This time, let's turn to the book of Micah, as we continue our journey through the Bible, and just seeking to understand what God would say to us today through this fascinating prophecy of Micah.
Good evening. There was a middle aged farmer who for years wanted to be an evangelist. And one day he was out after working in the fields, and plopped himself on the side of a tree. And he looked up toward the sky. And as he looked at the clouds, he saw what appeared to him to be the formation of clouds into two letters. The letter P and the letter C. So immediately, he got up, sold his farm, and went out to preach Christ.
Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good preacher. And on one occasion, he would always tell the story of how he felt the Lord called him with the letters PC, and he was out preaching Christ. And after one of his messages that didn't go very well, his neighbor walked up to him afterwards. Put his arm on his shoulder and said, are you sure the Lord wasn't just telling you plant corn?
Whenever things don't go very well in the ministry, we're always tempted to second guess our calling. Was it really the Lord that I heard? And there have been several prophets that had tough times with God's calling. Jeremiah was one of them. Jeremiah was persecuted for the things that he said. In fact, he was imprisoned. The prophets Hosea and Amos were ignored.
But now we come to the prophet Micah. And what's beautiful about the prophet Micah, among other things, is that he did have some success in his ministry. And I'll describe that in just a moment. He saw the Lord use him. He was a spokesman to Sumeria and Jerusalem, but primarily to the southern kingdom of Jerusalem or Judea, where he was from, that area. But he saw the Lord use him in a powerful way.
And so the word of the Lord that came to Micah. Now the term, the name Micah, the Hebrew Michaihu. Michaihu is how they pronounce it. Means who is like the Lord. And keep that name in mind, because at the end of his prophecy he will ask that of the Lord. Using his name as a play on words, who is like the Lord, will be some of the last words in his prophecy. The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Morashef in the days of Jotham.
Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Sumeria and Jerusalem. Micah came from a little town about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. A tiny town. In fact, it was so small that the town of Moracheth is often a name, a town that is in combination with its larger neighbor Gath. And so you sometimes read, as you do later in this prophecy, the town Moracheth Gath.
Because Moracheth was just too tiny of a town in and of itself. And so it was reckoned with its larger neighbor, the Philistines center of Gath. So he was a rural guy, a country preacher. And he is sent, like Amos was sent, from a little town to a larger town. He is sent to principally the town of Jerusalem. He is a country preacher with a message of God, principally to Jerusalem and Judea.
And his style is similar to that of Amos. If you remember back, Amos drew a bull's eye on the northern kingdom. And principally the city of Bethel. But what he would do is, in drawing the bull's eye, as he would skirt all of the other nations around Israel. Edom in Amman and Moab and Philistia and the Phoenicians and then Judah. But then he would bullseye and pinpoint the northern kingdom. Well that's sort of what this prophet Micah does.
Except he just includes one other nation, and that is Sumerian. Both are mentioned, especially in chapter 1. But the bulk of the prophecy is really to Jerusalem. So the word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moracheth in the days, and there are three kings that are mentioned. And the first two, Jotham and Ahab had a reign of 16 years each. And then the final one, King Hezekkiah, reigned for 29 years.
So this guy had a, we don't know how many of the years he preached, but a pretty long and hefty ministry. He was very influential. He's a contemporary with Isaiah. They must have known each other. In fact, chapter 4 of Micah is very similar to chapter two of Isaiah. They're almost word for word, certainly thought for thought. Now let me give you just a brief historical sketch, and you can find that historically in 2 Kings chapters 18 through 20. King Shalmanizzer swept down from the north and destroyed the northern kingdom.
Then later on, eight years later, Sennacherib the Assyrian came down toward Jerusalem and threatened King Hezekiah. And that's the last one that's mentioned in this list in chapter 1. King Hezekiah was forced to pay a tax, to pay a tribute. And one of the field commanders of the Assyrians walked up to the walls of Jerusalem, and gave some pretty demoralizing threats to the people of Jerusalem. Following that, King Sennacherib sent a letter to King Hezekiah that basically said, look, don't you think that you can trust in that God of yours to deliver you. It won't happen.
Look at the other nations that I have taken. None of their gods could deliver them, and your God won't be able to deliver you out of this mess. King Hezekiah does the right thing. He spreads the letter before the Lord, and he ask God help. Intervene, oh Lord. Isaiah the prophet comes to him, and gives him the assurance that the city will not fall to these threats.
But now as time goes on, 100 years after that, Jeremiah also predicts the fall of Jerusalem. And he, in his prophecy, goes back to the time of Micah. And I'm going to read out of Jeremiah 26, a few verses. Jeremiah said, Micah of Moracheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, the King of Judah. And spoke to all of the people of Judah saying, thus says the Lord of Hosts, Zion shall be plowed like a field. Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.
Did Hezekiah, King of Judah, and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and seek the Lord's favor? And the Lord relented concerning the doom which he had pronounced against them. So it would seem that the credit goes to both Isaiah and to Micah. Both contemporaries. Both sounding warnings to which King Hezekian gave heed and forestall the judgment that would come to Jerusalem for several more years.
So in verse 2, hear all you peoples. Listen o earth, and all that is in it. Let the Lord God be a witness against you. The Lord from his holy temple. Now you're going to notice that the book of Micah is comprised of three separate sermons, three messages. Chapters 1 and 2 for message number one. Three, four, and five is the second sermon. And then six and seven will give the last message of this prophet.
All of them begin with the same word, hear. Hear O peoples, or hear all you peoples. And it's the Hebrew word shema, which is familiar to the Jews to this day, because of Deuteronomy 6. The prayer that is uttered quoting Deuteronomy 6, Shema Yisrael Adonai Ehad. Hear oh Israel. The Lord, our God is one Lord. But now, this prophet begins each of his sermons with that word that they were familiar with.
But the components of the message are different. That is each sermon has an announcement of judgment that is coming upon the nation. That proclamation is given. Second element is a rebuke for their sin, but third in all of these messages, is the note of hope that has sounded. Messianic promises are on the way. Judgment, rebuke, but promises of God for the future, especially under messiah.
So the first message is before us in chapter 1. We've already started it. Here all you peoples. Listen oh earth. All that is in it. Let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming out of this place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. Very suggestive and picturesque language. Very poetic. This is Hebrew poetry, Hebrew parallelism. And in is such a descriptive manner, the poet, the prophet paints the picture of God like a warrior sweeping down in judgment, which would be fulfilled when the Assyrians came to be the instrument of God's judgment.
The mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire. Like waters pour down a steep place. Sometimes we sing that song, in your presence. Lord the mountains melt like wax. That's imagery that is seen here. All of this, says the prophet, verse 5, is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not some Sumeria?
And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem. There's three parts to this first message. God descends upon Sumeria in judgment. That's the first part. Second is the fall of Sumeria. And the third is the effect that that will have upon the southern kingdom of Judah, and especially Jerusalem. Now both Sumeria and Jerusalem are named. Both are the subject of God's judgment. Both of the subject in the purview of the prophecy.
Both will fall but at different times. We know already the date, 722 BC for the northern kingdom, 586 BC for the southern kingdom. So there's going to be 136 year gap between the fall of the northern kingdom and the subsequent fall of the southern kingdom. But that northern kingdoms fall will have an effect upon the southern kingdom. At least it should. It should cause them to repent and to turn as we have seen under King Hezekiah, that will certainly be the case.
But in this prophecy, both Sumeria and Jerusalem are named. Companions in sin are destined to become companions in judgment. So both are named by this prophet. The whole countryside will be judged, not just the city of Sumeria, and not just the city of Jerusalem. So why are they named? Because they are the center of influence respectively, for the North and the South.
And what they do influences all of the little villages, hamlets, and towns around. It's the same case today. It's the large cities that become the centers of influence for the rest of the nation. Fashion seems to come out of New York and Los Angeles. You know, we'll do weird things before the rest of the nation would ever think about it. And they'll follow our influence on the west coast and the east coast.
And God holds these centers of influence to a higher, a stiffer standard. The other day I picked up an apple at home for a lunchtime snack, and I bit into it. And I was about to take a bite number two, but I noticed a wormhole. Well that wasn't the worse of it. The worse of it is there was no worm in the hole. And I realized I had swallowed the worm.
Now on the outside of the apple, there was no hole. And that's because worms don't get in apples by going from the outside in. They go from the inside out. You see the eggs are laid on the flower, the blossom of the apple. That's where the eggs are laid, and then the eggs are hatched in the core of the apple. So that the rottenness of an apple is always an inside job.
So the apples truly are rotten from the core if they get a worm in them. Israel and Judah were rotten from the core. Sumeria had influenced the rest of the northern kingdom. Jerusalem had influence the rest of the southern kingdom. They were rotting. They were influencing the other people. And I find it very interesting that the language that describes the judgment, though it is a picture of Sumeria, is the language in verse 4 and 5, of that of either a volcano or an earthquake.
And what came to my mind is that quake back in 1994 here in Southern California. And I found it very interesting that the epicenter of that quake was in a place where 70 companies that cranked out 95% of the 1400s pornographic videos each year for the United States were housed. It's like bingo. 95% were affected, hallelujah for that. And judgment came upon that influential center.
Therefore, verse 6, I will make Sumeria a heap of ruins in the field. Places for planting a vineyard. I will pour down her stones into the valley. I will uncover her foundations. All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, and all her pay as a harlot shall be burned with fire. All her idols I will lay desolate. For she gathered it from the pay of a harlot, and they shall return to the pay of a harlot.
If you go to Israel today, the area of Sumeria is closed off to tourists, and it has been for some time. I'd always wanted to see Sumeria. I wanted to see the place where some of these events took place. I wanted to see it for myself. So one day I rented a car, and my tour guide then said Skip, whatever you do, don't go through Sumeria. It's dangerous. It was dangerous in ancient times. It's dangerous today. Stay out of Sumeria. I didn't say yes or no.
I got in the car and headed towards Sumeria, but I picked up an Israeli soldier with his oozy around his side. So I thought, at least I have some protection. Maybe that was-- maybe that was a lack of faith, I don't know. But I thought, it's good to have a soldier with you when you're going through Sumeria. So I drove through that area, and was able to look and see that barren hill, that is today a heap of ruins. And there's vineyards around it still, but it's basically a shaved desolate area as the judgment of God has fallen upon it from ancient times.
Therefore, I will wail and howl. And this is the prophet speaking. This isn't God. This is Micah, his own personal response. This is the effect it has on him. I will wail and howl. I will go stripped and naked. I will make a wailing like the jackals, and a morning like the ostriches. Now in the Middle East, whenever there is time of mourning, a time of sadness like a funeral, the morning is quite demonstrative. Throwing of dust in the air. The tearing of garments. The wailing and the howling. Still to this day in that part of the world.
So here is the prophet recognizing that judgment is coming. This sentence has already passed for Sumaria. It's going to affect the southern kingdom, and he is in deep mourning over it. It affected him personally. And so here, he reminds us of another prophet Jeremiah. He gave some strong denunciations. But with so many of them, it affected him personally. He wasn't aloof. He wasn't detached. He just didn't say, well shame on you. Serves you right. You're going to be judged. Good. But rather he wept. He wept in advance of the city falling, and he wept as he watched the city dismantled by the Babylonians.
Now this prophet, Micah, is similar to that. He's in deep mourning over it. And I remember a quote about Dwight Moody, by a preacher of preachers from England. His name was R.W. Dale, who spoke a lot about how preachers ought to preach. And he said, of all the people I have ever heard speak about judgment and hell, I believe Dwight L Moody is the only one qualified to do so. Because whenever he speaks about it, there's tears in his voice.
There's tears in the voice of this prophet. He knows judgment is coming for the North. He hopes that it could be averted for the south, though it will come as he predicts. And now the effect of that, in verse 9 onward, as the judgment moves southward, the cities of Judah are mentioned. 10 of them all together, beginning in verse 9. You're going to notice something. As these cities are mentioned, there is other language that goes with them. And I'm going to explain it as we go through it quickly.
But the names of the cities, and the judgment that God proclaims, all of them are a play on words. And so verse 9, for her wounds are incurable. For it is come to Judah, it has come to the gate of my people to Jerusalem. Now there's a list of towns in the Judean hill country. Tell it not in Gath. Weep not at all. In Beth Ophrah roll yourself in the dust. Beth Ophrah means the house of dust. And so listen house of dust. You might as well roll in the dust and mourn and lament because of the judgment that is coming.
But he says tell it not in Gath, and here's why. Gath was one of the Philistines cities. That was the place where their enemies hung out. So don't let the Philistines, your enemies, hear of the judgment that is coming, because they're going to gloat over it. Verse 11, passed by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir. Shaphir sounds similar to the Hebrew word for beautiful. And here it says pass by in naked shame. The city won't be beautiful for long. Its inhabitants will be shamed and desolate, marching away shamefully. The inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out.
Zaanan is similar to the Hebrew word yetziya, which means to exit, to go out. But notice what it says. The inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out. So you're not going to go out to battle. You're not going to go out and face the enemy. But rather, the enemy will encircle you, and you'll be pent up like an animal this walled city. Beth-ezel mourns. Its place to stand is taken away from you. Beth-ezel means nearby, or the house nearby.
And typically whenever you are in trouble, you would call upon your neighbors to help you. So this nearby city, whatever it was near to, will be of no help to anyone. It's a place to stand is taken away from you. For the inhabitants of Maroth, which means bitterness, pined for good. But disaster came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem. Oh Inhabitant of Lachish, harness the chariot to the swift steeds. She was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
Lachish was a very, very important city in those days. About 30 miles. 25, 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Not far from Morisheth Gath, where this prophet is from. But what it was famous for was its horses. It bred chariot stallions who would lead armies into battle. But the idea here is that there going to be harnessed not to fight, but to flee. It was the city of Lachish that was the first town in Judah to bring idolatry into it, influenced from the north.
And so, it is one of the first here to be judged by God. Now, I mentioned that it's an important city. It was important to the Assyrians. In fact, in the annals of Sennacherib, who was the Assyrian commander. The city of Lachish is noted. And in Nineveh, after this city fell to the Syrians, a relief was carved into the gates of Nineveh after he returned.
And if you ever get the chance and you can go to London, England to the British Museum, you can see those very reliefs that have been taken from Nineveh, and are there at the British Museum. Fascinating to see from this battle of Lachish. Therefore, verse 14, you shall give presence to Morisheth Gath. Now Morisheth means in Hebrew, betrothed, or promised. And gifts were typically given to someone who was engaged, betrothed.
But here it says, you shall give presents to Morisheth Gath. The houses of Achzib shall be allied to the kings of Israel. The only gifts that they can give is gifts to their new husband. Because he's going to give and be betroth them, basically he's saying poetically, to a new husband. A new master, and that is the Assyrians. Says the houses of Achzib shall lie to the kings of Israel. The word Achzib means liar or deceiver. I will yet bring an heir to you, o inhabitant of Mareshah, means possessor or owned. Basically God is saying, you will be owned by someone else. The glory of Israel shall come to do Adullam. You'll remember when David was fleeing from Saul for so many years. One of the places he fled to for shelter was a set of caves in the area of Adullam.
They were out in the tuileries, out in the wilderness. And they provided protection for David while King Saul was trying to kill him. It's as if God is saying, don't let go of those caves just yet. You're going to need them again for protection if you would flee to them. Now the chapter closes with an appeal to Jerusalem. And it's sort of like an appeal to the parents of the children.
If the children are the 10 cities of Judah that are mentioned, then Jerusalem is that parent city, that center of influence. Make yourself bald and cut off your hair, because of your precious children in large your baldness like an Eagle, for they shall go from into captivity. To cut one's hair in mourning after death was something that the pagans used to do. The priests of Israel were forbidden to do this.
Here God is saying look, just cut your hair and be in mourning like the pagans would. You're going to go into their captivity anyway, and that is for the North and eventually, 586, 136 years later, to the south. That refers to the Babylonian captivity. Now as we go into the next chapter, something to keep in mind. For three successive reigns of these three kings, this prophet Micah was faithful in his ministry.
It wasn't until Hezekiah time, that he saw results. So if you add 16 and 16, and 29, that's a chunk of years. What's that, 61 years altogether. We don't know how many of those years he prophesied, but the point is this. He didn't see results from his ministry until several years had passed. The word had gone out. The seed had been sown. But eventually, he was an instrument through his messages that King Hezekiah, along with the prophet Isaiah, would listen to. It's beautiful.
The Bible says, that in due time you will reap if you faint not. Some of you have been praying and preaching to relatives for years. Children who have gone astray. Parents, and you think there is no hope. They never listen to me. Don't give up, because the Lord doesn't. You say they're impossible. Perfect. God loves impossibilities. It's not in his vocabulary. Oh, but it's taken so long. Better late than never.
Stay at it. Keep praying. Keep being faithful. Sow the seed of the word. Don't give up. Let us not grow weary, Paul said, in well doing. For in due season, we will reap if we do not faint or lose heart. Now chapter 2, 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. What a description. What rotten schemers some of them were.
To actually lie on their bed at night, and plan what evil they could do the next day. That's the un-godly. That's the unrighteous. It's in their power to do it. What can I get? What can I take? What, because I covet, can I obtain for myself tomorrow. So rather than sleeping a sweet peaceful sleep, there thinking of ways to rip other people off. Now that's the unrighteous. What kind of thoughts do the righteous have? Very different thoughts.
Contrast this to what is written in Psalm 4. Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. That's the way to close off your night. Not thinking OK, I'm going to get up tomorrow. That guy messed me up royally. I can't wait to get my chance tomorrow at work with him.
But rather Lord, I'm yours. I love you. I trust you. I'm going to be still and committed all to you in prayer. Very different ways to hit the sack. In chapter one, you'll notice that God basically said, you left me. You've disobeyed God. You've gone to idolatry. Chapter 2, the Lord will point the finger and say, you're harming other people. Now I think that's important, because it is a pattern.
Whenever you leave the Lord, the result is what you see in broken relationships and harming other people. So that when you have problems in relationships with other people, you need to begin at the beginning. And that is your relationship with God. I'm bringing this up, because that is not the way of modern day counselors. If you go to a modern day counselor, he'll find out about that you are dropped from your crib as a child.
And your dad said something to you when you were four, and you were traumatized. And then your mom said this, and then your brother beat you up. And that's the way you are. You're a victim. And the counselor would say, you have deep psychological problems and you must-- and they'll have some approach that is man centered. You know, first things first. If you were to look at life like two planes, one vertical and one horizontal, with a fixed axis. You get the idea.
If your relationship with God is off kilter, out of whack, your relationship with everybody else on the horizontal level, on the human level will also be disjointed. Now if you go and you try to fix all of those broken relationships on the horizontal, you'll be very tired. Highly unsuccessful in and of itself, and not able to fulfill it all. But if you start with God and get your heart right with God, and seek first the Kingdom of God, then all these other things including those relationships, you'll find strength and power to deal with.
They covet fields, verse two, and take them by violence. Also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house. A man and his inheritance, therefore, thus says the Lord, behold against this family I am devising disaster from which you cannot remove your necks. Nor so you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time. Back in 1 Kings chapter 21, there was a King of Israel who coveted a piece of land.
Not only did he covet it, but, well, he was a wimpy kind of a King. His name was King Ahab. And the field that he wanted to have, that he coveted, was the field of Naboth, the verdant, fruitful, vineyard of Naboth. And he came home one day, and basically said to his wife Jezebel, I really want that land. And I went over to the guy that owns it Naboth, and I asked him for it and he won't give it to me. Just sort of pouted like a little brat.
Jezebel said, well you're the King of Israel. You can have anything you want. And so she devised a plan. Honey, don't worry about it. Valentine's Day is coming up, I'll make sure you get this little plot of land for yourself. And her scheme was basically to have a feast in honor of Naboth. Set him at the head of the table, but then accuse him of insurrection and blasphemy. And then ordered people to take him out and kill him, which they did.
Now the owner of the land was dead, and the government came in and seized the land. That is, the King took it. She seized the land and gave it to him. He was coveting, and she made sure that by violence it was his. It says they covet. The last commandment in Gods top 10, is thou shalt not covet. And covet is an interesting commandment, because you could work your way through the other nine and think, I feel really good about myself. I've not murdered. I have not committed adultery.
Because the mistake that we could make is that these are commandments that simply govern the outward action. Until you come to that last commandment, you shall not covet. Now we're dealing with an inward attitude, not an outward action. It's possible to break that commandment of coveting way before any action is ever taken place. And that's what Paul the Apostle said slew him.
He realized uh oh, the law doesn't just govern outward actions, but inward attitude. And the law showed him that he had broken it. Of course the Lord Jesus said, though you've never murdered anybody, if you hate somebody, you're a murderer. Though you've never committed adultery outwardly, if you lust after a woman, you have already committed adultery in your heart.
But here is covet, that inward commandment. That inward attitude that was broken by so many in those days. Now I don't know if you noticed this, but did you notice the contrast between verse 1 and verse 3? Look at verse 1, Woe to those who devise iniquity. Compare that with verse 3. Therefore thus says the Lord, behold against this family, I am devising disaster.
There they were scheming, planning, plotting, how they were going to abscond illegally with land and rip people off. All the while forgetting that God also makes plans of his own. And while they're plotting to rip people off, God is responding by plotting to bring judgment upon them. Reminds me of a proverb. Proverbs 19:21, there are many plans or devices in a man's heart.
Nevertheless, the Lord's counsel that will stand. So God is devising against them, poetic justice. In that day, one shall take up a proverb against you and lament with a bitter lamentation. Saying, we are utterly destroyed. He has changed the heritage of my people. How he has removed it from me, to a turncoat he has divided our fields. The justice of God's response to their sin is twofold.
The verse that we just read. What you have violently stolen, the Assyrians will violently steal from you. That's first. Second is verse 5. Therefore, you will have no one to determine boundaries by lot in the assembly of the Lord. In other words, the ruin that I am going to allow will be so complete, you won't even know where the borders are of your land allotments any longer.
And so the captivity did come. The Assyrians did enter the land. Did attack the cities, and the people were taken captive. Both of the captivities, the 722 and the 586. The Assyrian captivity on the north, the Babylonian captivity and the south, were so complete. And there was such a mixing together of these 12 tribes, that when they came back, they were hard pressed to be able to determine which tribe they were from.
In fact, many of the priests couldn't prove that they were priests, and had to be excluded from serving in the priesthood upon the return. So if you ask a Jew today what tribe are you from, you're going to get the answer, I don't know, because most of them don't. There are DNA tests prove if you are Jewish genetically, because the doctors who do a lot of the Genome Project and DNA testing have discovered that the Jewish DNA, in the chromosome, they retain their identity.
They can prove if you have Jewish background, but they can't tell you what tribe you are from unless you are Cohanim from the priestly tribe. They're able somehow to test that and try that out. Do not prattle, verse 6. You say to those who prophesied, so they shall not prophesy to you. They shall not return insult for insult. You who are named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord restricted. Are these His doings?
Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly? Now back in those days, in the days of the fall of Sumeria and even Jerusalem during this time. The people didn't want to listen to the prophets of God. They didn't really care about Bible study. You couldn't get them together on a night like this and say, let's go through the word of God. Nah. No appetite. No interest.
And they certainly didn't want to hear a direct word from Yahweh concerning their own condition and their future. Even though Isaiah, and even though Micah and others were given the clear, concise message of God, because it wasn't favorable toward them. They just said, we don't want to hear it. Verse 8, lately my people have risen up like an enemy.
You pull off the robe with the garment from those who trust you as they pass by, like men returned from war. The women of my people, you cast out from their pleasant houses. From their children, you have taken away my glory forever. These guys were scoundrels. They would figure out a way to have the poor more oppressed by debt, that they said they owed to these oppressors.
And what they would do, at least it's pictured this way. Is that as the poor, the oppressed would walk by, they would steal that outer garment, the robe. Just undo this sash, and take the robe from them. Just steal it from them. According to the law, if somebody who was poor gave in pledge for the debt that he owed, his outer garment, he had to make sure that he returned it by nightfall. Because that was his only way to keep warm. Otherwise God said, I'll be against you.
And that's the idea here. I have become your enemy because of the way you treat the poor that are among you. You oppress them, they are my people, then I will oppress you. There's a principle there. If you make God's own children your enemies, you have God to face as your enemy. Saul of Tarsus found that out when he was oppressing the early Christians. And the Lord Jesus knocked him off his horse. And he said, Saul, Saul. Why do you persecute me?
Who are you, Lord? And he was out to get them. The Lord said, I'm taking it personally. And so, lately my people have risen up as an enemy, that's what that's all about. Verse 10, arise and depart, for this is not your rest. Because it is defiled, it shall destroy us with utter destruction. The people defiled the very land that God gave them as an inheritance, a promise.
Back in the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord said that the land was to be to them a resting place. That's the words that God used to describe the land of Canaan. Here's the inheritance, a resting place. Rest from the oppression of your enemies. But because of unbelief, Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3 tells us, the Lord said you shall not enter in to my rest. And here, this is not your rest, because it is defiled.
So they have defiled the place that God gave them as a resting spot, an inheritance. Thus because it is defiled, God will kick them out of the land. Now here, as in so many other places, we have an intersection of two different covenants. And it's just helpful to remind ourselves of it. Two basic covenants in the Bible. Covenant is a deal, a contract that God makes with man.
There is, what we call, an unconditional covenant. It's more a declaration. God says, I'm going to do this and that. And then there is a conditional covenant. God says, here's my part, but you have a part. And as long as you keep your part, I'll keep my part. If you fail on your part, the my part will be such and such. The covenant that God made with Abraham was an unconditional covenant. I'm giving this land to you. It's a declaration. It's yours. For Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and your children forever as an everlasting inheritance.
But the covenant that God made to Moses through the law was a conditional covenant. And when you get to passages like Deuteronomy 28 and 29, there is a lot of if then language. If you obey me, then you'll be in the land. If you do what I say, I'll make rain come down from heaven and water your land. But if you disobey me, I'll boot you out of the land. You say OK, now I'm utterly confused.
Because on one hand, God says, here's a covenant, a deal. I'm giving you the land. It's yours. It's an unconditional covenant. And then God makes another covenant down the line with somebody else and says, it's conditional. How does it work? It works beautifully. See God makes an unconditional covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And then with Moses and the children of Israel under the law. God says, if then.
And as that language goes on in Deuteronomy 28 and 29, the Lord says, if you disobey me, I'll bring you into the land of captivity. But in the land of captivity, you will remember me, and you'll remember your sins. And you'll cry out for deliverance, and I will bring you back. So that the land is unconditional, their tenure in the land is conditional. But God makes sure they always get back, because he makes it so miserable for them that they repent. And God even foresaw that.
So Israel's been booted out of their land, and brought back. And kicked out again, and brought back, 19:48, and Isaiah 11. Says that when they're brought back the second time, and they're there today the second time. That they're there for good, so don't expect Israel to be booted out of their land and exiled into foreign captivity by any of the peoples around them, though they would love it if they could.
God gave it to them as a covenant. If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie saying, I will prophesied to you of wine and drink. Even he would be the parietal of this people. The only prophet they would endure is a prophet who would say thus saith the Lord, party hardy. Bring in the wine. Bring in the drink. That's what the Lord wants. They would hear that and go, now that's my kind of preaching. That they wouldn't tolerate truth.
Speak to us pleasant things. Don't tell us the truth. Now there is a change in verse 12 and 13, as we finish out this chapter. It's a common change in the minor prophets, and it's certainly common here. He rounds off the message of judgment by inserting a message of hope. Obadiah does that. Amos does that. Joel does that, and now Micah does that. You have this interfacing of judgment that is coming, but hope that will also come on top of that. The restoration.
So if you were to sum up this book, you would say it's a message of both denunciation and conciliation. It's denunciatory, but it's conciliatory. God promises restoration to them. It's sort of like, well I have bad news and I have good news. The bad news is judgment is coming. The good news is after the judgment, you'll be restored. So verse 12, I will surely assemble all of you, oh Jacob. I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like the 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 before them. They will break out. Pass through the gate, and go out and by it. The King will pass before them with the Lord as their head. This happened already in part. They came back from the captivity. They came back under Cyrus. He gave the command, arctic's Xerxes sort of seconded it. They came back in phases, and they rebuilt the territory.
But that doesn't exhaust the fulfillment of this promise. Because notice what it says, I will assemble all of you. Remember when they came back, only about 50,000 came back. The bulk of them stayed back in Babylon. But God promises beyond that immediate regathering into the land of Israel under Cyrus. This goes into the future, the millennial kingdom, the messianic age. When Romans 11 says, all of Israel will be saved. And that's understood by Revelation chapter 7, 12,000 from each tribe, all of them are represented and brought back into the land. Now in chapter three, the camera, so to speak, pan's back to the present. From the future, back to the present. And just as Micah predicted the true shepherd will come at the end of chapter 2, now he predicts the false shepherds and the doom that will come upon them. Corruption in the courts. Corruption among the clergy, and corruption among the collusion of all of the leaders who were there together.
I said, verse 1, here now all heads of Jacob. And you rulers of the house of Israel. Is it not for you to know justice. That these were the law courts. The legislative branch was corrupt. We have three basic branches of government. We have the legislative branch. We have the executive branch. We have the judicial branch. The idea in forming American government is that with three different branches, we can keep each other in check.
So if one is corrupt, the others can spot them on that. When Watergate happened, we discovered that during that period of American history, the executive branch had become corrupt by illegal spying, and trying to cover it up. And so another branch of government helped to expose that. Impeachment proceedings were brought forth. But what do you do in all three branches of government become corrupt?
They had all become corrupt in the day of Micah. And Micah goes through all of them. And he says, is it not for you to know justice. Have you ever noticed how many lawyer jokes there are? Just for fun, I got on the internet and typed in lawyer jokes. 2,399,000 hits, boom, came right up. Now there shouldn't be that many lawyer jokes. Lawyers should be those who uphold the law, more than anyone else. The fact that there are lawyer jokes is a problem.
The law courts then had become corrupted. You hate good and love evil. Who stripped the skin from my people, and the flesh from their bones. They've become judicial cannibals. Who also eat the flesh of my people. Flay their skin from them. Break their bones. Chop them in pieces like meat for the pot, like flesh in the cauldron. They will cry out to the Lord, but he will not hear them. He will even hide his face from them at the time, because they have been evil in their deeds.
The law courts were meant to preserve justice, but they perverted justice. So even as the oppressed would call out and get no help from these courts, the judges themselves will one day cry out for help to God, and God will treat them the way they treated the poor and the oppressed. When I was living in New Mexico, we had a problem in that state. And one of our problems is that many on the state legislature had been cited for drunk driving.
Well it's awfully difficult to legislate against drunk driving, when the very heads of state are indicted for it. And they realized they had a problem. And that's why it wasn't enforced like it should be. They lost moral high ground. Verse 5 through 8, the clergy are indicted. Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets, who make my people stray. Who chant peace while they chew with their teeth. But who prepare war against him who puts nothing in their mouths.
The church has always suffered. God's people have always suffered from two basic dangers. Enemies from the outside, false shepherds from the inside. It happened in Israel. It happened in the early church when Paul came to Ephasus. And he called the elders of the Church of Ephasus to the beach at Meletus. He said, I know that after my departure, savage wolves from among your own selves will arise taking disciples with him. It was a problem in Israel.
Therefore, you shall have night without vision. You shall have darkness without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them. So the seers shall be ashamed. The diviners, abased. Indeed they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. Prophets were sometimes called seers. God said, I'll make sure these false prophets see nothing. They speak presumptuously anyway. They are not really getting a message from me.
But truly, I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, says Micah. And of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. What a refreshing contrast Micah was. True, authentic, full of integrity. Preaching the truth no matter what the cost. Because the Lord gave him that power and strength. Verses 9 through 12 finish off the chapter, where all three branches in collusion together.
The political, the spiritual, and the judicial branches are all working with each other in collusion. 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 up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay. And her profits divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord and say, is not the Lord among us. No harm can come upon us. I have always truly been amazed at how year after year, congregations can sit under the abuse of pulpit predators who are after nothing more than money. They'll berate them. They won't feed them. They won't teach them. But they're always, always, always hankering. We need your money. We need more money. And how the people won't see through that, but they'll just put up with that kind of abuse.
I was going through Scotland a few years ago. We were doing some preaching and some music with a band that I was with. And we went to one little church that was a church known for its authoritarian stand and so many issues. And a heavy handed pastoral leadership. The pastor at the end of the evening took up an offering and presented it to us. And I felt awkward about taking it. So I called the pastor back up and said we would be honored if you'd use this for your mission budget.
The look on his face when we said, we've done this for the Lord and we've done this to serve you. We don't want your money. We want the money going to those on the mission field. And the-- just his jaw dropped. It's like he thought the second coming at arrived. He'd never seen that before. Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field. Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like bare hills of the forest.
Keep in mind what nation is being talked about. Israel, principally Judah. The temple was there. It was the center of the nation. At one time, it was one nation under God. In the wilderness, all of the camps of Israel were centered around the Tabernacle. God was at the center of their community. They had long since fallen from that. Now we're called One Nation under God. And though people are trying to rewrite our history, it would do us a lot of good to go back and see how this nation truly was founded on Godly principles.
For instance, 1620, the Mayflower Compact, they said in the name of God, Amen. Having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, we do solemnly and mutually combine ourselves together. And then in 1643, the Constitution of the New England confederation. Whereas we all come unto these parts of America, with one and the same and an aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to enjoy the liberties of the gospel in purity with peace.
Well all we have left of that, unfortunately, is on our money in God we trust. But it's really not accurate anymore for so many in this nation. Who are trying to push God out, and rule God out. Now if we were to close the evening with what we just read, it would be a shame, so we won't. We need to read chapter 4, because I believe chapter 4 is all part, at least the first few verses of it are all part of chapter three.
Remember there is a pattern here. In all of the messages given by the prophet that are denunciatory, there's always an element that is conciliatory. Judgment is coming, but restoration is also coming. And now we find that. You see, the last verse of chapter 12, Zion shall be plowed like a field. That's under human corrupt government. Look at it under messianic government.
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days. Latter days mentioned 21 times in the Bible. It's a technical phrase for the end of times. In the latter days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains. Shall be exalted above the hills, and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say come, let us go 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 path. For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations afar off. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But every one shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree. And no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.
For all the people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord, our God forever and ever. You know, the ultimate form of government will be a dictatorship. A benevolent dictatorship. Jesus Christ will rule and reign from Jerusalem as the head, and he can't be voted out of office. Even if anybody tried, we're going to rule and reign with him with a rod of iron.
It will be a wonderful, theocratic kingdom with God at the center calling the shots. Now the promise, and it's very similar, as we said to Isaiah chapter 2, is all the nations will flow to Jerusalem. The word flow speaks of a spontaneous movement from the heart. In other words, people will want to go. You're hard pressed to get people to go to Israel today. A few crazy Christians like us, we love to go.
But if you tell people, I'm going to Israel. Why? I'd never go there, they'd say. Which I've always thought funny, because they think nothing of going to New York City, or going on a tour of Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles. Which I still think statistically is more dangerous than going to Israel. But there will come a time when nations will flow to it. They'll want to go. The Lord is there.
So wherever you're at during the millennium. You might be in Florida occupying a portion of land. Or like pastor Chuck always said he wants to be in Hawaii during that time, and sort of take over that region. Wherever you're at. You can say, let's go to Jerusalem. You'll be going up there once a year anyway on the Feast of Tabernacles. But you could just go there and hang out for two, three, 400 years. And sit under the tutelage as the law goes forth out of Jerusalem.
We will walk in the name of the Lord, our God forever. Just a thought on this. Because Micah 4 and Isaiah chapter 2 sounds so similar, the question is often asked who copied whom. And we make a mistake, because they were contemporaries. That, you know, maybe one saw the others prophesy and said, hey, I like that part. I'm going to use that in my prophecy.
And I think it's best to simply say that this was such an important message that the superintendent of all scripture, the Holy Spirit, made sure that they both got that same message. Because it's the undergirding of all messianic hope for the future. So by the mouth of two witnesses, every word shall be established. You know if God says something once, it's important. If he says it twice, listen up. And he said this twice.
Verse 6, In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame. I will gather the outcasts, and those whom I have afflicted. So before there can be any messianic reign in Israel, the Jews have to be regathered back into their own land. I will gather those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant. The outcast a strong nation, so the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever.
And you, oh tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion. To you it shall come. Even the former dominion shall come. The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be restored to the glory God originally intended. The rabbis used to say that God gave 10 measures of beauty to the entire earth, one, he gave to all of the other cities and nations, but nine measures were given to Jerusalem.
You don't see that today. But in that day, where there will be an incredible abundance. Economically, naturally, every man under his vine and fig trees speaks of great prosperity during that time. Freedom from fear. Freedom from want. Freedom from ignorance as the law goes forth. Just that beautiful restoration. You will see the most beautiful spot. Verse 9, and we'll finish out the book.
Before the restoration. Sort of, going backwards here, he begins with the ultimate restoration under the Messiah. He backs up to-- before that can happen, the Jews have to be regathered into their land. And then he goes back even further and says, before that is going to happen, there is going to be a captivity before that ultimate restoration. So verse 9. Now, why do you cry aloud? Is there no King in your midst?
Has your counselor perished for pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. Be in pain, and labor to bring forth oh daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs. For you shall go forth from the city. You shall dwell in the field, and to Babylon you shall go. So between 605 and 586 BC, a succession of these three attacks, and dismantling of the kingdom occurred.
There you shall be delivered. There The Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. So that was fulfilled when Cyrus told them to go back after the captivity under the mid-Persian reign. You can read about it in Ezra chapter 1. Now also, many nations have gathered against, you who say let her be defiled. Let her eyes look upon Zion. But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord, nor do they understand his counsel.
For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh oh daughter of Zion. I will make your horn iron. I will make your hooves bronze. You shall be in pieces. Many peoples, I will consecrate their gain to the Lord, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth. Now this gathering of many nations must be what we read about in Revelation.
As nations gathered together in the last days, in the latter times against Jerusalem. And are met by the Lord as he comes back, and destroys them with the brightness of his coming. The kingdom age, judgment, denunciatory, the kingdom, conciliatory. Those two themes together. Don't you look forward to the ultimate form of government, when Jesus Christ will take his rightful place. And all that man has ruined, all that Satan has usurped, will be under the righteous reign of a benevolent wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And he will bless the earth, and he will bless your life like nothing else could ever. Back in the 1940s, when people were listening to radio for entertainment, before we learned how to be visually stimulated via television. In my parents era, when radio was popular, there was a popular show called Baby Snooks about an impudent little girl who, sort of, got her way. She was, kind of, precocious and finicky. And she always seemed to get her way.
In one of the episodes, she was caught stealing in the store. She was stealing candy. Her Father found out she was caught. Made her go back, give the candy back. Pay it back, and apologize to the store owner. So she apologized, and the store owner took the basket of candy, the jar of candy and held it out and said, young lady, you're forgiven. Now reach your hand in that jar of candy and take out a handful for yourself. She refused.
He insisted, she still refused. Well on the way home-- oh, the store owner put his hand in and gave her a handful of candy. On the way home, dad said honey, why were you so hesitant to reach your hand in and take that candy? You probably still felt pretty guilty, didn't you. And she said, oh no daddy. That wasn't it. I knew if I refused to put my hand in, that kind man would put his hand in and his hand is bigger than my hand. Smart girl.
The blessing of the store owner was far more than anything she could ever produce for herself. The blessing that God is going to give this earth and pour out and every one of his followers, every one of those who are righteous, far exceeds anything you could try to get on your own. That's the coming kingdom we look forward to.
Heavenly Father, thank you tonight for so many wonderful promises that are commingled with these stern warnings of judgment. And how inspired we are that a man like Micah, though he waited so many years, he saw results as Jeremiah even said. So Lord, I pray that we would not grow weary in well-doing. But all of those hopes that we've laid before you, we say tonight, we trust in you. Our expectation is from you.
And Father, we're so excited because we know that very soon our Savior will be back. And will rule and reign what is rightfully his. When the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. How excited we are. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Shall we stand. Yes, the pastors are down here at the front. They're here to minister to your needs tonight. Any of you that are in need of prayer, need of counsel, they are here to share with you God's word, and to minister to you. So as we're dismissed, if you have any particular need, come on down. Let them pray for you. And they're here as your servants, to do the work of the Lord and to bring God's help to you.
May the Lord be with you, watch over and keep you. And may this be a glorious week of thanksgiving as we think of God's goodness and God's blessings. And there's one thing in the scripture that it seems we are called upon to give thanks over, because of the mercies of God, that they endure forever. Give thanks unto the Lord.
So that's one thing that this week, think about God's mercies and give thanks.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. I will sing. I will sing. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord. With my mouth will I make known, thy faithfulness. Thy faithfulness. And with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. I will sing of the--