Micah Chapter 2: The Wickedness of Man

Dec 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Micah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Micah Chapter 2: The Wickedness of Man

Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Verse 1 is a moral lesson that reminds us of the great Time of Trouble. Here the time of trouble and visitation was seen to be coming on Judah, upon those who devised wickedness at night; that is, they planned the wickedness at night and then waited for the next business day to cheat someone out of his property, goods, or services. However, the time was approaching when the wicked themselves would experience trouble (see verses 2 and 3).

Micah 2:2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

Micah 2:3 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

The wicked coveted fields and took them with violence. The Revised Standard says they “oppress … a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, against this family I am devising evil, from which you cannot remove your necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time.” Those who devised wickedness would not escape; they would not be able to “remove” their necks. “It will be an evil time” was another way of saying that it would be the time of trouble for them back there.

One form of wickedness concerned people being defrauded out of their inheritance. Houses that had been in one family for generations were permanently taken away. For instance, when the Jubilee year came every fiftieth year, all properties were to be restored, but this wicked element refused to comply with that arrangement. The Jubilees were very imperfectly observed at this point in Israel’s history. As the 70 years’ desolation was drawing near, there was only a token observance. “Inheritance” pertained to land rights, not merely to present tenure. That which properly belonged to the people was taken away and not returned. Under the Jubilee arrangement, no one was supposed to lose his inheritance except on a temporary basis for only part of the 50 years.

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.

Micah 2:5 Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.

The RSV has, “In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you, and wail with bitter lamentation, and say, ‘We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! Among our captors he divides our fields.’ Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.” Verses 4 and 5 tell how the ruling classes took advantage of the common people. Verse 5 refers to a method of casting lots in the Temple. From the pure Urim and Thummim arrangement came a corruption with dice or physical objects to describe the Urim and Thummim. Then stones were used to cast lots, and finally an even cruder form of using cords or lines was devised. A “line” was similar to today’s practice of using straws of different lengths. When the longer line or cord was selected, it was attributed to Divine Providence, since the system was set up by the priesthood and used in the Temple.

Thus the priesthood were also involved in the wickedness, and judgment would be meted out to the leadership for oppressing their fellow man (verse 2). Conditions became intolerable in Judah, just as they had become so earlier in the ten-tribe kingdom.

Micah 2:6 Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.

Not wanting to hear Micah’s prophecy, the priests and the leaders said to him, “‘Do not preach … one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us’” (see RSV).

Micah 2:7 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?

While the Lord was punishing the people and it was a divine judgment, the punishment was not God’s fault—it was their own fault! If they had obeyed Him, the judgments would not have come. Whenever a prophet—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, or another true prophet—pronounced a message of condemnation, the reaction was, “Oh, it is nothing but trouble! Here comes another sermon!” Because of the repetition of the judgment message, the people got the thought that the Lord was associated with that type of message. But God was saying, “Do not blame me for the judgment; it is your own fault for disobedience. If you had walked uprightly, this judgment would not have been necessary.”

Over and over Micah spoke sarcastically, and his words cut the people to the quick because he was RIGHT! He was blunt and got directly to the heart of the matter. Remember what Ahab said to Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). And in the incident with Micaiah, the king of Israel said, “Oh, he always prophesies bad things concerning me” (1 Kings 22:8,18 paraphrase).

Micah 2:8 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.

The RSV has, “But you rise against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.” Verse 8 provides further information on the misdeeds of the priestly and governing elements. Peaceful passers-by were robbed. “Ye pull off the robe with the garment” shows in figurative language that the leadership, not content with just the outer coat, stole the undergarments as well; that is, the victim was left with very little.

Within the nation of Israel, a certain element were so greedy for wealth and/or power that they were willing to take advantage of their fellow man. Men were deprived of inheritances, their houses were robbed, etc. Micah was severely condemning the whole arrangement and likening the greedy element to an enemy. Violence was emphasized in verse 2 and again here.

Micah 2:9 The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.

The normal function of the mother is to raise her children to recognize certain principles and a moral standard for living and, of course, to know and honor the Lord, but this practice was broken up. Instead of being raised in the true tradition—instead of going directly to the Mosaic Law—the people were taught traditions of men, the Talmud, etc. This watered-down message resulted in a lack of faith. Family life deteriorated because of corruption and oppression by the rulers and the priests.

Such deterioration is happening today too, because women are working full-time instead of properly bringing up their children. The children are either left alone or put in the care of other people. As a result, they are growing up not respecting their parents or the law (authority).

Instead of women having the pleasant duties of a home, they are removed from this environment and transferred to an environment that is not conducive to their role in life. They are taken out of the house and thrust into the business world—a man’s realm. Women should remain at home and raise their children.

Micah 2:10 Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.

Micah was saying, “Depart from the land; it shall destroy you.” In other words, the inhabitants would be taken into exile so that the land could rest and enjoy its sabbaths. Because the land was not getting the rest that was so essential, it would cast them out.

From the time the Israelites entered the Promised Land, sabbaths (whether a day, a year, or a Jubilee) were to be counted. Because these cycles were not properly observed, retribution was coming. God made certain stipulations in His original contract with the Israelites, but because of disobedience, the Mosaic Law became an enemy to them; it became a law of condemnation and death, not life. If the sabbaths had been properly observed, the land would have brought forth twofold, tenfold, etc., but through the people’s disobedience, it became a curse to them instead of rest and plenty. Thus the land destroyed them. Whether the Law or the land is considered, the principle is the same.

Here again Micah used a play on words. More than any other prophet, he used sarcasm, paronomasias, and innuendos. He capitalized on common, everyday expressions about other cities, people, and things, giving them a new slant or pun so that they boomeranged back on the Israelites. Because these expressions are no longer used today, we understand only a fraction of what Micah was saying, but his words were mighty powerful back there. It is profitable to study the Book of Micah, for we learn certain principles that help us to evaluate other pictures and prophecies.

Micah 2:11 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 RSV reads, “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ he would be the preacher for this people!” In other words, the people listened to false prophets, and not to the true prophets. Micah was being sarcastic. The liar and the thief were accepted but not the prophet who gave a true message.

There was a parallel in the Gospel Age when religious leaders (monks) went from house to house extorting money from the people while drinking wine. When they entered a house, the inhabitants were expected to give them the best food and drink, and failure to do so resulted in increased taxes. Then, in a half-intoxicated state, they prophesied in the name of the Lord—and that practice was accepted!

Thus verse 11 shows the corruption in the priesthood. The priests and religious leaders uttered “wind,” or empty words; that is, they were windbags.

Micah 2:12 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.

Micah 2:13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.

For verse 13, the RSV reads, “He who opens the breach will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the LORD at their head.” Verses 12 and 13 are a separate little scene. First, there was a denunciation of conditions that existed locally in the prophet’s day. Then, almost as if written in italics, some words come out that are foreign to the situation. Probably verses 12 and 13 were uttered somewhat later, at a different time from the previous. This message is favorable.

Why does verse 12 say, using a natural picture of sheep being returned to the fold, “I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob” (see RSV), and then, “I will surely gather the remnant of Israel”? A fold is usually a fenced-in, protected area. The thought is that the Israelites will be gathered to a more localized or centralized place at the end of the age, that is, in our day. When sheep are first gathered into a pen, the noise is very apparent, with much bleating, because a great number of sheep are confined together. Then, all of a sudden, the picture changes from sheep to men. Micah was showing the Jews being regathered to their homeland, and the fold is Israel itself, the land. Just as the Jews were scattered in the Diaspora, so they would be gathered back to Israel.

The fact that “their king will pass on before them, the LORD [Jehovah] at their head,” pinpoints the primary fulfillment of this prophecy as way down the stream of time to our day and future, yet the prophecy provided a measure of comfort to the Jews when they were taken captive to Babylon in 606 BC. Also, when they returned to their land after 536 BC, they felt that Divine Providence had arranged the return. Thus the prophecy was designed to be a double blessing.

Bozrah means “sheepfold,” and here the word is used favorably. The hills of Bozrah were especially suited for raising sheep. Here the emphasis is on fruitfulness and number, or multitude. The Jews will be regathered back to the land of Israel, but the land will be too small for the great numbers. The people will feel as if they are in a straitjacket, all crammed together.

To date, we have seen only one type of regathering to Israel, but in the second regathering, the Gentiles will ship or help the remaining Jews back from their lands. The hunting and fishing take place before Israel’s deliverance in Jacob’s Trouble, and the regathering with the help of the Gentiles will occur after Jacob’s Trouble. That is why Micah made a distinction; namely, “I will surely gather all of you,” and then, “I will surely gather the remnant.”

The design is to ultimately bring all Jews back to Israel, and verse 12 tells of an ingathering before the Time of Trouble and an ingathering after the Time of Trouble. At present, the “remnant” is being dealt with, not the nation. This Holy Remnant will be the nucleus of the Kingdom on earth with the Ancient Worthies at their head. They will be the survivors, but to that remnant will come a great multitude or influx into Israel. When Michael stands up for the children of Daniel’s people (Dan. 12:1) and deals with the other nations, the Jews will know that he is the Messiah and that Jehovah is Israel’s God, and it will not take the Jews in other countries very long to go back to Israel.

“Their king [Jesus] shall pass before them, and the LORD [God] on the head of them.” After the Kingdom is established, after the regathering, and after the Lord is seen to be her King, Israel is described as being like a fire before all nations, for all the world will be under her control, and the nation that refuses to go up to Jerusalem to visit will not receive rain (Zech. 14:16,17).

Another picture calls Israel at that time a devouring lion (Micah 5:8). All of these pictures have to do with the power, prestige, and influence of that little nation after the Kingdom is set up.

The Ancient Worthies will be resurrected in Israel, but then they will go forth to be “princes in all the earth” (Psa. 45:16). No doubt they will have companions with them during the time they are in other nations. Moreover, the Ancient Worthies will have rotational offices, so that each will have a turn presiding in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews who accompany each Ancient Worthy will undoubtedly consist of a mayor, department heads, etc. The Lord will designate who the helpers are, as well as perhaps allow each Ancient Worthy to take some friends with him. We only know about the top rewards in the future, but there will be many lesser rewards, as shown by the principle that an individual who gives a cup of cold water to one of the saints will have his deed remembered (Matt. 10:42). Every person will be rewarded up to the level of his cooperation and kindness. All acts of every individual are recorded, whether for good or for bad. Also, the higher the level of motivation—for example, recognizing that one is a “saint” and thus helping him—the higher the reward will be. One way to reward such kindnesses would be to assign the individuals to an association with an Ancient Worthy and a minor office and responsibility. The Ancient Worthies will be the top earthly officials, but helpers in various capacities will be under them.

To become one of the Holy Remnant who will survive Jacob’s Trouble, a Jew will have to “pass under the rod” (Ezek. 20:37). There will be a purging experience so that only the right-hearted individuals with faith will live through the trouble. Their very survival will be based on merit.

Gentiles receive no such ironclad guarantee; they are merely given a general guideline to “seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be [that] ye shall be hid” (Zeph. 2:3). However, not a single Jew, whether in Israel or elsewhere in the world, will survive the Time of Trouble unless he is handpicked to do so. Consequently, Jews who return at the second ingathering from the Gentile nations will also be handpicked. Following their return, some will be assigned responsibilities and a minor office with the Ancient Worthies in other lands—and thus leave the “fold” temporarily. And so it is with a real sheepfold—the sheep are gathered into an enclosure for protection, especially against wolves at night, and then let out again in the morning to graze. After the Lord has protected the Jews and delivered them, they will be free to walk in and out of Israel.

(1975 Study with Excerpts from a 1993 Study)

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