Summary: A big idea expository message from Micah 1
INTRODUCTION: In the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” Kevin McCarthy's character yells to passersby: “They’re coming! They’re here already! You’re next!” The effect is unsettling and disturbing, yet the other characters in the film go on about their business more or less as if nothing had happened. But this strange character was telling the truth, trying to warn them, and it was a warning they needed to heed and act on before it became too late for them.
I imagine this was how many people reacted to God’s prophets back in the days of Israel and Judah. A prophet would proclaim a warning of God’s judgment, and many people would shrug and think “what a strange character,” and go back to doing business as usual. But for those who had ears to hear, who would listen and respond in faith, they would find hope and deliverance.
One such prophet was Micah, who like his contemporaries Isaiah and Amos, prophesied during the eighth century BC, a time when Israel and Judah had risen to heights of economic affluence but fallen to depths of spiritual decadence. It was a time of great economic prosperity, fostered for a time by the absence of international crises and by the mutual cooperation of both kingdoms. But while Israel and Judah appeared to be strong externally, an internal decay was sapping their strength and threatening to destroy the social fabric of these two kingdoms. Call it the “Invasion of the Spirit Snatchers”:
• A burgeoning wealthy class was becoming richer at the expense of the poorer classes. The prophets saw this as a violation of God’s covenants with His people, and thus a hindrance to God’s blessing and a factor in the dissolution of the nation.
• But the internal sickness of Israel involved more than social wrongs. Canaanite religion—Baal worship—had also extended its influence among some of the people.
At the same time Israel was being torn by internal strife & dissension, and polluted by Baal worship, the nation of Assyria was rising to occupy a threatening posture on the national scene. Let’s listen to the message Micah had for God’s people during this time of deceptive prosperity: [READ MICAH 1:1-7]
After a superscription that identifies the source, time period, and topic of the book (1), Micah focuses on the sins of Jerusalem, which will lead to its destruction. These messages come from the early ministry of Micah before the time of Hezekiah. The common theme uniting the section is that Judah’s sin will cause God to destroy Jerusalem. Why? Because …
GOD'S JUSTICE REQUIRES GOD'S JUDGMENT (1-7)
Micah’s introduction deals with God’s coming to earth to establish justice through His judgment. The opening statement of his prophecy consists of a summons to the nations to attend to the cosmic judgment scene so vividly described by the prophet in the subsequent verses. In this anthropomorphic representation, Micah pictured God as coming from His dwelling place to witness against the nations. This witness was brought about in the cataclysmic destruction of the capital cities of Samaria (6) and Jerusalem (5). While Micah’s message was applicable to all the inhabitants of these kingdoms, he singled Samaria and Jerusalem because the leaders of these centers of influence were largely responsible for the social ills of that time (5-7). He singled out Jerusalem in particular, not only because of the corruption of its leaders, but also because of its future glory—a central motif in the prophetic theology of hope. Micah predicts the total destruction of the northern nation of Israel. The stones of her city walls and houses will be removed down to their foundations (6), and her idols will be destroyed (7). The land will then revert back to its original use of being a vineyard, a fate that began to be fulfilled when the city was destroyed a few years later (721BC). And in fact Samaria remains a ruin to this day. God’s justice requires judgment.
God’s judgment of His own people was to be a witness against the nations. It is a guarantee that they will ultimately be judged for their sin; for if God does not fail to judge His own, He will certainly judge those who do not belong to Him (2). The burning timbers and ruined houses of Samaria and Jerusalem would be an eloquent sermon to the people of the world. From this destruction they were to learn that God does not allow sin to go unpunished—even in the case of His own people. Just as the Lord waited for the iniquity of the Amorites to become full before handing them over to Joshua’s sword and driving them off the land, so also the Lord waited for Israel’s sin to ripen and rot before handing the nation over to the Assyrian army that stormed through the land during the second half of the eighth century, casting one city after another into exile.