If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people. — Micah 2:11
A few years ago, I read a story about a politician who had been caught lying. Our local newspaper did a “man in the street” poll to see how people reacted to this news. I will never forget how I felt as I read the reaction of one young man. He said, in so many words, “Yeah, it’s really too bad that he lied. But you can’t really blame the guy. If he had told the truth he’d have gotten into real trouble.”
It did not occur to that young man that the politician’s actions were what got him in trouble; he felt that telling the truth would have caused the man even worse problems. My heart sank when I read his statement. It struck me how our nation as a whole accepts lying as a legitimate course of action.
People often prefer to say what they want to say and hear what they want to hear, even if it is not true. The focus verse points out that the people of Micah’s time were willing to listen to false prophets as long as those prophets said what the people desired to hear. They wanted prophets who did not condemn them in their sins.
How easily, in Micah’s time or today, truth can become a tool to be used, rather than a principle by which we govern our lives. Truth really is the essence of God. Jesus referred to Himself literally as the Truth. If we turn away from Him, we turn away from the truth. Therefore, we need to ask God to help us love the truth, and to make sure that everything we say and do honors the truth.
That is not to say, of course, that we must be crass and disrespectful in the name of being honest. It is possible to be completely honest and still be sensitive and respectful. As we submit ourselves to God and let Him work through us, He will be glorified in our lives, and we will love the truth.
Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. His ministry occurred during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He was a native of Moresheth-gath in Judah, and prophesied there, as indicated by dating his prophecy by Judahite kings.
The prophecy was mainly against the sins of Israel, but Judah was not exempt: “[Israel’s] wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah.” In other words, the sinful culture of Israel was impacting Judah. The sinful trends which started in Israel were spreading south, contaminating Judah like a disease.
There are a number of plays on words in this book, two of which are found in the first chapter. In verse 10, the Lord said, “In the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust”; aphrah is the Hebrew word for dust. In verse 14, He said, “The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel”; achzib is the Hebrew word for lie or deceitful. These plays on words (basically personifications) were not simply a use of literary technique; they showed the extent of Israel’s degradation.
Israel was not a good nation that had merely made some poor decisions. The people did not just find themselves in an uncomfortable place where they occasionally had to cover themselves with dust in penance. The very house itself was “dust.” Every square inch, every nook and cranny of their lives and surroundings were a constant sorrow and humiliation to them. This nation was not one that had merely told some unfortunate lies. Seemingly, the very essence of each household was deceit, to the extent that God gave their houses the name “Lie.”
This pronouncement of judgment is the main theme of the first chapter, even including the prophet’s own hometown of Moresheth-gath. However, the chapter ends with a glimmer of hope of God’s ultimate mercy, the first of many in this short and powerful book. Indeed, God told Judah not to let the Philistines in Gath know about this judgment, lest the enemies of God’s people would rejoice prematurely. The end had not yet come.
While the first chapter mentions the idolatry of Israel, chapter 2 primarily deals with the sins of oppression. The reference to working evil on their beds (verse 1) meant simply that the average person in Israel did not commit wickedness spontaneously, but with cunning and planning that began as soon as they woke each morning. They shopped around for real estate that looked good to them, and then stole it violently from the owners. They cheated widows out of their houses after their husbands died, and even literally took the clothes off the backs of the poor, who, of course, had no voice in a society where the judges were bought with bribes, and judgment was in favor of the highest bidder. The reason given for these crimes was as simple as it was accurate: they did it because they could.
Naturally, because the people were full of lying, theft, and violence, they did not want prophets telling them that true Israelites should not live like this. What they did not realize was that just as they were able to devise evil against one another, God was much more able. In Micah 2:3, God declared that He would bring evil against them.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Introduction (1:1)
II. The message of judgment (1:2 — 2:13)
A. The description of judgment (1:2-7)
1. The summons to judgment (1:2)
2. The coming of the judge (1:3-4)
3. The reason for judgment (1:5)
4. The destruction by judgment (1:6-7)
B. The lamentation over judgment (1:8-16)
1. The lament of the prophet (1:8)
2. The destruction of the cities (1:9-15)
3. The exhortation to mourn (1:16)
C. The causes of judgment (2:1-11)
1. The exploitation of the poor (2:1-5)
a. The covetousness described (2:1-2)
b. The covetousness judged (2:3-5)
2. The repudiation of God’s prophet (2:6-11)
a. The prophet’s message rejected (2:6)
b. The reason for the rejection (2:7-9)
c. The result of the rejection (2:10)
d. The kind of prophets desired (2:11)
D. The encouragement in judgment (2:12-13)
1. The regathering of Israel (2:12)
2. The leader of Israel (2:13)
We need to be certain today that our hearts are sensitive to God’s truth. It is vital to heed His words and the words of His messengers, even if it seems painful. His truth will bring us to eternal life.