Reading: Micah 1:1-7; Hosea 1:1-9
Micah prophesies that God will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards. The city will be destroyed. It will be open land so that there is space to plant vineyards.
The city was built on a hill, but now that Samaria will be destroyed, her stones will fall down the hill into the valley and her foundations laid bare. Not much will be left of Samaria.
All her idols will be broken to pieces, as a sign of their impotence, their weakness. All her temple gifts will be burned with fire. God will destroy all her images.
Micah speaks about the pay as a harlot. She gathered her gifts from the fees charged by prostitutes, these gifts will again be used to pay prostitutes.
The heathen people often combined their worship of their gods with temple prostitution. It is possible and even probable that in Samaria there was also temple prostitution in the worship service of their idols. Often that goes together: following other gods, and sexual immorality.
In the Bible, God even equals falling away from God and following other gods to prostitution. God chose Israel as His nation, even as His wife, but Israel acted as an adulterous woman. Hosea, who lived in the same time as Micah, had to take an adulterous woman as his wife, and with that he had to show the attitude of God’s people: in Hosea 1:2 God says: “for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD.“
Micah 1:7 is probably also meant to be understood in both ways. Samaria received her riches, her gifts for her work as prostitutes. People brought their gifts in their worship of false gods. At the same time they indulged in prostitution, while bringing their gifts and worshiping their gods.
But all the wealth that could be found at the worship places, the idols of gold, silver, precious stones, all the treasures, will be taken away, plundered, by the enemies who will conquer Samaria and take the riches and wealth of the city as their spoil. And those soldiers will again use all the wealth and spend it on prostitutes. As a complete desecration of the holy places in Samaria. As a sign from God that He rejected the worship service of the Israelites and of Samaria. He detests it. (See Psalm 50).
He wanted their sacrifices of thankfulness. They thought that they kept God satisfied by their payments of sacrifices. But that is not what God demands from them. He demands from them to live as His covenant people, in thankfulness before Him. He did not choose them, because He expected to get so much from them, in animals, sacrifices, riches, and so on. He chose them because He wanted a people to have communion with, within the covenant. A people whom He could love and from whom He could expect love and thankfulness.
Israel did not answer His love with love and thankfulness but thought that they could keep God satisfied with their sacrifices, which did not come from their heart. They came out of an attitude of: if we keep God satisfied with our sacrifices, He will give us our wealth and protection. Because of this attitude, just like a businessman, loveless, God now says: I reject you. I detest your worship service. God was going to destroy Samaria and send His people into exile.
That was Samaria. And Micah prophesied in Judah. Judah could see it happening in Samaria. Soon after Micah prophesied, the words of his prophecy about Samaria came to fulfillment. But Micah also prophesied against Jerusalem. The people of Judah should realize, that what happened to Samaria, could also happen to Jerusalem. Samaria is a warning example for Jerusalem. Judah was not much better than Israel.
We know king Hezekiah as a faithful and God-fearing king. He reigned during and just after the time that the people of Israel were led into exile and Samaria was destroyed. Probably the warning example of Samaria, as mentioned here by Micah, served as a warning to Hezekiah and encouraged him to take the reformation of the worship service very seriously. There we see that God in His grace did send a spirit of repentance to His people.
The deformation of the worship service of God’s people came to an end and was reversed. Deformation, once it starts, is never an irreversible process. In the second commandment, we hear that God visits the iniquities of the parents upon the children. That is a warning to the parents. The parents have a huge responsibility. They should realize that if they sin, and give the wrong example to their children, then they will also be responsible for the disobedience of their children. This is about giving the wrong example by being negligent in the service of the LORD, by not giving good leadership, by not showing a good attitude towards God and His people, the church. This is about leading your children on the way of sin. If you don’t lead them in the ways of the LORD, you will lead them in the way of sin. Then even outwardly everything may seem OK, just like Israel: they continued to bring their sacrifices. But it was not from the heart. They also put their trust in other gods, did their own things, worshiped God in their own ways. Once Jeroboam started with it, his sons continued in his ways. And the people with them. And for that God punished them.
That is also what the second commandment is about: the sin of the fathers being visited upon the children. Parents who lead by example can also lead by example in the wrong way. Parents who lead their children in the good ways of the LORD, give them a good example and they may know that their children will receive the blessings of the LORD if they also continue in the good way set out by the parents. He will show His steadfast love to thousands of those who love Him and obey His commandments.
But it is also important for the children, to realize that they are responsible for their own deeds. They should not follow a bad example. They should never hide behind their parents. It may never be a reason to continue a bad habit because our parents did it that way too.
God comes to each of us, within the covenant. He comes with His promises. He comes also with His demand. The demand is to believe. To trust in the LORD. To expect everything from Him only. Cleave to Him, as a bride has to submit to and cleave to her husband. That is the relationshp of love. Trust in the LORD, always. Give yourself to Him, completely. Love Him with all your heart and soul and mind. Undivided love.
Key Text: Psalm 50:14-15: “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall lorify Me.”
Mediation: Do we live our life in wholehearted love and dedication to the LORD, or is there so much that we do out of custom, maybe even superstition, or fear? What does it mean to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice of thankfulness to God (Romans 12:1)?