The Gospel According to Micah

The Gospel According to Micah

The Gospel According to Micah.

The prophetic ministries of Micah and Isaiah occurred at the same time, and it appears that some of their prophecies even overlapped. Micah was a prophet to both Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Both nations had totally lost their moral compass and spiritual vision, and so Micah spoke words of judgment from the Lord as a result. God wasn’t being picky. Look at the national sins that had corrupted their society: fraud, theft, greed, sexual debauchery, oppression of the poor, hypocrisy in worship, heretical beliefs, injustice for the downtrodden, murder and idolatry, all of which were specifically mentioned by Micah. Micah succeeded in laying out a clear vision of what God expected from His chosen people, and he highlighted how far they had sunk in their depravity and corruption. But there is a silver lining in Micah, and underlying promises of restoration for those who repent and return to God. Micah combined judgment and hope, especially at the close of his book with a psalm of hopefulness based on the character of their God.

1:3 – “Look, Yahweh is leaving His home, down He comes.” We don’t know if Micah is prophesying about the First Coming or the Second Coming, but we do know he is referring to the time of the Messiah’s visitation. It could be a brief picture of the Incarnation, when Jesus, the Son of God, emptied Himself of the glory He enjoyed in heaven and came down to earth. Jesus willingly left His heavenly home to take on earthly flesh. The All-Powerful Messiah humbled Himself to the extent of sacrificing Himself for the sins of the world. He did indeed leave His home, and He did come down, just as Micah anticipated.

3:8 – “As for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and courage, with a sense of right and with energy, to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion.” As followers of Jesus Christ and anointed with His Spirit for service to Him, we can say much the same as Micah here. And we certainly need an energetic courage to be used as a prophet in our culture as effectively as Micah was in his world with Israel and Judah.

4:2 – “Come, we will go up to Yahweh’s mountain, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, so that He may teach us His ways and we may walk in His path. For the Lord issues from Zion and Yahweh’s Word from Jerusalem.” Yes, we can see the disciples of Jesus telling each other to follow Him as He teaches and performs acts of healing. The Word did issue from Jerusalem, and Christ’s teaching attracted mobs of believers in and around Jerusalem. His teaching resulted in many people being shown the ways of the Lord. Jesus revealed Yahweh’s path as Micah had predicted.

4:6-7 – “That day – declares Yahweh – I shall gather in the lame and bring together the strays and those whom I have treated harshly. From the footsore I shall make a remnant, and from the far-flung a mighty nation. And Yahweh will reign over them on Mount Zion thenceforth and forever.” This clear depiction of a good shepherd invites pictures of the ministry of Jesus. He gathered all those who were afflicted, physically and spiritually, and His impact went around the world. All the believers in the Messiah Jesus will result in a mighty Kingdom, both now in the Church and forever in heaven.

4:8 – “And you, O Tower of the Flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come. Even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Zion.” The Tower of the Flock in this passage refers to a very particular tower, a two-storied tower built in the Shepherd’s Field near Bethlehem, about two miles from Jerusalem. “The Flock” was the known as the Temple Flock in this specific field, where the sacrificial lambs were born and prepared for their destiny in the Temple. This tower was called Migdad Eder, and was where the lambs with no defect or blemish, and no broken bones, were protected. The shepherds caring for these lambs were no ordinary shepherds, they were actually shepherd-priests, trained for this important role in the sacrificial system. They routinely wrapped up the unblemished lambs in swaddling linens, made from old priestly undergarments. These special lambs were then laid in a manger inside the tower to protect them from jostling, injury, bruising. Micah’s prophecy about the Tower of the Flock refers directly to the Messiah being born near that Tower, swaddled in cloths, laid in a manger. Jesus the Messiah was the Lamb of God without blemish or defect, born to be a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. The Shepherd’s Field surrounding the Tower was the very place where the angels announced the birth of Christ. Our High Priest wore, for His very first clothing, the holy linens of Temple priests. In this prophecy, Micah looks forward to the coming Messiah, the sacrificial lamb.

5:1-4 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labor gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites. He will take his stand and He will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of His God, and they will be secure, for His greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country. He Himself will be peace!” This prophecy was well known before the time of Jesus’ birth. Even Herod’s counselors knew of it and quoted it to Herod when he made the inquiry about this new king about to appear (Matt. 2:6). Bethlehem was the city of David, and so it was important that the Messiah, in David’s line, would be born there also. We even see shades of Mary the mother of Jesus who in labor gives birth. The Messiah will indeed shepherd His people with the power of Yahweh, and He will be the Prince of Peace.

6:8 – “You have already been told what is right, and what Yahweh expects of you. Only this, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” This is the North Star of a believer’s lifestyle, the golden nugget in the Hebrew Bible of what constitutes a godly life. To live a life of justice, to embrace the ethic of showing lovingkindness to others, and to follow God daily with obedience, humility and gratitude. This is the holy behavior expected by our holy God. That is the life that reflects the character of the Lord.

7:6 – “For son insults father, daughter rebels against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law, a person’s enemies come from within the household itself.” This passage is in the midst of Yahweh’s complaint against his people. Morality had sunk so low that the basic unit of society had broken down. This was the extent of the sin pervading the Israelites. When Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 10:35, He extended its meaning to include the dissension in a home that inevitably occurs in a sinful world in which Jesus makes His demands of holiness. In this way, Jesus unintentionally brings division to a household. Some will follow Him, and some will not, even within the same home.

7:18-20 – “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of His special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again, you will have compassion on us… You will show us your faithfulness and mercy as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.”  Micah closes his book of prophecies with this beautiful psalm of hope and praise, words that highlight God’s character. He practically quotes the very words of Exodus 34:5-7, the centerpiece of the Judeo-Christian faith. In this scene in Exodus, Yahweh appears before Moses and told him the meaning of his Name: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish mercy to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin.” Micah spoke many words of judgment in his ministry, but he wanted to close with a hopeful and triumphant acknowledgment of God’s grace.

7:18 – “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea… Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean.”  There is an important Jewish custom during their New Year, Rosh Hashanah. This verse in Micah is the source passage in their ceremony called Tashlich, which means “to cast away.” The ceremony means just as much to Christian believers, and is intended for the whole family. It could be done at the end of the year or beginning of the new year. This meaningful ritual can be outlined this way:

(1.) Gather together and pray Micah 7:18-20. This passage sets the stage for the whole ceremony;

(2.) Using flashlights, take a family walk at night to a source of “living water,” such as a stream, a creek, a river, or an ocean if nearby. It is most helpful if you can’t see the bottom;

(3.) During the walk, each person picks up and collects little stones and puts them in his/her pocket. Each stone will represent a mistake made, or a weak moment when a wrong was done;

(4.) If stones are not available, bring along some little things that are sinkable for each person for the ceremony at the water;

(5.) At the water, empty the pockets of stones or other items, and cast all of it into the water, one at a time, symbolizing the wrong things one did that needs to be forgiven by God. This is all done silently;

(6.) Notice the stones disappearing into the water, never to surface again. God has forgiven each mistake and will forget it ever happened if there is heart-felt repentance. The sin disappears, just like the stone, never to be thought of again;

(7.) Each family member should privately try to think of a particular wrong during each stone throw, if possible, so that the casting off is effective in getting rid of any guilt feelings. This is intended to be helpful in healing, and restoring, and maybe even forgiving one’s self;

(8.) Once again, at the waterside, recite Micah 7:18-20 together;

(9.) Maybe the parents and kids could sing together on the walk home, something like:

Gonna lay down my burden, Down by the riverside, Down by the riverside, Down by the riverside;

Gonna throw all my sins away, Down by the riverside…;

Gonna know I’m forgiven, Down by the riverside…