In our study of Micah chapter one, we look at God's judgment on people that set up things to be like God.
The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah - the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
We are introduced to the prophet and actually very little is known about him. His name means "who is like Jehovah" and he was from a little town that was located about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem. He was apparently a friend of Isaiah's and they share very similar prophecies. We see that he ministered during the moral decline of Judah from Jotham to Ahaz. Both Jotham and his father before him did not tear down the high places of idolatry and the nation went down hill from there. This is the same period of time in which Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos ministered.
Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
The prophet immediately lets us know that the message he is delivering is straight from God and it is a message of judgment. We also see that the message is for us today as it is addressed to all who live on the earth. This is a reminder that God is unchanging. He is going to present the charges against both the northern and southern kingdoms and we can be sure that God does not approve of these things even today.
Look! the Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth.
We get a little preview of what the problem is all about as the "heights of the earth" speaks of the places where men had set objects up to be worshipped. The prophet saw the fact that God was coming down to stamp out these places of idolatry.
The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.
When God shows up, even the earth reacts as this verse speaks of a great earthquake that is unstoppable.
All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the people of Israel. What is Jacob's transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah's high place? Is it not Jerusalem?
The charges against the northern and southern kingdoms was that they set up images to be equal to God. In the north, it was at Samaria which was not even the prescribed place of worship (Jerusalem). In the south, they set the idols up in the holy city of Jerusalem. It was not that they totally abandoned God but the fact was that they tried to trust in both God and their idols. God is a jealous God and will not tolerate anyone or anything being elevated to the place that is set aside for Him as Creator of all things. It is easy for us to say that we do not do this type of thing but is that true? Do you put your trust in your family, your job, your pastor, or your retirement account? Are we like Judah where we do not replace God but we simply split our trust between Jesus and our own efforts? Real faith (trust) is only faith when it's all you have!
'Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and and lay bare her foundations. All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes, as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.'
The charges were presented and the evidence was clear and so God tells the people what was to happen. The city of Samaria was completely destroyed by the Assyrians when they captured the northern kingdom. Throughout the Bible prostitution is a symbol of spiritual unfaithfulness. The wealth that these places of idolatry obtained through the offerings of the people is what is meant by the "wages of prostitutes". This wealth would be taken by the Assyrians and used in their own places of idolatry.
Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.
The prophet was not happy about the message of judgment that he had to share. This is a pattern with God in the fact that he often used tender hearted men to share a harsh message. This message bothered Micah so much that he was willing to walk like he was out of his mind with grief. Being barefoot and naked was a sign to the people that they were going to be taken away from the land in shame as slaves.
For Samaria's plague is incurable; it has spread to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.
It is one thing to share a message of judgment with those that are not close to you but it is something else to give bad news to those who are close to you. Micah was upset because this message of judgment was not only for the northern kingdom but also for his people.
Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all. In Beth Ophrah roll in the dust.
Micah begins a list of ten towns that would be affected by the judgment. We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number ten is associated with earthly completion and this is a picture of the complete judgment of the entire nation of Israel. Gath, whose name means weep town, was told not to cry and let the Philistines know what was going to happen. Beth Ophrah means dust down and they were told to roll in the dust which was a sign of repentance and mourning.
Pass by naked and in shame, you who live in Shaphir. Those who live in Zaanan will not come out. Beth Ezel is in mourning; it no longer protects you.
Shaphir means beauty town and the beauty is gone; replaced by shame. Zaanan means march town and, instead of marching out to defend the land, they will stay in their homes. Beth Ezel will not fight for the land either.
Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain, waiting for relief, because disaster has come from the Lord, even to the gate of Jerusalem.
The name of the town Maroth means bitterness and they believed the false prophets that were saying that God would not judge His people. They were waiting on their rescue but it never came.
You who live in Lachish, harness fast horses to the chariot. You are where the sin of Daughter Zion began, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you will give parting gifts to Moresheth Gath.
Lachish was southwest of Jerusalem and was where idolatry was introduced to the southern kingdom. Horses were kept there for worship of the sun. The horses and chariots will not rescue them and, in fact, they would give the town of Moresheth Gath to the Assyrians. The Hebrew translation for "parting gifts" is wedding gift and they were to give the town to the Assyrians much like a father gives a wedding present to his daughter when she weds.
The town of Akzib will prove deceptive to the kings of Israel. I will bring a conqueror against you who live in Mareshah. The nobles of Israel will flee to Adullam.
Akzin promised the leaders of Israel that they would assist them against the Assyrians. When the time came, they did not keep their word. The leaders of Israel ended up fleeing to a cave at Adullam (En Gedi) like David had hid in.
Shave your head in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourself as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.
This verse speaks of the fact that the Assyrians took the young people first.