Sometimes when I was growing up, I was given the choice: “do you want to do it the easy way or the hard way?” What do you think I chose? Eventually, I did start choosing the easy way because obedience was wiser than punishment. But that was not a fast process.
Last time we were in Micah,
we were reminded of the Lord’s absolute standard for His people. Although His patience is great; there is a
point where His justice must be answered.
Micah was seeing what was going to happen and it caused him great
grief. As you read Micah 1:8-16, may you
quickly hear the heart of this prophet who loved the Lord and also loved his
8Because of this I will weep
and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and
moan like an owl. 9For Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread
to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.
10Tell it not in Gath; weep
not at all. In Beth Ophrah roll in the dust. 11Pass by naked and in
shame, you who live in Shaphir. Those who live in Zaanan will not come out.
Beth Ezel is in mourning; it no longer protects you.
12Those who live in Maroth
writhe in pain, waiting for relief, because disaster has come from the Lord,
even to the gate of Jerusalem. 13You
who live in Lachish, harness fast horses to the chariot. You are where the sin
of Daughter Zion began, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
14Therefore you will give
parting gifts to Moresheth Gath. The town of Akzib will prove deceptive to the
kings of Israel. 15I will bring a conqueror against you who live in
Mareshah. The nobles of Israel will flee to Adullam. 16Shave your
head in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourself as bald as
the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.
In verses 8-16 of chapter
1, Micah laments the fall of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the
meaning of “because of this…”). Seeing an invading army—no doubt, it’s King
Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 B.C.—Micah knows that twelve cities stand in
between Sennacherib and controlling the region and Jerusalem is one. Everywhere the Assyrians went, death and
desolation are what’s left behind.
This is not, however,
merely an observer of military tactics.
This is the prophet of the Lord who knows the Assyrians will only be
able to conquer either Israel or Judah by the Lord’s will. The Northern Kingdom (Israel) had fallen into
idolatry and their “plague is incurable” (verse 9).
Making matters worse, Judah is falling into the same worship of other
gods. The sin of Israel had spread to
Judah and “even Jerusalem itself”.
The result of the imminent
destruction of Israel? Micah is in
mourning. He goes around barefoot and
without most of his clothes. By “naked”,
the Scriptures do not mean the prophet of the Lord was like a divinely inspired
streak. It means he was considered
“naked” for his time—that is, without his outer and inner garments. He would have been wearing nothing but his
loincloth. Most of us would agree-that’s
“naked”! He didn’t do this for shock but
for absolute depression over the state of affairs for his people.
Also associated with
mourning was shaving one’s head, tearing one’s clothing, fasting and throwing
dirt or ashes in one’s hair. In the
vision Micah sees, he beholds the fall of each town and sees the fall of both
the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. It
was the ending of the Davidic dynasty as they knew it.
This reminds us again of
the warning in Scripture in Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set
before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you
and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord
your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life,
and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers,
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Lord’s people in Israel
and Judah chose death and curses and what Micah sees reminds us today: the Lord
does not tolerate sin in the lives of His people. We are called to be so much more than
undercover Christians. When the Lord
allowed the Assyrians (and eventually the Babylonians) to march over the
Promised Land, it was a tragic and dark time; to find oneself on the wrong side
of God’s judgment always is. What choice
will you make? Obedience and blessing or disobedience and curses?