Micah Chapter 3: Sin of Natural and Antitypical Israel that Bring Judgment

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

Micah Chapter 3: Sin of Natural and Antitypical Israel that Bring Judgment

Micah 3:1 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?

The RSV reads, “And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?” Micah was primarily addressing the civil ruling element or leaders of the nation of Israel. Strong language is used here and in the next few verses.

Micah 3:2 Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones;

Micah 3:3 Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.

For verse 3, the RSV has, “Who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.”

Instead of using their offices to be like shepherds of the people and to help them, the leaders selfishly took advantage of the people for their own gain and not for the public good. The analogy is to an animal that is flayed (the hide is removed) and its flesh eaten. What a strong picture! Violence is shown here, and rapacity, avariciousness, and greed. It was as if the common people were ground up and chopped and put in a stew or soup. First, the hide was used, then the flesh, and finally the bones—until nothing of value was left.

The “caldron,” or pot, refers to the preparation of a meal in a home. In Jeremiah 1:13,14 and Ezekiel 24:2-14, Jerusalem is described as a pot, or caldron, in connection with evil judgment coming from the north. There the people came into the caldron and got stewed, whereas in this picture, what the leaders had done to the people—fleecing and depriving them, especially in Jerusalem and in Samaria—would happen to the nation, particularly the leadership. The common people were working like slaves all along. Therefore, if they were taken captive to a foreign land, they would just continue as slaves, but it would be a real change for the leaders.

Thus, according to the flesh, the common people would not be suffering much more, and if obedient, they would actually be treated quite well. The brunt of the trouble would fall on the rich, for they would lose all wealth and power. Antitypically, the brunt of the great Time of Trouble will be on the religious and civil leaders of Christendom. Those who are placed in positions of power to dispense justice and then misuse their offices are especially guilty.

Micah 3:4 Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.

“As they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” is rendered as follows in the RSV: “because they have made their deeds evil.” Mostly the rulers would cry to the Lord, but no response would be forthcoming at that time. If the civil and religious leaders had extended mercy to the people, they themselves would have gotten mercy. When the common people pleaded for mercy and forgiveness, the leaders refused to listen. Hence retribution would come.

Micah 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

The RSV reads, “Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry ‘Peace’ when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.” Verses 1-4 were directed primarily to the civil rulers. Verses 5-7 were directed primarily to the religious leaders, or false prophets, who gave the people a false vision and thus led them astray. Moreover, the false prophets caused trouble for those who resisted them, especially the true prophets. (For example, the false prophets declared “war” against Micah.) They spoke peaceably to those who reimbursed them or proffered them honor or goods or some kind of service, but they opposed those who either could not afford to pay or refused to pay. Thus two classes are shown here: (1) those who would not support or cooperate with the false prophets, and (2) those who would. How did the false prophets declare “war” on the true prophets, who resisted them? They tried to kill their influence or to harm them physically or in some other way. The false prophets were looking for material gain, and those who would not render it received a “bite.”

Micah and the true prophets spoke against the sins of the Israelites and prophesied of coming retribution, whereas the false prophets remained silent about the people’s sins and prophesied peace. They called the true prophets liars and claimed that their own authority came from occupying the office of prophet, sanctioned by the Lord. The true prophecies of doom were belittled.

Such was the situation on the national level, but in regard to individuals, the false prophets were busy too. They predicted good things and told good fortunes to those who greased their palms with money. Thus they spoke “peace” to individuals who paid them well, and they also spoke “peace” to the nation by saying there was little danger of an enemy invasion.

Micah 3:6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.

The false prophets were supposed to be children of light, but they would be in darkness. They were to prophesy of things they would see (or imagine they would see), but the sunlight of ability to “see” would darken. Some people can lie very well and may also have visions while they are lying and give all sorts of details, but even the ability to lie would depart. The false prophets spoke with confidence, and the people believed them, but Micah was saying that the time would come when the people would no longer believe them. The false prophets kept crying “Peace,” but the time would come when thousands of troops would be seen entering Israel. Thus, in due time, all the lies of the false prophets would be exposed, and their imaginations would be darkened. The sunlight of favor with the people would go down, so that the people would no longer look to them as religious guides. When things would obviously go wrong, the people would cease to esteem them.

Micah 3:7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

“They shall all cover their lips” is a reminder of the leper who, by the Law, was required to cover his lips with a mask as an admission that he was a spreader of disease. Whenever he approached within ten feet of anyone, he had to yell out, “Unclean, unclean!” If the leper did not do these things, he could be assaulted. The covering of the upper part of the mouth was to be self-recognition of guilt and of the disease. Accordingly, the seers, the false prophets, would be ashamed and have to admit their wrong when the fulfillment of trouble came. No answer would come to them from God.

Micah 3:8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

Verse 8 provides a little insight into the character of Micah. Not only did he dutifully repeat what the Lord had told him to say about the sins of the people and the coming trouble, but he said, “What I am telling you is the gospel truth! You may not believe it now, but the time will come when you will have to believe it. I am speaking by the power of the Lord’s spirit!” Not satisfied to just declare the message, Micah wanted to get somebody to listen to him. He pleaded with the people that he was telling the truth. Micah’s personality becomes apparent in this earnest pleading. He was not speaking as a robot but actually felt his message and the power of its truth. He was declaring “unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” He told the whole nation to their face—and with great courage too!

Micah 3:9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.

The civil rulers abhorred justice by hating good and loving evil in two ways (see verse 2). They abhorred (1) the exercise of their minds on good qualities and (2) the performance of justice. Not only were they reluctant to do what conscience told them was right, but they disdained to do it. Thus they did not like even the principle of right, let alone the act or the deed. They loved evil in both senses of the word: mental sympathy as well as performance.

They “pervert all equity.” An example would be a judge who took a bribe to render a decision in favor of the guilty party in spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Thus justice was turned upside down and perverted by allowing the guilty party to go free and punishing the innocent one.

Micah 3:10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.

The King James marginal reference is Jeremiah 22:13, which gives half the thought; namely, either there were no wages at all for labor performed, or else the workers were drastically underpaid. Verse 10 indicates that a building work was going on in Zion and in Jerusalem, the capital. The Temple walls and government buildings, as well as private homes, were being extensively rebuilt at the expense of the people, who were being exploited and crushed. The city looked as if progress was being made, for it was beautiful, but every brick that was laid cost the people blood and cheated someone out of his wages. Thus Micah was being very sarcastic once again. He was saying, “Look at all this. Isn’t it wonderful?!? See how the Temple of the Lord is prospering and the city is being rebuilt and repaired.” Actually, however, the condition was the opposite.

Micah 3:11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.

“The heads thereof judge for reward” is rendered in the RSV, “Its heads give judgment for a bribe.” The civil rulers, priests, and false prophets all had a common denominator: the love of money. The priests’ teaching for hire suggests a regular form of remuneration. The false prophets divined not only for the nation but also for individuals who would pay. Thus they used the office, which was supposed to be only for the oracles of God (prophesying or explaining the Word), for personal gain by supposedly prophesying out of the Word about an individual. They vulgarized the Word down to a common, unauthorized level and performed like a gypsy, divining and telling fortunes and dealing with little secret things in individual lives.

Divining included cutting out the entrails of animals and making predictions from the resulting shapes. Such imagination they ascribed to the Word of the Lord!

Micah 3:12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

The “high places of the forest,” or the “wooded height” (RSV), was lower than the barren portion of the mountain above the timberline. To “be plowed as a field” meant that Zion would be overturned as a farmer overturns the soil in the field; that is, the masonry would be leveled. “Zion” referred to the Temple Mount area, whereas Jerusalem was the city itself. The “mountain of the house” also referred to the Temple.

In the antitype, Babylon will be overthrown, both civil and ecclesiastical—just as both civil and ecclesiastical natural Israel were overthrown back there. The religious and civil leaders thought they were building up the Temple and the city with material gains and prosperity. Both had a beautiful facade, but the inside was filled with dead men’s bones, that is, with corruption, blood, oppression, and iniquity. Because of these basic wrongs, the Temple and the city would be demolished. Jerusalem was to become a “heap of ruins” (see RSV).

(1975 Study with Excerpts from a 1993 Study)

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