Warnings to Rulers: Micah 3 (2)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 2.1-3
Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
Sing Psalm 2.1-3
(Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Why do the nations vainly rage, conspiring together from age to age?
Earth’s kings and all of their counselors stand against the Lord and His Right Hand:
“Now let us cast His yoke below, His Kingdom authority overthrow!
Throw off His Law, reject His Word; no more be governed by this Lord!”
Read Micah 3.2-4
1. Of what were the rulers of God’s people guilty?
2. How did their sin affect the people of God?
The rulers of Israel and Judah – kings, local elders, prophets and priests, heads of households – failed in their calling to rule God’s people for good because they turned their backs on God’s Law and sought only what gratified their lusts and aggrandized their power. Rather than love good, they hated it, and loved evil instead (v. 2).
To get what they wanted, they made the people pay. The images here of skinning, eating, flaying, and breaking bones are not to be taken literally (v. 3). Rather, they suggest the effects on the people of the self-centered policies of their rulers: leanness of soul and body. The people suffered and did not prosper under the evil policies of their rulers, but the rulers only cared when the leanness of the people began to mean leanness to them as well (“Then…”, v. 4).
As it became clear to the rulers that their nations were failing, they turned to the Lord. But it was too late. God had hidden His face from His people, removing His favor, bottling up His Word, withdrawing His Spirit, and leaving the people to their own choices. The evil deeds they chose would lead to evil coming upon them from without – the Assyrians on Israel, and the Babylonians on Judah.
When wicked, self-centered, ego-driven people rule, everyone suffers. God will see to it.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The Church today screams out about losing their “religious freedoms”, and in so doing, has mistaken their enemy. When verses like these are read, we assume, that the world is doing this to us. But not so. The Church is doing this to itself. And we are all suffering for it.
In Jeremiah 11.6-11 God says to the prophet, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: ‘Hear the words of this covenant and do them.’ ‘Obey My voice’”. “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.” “A conspiracy has been found…they have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; [they] have broken My covenant…Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.” The Church in rebellion.
Jesus taught His disciples, “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5.20). Jesus always warned us of the dangers to be found at “church”: “…a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10.36; Mic. 7.6).
And then Peter gives us this warning: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4.17).
Our religious freedoms will never be taken from us as long as we understand Who is giving them; and our only fear should be of Him Who judges fairly and completely. “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes I say to you, fear Him!” (Lk.12.4, 5).
We must never be the church doing evil to the church; but we must be the people who are obeying God, and therefore loving Him and those of the household of faith. We must never be the “wicked, self-centered, ego-driven people” who displease the LORD; but must love good and hate evil, and never be rulers in rebellion!
1. How much of church life should be governed and directed by the Word of God? Why?
2. How can we know when we are beginning to rebel against the Lord and His covenant? What should we do then?
3. What can believers do to help one another stay on the path of blessing with the Lord?
The Prophet conveys first a general reproof, ― that they not only perverted justice, but were also given to wickedness and hated good. He means then that they were openly wicked and ungodly, and also that they with a fixed purpose carried on war against every thing just and right. John Calvin (1509-1564),Commentary on Micah 3.2
Closing Prayer: Psalm 2.4-12
Pray for world rulers and for those who rule in the churches of the Lord, that Jesus might revive and renew them unto a great awakening of faith for His glory.
Sing Psalm 2.4-12
(Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
The Lord in heaven laughs in wrath at all who embark on this cursèd path.
His angry Word to them is plain: “Yet shall My King in Zion reign!”
Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!
To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blessed are all who rest in Him!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Micah in God’s Covenant
Where does the book of Micah fit in God’s covenant with His people? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you to answer that question and to gain a better understanding of how the grace of God reaches and transforms us in Jesus Christ. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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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.