SS Lesson for 07/05/2015
Devotional Scripture: Ps 37:10-22
The lesson reviews the circumstances where there is No Rest for the Wicked. The study's aim is to understand some of the consequences of not following the Lord God. The study's application is to order our lives so as to rest in the Lord and enjoy His blessings.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
You who are named the house of Jacob: "Is the Spirit of the Lord restricted? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good To him who walks uprightly?
Micah first noted that many of the people lay awake at night thinking up evil things to do the next day. On such people Micah pronounced woe, a term used by several prophets to announce guilt and coming judgment on the sinful people (cf., e.g., Isa. 3:9, 11; 5:8, 11, 18, 20-22; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 13:3, 18; Hosea 7:13; 9:12; Amos 5:18; 6:1; Hab. 2:6, 9, 12, 15, 19; Zeph. 2:5; 3:1). In their crass materialism, the people coveted others’ fields and houses and took them simply because they wanted them. They would defraud another by stealing his home or inheritance (i.e., land). Micah was probably speaking against the influential people who had the power to do such things. Their sin, besides materialistic greed and theft, was wanton disregard for the rights of their fellowman. The ancestors of the people Micah addressed had all been slaves in Egypt. In taking them out of Egypt, the Lord had freed them from slavery. Therefore the Israelites were not to enslave each other. Since God had given each tribe and each family its share of the land, the people were not to take away others’ land. To take their financial holdings was to disregard the Law of God. As a result, God was planning disaster (cf. 1:12) against the people. They would be unable to save themselves from God’s judgment because the calamity, when started, would not be stopped (cf. 1:3-4). Pride would be replaced with a debased condition. Along with being unable to save themselves (v. 3) the people also would be derided by those around them. The people’s enemies would mockingly sing to them what those in grief would normally have said about the loss of their fields. Ironically those Judahites who took away the land of others (v. 2) would have their own land taken from them. No longer would anyone be present to pass judgment about the division of the land, for their whole system would be destroyed. The assembly of the Lord referred to the covenant nation as a whole (cf. Deut. 23:1, 8).
In much of her history, Israel in the Old Testament had both good (true) and bad (false) prophets. The true prophets spoke for God to the people, after urging them to return to the moral and ethical values of the covenantal Law. The false prophets often said that God would not harm the people so long as they were involved in the outward ceremonial aspects of the Law. True prophets urged the nation to follow the covenant, as outlined in Deuteronomy 27-28. A strong ethical dimension was in their messages. In fact their messages were often more ethical than eschatological. The yet-future peace and prosperity for the nation (promised in the Abrahamic Covenant; cf. Gen. 17:3-8; 22:17-18) will come only when the nation turns to the Lord and follows His Word. In contrast with the true prophets the false prophets spoke only what the people wanted to hear. Those messengers said God was for their nation and would not destroy it. This was of course partly true and partly false. God was for the nation of Israel, but He had said He would punish them if they did not obey Him. Apparently these false prophets were indignant that Micah mentioned coming disaster (vv. 3-5), so they enjoined him not to prophesy that the disgrace of judgment would come. They naively questioned whether the Spirit of God would ever be angry with His people, or that God would ever do such things. They were forgetting that a father often shows his love for his children by disciplining them. Had God not followed through on the discipline He would have been untrue to His own word. Micah answered the false prophets’ objections by describing the situation in the nation at that time. He first reminded them that God’s words do good to him whose ways are upright. God accurately judges human behavior. He blesses those whose ways are righteous.
In prophesying peace and not destruction, the false prophets were actually treating God’s people as if they were the prophets’ enemy. The false messengers robbed personal possessions (e.g., a rich robe) from people who were walking along oblivious to any danger. The victims were happy, carefree, and rich like soldiers returning with spoils from a victorious battle. Also the false prophets separated families by driving away mothers from their... homes. By not telling the people to repent and return to the Lord, the prophets were neglecting the only thing that could save the people from the invading Assyrians. In effect, the prophets were opening the way for the Captivity by not warning the people to turn back to the Lord. Partly because of the false prophets’ perverted teaching, the land became irretrievably defiled. So the people would be exiled. Sarcastically Micah told the people to go away, that is, into exile (cf. Amos’ sarcasm in Amos 4:4-5). The people’s values were so degraded that they would readily respond to a false prophet who would deceptively predict not exile but continued prosperity, including plenty of wine and beer.
Though the outlook was grim for Judah, the Prophet Micah voiced a ray of hope, based on God’s covenant promises to Abraham. Each of the three sections of Micah’s prophecy includes a promise of regathering and blessing on the nation (2:12-13; 4:1-8; 7:8-20). Here in chapter 2 the promise of blessing is brief. Two truths are stated in verses 12-13 which are expanded greatly in chapters 4-5. The first is that the Lord will regather and renew His people as their Shepherd (2:12-13a), and the second is that the Lord will lead His people as their King (v. 13b). Jacob and Israel are synonyms for the entire nation. When God restores the believing remnant of Israel to their land, He will be like a shepherd leading his flock (cf. 5:4; 7:14). So great will be the regathering of the sheep that the place (i.e., the land) will throng with people. The Old Testament frequently spoke of God as a Shepherd and His people as sheep (cf. Pss. 23:1; 77:20; 78:52; 80:1; 100:3; Isa. 40:11; also note Jer. 23:3; 31:10). The people would be like sheep brought together in a pen for safekeeping. That long-awaited time of blessing will come about for the nation of Israel in the Millennium. Some interpreters claim that this promise of blessing is being fulfilled now in the church, rather than in the future for Israel. However, if Micah 2:12 refers to spiritual blessings for the church, then Israel has been misled all these centuries since Abraham to think that she will inherit the land forever. Much as a shepherd breaks open or clears the way for his sheep, going before them and leading them out the gate to pastures, so the Lord will remove all obstacles to blessing for His people Israel. A second fact about the forthcoming blessing is that the Lord will lead His people as their King (cf. Isa. 33:22; Zeph. 3:15; Zech. 14:9). He has not abandoned them. He will lead them, passing through before them as their Head. The false prophets were partially correct when they stated that the Lord is for the covenant nation. He will fulfill His promises to Israel for, like a good king, He loves His people.
Samuel A. Meier contrasts false prophets with the Lord’s true prophets in terms of cheerleaders and coaches. The false prophets were like cheerleaders during a football game in which the team they root for is getting crushed by an opponent. They continue to cheer and exhort the team to keep playing and giving their best, even though the outlook is hopeless. The true prophets, however, are more like coaches who take corrective action when they see mistakes and careless play occurring. As these coaches become frustrated with the team’s effort (or lack thereof), they call time-out and tell one or more players in no uncertain terms how badly they are playing, even to the point of benching them. Good coaches will tell the truth and not mince words, which is essentially what true prophets of the Lord always did. Today’s lesson continues the study of some of the Old Testament prophets. These were men who did not hesitate to confront and rebuke God’s people when that was called for, and it certainly was called for in the days of the prophet Micah.
Like Amos, the prophet Micah possessed a great passion for justice and for right living among God’s chosen people. Micah 6:8 (see lesson 7) includes one of the most compelling statements in all of Scripture of what God requires of his people. The Hebrew name Micah means, “Who is like the Lord?” Micah will raise that very question at the conclusion of the book (lesson 8). There are several men of the name Micah (or the longer form Micaiah) mentioned in the Old Testament, so we take care not to get them mixed up. The man of interest to us is mentioned by name only in two places: Micah 1:1 and Jeremiah 26:18. Amos and Micah may well have been contemporaries. While Amos’s ministry is dated during the reign of Uzziah king of Judah (Amos 1:1), Micah’s occurred during the reigns of Jotham (Uzziah’s son), Ahaz (Jotham’s son), and Hezekiah (Ahaz’s son). Jotham’s reign overlapped that of his father’s since Uzziah had to be confined during the latter years of his reign because of a leprous condition he brought on himself. Jotham ruled in his stead until and after Uzziah’s death (2 Chronicles 26:16-23). So Amos and Micah could have carried out a portion of their ministries at the same time.
We know Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah since Isaiah 1:1 mentions the same kings that Micah 1:1 does except for Uzziah. But while Isaiah seems to have been more like a “court prophet,” having contact especially with kings Ahaz (Isaiah 7:1-14) and Hezekiah (38:1-6; 39:1-8), it appears that Micah ministered more in the rural areas of Judah. He notes in his book a number of towns in Judah that are mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. He himself was from a village called Moresheth, located about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Of course, the smaller towns needed to hear God’s message just as much as the city dwellers in Jerusalem. There was great turmoil and uncertainty for both Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) during Micah’s time. The Assyrians had become a formidable threat to both Israel and Judah when Micah’s ministry began; in fact, they would be the instruments in God’s hands to carry out his judgment against the northern kingdom, whose capital Samaria finally fell in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:1-6). Micah’s message was aimed at both Israel and Judah. His book begins with a reference to both capital cities, Samaria and Jerusalem (Micah 1:1), and proceeds to indict both on account of their rebellion against the Lord (1:5-9). As chapter 2 opens, Micah declares a “woe” against those who had become obsessed with doing evil and could think of nothing else, even while lying “on their beds” (2:1). In their defiance of God, such people had become so arrogant and smug that they were confident the Lord would do nothing to hold them accountable for their actions. Such people are described as those who “covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them” (Micah 2:2). Such seizure of others’ property was strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses. The promised land belonged to the Lord; in recognition of that fact, land was not to be transferred permanently to another party (Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7-9). The fate of the schemers opens today’s lesson.
4 In that day one shall take up a proverb against you, And lament with a bitter lamentation, saying: 'We are utterly destroyed! He has changed the heritage of my people; How He has removed it from me! To a turncoat He has divided our fields.' "
5 Therefore you will have no one to determine boundaries by lot In the assembly of the Lord.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
9 But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.
6 "My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.
6 "Do not prattle," you say to those who prophesy. So they shall not prophesy to you; They shall not return insult for insult.
7 You who are named the house of Jacob: "Is the Spirit of the Lord restricted? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good To him who walks uprightly?
10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!"
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" 6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
10 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!
29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
13 The Lord said, "It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. 14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them."
8 "Lately My people have risen up as an enemy-- You pull off the robe with the garment From those who trust you, as they pass by, Like men returned from war.
9 The women of My people you cast out From their pleasant houses; From their children You have taken away My glory forever.
19 By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; no one will spare his brother. 20 On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied. Each will feed on the flesh of his own offspring: 21 Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh; together they will turn against Judah. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
6 In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah — because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. 7 Zicri, an Ephraimite warrior, killed Maaseiah the king's son, Azrikam the officer in charge of the palace, and Elkanah, second to the king. 8 The Israelites took captive from their kinsmen two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder, which they carried back to Samaria.
6 Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.
40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.
1 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her.
10 "Arise and depart, For this is not your rest; Because it is defiled, it shall destroy, Yes, with utter destruction.
11 If a man should walk in a false spirit And speak a lie, saying, 'I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,' Even he would be the prattler of this people.
24 "'Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled.
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."
15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
A. The sins of covetousness and pride.
1. (1-2) Covetousness among Gods people.
Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.
a. Woe to those who devise iniquity: All sin is bad before God, but premeditated sin is worse. Here Micah speaks plainly to those who devise iniquity - in this case - those who oppress others through their greed and covetousness.
b. At morning light is ironic. Typically thieves practice their work at night, under the cover of darkness. In the ancient world, law courts opened for business at morning light because the rising sun demonstrated light dispelling darkness. Micah sees the corruption of Israel's law courts and shows that they practice their theft and evil at morning light, when the courts open.
c. Because it is in the power of their hand: There are some sins we never commit because we are never put in a place where we can commit them. The real test comes when it is in the power of our hand to sin and we keep faithful to the Lord.
2. (3-5) Gods proud people brought low.
Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks; nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time. In that day one shall take up a proverb against you, and lament with a bitter lamentation, saying: We are utterly destroyed! He has changed the heritage of my people; how He has removed it from me! To a turncoat He has divided our fields. Therefore you will have no one to determine boundaries by lot in the assembly of the Lord.
a. Against this family I am devising disaster: The people devised iniquity; God devised disaster upon them. In His justice, He gave them what they gave others.
b. Nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time: Micah rebukes the pride among Gods people and announces that in the evil time to come - the time of judgment coming on Gods people - they will be brought low and will no longer walk haughtily.
c. To a turncoat He has divided our fields: In the coming judgment - in particular, the judgment coming on Israel by the conquering Assyrian Empire - will leave their land in the possession of strangers.
B. Though they sin against His Word, God promises restoration to His people.
1. (6-9) Gods people reject the word of His prophets.
Do not prattle, you say to those who prophesy. So they shall not prophesy to you; they shall not return insult for insult. You who are named the house of Jacob: Is the Spirit of the Lord restricted? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him who walks uprightly? Lately My people have risen up as an enemy; you pull off the robe with the garment from those who trust you, as they pass by, like men returned from war. The women of My people you cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children you have taken away My glory forever.
a. Do not prattle: When Gods prophets came to His people, they didn't receive it. They disregarded Gods Word as mere prattle. As a result, God stopped sending prophets (so they shall not prophesy to you). Fortunately, Gods people responded to Micas warning before God stopped sending him - but it took a while.
i. Micah began his ministry in the reign of Jotham - but nobody listened. Then he prophesied during the reign of Ahaz - but nobody listened. Finally he prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah - and the leaders and the people repented. Micah didn't give up, even though results were slow in coming. Micah preached for anywhere between 16 and 25 years before there was any response.
b. Is the Spirit of the Lord restricted? In their foolishness, the people of Israel thought that God was the problem. They needed to understand that there was no restriction on the Spirit of the Lord; instead they provided all the restriction.
i. Do you not think, again, that we very much act as if the Spirit of the Lord were straitened when we only look for little blessings? I am very glad to see three hundred or four hundred persons in a year converted and added to this church, and this has long been the case; but if I ever imbibed the idea that this was all that might be done, I should be straitening the Spirit of God. (Spurgeon)
c. Do not My words do good to him who walks uprightly? The key to their preservation in the midst of judgment was to stick tightly to Gods words. When they reject Gods words, they are left poor and destitute - both materially and spiritually.
2. (10-11) Gods people embrace false prophets.
Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, yes, with utter destruction. If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie, saying, I will prophesy to you of wine and drink, even he would be the prattler of this people.
a. This is not your rest: Micah exposes the lies of false prophets showing that they can never really give rest. The words of false prophets are defiled, and bring utter destruction instead of the peace, rest, and restoration of God's Word.
b. If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie: With judgment looming on the horizon - especially for the northern kingdom of Israel - there were false prophets who spoke of days of wine and drink, giving false comfort and hope to a deceived people. These were the real prattlers, not the true prophets of God, as they were falsely called by the ungodly in Micas day (Micah 2:6). The only prophet they wanted was one to tell them there would be plenty of alcohol.
3. (12-13) A promise of restoration.
I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people. The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head.
a. I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob: Though judgment was promised because of the great sin of Gods people, they could not out-sin the grace and goodness of God. He still promises restoration to the remnant of Israel.
b. They shall make a loud noise because of so many people: The remnant will not be few; there will be many people brought back to the Lord and His ways - with the Lord at their head.
c. The one who breaks open can be translated as a title - the King James Version has it as the Breaker. We can see this as a more obscure, but no less precious messianic title of Jesus - The Breaker. In this office, he is the captain and leader of His people, advancing in front of His flock. How we need a Breaker, a trailblazer in our life!
(Adapted from URL:http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/view.cgi?book=mic&chapter=002)
The expression “Mercy Me!” was used by past generations to express amazement at seeing or hearing something unexpected or unusual. Apparently it comes from a prayer asking the Lord to have mercy on an individual who is praying. Perhaps the expression arose from the idea of asking God for mercy to survive or endure some unexpected news, especially of something quite disturbing. The prayer for God to have mercy is of itself a valid request. One thinks of the tax collector in one of Jesus’ parables who was so distraught at his unworthiness to come before God (in contrast with a haughty Pharisee) that he simply but earnestly prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). However, the one who prays for God’s mercy must recognize that mercy, like any of God’s good gifts, is not to be hoarded but to be displayed openly toward others. This is what the wicked in Micah’s day failed to understand or refused to accept. Like the unforgiving servant in another of Jesus’ parables, those who receive mercy yet fail to extend it to others forfeit whatever mercy has been demonstrated toward them (Matthew 18:21-35). The next time you need God’s mercy, ask yourself when was the last time you extended mercy to someone else!
1. To turn from God's ways is to sacrifice the blessings He has bestowed on us (Mic. 2:4-5)
2. It is foolish and disastrous to take the advice of those who reject God's Word (vs. 6)
3. We have nothing to fear from God if we walk according to His Word (vs. 7)
4. To rob others of their dignity is to rob them of the glory, or blessing, God has for them (vss. 8-9)
5. Favorable outward circumstances cannot save us from the internal corruption of sin (vs. 10)
6. Sinners always welcome those who approve of their lifestyle (vs. 11)