Summary: This sermon shows how Micah revealed what God is like and what He wants from us.
The Punster & His Probing
Text: Micah 1:10-16
Introduction: The prophet Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. No doubt he and Isaiah from time to time fellowshipped with each other and discussed the future of Jerusalem & Judah. No doubt these heart-to-heart lead brought these men to shared conclusions about what God as doing in the land and where the people were going wrong, so though Micah is much shorter than Isaiah the two books share a similar style. Sometimes, in fact, this book is called "Isaiah in miniature" because it is a much briefer presentation of essentially the same message as the prophecy of Isaiah.
The name Micah means, "Who is like God?" The theme of this book is God-likeness or, as we would say, godliness.
The book is divided into three parts. The first three chapters describe the failure of the nation. We get this theme in many of the prophets, but here in this book we have the picture of the lack of godliness. Then in chapters four and five that is a vision of the future which includes a prophecy predicting the birthplace of Christ as well as His millennial reign. The key thought is “Present judgment, but future blessing”. How many times have we stated in this series that almost every time God speaks through the prophets to His people of coming judgment he always tempers the message with the hope of salvation and restoration? Micah is no different in that regard. The last three chapters give us the pleading of God to the nation.
In the first chapter we see God striding forth in judgment against this nation of Judah, because of their utter failure to be godly. You know if the pulpits of our churches today would lay more stock in godliness than in personal success and happiness, we would be in a much healthier state spiritually today that we are at present. Where is the godliness? That was Micah’s cry.
Now, this book doesn’t give away too much about Micah’s background, but it does reveal to us something of his character. You see Micah is the punster of the Old Testament. He likes to play on words.
We all know that a pun is a play on words that relies on a word having more than one meaning or sounding like another word. For example:
A pessimist’s blood type is always b-negative.
I used to work in a blanket factory, but it folded.
Corduroy pillows are making headlines.
When you dream in colour, it’s a pigment of your imagination.
The Bible, particularly the prophets, is filled with puns but unfortunately for us we often miss them, because naturally these puns work best in Hebrew and are lost in translation, but if you could read the Hebrew, you would find that there is pun upon pun. Our opening text is laden with puns from the pen of Micah
For example, we come to verse 10 and it reads, “Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all.”
Gath means "weep" and the prophet plays on that name. And in this manner, all the way through, he plays on the names of cities and then ties the judgment of God in with them. Here is how it would read:
"In Weep Town, weep not; in Dust Town, roll yourself in the dust." "In Beauty Town, beauty will be shamed." [That is the meaning of Saphir -- beauty.] "In Zaanan [which means march] they’ll march not forth. In Neighbour Town they will end up with a useless neighbour. In Bitter Town they will grieve bitterly. In Lachish, the “one horse town” bind the chariot to that horse. In Achzib (meaning a lie) the houses shall lie to the king of Israel”
Right throughout, it’s a play on words. Of course the humour of the language is lost on us, but by means of these sarcastic jibes Micah was proclaiming the undoing of Judah.
So what is Micah about ith all these puns? Well perhaps by looking at the best pun of all, his name, we find that Micah wanted to convey to us what God is like. But not only that, this is a book that probes the consciences of its readers with many searching questions, and by these questions Micah wants us to realise just what it is that God wants from us. And this he does in two very simple verses.
I. What God Is Like – Micah 7:18-19
A. Verse 18 is both a pun and a probe.
1. It’s a play on Micah’s name.
2. Remember his name means, “Who is like God”, and some have suggested that this is a nickname.
3. That it was an abbreviation of the name Micaiah, and that because Micah was ever asking everyone he met “Who is like God”, he became known as Micah, a shortened version of his name which playfully mocked his mission.