Reading: Micah 3; Acts 4:32-37
In the first part of chapter 3, Micah addresses specifically the leaders of Israel. When he uses the names Jacob and Israel, then that reminds them of the covenant which God made with Jacob, who was also called Israel. These names are used in general for the people of God. Not necessarily only for the northern kingdom.
These leaders of God’s people, those are the ones who should know justice. But Micah says about the leaders of Judah, that they strip the skin from God’s people and the flesh from their bones. See vs. 1-3. Those who have the power, they misuse their power to get more wealth. They don’t care for God’s people anymore, they only care for their own wealth and prosperity. There is no justice, no protection for the weak and for the poor. Justice is despised and right is distorted. The leaders who have the task to be the judge, they take bribes and the priests who have the task to teach the people, they only teach those who pay for it. The priests, who were already provided for by the people, in accordance with the regulations which God gave to Moses: now they receive double. The wealthy only get wealthier and the powerful only get more powerful. And then they claim that they have God on their side. Verse 11.
In verse 12 we read that Micah prophesied about the leaders in Jerusalem, those who kept everything for themselves and even exploited God’s people for their own gain:
Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.
As a result, it was especially the rich people who suffered from the attacks of their enemies, and also later, when Judah was made captive and went into exile, it was especially the leaders, the nobles, the rich, who were taken to Babylon and who had to suffer the most. The poor people could stay behind, they had no power anyways, so what could they do? The oppressors did not worry about them.
Especially the rich people and the leaders had to suffer from attacks on and destruction of Jerusalem. And with that, they got what they deserved. They had misused their power and authority and were totally corrupt.
This is not the will of God. This is not the work of the Spirit. Where the Spirit works, there is love for each other. Compare the situation in Micah’s days with the time just after Pentecost. Then the church was filled with the Spirit and the believers had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. We can read that in Acts 2. And in Acts 4 again: There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
It is remarkable that the Bible pays so much attention to this. Both in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. It was part of the prophesies of Micah, that he preached against this injustice of God’s people and that this was the reason that God came with His just punishment.
Where the Word of God is preached in its fullness and received in faith, there is salvation. The true preaching of God’s Word brings change among God’s people. It proclaims God’s justice to His people.
The focus of the leaders of Jerusalem was to get rich, to increase their wealth, to keep it all for themselves. And they lulled their conscience to sleep with saying that it was all to build Zion.
We would say, in our time: as long as you give your tithes to the church, then you’re OK. You’re good. But in the meantime you don’t care about anyone or anything else, you continue to build your beautiful houses, buy expensive cars, invest tons of money and time in making your own yard beautiful and build your own palaces. And we don’t care for those living around us. Maybe we do for those in our own church, but there is stops.
Or we can say: we give our money, quite a bit of it, for mission work. Far away. Yes, we want them to be saved by hearing the Word of God. But we don’t care for those living around us, our neighbours, maybe even our colleagues, who don’t know God; those who live a miserable life, in loneliness and sometimes even outright despair. There is so much misery around us, in this world, but we stay away from it, too afraid to be contaminated, like the priest and the Levite in the story about the Samaritan.
We are richly blessed with God’s promises. We receive eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, Who came to give His life while we were still enemies! It is His will that this world will be saved, and that we go out and make all nations to His disciples. Not only those far away, but all. Also those around us. If the Spirit of God works in you, then you will not keep it for yourself. But we try to convince others as well.
Key Text: Micah 3:12: Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.
Meditation: It is God’s will to bless His people. However, if God’s people turn away from God, He cannot bless them but He has to punish them. It is because of the sins of God’s people, that Jerusalem was destroyed. What does that teach us about our own time?