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Micah 2: The Difficult Ministry of a Prophet Print E-mail
Micah
Sunday, 26 November 2006

There is a real call to faithfulness in the life of a believer.  We are called to continually persevere as we pursue our relationship with Christ.  As we look through the text, we see that God’s people are called to faithfulness.  As we saw in the book of 1 Timothy, continual faithfulness is one of the expectations placed on the Church.

Yet, the obvious question is how in the world can we persevere?  In a culture that is growing more and more hostile to the gospel, what hope do we have in faithfulness?  As we talked about last week, when even the Church seems to be caving in morally and doctrinally despite its outward appearance, is speaking of faithfulness just foolish optimism?

We see an answer to these questions in our text this morning.  Micah is ministering during a time of great prosperity in Judah.  Yet, as we spoke of last week, Micah is writing to pronounce judgment upon their continued disobedience to God and His covenant.  As we look for hope in difficult days, we can learn much from looking at the ministry of Micah.  I want to identify three components of his ministry from our text this morning.

First, the message of the prophet (v. 1-5).

To this point in the book Micah has been somewhat general about Judah’s sins.  Yet, in the first couple of verses in chapter 2, Micah gets very pointed in his accusations.  Look at those verses with me.  The wicked of Judah have devised wicked plans and carried them out.  What are these plans?  They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; the oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  It appears that the rich and powerful leaders in Judah were taking advantage of many of the landowners.  To us, this might not seem so terrible, but in an agrarian society, a person’s land is their livelihood.  To seize a farmers land is to cripple him.  Even though God had given them clear instructions for allotting the land, Judah’s leaders were ignoring these commands and forcing families to give up what was rightfully theirs.

Yet, Micah’s message is not over.  He moves in verses 3-5 to speak of God’s judgment for Judah’s sin.  Look at those verses with me.  Notice the play on words that Micah uses.  The leaders of Judah devise wickedness against the people.  Yet, the Lord is devising disaster against these leaders.  He is planning a just judgment for their sin.  Just as these leaders have stolen the land from its rightful owners, so the Lord says that enemies will come to take the land from these leaders and they will lose their portion.  As we saw in chapter 1, the punishment will fit the crime.  Ultimately, this judgment is carried out by the Babylonians in 586 b.c.

Micah is not afraid to call the people’s sin ‘sin.’  In the same way, we must be willing to call sin ‘sin.’  This is a difficult task in ministry.  We have a tendency to make two errors in this task.  We either condemn people too harshly or let them off too easy.  We either look down upon them or tell them to stop looking down upon themselves.  Either way, we are not being faithful to the biblical teaching on sin and judgment.  We must be honest with people and tell them that they have rebelled against a holy God.  We must tell them that God will judge their sins justly.  Yet, we must also tell them the good news that in Christ God has judged the sins of all who repent and believe in Him.  Men need to know that they are sinners.  Many are completely unaware and we need to tell them the truth.  They also need to know that Jesus came to save sinners.  The sin problem has been dealt with at the cross.  Thus, they need to repent and believe.  The message of sin and judgment can be a hard message, but it is the message that we need to hear and be faithful to proclaim.

Second, the complaint against and the response of the prophet (v. 6-11).

As usual, the message of sin and judgment is not received well in Judah.  Look at verses 6 and 11.  In verse 6, Micah tells us that the leaders did not want such a negative message.  They did not want to hear of judgment and disgrace.  Rather, as he says in verse 11, they want to hear messages of prosperity.  They want to hear about wine and strong drink, about joy and leisure, about health and wealth.  They do not want to hear from the true prophets of the Lord.  As the text from Timothy says, they wanted their ears to be tickled.

So, how does Micah respond to such a complaint?  Look at verse 7.  Micah tells them that if they are not guilty, then they should have no problem with his message.  His words do good to him who walks uprightly.  Thus, Micah is telling them that their complaint simply reveals their guilt.  They complain because deep down they know it is true.  People do not like to be told they are sinners precisely because they are sinners.  Their complaint against such stern warnings reveals the very guilt they are trying to deny.  Micah goes on in verses 8-10 to speak more of Judah’s sins.  Look at those verses with me.  The men are stripped of their robe, the women are driven out of their houses, and the children are robbed of their inheritance.  Such sin has caused the whole land to be unclean.  Thus, even though the leaders complain, Micah is not willing to back down from his message.  He will continue to proclaim the Word of the Lord to them faithfully.  This is his response to their complaint.

Like Micah, we cannot compromise the message simply because people do not like it and complain.  Their complaint reveals their need.  People do not want to be told that they have rebelled against God and are storing up wrath, but they need it.  The world is alright with a ‘gospel’ that tells them that God is love so do not worry or one that says you are not that bad, you just need some self-help.  The world is not hostile to a ‘gospel’ that has been robbed of the offense.  They are fine with health and wealth.  Who doesn’t want their ‘best life now?’  Of course, at the end of the day, none of this is the true gospel.  The true gospel begins with a Holy God and sinful man.  It speaks clearly of the just judgment that we deserve.  It holds out the work of Christ as the only hope for salvation and calls men to repent of their sins and believe in Him.  The true gospel is the unpopular message that we cannot abandon.  It will never be popular, but it will always remain the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).  Thus we cannot waver, we cannot abandon the true gospel even in the face of the fiercest complaints.

Third, the hope of the prophet (v. 12-13).

Again, we have seen the call to faithfulness by looking at the difficult ministry of Micah.  But the question still remains: how are we to remain faithful and what hope is there that our faithfulness will really matter in the end?  Micah answers these in the last two verses of chapter two.  Look at those with me.  When I first read verse 12 this week, I thought that the ‘I’ referred to Micah.  I thought that he was writing of his own resolve to fight for the people of Israel.  Yet, as I studied more and looked at commentaries, it became clear to me that the ‘I’ is actually referring to the Lord.  It is the Lord who will gather His people.  It is the Lord who will shepherd them.  It is the Lord who will protect them behind the breach and who will lead them out victoriously over their enemies (a possible reference to the Sennacherib crisis and God’s work of delivering Judah). 

Thus, Micah’s hope is not primarily in his own resolve or even his own faithfulness.  Rather, his hope is in the Lord and what He has promised to do for His people.  Micah has a difficult message to deliver to an obstinate people.  They think everything is fine and he is the one telling them of the coming judgment.  Yet, he has great hope in the promises of God.  When the Lord says, ‘I will…’ Micah believes.  Even though he sees it from afar, he knows that God will deliver his people by sending a Redeemer (see 5:1-4).  Micah is faithful to his message and his ministry because he knows that the Lord is faithful to His promises and faithful to His servants.  He trusts that God will see him through.

This passage reminds me of the doxology at the end of Jude.  Look at verses 24-25.  The letter of Jude calls us to be faithful in contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3).  Jude calls his readers to hold to the true gospel even in the face of false teachers.  What hope does he give his readers for this difficult task?  How do they know that faithfulness is the appropriate response?  Their hope is in the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. 

Brothers and sisters, our great hope and motivation for faithfulness in ministry is not in ourselves and our own abilities.  Our hope is not in our preaching styles or our logical arguments or our innovative use of the latest technology.  Our hope is not in our numbers or our big buildings or our perfect laid plans.  No, the only rightful place for our hope is in God.  Our only hope is that He will be faithful to His promises (which He will), that Christ will return to get His Bride (which He will), that the Spirit will preserve the Church until that Day (which He will).  Like Micah, we have a difficult message for an obstinate people.  We have the charge to call dead men back to life, a task which is totally beyond us.  We have to face a complaining, grumbling, persecuting world (and Church at times) and preach to them an offensive gospel.  How can we be faithful to such a task?  Where is our hope in such overwhelming circumstances?  With Micah, our hope is God.  He will convict.  He will save.  He will deliver.  He will redeem.  He will preserve.  He will keep.  May we look to our God who is able as we labor to be faithful to the message of Christ crucified.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 03 December 2006 )

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