In Micah 1:1 we see a similar phrase describing Micah’s experience as we did with Habakkuk. In Habakkuk, it states that we are reading the “burden” that he “saw”, or as the Berean Version states, “This is the burden that Habakkuk the prophet received in a vision.” In Micah 1:1 it states “The word of the LORD that came to Micah …. which he saw …” These statements can either mean that during the course of hearing the words, the Lord also gave the prophet visions of the events, or that the words that the Lord spoke were so descriptive that the prophet was able to picture them in his imagination as the Lord spoke. Verse 8 “For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.” We’ll look at this verse later, but it sounds as if the prophet is so moved by what the Lord is saying or showing him that it causes him to have an emotional response to the force and realism of the words. Oh that the so-called prophets in our day received the word of the Lord with such clarity, but that seldom seems to be the case.
Micah 1:2 “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.” The word that Micah is prophesying is to be heard by all of the people and the creation itself. It is a sure word from God that affects the entire creation. It is a royal decree that God is speaking from His throne in heaven. Micah is emphasizing that the word he is speaking is not the word of man, but the word of God. He is speaking as God’s spokesperson and the words should be acknowledged as coming from the ambassador of the Lord. Very often in prophetic speech, the use of the concept of all creation listening indicates that the word is meant for all generations. The word and God’s following actions are to be observed and noted and are to become an object lesson to all following generations. Thus, the following judgment upon Israel, due to their idolatry and also their trust in other human alliances for deliverance, is to be a lesson for God’s people throughout history, that God does not tolerate trust in idols or any other trust in human strength or wisdom. And, these things that men choose to rely on, will actually accelerate the Lord taking action to correct or discipline His people.
The next verse raises the stakes of the word spoken. God is not just communicating through the prophet, but He has decided to leave His throne and come down to earth to emphasize the seriousness of the circumstance. In olden times, when a king decided to go to the place where his decree was addressed, it was a serious situation. The Lord here is sending His message before Him, through the prophet, but almost on the heels of the messenger, the Lord Himself follows with action.
The result is not good. Any time that the Lord God, the creator of the universe visits the creation it is disruptive. Verses 3 and 4 describe the result of God stepping into creation to carry out His own word. It is much different than sending a prophet or even an angel. When God Himself steps out of heaven to fulfill His word of judgment, it cannot help but cause a shaking.
Often, we are deeply moved by the presence of the Lord in our meetings or his decreed will from heaven piercing into our lives or circumstances, but none of us have yet to experience the God of heaven stepping into creation. Verse 4 describes a volcanic explosion on multiple mountains as the Lord steps from mountain top to mountain top striding toward Israel. Some have said and perhaps it’s true, that this describes His second coming, but for Micah, he is describing just how earth-shaking the judgment of God would be on Israel and later on Judah in his day. The mountains melt like wax and flow like rivers.
It might be a description of the second coming, but knowing that Micah, for sure, was describing what was about to happen in Israel in their day, makes me think that the coming of the Lord at the end of time will be much worse. When I think about the result of the angelic actions described in Revelation concerning the seals, vials, and trumpets, it makes me consider that the coming of the Lord himself will be even more disruptive to our current natural order. Paul speaks of a fire that will consume, II Thessalonians 1:6-10, in the Berean Version, “After all, it is only right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are oppressed and to us as well. This will take place when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in a blazing fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the penalty of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might, on the day He comes to be glorified in His saints and regarded with wonder by all who have believed, including you who have believed our testimony.” Peter also says in II Peter 3:10-13 in the Berean Version “But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to conduct yourselves in holiness and godliness as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” In our introduction we quoted from I Peter about the principle that judgment begins with God’s people, I Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” The answer to the question that Peter asks is answered by the 2 previous scriptures. Their end will be devastating. When the scriptures speak in such graphic terms, I think it is important for us to truly pay attention.
Then in Micah 1:5, the prophet gives the reason for this extreme punishment from the Lord. You might think it’s because of the sins of all the ungodly people surrounding Israel or maybe it’s because God desires to cause His people to repent due to His harsh warning as if He doesn’t really intend to do what He says. After all, most of us experienced empty threats from our parents. “I’m going to count to 3 and you better stop before I get to 3, one… two…. I mean it! I’m going to say 3 and you better stop!” It never works. When God speaks, He truly means every word.
So why was God determined to punish His people? Micah 1:5 “All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?” It was not the sins of the world that moved God to angry judgment, it was the sins of His people. And God, anticipating their question, “Why what did we do?” answers them. By the way, this is a common method of God, anticipating our arguments. Malachi 1:6-8 is a good example of this method, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.”
So, what did Israel do and what did Judah do? God’s response to the anticipated question is interesting. He responds by naming their capital cities. Why? Samaria had been, from its inception, the seat of idolatry in Israel. It was the place of calf worship, which was the worst of all sins because when Israel came out of Egypt, they chose a calf as their idol. The sin of Samaria was found in their first king, Jeroboam. I’m not going to include the whole passage because it is too long but I would encourage you to read I Kings 14. There are also numerous passages in I Kings that speak to the inevitable judgment of God upon Israel because of idolatry and most often it includes warnings that Israel, because of its idolatry is causing a temptation to come to Judah that will lead to their corruption. I Kings 14:7-9 “Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back”. Also, verse 16 “And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel sin.” This sin of idolatry lasted for many generations and God warned them time and again, but Micah is saying that it is time and now there is no remedy. This was not an attempt by God to get Israel to repent. Amos and Hosea were prophesying in Israel at the same time, and they were saying the same thing. The amazing cry of Amos is Amos 4:12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Hosea is famous for being the illustration of Israel’s sin. Poor Hosea had to exemplify to Israel her sin, Hosea 1:2 “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” As the story progresses, not only must he marry a prostitute in order to illustrate Israel’s sin, but he names his children with names that speak to the unfaithfulness of Israel and when his prostitute wife goes back out into the street, God says go get her back. Over and over God reaches out in mercy to Israel through the words of the prophet, but in the end Hosea prophecies “Samaria shall bear her guilt because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword; their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.” Hosea 13:16. Isaiah also prophesied in Judah concerning Samaria and declaring its utter destruction. In Isaiah 7:8 Isaiah even says that it will happen within 65 years. They along with Micah are saying that Israel because of the sins of Samaria is doomed.