Micah - The Poor Man's Prophet

Micah had little love for the cities (1:5; 5:11; 6:9). He was a country boy who saw the dangers associated with big city life. He had nothing but contempt for religious professionals who earned their living telling people what they wanted to hear instead what they needed to hear. False prophets enjoyed a livelihood by selling lies (Mic. 3:5). Flattery is the stock and trade of all false teachers. Because we are all sinners, right preaching will often make the listener uncomfortable and the speaker unpopular. Edgeless preaching that never touches our conscience is also pointless.

Prosperity during the days of Jotham deadened the spiritual senses. As is often the case lives of luxury are established upon the backs of the oppressed. The wealthy are too often oblivious to the pain and the anguish of the poorer masses. The ministry of Micah lasted over forty years and witnessed the fall of Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom. He was a contemporary of Isaiah. While Isaiah spoke in the presence of kings, Micah was the poor man’s prophet.

He spoke out against the grasping, greed, avaricious, and oppressive ways of the commercial, and religious aristocracy. He pointed to grave crimes of social inequity, which involved the confiscating of property of poor people, and the consumption of common people by landlords which resembled sheep cropping grass.

Political turmoil prevailed as different factions counseled for alliance with Egypt or submission to Assyria. Leaders not only robbed the poor, Judges accepted bribes, and preachers accommodated the rich with flattering words, while priests enriched themselves, and tyrants laughed in the face of righteousness. Prosperity brought the need for more public works which required conscription of workers, taxes, and confiscation of land. The little guy was simply crushed if he got in the way of these wheels.

This simple village preacher lifted his voice to warn of judgment coming to Jerusalem. He was the first to dare such a thought. His words not only survived, but one hundred years later became the prophetic resource that saved Jeremiah’s life (Jer. 26). He knew he was God’s messenger "But as for me, I am full of power by the Spirit of Jehovah,and of judgment" (3:8).

Prosperity had fooled many. They said "Is not Jehovah in the midst of us?" (Mic. 3:12). Jesus would later teach about the deceitfulness of riches. Money has a way of fooling a person into believing all is well. Prosperous people sometimes assuage their conscience by making donations and giving financial offerings. Woe said Micah to "Those who live selfish and luxurious lives, even though they offer costly sacrifices, they are vampires in the sight of God, sucking the life-blood of the poor" (Robinson).

Micah left us three great messages. The first was "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest” 3:12. Judgment not only can begin in the house of God, it must begin there. Foolish is the man who believes he is safe because he is in the holy city. Our assurance of salvation will never lead to arrogance or presumption. God’s fire may fall where he wills. It rains on the just and the unjust.

Some who sin at the foot of the cross little know the reality, the morality, or the vitality of that cross. A true conversion produces a transformed life. "Woe to them who are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1).

The second great message left by Micah is that of a holy geography. The Messiah would be born, not in the sophisticated and great city, but in the provincial hamlet called Bethlehem. This is the “X” that marked the prophetic spot where wise men would find the world’s greatest treasure (Matt. 2).

The third message is a gem in itself for it sums up the heart of real religion. It is the precursor to the great “spirit and in truth” sermon given to that lonely woman of Sychar by Christ himself. Micah tells what the Lord desires of us. “He hath showed thee, O man what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (6:8).

This verse in on the wall in the reading room of the Congressional Library in Washington, DC. It could stand as the life’s text for any man. The Jewish religion was summed up in its 614 laws. Micah boiled it all down to three. We are to do justly. Live before the balance scale of right. May every line be plumb, and every wall square. Truth, honesty and integrity should be our best friends. Duplicity, falsehood, and deception should be counted as plagues and avoided at all cost. Love mercy. Truth must be balanced with charity. We should treat all men as we ourselves wish we would be treated. Someone said it is not enough to do good, we must love doing good or our goodness is a sham and an imposter. The third axiom of this profoundly simple prophet is to “walk humbly with [our] God.” Here is the secret to happiness and spiritual success, humility. We are to put on no airs. We are to avoid all pretense. We are to live close to the earth (humus) which is the etymology of the word. We are to stay close to the truth and never let it out of our sight. If we do we will never think too highly or too lowly of ourselves. We will be real people who will realize the presence, power, and pleasure of God.

To Teachers and Preachers
-God put Bethlehem on the map. It is what happened in this little town that made it famous. The fact that it was the hometown of David was simply Bible trivia. It was meant for far more than that. It was where God was born.

That last sentence sounds outrageous. It sounds almost blasphemous, except for the fact that that is exactly what happened. It was where Jesus was born. It was where the Word would become flesh. The Word became flesh in a small, quiet, humble place. God knows where Bethlehem is. God knows where to find you and me.

 

Do not put on airs. Be humble. Be real. A humble person is not one who thinks poorly of himself. Thinking poorly of one’s self is as sinful as thinking proudly. Self is the preoccupation in both cases. The best teachers and preachers are those who forget themselves. When asked who he was, John the baptist said he was "just a voice." A truly humble person is simply a person who is down to earth.

Preachers are supposed to be able to help people find Christ. Micah did that. Of all the places in the world the finger of God rested on one small, almost insignificant city, "Bethlehem." Micah wrote it down. The magi came looking for "he who was born king of the Jews." The scribes had to go to Micah for the answer. We will never be able to answer every question, and we shouldn't put off teaching until we can; yet we must search the holy record ever looking for "Him," so that should a wise man or a fool enquire of us we can point them to the Savior.

The name Micah means "Who is like God." This could be a description as well as a question. It should be a description of every Bible teacher and preacher. Prophets should be God-like. It is ever a shame when we do not practice what we preach. It is a scandal when the messenger marrs the message with ungodly behavior.

If there is any question or confusion about what is "God-like," simply look at Jesus. The Pharisees had strange ideas of what it meant to be "God-like." They were aloof, proud, arrogant, pompous, cynical, self-absorbed, holier-than-thou.

On the other hand, Micah is a question, "Who is like God?" The answer must be "no one." What a kind and gracious wonder God is. The teacher and preacher is thrilled to answer his own question: "Who is a pardoning God like thee?" The God of Micah is a God of Mercy. Men must hear of God's hatred for sin. After all, it causes such woe and sorrow in the earth. But men must also hear the words of hope. "God delights in mercy" (7:18). What will this holy God do with all our sins and iniquities because of Bethlehem and because of Calvary? He will bury them in the depths of the sea (7:19).

Good preachers offer hope and their sermons mercy. While they give no quarter to sin in any form,and place it under the wrath of God, willing sinners are directed to a place of shelter before the coming storm.