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The Scriptorium

When They Are Bad

When rulers go bad, we all suffer. Micah 7.3, 4

The Promise of Restoration: Micah 7 (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 74.10-14
O God, how long will the adversary reproach?
Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?
Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?
Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them.
For God is my King from of old,
Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by Your strength;
You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters.
You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces,
And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

Sing Psalm 74.10-14
(Rockingham Old: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
How long, O Lord, must they prevail and mock and spurn Your holy Name?
Why stay Your hand? Deploy it now, and bring Your foes to lasting shame!

Our God is King from long ago, Who works deliv’rance in the land;
He split the sea, He crushed His foes; against Him none can ever stand.

Read Micah 7.3, 4

1. How did Micah describe the condition of the rulers of Israel and Judah?

2. What was coming to them as a result?

Like the little girl who had a curl in the middle of her forehead, when governments go bad, they are horrid. That was the problem in Israel and Judah. The rulers were grasping after evil with both hands – bribes, gifts, evil desires, wicked schemes (v. 3). Yeats wrote about the world leaders in 1919, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity” (“The Second Coming”). He could have been writing about the kings, judges, priests, and household heads of Micah’s day.

“The best of them is like a brier” – which is not a pleasant thing to rub up against (v. 4). The rulers of God’s people would cut you if you criticized or resisted them, like a hedge of thorns. They were all about themselves and their wicked agenda, and the people were expected to go along. Which they did.

But judgment was coming. Micah, the watchman, warned that “punishment comes” to those who wield their authority for selfish ways and flout the grace and goodness of God (v. 4). “Now shall be their perplexity” he declared. We can see them, as the Assyrians dragged the people of Israel away in bunches and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, looking around at one another and asking, “What did we do wrong? Why is God allowing all this?” But they knew. Because Micah – and all the faithful prophets of God – told them.

Where are the faithful prophets of our day, warning of God’s displeasure and wrath?

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The day of God’s judgment is coming and it is no joke.

And why shouldn’t it be coming? God sees His people, along with the world, doing “evil with both hands” (Mic. 7.3). That is some real commitment to evil. Total immersion. Just like before the Flood. “Then 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).

But here is a better way. “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Cor. 5.9-11).

And we persuade people with the Good News of God’s great mercy, that although we will be judged, and need to be judged, we will escape His eternal wrath because of Jesus. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11.33)

When we are bad, “we are horrid”. On that we all agree. But…

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me,
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward To my glorious rest above.”
    -  S. Trevor Francis, 1834-1925

1. According to Paul, why did God implement civil governments (Rom. 13.1-4)? What does that mean?

2. When do rulers – at any level, in any setting – begin to become “horrid”?

3. What is the “better way” that can keep us from coming under the judgment of God?

The people were pursuing evil with gusto. The leaders of the state were leading the way in evil (3:11). The day of your watchman refers to a time when people needed to be alert for the approach of an enemy army. In this context, judgment was imminent. Earl Radmacher, 1931-2014), NKJV Study Notes on Micah 7.3, 4

Closing Prayer: Psalm 74.18-23
Pray for repentance, for yourself and all God’s people, that we may know His abounding grace once again, and be renewed in His covenant.

Sing Psalm 74.18-23
(Rockingham Old: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
Remember this, O Lord, our God: a foolish people spurns Your Name;
deliver not Your flock to them, nor leave Your holy ones to shame.

Your covenant recall, renew, for violence spreads throughout the earth;
the poor and needy rescue, Lord, and we shall sing Your matchless worth!

Arise O God, and plead Your cause! See how the fools reproach Your Name.
Their voices quell, their uproar still, who Your majestic grace defame.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to our summary of last week’s study by clicking here.

Government as God intends it
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures 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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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