell someone like Micah, whom the Lord has called and commissioned to speak His word, prophesy ye not.
The Hebrew verb used three times in this verse for prophesy is interesting in that it is not the usual word used for the action of prophesying. The word used here is literally “to drip” or “to drop” (as in water dripping drop after drop). It appears to be a derogatory way of picturing what prophets like Micah do (the same word occurs in Amos 7:16). When we think of how irritating a constant dripping sound can be, we will have a good mental picture of how the evildoers view Micah and what he stands for. They want his annoying “dripping” to stop!
These selfish, greedy people should feel shame. But as Jeremiah later states it so well, “They were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jeremiah 6:15). The evildoers want a message that caters to their self-serving agenda, not one that holds them accountable for the wrongs they have done and are doing. This is why prophets like Micah, who challenge the status quo, are often treated with such contempt (compare Jeremiah 26:7-11; Amos 7:10-13; Acts 7:52).
What Do You Think?
How does culture try to silence the voice of God today? How do we counteract this?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding legal (judicial) methods
Regarding labeling or stigmatizing
7a. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings?
The prophet now attacks the rhetorical questions that his opponents are using or will use. The Hebrew word translated straitened comes from a root that conveys the idea of being “shortened” (as translated in Psalm 89:45; 102:23). Micah’s opponents are accusing him of being too narrow in his view of God. Are these [the acts of judgment that Micah prophesies] his [the Lord’s] doings? they are depicted as asking. “Certainly not!” is the answer they expect.
Those opponents presume that God will never act toward the house of Jacob in ways like prophets such as Micah predict that He will. These evildoers think that a broader, more tolerant view of God is needed.
Is God Intolerant?
Our “politically correct” culture discourages people from talking about the realities of immorality. When I was a youngster, people who indulged in certain kinds of immoral behavior were called perverts; now they are called practitioners of alternative lifestyles. The list of justification-by-renaming grows longer by the day.
Even so, I do not normally listen to the various talk shows that point out such problems. It is not because I disagree with what they say; rather, it is because they often make their points in incendiary and belligerent ways. However, a member of my family often does listen to these programs. One day I was walking through the house and heard a talk-show host speak of a recent survey that indicated 80 percent of Americans think that the country is going downhill morally. The other 20 percent think morals to be improving. The talk-show host was dumbfounded by the latter.
But I thought, You must pay attention to how that 20 percent defines morality. To that segment, if governments pass laws allowing same-sex marriage, then that indicates people are becoming more tolerant, abandoning the “narrow-minded” views of the past. Therefore the “moral” levels are improving! To that segment of the population, allowing abortion on demand, etc., means we are forsaking previous intolerance and becoming more “moral.”
We dare not mistake God’s patience as tolerance or approval of sin. God is just as intolerant of sin as He ever was. Isaiah 5:20 still applies: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”—J. B. N.
B. God’s View of the People (vv. 7b-11)
7b. Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?
The rhetorical questions of the enemies (v. 7a) are now answered by a rhetorical question from the Lord. Two can play this game! True, God is good, loving, and merciful. But His goodness should not be used as a means of rationalizing or avoiding responsibility for sinful actions. “Good and upright is the Lord,” writes David in Psalm 25:8, “therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” God’s goodness is experienced personally and intimately by those that walketh uprightly—those who receive His instruction and align their ways with His.
Ironically, the evildoers are pictured earlier as walking proudly (Micah 2:3). One gets the picture of people who stand tall in their arrogance and self-assurance. But spiritually they are not upright at all; they fall far short of what God finds pleasing.
What Do You Think?
How is God’s Word a source of blessing to the upright today?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding the blessings that come from knowing truth
Regarding the blessings that come from following divine guidance
8. Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.
So far have God’s people strayed from His righteous and just standards that He considers them an enemy. He then cites specific examples of their heartless actions. The greedy are pictured as seizing the clothing of others. The phrase securely as men averse from war seems to describe their callous attitude: the greedy are like warriors returning from the battlefield, men who arrogantly feel they have every right to seize the possessions of others as plunder. Satisfying their own desires is their priority.
What Do You Think?
How do we resist having an attitude of arrogance that leads to (or results from) greed?
Points for Your Discussion
In cultural struggles between “the haves” and “the have nots”
9. The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory forever.
The cruel acts against the women of my people illustrate the charges issued earlier in Micah 2:2: “they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away.” Their children are also mentioned, as those from whom God’s glory has been taken away. The Hebrew word for glory signifies something of honor or adornment; perhaps one can think of a legacy or heirloom meant to be passed on from generation to generation. The greedy evildoers are depriving people of land that, by God’s design, is meant to be theirs. The absence of any reference to a husband or father may indicate that these women and children are widows and orphans. As such, they are vulnerable to abuse, having no one to protect them from the scavengers.
10. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.
Now come the words of judgment, decreed through Micah by the righteous judge of all the earth. Those described as having “risen up as an enemy” (v. 8, above) are now commanded to arise ... and depart from the promised land. They are being evicted.
The promised land is intended to be a place of rest for the people of God (Deuteronomy 12:8, 9; Hebrews 3:18, 19), but the evildoers have polluted that land with their sinful conduct. The severe language here is in keeping with the words of Moses in Leviticus 18:28, where he commands the people to be obedient to God “that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.”
11. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
The final verse of our lesson exhibits the use of satire. Earlier (v. 6) Micah had quoted the greedy evildoers who wanted messengers like him to keep quiet and avoid unpleasant topics like God’s wrath and judgment. Now Micah offers the Lord’s declaration as to what kind of prophet would appeal to this people. If someone would prophesy (again Micah uses the Hebrew word meaning “to drip” that was noted in verse 6) for them wine and strong drink, he would be just the right kind of prophet for this crowd! Again, the only “prophets” these selfish individuals are interested in listening to are those who will give their stamp of approval to the sins they like to commit.
What Do You Think?
What kinds of false messages seem most attractive to unbelievers today? How would you rank-order these in terms of temptation-danger?
Points for Your Discussion
How wealth is to be gained
Where truth is to be found
How satisfaction is to be obtained
Where the greatest threats lie
The fact that the word spirit is not capitalized is very fitting. This has at least two possible interpretations: (1) since the hypothetical prophet of this people is lying, then he guided by a false spirit, or (2) these deceptive messengers are nothing more than “windbags” since the Hebrew word for spirit can also be translated “wind” (as in Job 8:2). By contrast, however, Micah claims to be “full of power by the spirit of the Lord” in Micah 3:8, a passage to be considered in lesson 6.
A. “Mercy Me!”
The expression “Mercy Me!” was used by past generations to express amazement at seeing or hearing something unexpected or unusual. Apparently it comes from a prayer asking the Lord to have mercy on an individual who is praying. Perhaps the expression arose from the idea of asking God for mercy to survive or endure some unexpected news, especially of something quite disturbing.
The prayer for God to have mercy is of itself a valid request. One thinks of the publican in one of Jesus’ parables who was so distraught at his unworthiness to come before God (in contrast with a haughty Pharisee) that he simply but earnestly prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
However, the one who prays for God’s mercy must recognize that mercy, like any of God’s good gifts, is not to be hoarded but to be displayed openly toward others. This is what the wicked in Micah’s day failed to understand or refused to accept. Like the unforgiving servant in another of Jesus’ parables, those who receive mercy yet fail to extend it to others forfeit whatever mercy has been demonstrated toward them (Matthew 18:21-35). The next time you need God’s mercy, ask yourself when was the last time you extended mercy to someone else!
Father of mercy, be merciful to us sinners. Prompt us, however, to do more than just ask for mercy for ourselves. Help us not to become so proud or spiritually nearsighted that we view mercy as only for us and forget that it is to be extended to others daily. We have so freely received; may we freely give. In Jesus’ name, amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Treat others with the mercy you desire God
to extend to you.
How to Say It
Sunday, July 5, 2015
No Rest for the Wicked
Time of Action:Between 736 and 722
Place of the action:Judah
Golden Text:“O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (Micah 2:7).
Even though Micah and Amos spoke to different audiences (Micah to Judah and Amos to Israel), their messages were the same. Since the people had failed to obey God’s covenant, they would experience extreme judgment in the form of deportation from the land that God had given them. Like the people in Amos’ audience, those to whom Micah preached thought that because they were God’s people in God’s land, they would be exempt from divine judgment no matter how they behaved. They were going through all the right motions in worship, but their hearts were not in it. Our lesson this week will examine the areas of Judah’s life that were repulsive to the Lord. The message of the people in Micah’s time is the same for us: there is no rest for the wicked.
II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON.
Micah was a contemporary of Hosea in the northern kingdom of Israel and Isaiah in the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah’s hometown was Moresheth-Gath (see Micah 1:14), located in Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the Philistine city of Gath. Although Micah primarily preached to the people in Judah, he also had some words for Israel (see Micah 1:1). Micah received his messages via visions from the Lord (see Micah 1:1) and in Micah 1:3-7, the prophet spoke of the judgment God would bring upon both Israel and Judah referring to them as Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah respectively. In the remaining portion of chapter 1, Micah describes the weeping and mourning that will take place (see Micah 1:8-16). Then in chapter 2:1-2, he spoke out against those who laid awake at night, plotting wickedness and then getting up at dawn to carry out their schemes simply because they could. Micah declared that when these wicked people wanted a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it was all they had), they would take it by fraud and threats of violence (see Micah 2:3). Then in verse 3, the prophet declared that the Lord God said that He would reward their evil with evil; nothing could stop Him; never again will His people be proud and haughty after He’s finished with them. This is where our lesson begins.
III. NO REST FOR THE WICKED LANDOWNERS (Micah 2:4-7)
A. Loss of land and its use (Micah 2:4-5).
1. (vs. 4). In this verse Micah said “In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.” The phrase “In that day” refers to the time when God would bring judgment upon Judah, particularly the Babylonian invasion. When that happened, the prophet said their enemies will “take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation.” In other words, those outside the land would taunt or ridicule the people of Judah using their own words as a “doleful lamentation” meaning a mournful wailing. These outsiders, who would include Judah’s conquerors, would make fun of Judah’s predicament by using God’s people’s own words saying “We (Judah) be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.” The phrase “he hath changed the portion of my people” means that God’s people will no longer have any part or allotment left for themselves in the land. The reason is because God has “removed it (the land)” from His people. In addition, when God turns away from His people they will also say that He “hath divided our fields.” The time was coming when the people of Judah would be saying “we are finished, ruined. God has taken our land and sent us far away; he has given what is ours to others.” Enemies will take all their land and force the people into captivity in Assyria for Israel and Babylon for Judah. The land that they loved so much, given to them by God Himself, was about to be taken away and turned over to others. Their wickedness shown in pride and self-confidence will result in total destruction.
2. (vs. 5). In this verse God through Micah declared “Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.” When the Israelites entered Canaan, they were to divide the land by tribes by casting lots (see Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13). Now God said that there won’t be anyone left “in the congregation of the Lord” or among God’s people, who will be able to “cast a cord by lot” meaning able to determine land boundaries. The remnant of Israel that would be left in the land wouldn’t have any authority for dividing the land anymore because they would be ruled by others. Any division of the land would be done by the conquering Babylonians. Note: Joshua 13 records how Moses gave land to the two and one-half tribes (Numbers 34:13-15) to the east of the Jordan River. Joshua 14:1-5 tells how the land west of the Jordan was to be divided. Eleazar the priest, Joshua the political leader, and the heads of the various tribes were to cast lots to determine where each tribe would locate. Casting of lots was a way of making decisions in Bible times. It was similar to drawing straws or casting a pair of dice to determine what course of direction to follow. In the Bible, most of the occurrences of casting lots were in the early period when little of the Bible was available, and when God apparently approved of this means for determining His will. For example, the high priest cast lots to separate the scapegoat from the one he sacrificed (see Leviticus 16:8-10). The practice of casting lots occurs most often in connection with the dividing of the land among the twelve tribes under Joshua’s leadership (see Joshua chapters 14-21). This was a procedure that God directed several times in the Book of Numbers (see Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2). Various offices and functions in the Temple were also determined by lot (see I Chronicles 24:5, 31; 25:8-9; 26:13-14). The sailors on Jonah’s ship (see Jonah 1:7) also cast lots to determine who had brought God’s wrath upon their ship. Only once in the New Testament did the casting of lots happen with God’s approval. This happened in the selection of Matthias to replace Judas among the apostles (see Acts 1:26). It should also be noted that Urim and Thummim which means lights and perfection, were gems or stones carried by the high priest and were used by him to determine God’s will in certain matters (see Exodus 28:30). Many scholars believe that these gems or stones were cast, much like dice are thrown to aid the high priest in making important decisions. There are many theories about how the Urim and Thummin were used but all of them are pure guesswork. No one knows the exact nature of the Urim and Thummin, or precisely how they were used. However, the Scriptures do indicate, though not very clearly, that the Urim and Thummin were in some way connected with determining God’s divine will in particular cases (see Numbers 27:24; Deuteronomy 33:8; I Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63).
B. Loss of a word from the Lord (Micah 2:6-7).
1. (vs. 6). Micah continues to say in this verse “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.” False prophets, as well as the people were saying to true prophets like Micah “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy.” This was a forceful demand for Micah to stop prophesying God’s message of destruction. The phrase “they shall not prophesy to them” means that the false prophets were calling on Micah and other true prophets to stop preaching about the coming judgment. The words “that they shall not take shame” mean that the false prophets were saying that Judah wouldn’t be destroyed and become an embarrassment or disgrace to her neighbors. In their minds they believed that the Lord would never bring disaster or “shame” on His land. A clearer translation of this verse would be “The people and the false prophets say, don’t prophesy to us. Don’t say those bad things about us. Nothing bad will happen to us.” Note: We still have some of these false preachers today who preach a prosperity gospel and a God who loves us so much that He will bless us no matter what. But God is sovereign. He may not want you to be prosperous, and no one else can tell you that He wants that for you. It may be that God knows that you may not be able to withstand the temptations of wealth. Prosperity may cause you to forget about the Lord and His will for you. We need to hear all of God’s word, both concerning blessings as well as discipline. If we don’t want to hear all of God’s words, He will eventually stop talking to us. If we don’t want to hear the whole truth, we won’t get any truth. The people only wanted to hear God’s comforting messages, not His words of discipline. We need to listen to God speak even when the message is hard to take. The attitude of the false prophets was that since the people of Judah were God’s people, as long as they continued to participate in worship and rituals, God wouldn’t harm them. How wrong they were! Just being in the land wasn’t enough. The people needed to walk uprightly. They were ignoring the fact that God wanted heartfelt worship, not just empty, ritualistic worship. Just going through the motions would not satisfy the Lord. The best thing we can do is to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God (see Micah 6:8). We can leave the matter of prosperity up to Him.
2. (vs. 7). In this verse Micah goes on to say “O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” The prophet referred to his listeners as “thou that art named the house of Jacob” because they were descendents of Jacob. But the truth is, they were not acting the way Jacob would’ve acted. He never would have listened to false prophets who were much like today’s prosperity preachers who preach that everyone can be prosperous or wealthy. They preach only of God’s blessings and not His punishment or chastisement. Because we are all disobedient at some point, we won’t always experience God’s blessing. But we will always experience His chastisement, because He loves us (see Hebrews 12:5-8; Revelation 3:19). Micah then posed some questions regarding God’s prophesied judgment against them. He first asked “is the spirit of the Lord straitened?” Depending on the context, the word “straitened” in Scripture can have more than one meaning, but they all express basically the same idea. It can mean impatient, restricted or constrained (see Luke 12:50; II Corinthians 6:12), hampered (see Proverbs 4:12), or shortened (see Job 18:7). However, in this verse according to the context, it most likely means “impatient.” The people were heeding the false prophets’ message that God had not grown impatient with them, and therefore the judgment Micah prophesied wouldn’t happen. This caused Micah to ask “is the spirit of the Lord straitened?” Or in other words, “do you think God’s Spirit has not grown impatient?” Of course the answer was yes. He had grown impatient with His people, but they listened only to the false prophets who lied saying God’s patience would never run out on Israel. Then he asked “are these his doings?” The word “doings” here refers to God’s oncoming judgment against Judah. In essence Micah was telling the people that unlike what the false prophets were saying, the Lord’s “doings” not only included blessings, but also included punishment for sins. The people were holding on to promises that God would only keep if they were obedient, but they were ignoring all His warnings (see Deuteronomy 16:16-19). Then the prophet gets to the point. He asked “do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” The phrase “my words” here refers to the message Micah received from God. The prophet was saying that if a person walks upright, God’s Word will always be just and fair. God’s Word will not only speak of blessings, but it will also speak of chastisement when necessary. God’s Word literally does us an infinite amount of good. There’s no way to overestimate the value of God’s Word (see Psalms 119: 11). As the psalmist said “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (see Psalms 119:105). Note: I like the translation of this verse given in the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible). It reads “Is this what the house of Ya‘akov (Jacob) says? ‘Adonai (God) has not grown impatient, and these things are not his doings.’ Rather, my (Micah’s) words do only good to anyone living uprightly.”
IV. NO REST FOR THE FALSE PROPHETS (Micah 2:8-11)
A. A hostile community (Micah 2:8). In this verse, God goes on to say through Micah “Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.” Since His people were not living according to His holy standards, God considered them as His enemies, which is always a terrible position to be in. The Lord considered His people enemies mainly because of how they treated their fellow citizens, especially the poor and destitute. God said “ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.” The Lord accused some of the people, no doubt the rich, of robbing others of their robes. The Hebrew word for “pull off” means “to strip” or “to unclothe.” The Lord described those victims as “them that pass by securely as men averse from war.” This refers to people who walked by feeling safe and at peace which is the meaning of “men averse from war.” This verse is speaking of debtors, or those who owed others having their clothes taken because they were unable to pay their debts. This action was contrary to the law that stated “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (see Exodus 22:26-27, NIV). Some people were so evil that they had no sense of decency, taking advantage of those who were already worse off than the wealthy Jews.
B. Displaced women and children (Micah 2:9). Still describing the sins committed by His people, in this verse God said “The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.” Not only were men treated cruelly, but the wealthy also took advantage of women and children. The Lord declared that “The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses.” The “women” here most likely refers to widows who couldn’t afford their homes causing them to be taken away. In most cases, their homes were their only possessions and were “pleasant” to them, so this was one of the most cruel and thoughtless things that the wealthy could do. This is another picture of how far away from God’s standards the people of Judah had gone. Even the “children” in Judah were victims of cruelty. God said “from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.” The “children” here probably refer to the children of the widows who had their homes taken from them. In many cases, the homes that were being taken from the widows were the inheritance for the children. But that was being taken away, and in so doing, God said that the wealthy had “taken away my glory for ever.” God’s “glory” was the fact that the children would inherit the land, but due to the wickedness of the people, the children would also be removed from the land along with everyone else. God would receive no glory from this. For sure our righteous God will certainly repay those for the injuries they’ve done to the widows and fatherless, who, being helpless and friendless, cannot otherwise right those wrongs themselves.
C. No rest for false prophets (Micah 2:10-11).
1. (vs. 10). Now God says in this verse “Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.” God had intended the land of Canaan to be a place of rest for His people (see Deuteronomy 12:9-10). But because of their wickedness, God said the land of Israel “is not your rest” or a place of rest because “it is polluted” meaning that they had ruined it and made it unclean with their sin. Since the Lord was going to remove His people from the land, He encouraged them to “Arise ye, and depart” or get out of the land. When Micah gave this message, escape from judgment that was coming in the form of a Babylon invasion, was still possible only if the people left the country. However, anyone who failed to leave immediately would be destroyed, either killed or taken into captivity. They would also see their land destroyed as God said “even with a sore destruction.” This means a complete and utter destruction.
2. (vs. 11). In our final verse, the Lord speaks directly to the false prophets or preachers. He said “If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Here the Lord tells the people what kind of prophets they really wanted. They didn’t want one that told them the truth like Micah. They wanted a prophet who says “I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink.” This was just another way of the false prophets saying that the people didn’t have anything to worry about since they were God’s people. They could be merry and drink wine even to the point of getting drunk. But the Lord also said that those who prophesied such a message were “walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie.” In other words, Israel only wanted prophets that would tell them what they wanted to hear---that God wouldn’t judge them. But the false prophets told them what they wanted to hear because they had a spirit of “falsehood” and they “do lie.” Note: The true prophet or preacher tells people that they can receive God’s blessings only when they are obedient (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and His chastisement or discipline when they are disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28:15-52). Not only was this true for Israel, but it’s also true for God’s people today. If we want God’s blessings we must be obedient to His Word, His will and His way. If we do anything else, which would be disobedience, we can expect chastisement and discipline. Yes, there is no rest for the wicked! So, who are you listening to? The false preacher will tell you that our God is only a God of grace and mercy who will give you whatever you ask for. But the true preacher will tell you the truth that yes, God is a God of grace and mercy, but He will give you what you ask for only if it’s according to His will (see I John 5:14-15). However, He’s also a God of justice and will discipline His own.
This week’s lesson has provided some insight into life outside the blessing of the Lord. While it is true that the worst consequences of a life of selfishness and sin will come in the hereafter, in this present life there are consequences as well. The wicked simply have no rest or peace (see Isaiah 57:20-21). Resting in the Lord is one of the most prized possessions of the believer. Threats to our peace and rest can come from various sources and can be both physical and spiritual. However, we can rest in the Lord’s finished work for our salvation. We can rest in His victory over sin, this world, and Satan. We can rest in the peace the Lord has given us. We need not be troubled or afraid (see John 14:27).
1. When we purposely disobey God, we can expect Him to remove any blessings that He has given us (Micah 2:4-5).
2. It’s foolish and disastrous to take the advice of those who reject God’s Word (Micah 2:6).
3. If we walk according to His Word, we have nothing to fear from God (Micah 2:7).
4. To take away the dignity of others is to rob them of the glory, or blessing God has for them (Micah 2:8-9).
5. In order to avoid God’s judgment or discipline, we must remove ourselves from those who are ripe for that judgment (Micah 2:10).
6. Sinners are always comfortable in the presence of those who have similar lifestyles (Micah 2:11).
What Kind of Preaching Do You Want?
Sunday, July 5, 2015
“If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I
will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people” (Micah 2:11—KJV).
“If someone were to go about uttering empty falsehoods, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ such a one would be the preacher for this people!” (Micah 2:11—NRSV).
Micah preached a message that condemned the wicked for using taxation and trickery to steal the homes and farms of the less
powerful, of widows and children. These immoral leaders worshiped
idols in addition to worshiping the true God, and they believed their prosperity proved that God and their idols favored them above all others. Though they tried to forbid the preaching of the true prophets of God, they enjoyed the type of preaching that Micah described. They preferred to believe the empty falsehoods of the preachers who never called them to repent, who affirmed their special status as God’s chosen people, and who promised that because God was patient and slow to anger they would never be punished by God. They preferred preachers who endorsed their enjoyment of worldly pleasures, and who enjoyed their decadent behavior with them. Micah said they wanted preachers who promoted their drinking of wine and strong drink to excess, and who found delight in the behaviors that too often follow drunkenness. They wanted sermons that did not criticize them for worshiping in the temples of idols and participating in the deviant behaviors that idol worship promoted, but praised them for worshiping God according to their interpretation of God and His laws. Even before the days of Amos and Micah, and ever since their time, people choose the type of preaching they want. Though it may not be thought of as preaching, most worldly preaching today comes through advertising, movies, and news reports that promote the type of behavior that the prophets of God condemned.
What Kind of Preaching Do You Want?
Sunday, July 5, 2015
1. Describe one way that the wicked reaped what they sowed when
God judged them.
2. Why did the wicked want the true prophets of God to stop
3. Give a reason why the wicked did not fear the prophets’ threat of God’s just judgment.
4. How did the wicked treat their fellow Judeans, especially in and
5. What kind of prophet or preacher did Micah say the wicked wanted
Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
1. Describe one way that the wicked reaped what
they sowed when God judged them.
They coveted and seized the fields and homes of others; therefore, God parceled out their lands and their homes to their captors.
2. Why did the wicked want the true prophets of God to stop preaching?
The true prophets of God were preaching that God would bring disaster upon the wicked as punishment for their refusal to turn from their sins and obey God’s law. They did not want to hear about their sins and the coming judgement of God upon them if they did not repent.
3. Give a reason why the wicked did not fear the prophets’ threat of God’s just judgment.
They argued from Scripture and their traditions that because God is patient and slow to anger that He would not punish them. Their prosperity was a “false sign” to them of God’s favor and protection.
4. How did the wicked treat their fellow Judeans, especially in and around Jerusalem?
They rose up as an enemy against them when they stole from them.
5. What kind of prophet or preacher did Micah say the wicked wanted to hear?
Ones who uttered empty falsehoods; who preached of wine and strong drink; who encouraged destructive pleasures.
Sunday July 5, 2015
No Rest for the Wicked
L F J M S E Y Z K T G H V O B
H I Z U Z J L M L J S Z W A W
B E C L D C I A R Q A V I Q L
T G Z A W A T H Y H Z R T N A
E I B E H V H T A N A O H W M
H C L C K Q G O U M H A T I E
Q F N I F I U J A T C K A C N
U K X A E K A S K I M O U K T
Y B T C T C H H M Y A C N E A
N A Z Y W I N T U O P O T D T
W R E F O Y R E B J Y V J N I
Q V D X P X Q E I S P E A E O
M O R E S H E T H T I T Q S N
M E L A S U R E J N A R C S M
S E C A R G S I D V I P H T B
True and False Test
Sunday, July 5, 2015
No Rest for the Wicked
Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. God called Micah to leave Samaria and preach in Jerusalem. True or False
2. The wicked slept well all night in their large homes and then met early in the morning to make evil plans with their friends. True or False
3. The wicked would reap what they sowed. True or False
4. If they did not lose their lives, the wicked would lose their homes and fields. True or False
5. Many children lost their inheritance when some of the rich and powerful stole the homes and lands of their parents. True or False
6. The wicked did not believe that they would ever by disgraced by God’s judgment. True or False
7. The wicked loved to hear Micah preach when he talked about wine. True or False
8. The Lord would not patiently wait forever for the wicked to repent; someday He would bring judgment upon them. True or False
9. Micah said that the wicked in Jerusalem had become the enemy of God’s people by the way they treated them. True or False
10. If a woman was poor and had children, the wicked would leave her and her children alone. True or False
Answers to the True and False Test
Sunday, July 5, 2015
No Rest for the Wicked