Speaking of Isaiah, the Apostle Paul declared, “Esaias is very bold” (Rom. 10:20). And that same statement is also true of the prophet Micah; for in this chapter, he is very bold in reproving and threatening the great men of his day, who were the ringleaders in sin. In verse 8, he even gives the reason why he was so bold – namely, because he had commission and instruction from Jehovah to say what he said; and he was carried on in it by a higher spirit and power than his own. The government and the ministry are two great ordinances of God, which are intended for good to His people. But in Micah’s time, these were both corrupted, and the intentions of them were perverted. Therefore, upon the magistrates and ministers who abused the power of their sacred offices, the prophet is very severe – and justly so. When princes and prophets faithfully discharge the duty of their office, they are to be highly honored above other men; but when they betray their trust, and act contrary to it, they should hear of their faults just as much as others. They must be made to know that there is a God above them, to Whom they are accountable; and thus at His bar, and in His name, the prophet here arraigns them.
The prophet experienced Divine power going along with him in his work; and in verses 8-12, he makes a solemn profession and protestation of it as a justification of his plain dealing with the princes and prophets. It was not he who said these words, but God spoke them by him; and he could not help speaking the words that He put into his mouth. And having an assurance of the truth of what he said, he said it with assurance! He was full of power, judgment, and might; he had an ardent love for God and for the souls of men, a deep concern for His glory and their salvation, and a flaming zeal against sin. Knowing that it was indeed the Spirit of the Lord that was in him and spoke by him, he spoke his message boldly as one who had authority.
The prophet exerted this power in dealing with the princes and the false prophets against whom he had drawn up a high charge in this chapter. These men were covetous; they prostituted their offices to their love of money. The princes abhorred all judgment; they would not be governed by any of its laws, either in their own lifestyles or in passing sentence upon appeals made to them. It is laid to their charge (verse 10) that they built up Zion with blood; for they pretended, in justification of their extortion and oppressions, that they built up Zion and Jerusalem. But their intentions of “doing good” to the city of God could never justify their disobedience to the law of God. A burning zeal for the Church and the propagating of the faith can never be used as a justification of robberies, murders, and massacres. The sin of man does not work the righteousness of God. As for the priests, their work was to teach the people; and for that service, the law of the Lord had provided them a very honorable and comfortable support. But that did not content them, for they hired themselves out to teach anything as a message from God which they knew would please the itching ears of their audience. It was also customary for the prophets in Israel to have honorary fees given to them by way of gratuity (1 Sam. 9:7-8); but these false prophets governed themselves in their prophesying by the prospect of temporal advantages, and that was the main thing they had in their view. Their tongues were mercenary; a man might have any “message from God” that he wanted to hear, if he would only pay them for it. When people do that which in itself is good, but they do it for the sake of selfish greed, it loses its excellency.
In addition to all of these sins, these wicked men added yet another – namely, vain presumption and carnal confidence. They rested in the fact that the Lord had chosen them to be His people, and so they told themselves that there was neither harm nor danger in their wicked lifestyles. Faith rests and relies upon the Lord as the soul’s foundation; but presumption only leans upon Him as a prop, and makes use of Him only when it will serve a good turn. Yes, it was true that the Lord was among them in His ordinances; but unfortunately, this puffed them up with pride. And so they imagined that He was also among them by His favor and love, which was a terrible mistake. How sad it is that the children of men often cheat themselves by thinking that they have God with them, when their sins have provoked Him to depart from them!
A sentence of doom was passed upon these people for their wickedness, notwithstanding their imaginary protection (verse 12): “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field.” This is the very same passage which was quoted over a century later in the time of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 26:18). It is the ruin of holy places that is here foretold – places that had been highly honored with the tokens of God’s presence, and the performances of His worship. Zion would be plowed like a field; the buildings would be burned to the ground and leveled with it. This was literally fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when the ground upon which the city stood was plowed up in token of its utter desolation.
As we read this chapter, we ought to give great thanks to the Lord that although we are just as unworthy and sinful as the ancient Israelites, yet He has mercifully continued to bless us with a remnant of faithful ministers who faithfully proclaim His message of grace to all who repent and return to Him!
Lord, we pray for our ministers and spiritual shepherds, that they may speak with the same boldness and consciousness of spiritual power that Micah had! Amen.
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