Monday, February 23, 2015

The Book of Micah - Prophet of Promise!

Most prophets declare the coming 'doom and gloom' because of the sin of mankind. And indeed, Micah, an Old Testament Prophet around 735 BC, did have harsh words against sinning and the destruction it would bring. But, surprisingly to me, Micah spends a lot of his time sharing about the coming of Jesus and the promise of good for those who choose God and obey.

Reading Micah

I must say after reading Isaiah and Amos, I was so happy to read Micah. Matter of fact, I spent almost all of last year in Isaiah chewing over it slowly, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. I would say it is a serious book of the Bible because the largest portions of Isaiah teach about the coming punishment/judgement for sin.

I love how the books of the Bible have a personal flare; the author--though each were inspired by the one and same Holy Spirit to write--gives his unique voice, as each other should! Too many authors today try to follow a formula that has been successful in being profitable and this is pushed by the fact that publishers seek authors that follow the formula for recent success. But it is my belief, if a person has to labor too much over voice/style, they are not being genuine and therefore they have failed themselves regardless of the amount of audience or success they achieve.

Micah, like Amos, is called by God to be a prophet out of the countryside. The Bible does not tell us his previous profession before he became a prophet. We simply know that he was obedient to God, and spoke what he heard, and gave his own response, particularly when God asked for one. I do not like to go to outside sources (extra-Biblical books) to discover more about a book I am reading because I don't want to be influenced by another human until I have gleaned all that I can from the Bible itself. So I have nothing more to share with you than what is disclosed within the Book of Micah.

Arise In Micah

Three times in this book I read the word 'arise'. I am sure this stands out for me since this year God gave me the theme of 'rise' for 2015. In Micah 2:10, God says,
"Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy you, even with utter destruction."
In this first time 'arise' is used God has just explained that the cause for His coming judgement is sin.
"Woe to those who devise iniquity and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance." (Micah 2: 1-2)
But quickly after God issues this warning and tells His people to arise, he gives a promise of future restoration:
"I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many men. The one who breaks open will come up before them; They will break out, pass through the gate and go , out by it; their king will pass before them, with the LORD at their head." (Micah 2: 12-13)
All too often we think of the remnant as being such a little group but God says, "they shall make a loud noise because of so many men." Does that not make your heart want to shout, "Glory to God!" Jesus, the LORD, will be at their head leading them. He truly is our good shepherd.

In Micah 2:10, God is warning His people that they have sinned and are living in sin. He calls for them to arise and depart. Through sin they have lost what was given to them and generations prior to them. God gave them the land, but they are to keep it on the condition that they remain obedient and honoring to Him. Is this not a stark warning to the church of America? We cannot pretend to play church and think that God is going to be pleased. He is looking for us to minister to, teach and heal those around us. Too many get cozy in the world as though this world was our resting place, but we need to keep an view of our eternal home always in mind. God is our inheritance - nothing on this world can substitute for Him.

The second 'arise' comes at the end of chapter 4:
"Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves bronze; You shall beat in pieces many peoples; I will consecrate their gain to the Lord, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth." (Micah 4:13) 
This bizarre sounding statement can only be understood by cross-referencing a few Old Testament verses.
Isaiah 41:14-16 - "Fear not, you worm of Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you," says the LORD and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall fresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them; you shall rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel."
 Daniel 2: 44 - And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever."
Isaiah 18:7 - In that time a present will be brought to the LORD of hosts from a people tall and smooth of skin, and from a people terrible from their beginning onward, A nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide--to the place of the name of the LORD of host, to Mount Zion.
Zechariah 4:14 - So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the LORD of the whole earth."  
God is speaking to the Church. This is a messianic verse that shall come in due time when Jesus returns for his second coming. We know this because many of the verses that follow; the whole Chapter 5 that follows is speaking of the Messiah. So this transitional verse ending Chapter 4 eludes to the days to come when the Church, True Believers of Jesus, will arise and by His power thresh her enemies on earth. God will give the ability by turning the horn into iron and hooves into bronze. The Church will only be able to fight because they allow Him to enable them. The enemy of God will be destroyed and all that remains after the threshing will be His church which will be consecrated unto Him as Holy.

It is so hard to remember-- in this world of so much fighting, evil acts, horrible plots of humans against others--that God is LORD and in control. That when the time has come the enemy of God will easily be destroyed by His power. We do not ever need to fear what God's enemy does. We need to continually renew our mind recalling that God is completely sovereign.

The third arise is in Chapter 6:
"Hear now what the LORD says, "Arise, plead your case before the mountains and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, O you mountains, the Lord's complaint, and you strong foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel." (Micah 6:1-2)
In this final arise God almost mockingly tells Micah to plead Israel's case to the mountains and He will plead His against Israel. History tells God's case against Israel and His Church. Over and over again the whole world has seen God rescue and redeem Israel from enemies, bondage and heartache, but they over and over again return to their former ways of rejecting Him and His teachings. And what does God ask of His followers?

Micah 6:8 tells us:
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?
God speaks to us and wants us to answer for ourselves why we chose to sin. He wants us to be accountable and to think about what causes us to sin. He will help us if we ask, but he wants us to reason and identify what in our life is causing us to not do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. He wants us to recognize our guilt, to repent and to be forgiven so that we can be with Him again. How amazing! That after all the sin we commit God still longs for a relationship with us. We would have chucked that kind of person away and never thought about him/her again. But God is unrelenting; His mercy is unending; His love has no limitations.

Unbelievably God pleas with us to draw near to Him. How humbly ashamed we should be that we have been a harlot running after the world but He still want us. We have no excuse, no case to plead. We only have a reason to beg for forgiveness and mercy.

While there is so much more that can be gleaned from Micah, this is the good news I have learned today that I am sharing with you.

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