The saints are those who truly speak for God
False and true spokesmen for God contrasted.
5 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 those who put nothing into their mouths.
- Religious leaders and godly leadership are not the same thing. These prophets are false because they lead the people astray contrary to sound doctrine. The test Micah’s hearers would have been familiar with is summarised in Deuteronomy 13:1–5 in which this is a key sentence: “The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you loved him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Then, as now, many in church rely on opinions without necessarily knowing and loving God and listening to Him.
- The test for those who have spent time in God’s presence is usually the humility that results from that experience.
6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without revelation.
The sun shall go down upon the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;
7 the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;
they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.
- Micah uses the “But as for me…” saying to good effect. He is not exalting himself – his task is an unenvious one. He is drawing a sharp contrast highlighting the source of what is said e.g. “without revelation (v.6), “there is no answer from God” v.7 with what he explains next.
8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.
- The Holy Spirit gives Micah a completely different perspective to the court prophets of his time (roughly the same time period as Isaiah and King Hezekiah).
9 Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob
and chiefs of the house of Israel,
who abhor justice
and pervert all equity,
10 who build Zion with blood
and Jerusalem with wrong!
11 Its rulers give judgement for a bribe,
its priests teach for a price,
its prophets give oracles for money;
- The religious advisers at the royal court may have echoes for us with the early days of the House of Lords, and the early bishops who were also powerful lords in their own right. There was pressure to give a sense of spiritual affirmation to the official line. It was a secure and rewarded place of influence. It took a courageous man to speak out and speak for God.
- Thomas Cantilupe was a Bishop of Hereford in the 1200s who resisted political pressures and his fellow bishops and was approachable by ordinary people at a time when this was frowned on. He was shunned and excommunicated, the only saint to be canonised (40 years after his death) while still officially banned.
…yet they lean upon the Lord and say,
‘Surely the Lord is with us!
No harm shall come upon us.’
- But God is not one to be mocked. We read in the New Testament:
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:3, 7)
12 Therefore because of you
Zion shall be ploughed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
and the mountain of the House a wooded height.
- “Mountain of the House” is a metaphor for the Temple on Temple Mount.
- The ‘mocking’ or blatant disregard of what God was saying and showing did lead to the eventual ruination of Jerusalem although at the time, there is evidence that King Hezekiah took notice, as seen in Jeremiah quoting this verse and commenting a century later (Jeremiah 26:18-19) near the (586 BC) when Jerusalem was destroyed. Jesus later gave a similar warning (Matthew 23-24) some of which we will read later.
- The temple ruined and overgrown was a picture of the visible symbol of worship dramatically removed.
Applying it: Imitate the saints – who spoke for God as those who really knew Him
Nobody really knows who Micah was — the Bible doesn’t say, there is no mini-genealogy provided. So he was a bit of an outsider, like many true saints before and after, who loved God, listened to Him and spoke for Him at some cost to themselves. Jesus did have a long list of antecedents but He was born aa a nobody in unfashionable Galilee. Out of all the rabbis of His time, who was speaking God’s truth?
We like to follow the crowd, to go with what everybody is saying – even if we sense God speaking in a different way. It is hard to be that different voice, to stand up for truth. But in a world of very mixed up values, that is our call as Christians.
Are we content as we are, not prompted to change?
Or will we step up to be “But as for me” people who hear the still, quiet, loving voice of the Holy Spirit, and dare to be different?