On Their Backs, at Their Head: Micah 2 (1)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 46.1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Sing Psalm 46.1-3
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea consume the mountain range;
waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.
Read Micah 2.1, 2
1. Who is the object of God’s woe?
2. What have they done?
Micah 2 expands on Micah 1 a bit, providing more clarity concerning the specific sins of Israel and Judah and more detail concerning what lies ahead. Chapter 2 begins with a general condemnation of all who do evil (1-5). He does not single out either Israel or Judah. Rather, his words seem to be pointed toward the rulers of God's people, who show themselves to be enemies of God by seizing lands and repudiating the Lord's apportionment for His people. He further singles out those entrusted with Word of the Lord and condemns them for their unfaithfulness (6-11). Finally, another promise of restoration, this time with Israel being led like a flock by her King and Lord (12, 13).
Today’s verses show us the root of Israel’s (and Judah’s) rebellion: covetousness. Covetousness poisons the heart and skews the mind to make sinful plans (v. 1). It sets us thinking only about gain and not about giving, self rather than service. We look at the things and conditions of this world, and the people around us, and all sense of contentment or gratitude evaporates. All we want is more (v. 2).
Covetousness is the gate to all sin, for when the door of the heart is flung open to wrong affections, desire turns inward, lust rushes in, and all thought of obedience to God gives way to selfish ambition and gain. Covetousness compromises the heart before anything we do or speak, thus ensuring that our words and deeds will be sinful. Through the prophet, God will be on His people’s backs about giving in to covetousness.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Covetousness poisons the heart and skews the mind to make sinful plans.” Indeed, it does.
Early on in the history of humankind, (we had only made it to chapter 6 in Genesis), the LORD saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6.5) This is what precipitated the Flood.
Then we got another chance. God gave us strict guidelines by which to conduct our lives to be in harmony with Him and others. These were summed up by: “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20.17).
He then gave us many words of wisdom to lead us in following His commands:
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil…” (Prov. 4.14-16).
“To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom” (Prov. 10.23).
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” (Is. 5.20).
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live…” (Amos 5.14).
“And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12.15).
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn. 3.20).
But most of all, we do not want to enter sin’s gate because “the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5.14,15). And because He has said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” And “you are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (Jn. 14.15; 15.14).
By this love we are compelled, constrained, controlled, and urged on to repent of covetousness, and live for Christ alone.
1. How would you explain covetousness to a new believer?
2. Why do we say that covetousness is the gate for all other sin?
3. How can keeping our eyes focused on the Lord and His Word help us to avoid falling into covetousness?
Here the Prophet describes to the life the character and manners of those who were given to gain, and were intent only on raising themselves. He says, that in their beds they were meditating on iniquity, and devising wickedness. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Micah 2.1
Lord, You have appointed me as Your witness (Acts 1.8); help me today so that I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 46.4-11
Give thanks to God for His constant care and provision. Cultivate contentedness in prayer, and rest in the sovereign power of God to meet all your needs.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.
Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress;
nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.
Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside;
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.
Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail:
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail: thus may our hope and joy increase!
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can listen to last week’s summary of our study by clicking here.
The ongoing relevance of God’s Law
We need to be on guard against covetousness, and against all the sins outlined in the Ten Commandments. Why does the Law of God still matter? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, explains the continuing importance of the Law and how we can make better use of it. Order your free copy by clicking here.
If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.