Micah 2:1-3 “Woe to those who devise iniquity and plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light, they accomplish it because the power is in their hands. They covet fields and seize them; they take away houses. They deprive a man of his home and a fellow man of his inheritance. Therefore this is what the LORD says: “I am planning against this nation a disaster from which you cannot free your necks. Then you will not walk so proudly, for it will be a time of calamity.”
Two totally opposing plans. One is purposed by a selfish heart, the other the very intention of God. Your plans versus His plans. Throughout Proverbs, there is a contrast between the evil imaginations of man’s heart and the purest and holiest heart of God. I’ve often wondered about Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” In many ways, it seems like such an innocent statement. It’s as if a man does the best he can, to choose the right way, but he simply misses it, and the next thing he knows it ends in his destruction. Is that really what this proverb intends to say? Is it meant to paralyze our decision-making and to cause us to be in terror of choosing wrong even when we deeply desire the right path? The scriptures don’t seem to ever indicate that God is sitting in heaven just waiting for us to take one misstep before crushing us under His foot. In fact, in many scriptures we see just the opposite, we see the Lord intervening when a man makes choices out to the integrity of his heart. In fact, in Proverbs, and in Psalms we see David admitting that he is given to wrong decisions, but appealing to the Lord to judge him by the integrity of his heart. I rather think, that in the context of the Proverbs, there is always a contrast between “the ways of man” and the ways of God.
I think the issue within the church in our day is more the concept of straying. Having begun well, but at some point, we may have drifted from our course, until the reality of our selfish motivation is hidden from our own eyes. I am concerned that in this very issue, we have slipped away, and that the Western church has no idea how far we are from the original purity of heart that moved us to begin this wonderful journey. I don’t believe that we are intentionally following a devised plan of evil, but I do believe that in our zeal we have forsaken the well of living water. Paul deals with this issue regarding Israel in Romans 10:2-3 “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” Paul is saying that there is a measure of true sincerity, but they lack understanding of the most important issue, the righteousness of God. Because they don’t understand that the righteousness of God is given because of faith, not works. It is given because we fully accept the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins without regard to our own works. But because they didn’t accept God’s acceptance by faith, they set about to establish their own righteousness. In other words, they decided to prove to God and to their own conscience that they were worthy of God. We have too often contrived what we think will bring glory to His name and far too often it comes under the banner of bringing glory to our own name. Our value system is measured by the glory of a man with so little consideration of the eternal weight of glory. I am righteous only because I believe that His sacrifice is enough. Because of that faith, I am freed from the slavery to sin and self and I can act from that freedom in righteous ways. I don’t do righteousness in order to be righteous, I do right because He has made me righteous. I can be righteous because I am righteous.
One of the primary issues that Micah presents as sin has to do with the concept of takeovers. The sin of coveting is one of the big ones in scripture (see Exodus 20:17). I want what he has and I will do what it takes to get it. Micah even pictures individuals laying in bed at night planning and scheming how to make it happen. He says that in the morning they set out to accomplish their plans. In Micah’s day, this meant getting to the courthouse as soon as it opens so that I can take another man’s home and property.
In our day it means that I will get it as soon as I possibly can. We live today in a society where covetousness drives the marketplace. Commercials are intended to make you desire and to point out that others are already enjoying their products. The intention is for you to want to have what everyone else has. We also live in a time where corporations are swallowing up corporations and there are no boundaries. The bigger the better and it’s easiest to become bigger by takeover rather than plodding growth. Get it and get it faster. We even have books and strategies and excuses for churches to swallow up other churches. We do things better than you so you should give yourself to us. I recently read a book giving strategies for large churches offering pastors of smaller churches a bigger salary if they would turn their church over to the larger church. After all, they’re not growing as fast as us so we must be more anointed and blessed and you can join the blessing.
We justify our greed and we covet what others have. It’s the spirit of the age and it’s the spirit of the Western mindset and it’s pervasive in the Western church. We have corrupted ourselves in the name of glory. Micah 2:11 sums up the situation when he says, “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!”. What is Micah prophesying in this verse? The concept of wine and strong drink in scripture signifies the idea of self-indulgence. We love to hear sermons that make allowances for our present sinful life. I’m ok, you’re ok. He loves you just like you are and He is not bothered by your habits of sin. You are still blessed so it ok.
II Timothy 4:1-4 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Paul makes reference to the day of judgment because the issue is serious. In context, Paul is charging Timothy to preach using reproof, rebuke, and exhortation in light of the reality that the people of God at some point will no longer value truth but rather will love myth and will choose to, as one version reads, heap to themselves, false teachers. And this was before the invention of the Internet!!! Micah 2:6 reinforces the attitude of the day, in the Berean Study Bible version it says this, “Do not preach,” they preach. “Do not preach these things; disgrace will not overtake us.” The people are refusing the words of the true prophets and demanding that they stop preaching and declare brazenly, that they will not allow anything to bring “condemnation” to their hearts. Today, I find that most Christians do not know the difference between condemnation and conviction. Often, condemnation develops because we refuse the conviction of the Lord and we resist repentance. Many Christians today refuse the doctrine of repentance because, to them, it infers condemnation. This is the current biggest issue in our society and it is prevalent in the church.
In the last 2 verses of Micah’s chapter 2, Micah changes his focus from the sinful to the lovingkindness of God. He ends the chapter with a promise to those who are faithful. We’ve written about this before, but I want to stress that the present condition of the Western church does not negate the call of Jesus to be participants with Him of His church. The implied lesson of Jesus’ letters to His churches in Revelation, is that we are to continue our walk with Him while remaining in the church. He warns the churches but offers blessings to His faithful ones within the failing organization. The ones who continue in faithfulness are called overcomers. In the context of the letters of Revelation, the overcomer does not just overcome the outside forces of evil, but also, remains faithful within the identity of the church. So many have abandoned the organization called the church, but then become isolated from other faithful overcomers. I know that many continue to “fellowship” outside the borders of the church, but there truly is a missing ingredient that can only be found in the gathering of believers. It is the unfaithful ones, who are the departers, I John 2:18-19 “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Maybe you feel that you have no choice because even your leaders have become corrupted and in many cases that’s the unfortunate reality, but we are still called to gather. Find some place, where you can be one who fulfills scripture by being joined, rather than one who fulfills scripture by being a departer. There are too many scriptures that call us to be joined. That is also Micah’s word in these last two verses. Micah 2:12-13 “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head.” When the Lord says “surely” He means it. This scripture so clearly reflects what Jesus said in John 10 when he speaks of gathering his sheep and them going in and out and finding pasture with Him as the good Shepherd.
In Micah 2 God’s promise to the remnant is that He is aware of the situation and He will personally take steps to bring you into a gathering where He is the head. The Lord is a gatherer, in these days, I am hearing Him say, “I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail”. I am also hearing Him say that there is a separation that is going to happen in the coming days and the true church will be distinguished from the false. This will be an act of redemption. The separation of the pure from the vile can sometimes be an act of redeeming mercy. Ephesians 4:14 becomes a promise to those who have never grown up in Christ, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. When the Lord places His stamp of approval on His faithful ones, which is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in truth, it often has a secondary purpose of provoking jealousy, in a good way, on those who do not have the real goods. For those who are willing to, in faith, patiently wait for the real anointing and grace of the Holy Spirit, there is a promise of the kingdom of God in righteousness, peace, and joy.
In chapter 3 we will learn about justice and the distinguishing ministry of false priests and prophets.