MICAH 1:1 – 3:12 and REVELATION 16:1–11
Micah prophesied during the reigns of several of the kings in both Israel and Judah. The Kings of Judah would have been Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah while the kings of Israel were Pekah and Hoshea of Israel. The ministry period of Micah would have been from the years 750 to 686 BC. The prophets Isaiah and Hosea would have been contemporaries of Micah. The meaning of the name Micah means “Who is like the Lord?” He was a prophet who prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and he began his ministry after the prophetic ministries of both Isaiah and Hoshea were established. He came on the scene prior to the Assyrian invasion of Israel.
There is a 7 part outline that can be given to Micah to help bring the Book into greater focus. They are as follows:
1) The impending judgement upon Israel (1:1-16)
2) Israel’s punishment and subsequent restoration (2:1-13)
3) Condemnation of the Princes and Prophets (3:1-12)
4) The coming glory and Peace of Jerusalem (4:1-13)
5) The suffering and Restoration of Zion (5:1-15)
6) Prophetic and Religious Life of the People Contrasted
7) Exhortation to Trust in God (7:1-20)
Micah prophesied over ALL OF Israel seeing that Samaria had yet to fall to the Assyrians. In verses 2-4 the prophet speaks the words “Hear ye the Word of the Lord”. He is calling all of heaven and earth to serve as witnesses against God’s people. This was also declared in Deu 32:1 as well as Isa 1:2. It is likened to a contest between good and evil; between God and Satan. The prophet declares that the earth and all of His creation trembles at His presence. The purpose of God’s judgment is due to their excessive idolatry and wickedness. The high places in Judah can be traced to Solomon. This is the tragedy of a man who once walked closely with God. A man who had wisdom that excelled all others yet allowed his heart to be compromised resulting in the worshipping of other gods. It was Solomon who built a temple, a house for the Lord. What a warning and message for us today.
The Word of the Lord is now directed towards Samaria in verses 6-7. The altars that were established at Bethel under their first king Jeroboam were steeped in idolatry. Their priests were illegitimate and they paved the way for Baal worship. We have mentioned on previous occasions the origins of much of Baal worship being traced to Balaam.
The stench of Israel’s idolatry resulted in a terminal diagnosis for this nation as seen in verses 8-9. There was no hope and now the judgment is being determined. They have provoked the Holy God to anger especially after all that He had done for them. In addition, the Lord continually pleaded that they would repent and turn from their ways but to no avail. The line has now been crossed. The iniquity of Samaria was like a cancer that was now even spreading to the gates of Jerusalem. There were some righteous kings yet to be found in Judah therefore the Lord had to cut off Samaria. Judah would later be judged for their idolatry but it was not at this time. Israel’s sin was like a plague that was spreading and God had to address it. How sad when you consider the beginning and the expectation that God had for them.
The final verses of chapter 1 (vs 10-16) are not easy to understand at face value. He uses some wordplay to make certain points that the people he was writing to would understand. An example would be verse 14 where it mentions the houses of Achzib. What would this mean and how is it to be interpreted? The name Achzib means “deceitful” and it apparently was the name of a brook that was known to dry up in the summer. There would be travellers who would come to this brook anticipating water only to be deceived and find it dry. The prophet was saying that it would be fruitless to look to this brook or any other means of help in the time of judgement. Micah knew how to communicate in the language the people would understand either through blunt plain language or illustrations that would make the same point. Micah is a unique prophet as we shall see as we journey through this prophetic book.
We now come to Israel’s punishment and future restoration. In verse 1 you see brazenness at its fullest. There was no attempt to hide the evil they were doing; they planned it and did it openly. They could do this because they were in power and no one was able to stop them. I see this happening in my own country (USA) today. There was a time where evil agendas were planned secretly and executed subtlety. This is no longer the case as evil is now on full display. It is like a tidal wave with no restraining force to counter it. This is what happens when lawlessness is on full display. The Lord allowed Israel of old to function in this condition for a short season. This only emboldened them more. The people had become covetous to the point of taking things that did not belong to them. This was seen in what Ahab did to Naboth via Jezebel. Naboth was a man who lived his life and was productive and fruitful upon his land. Ahab wanted his field and when Naboth would not sell obtained it through the treachery of his wife. These things are achieved today in civilized countries by excessive and unfair legislation that forces a person to give up that which is theirs. It is amazing to see how it is all being repeated on a worldwide scale as we approach the last days. This is why we must give heed to the writings and warnings of prophets like Micah.
Though Israel seemed to be getting away with their haughtiness and arrogant ways God was speaking of a future yoke he would place around their necks that they would not be able to be set free from. It is the same thing today. Many of our nations have lived in freedom while having this sense of invincibility of never coming under the rule of others. We simply do not know what it is like to be a nation under bondage. We read about these things in our history books and hear stories from relatives who lived through such times but for the most part it does not register with us. What God is speaking to Israel through Micah he is speaking too many today. We better wake up!
The judgements that were coming were going to be severe. It was going to be to the point where they would lose everything and it would be something that would happen quickly. In verse 6 Micah took issue with other prophets who were saying that there would be no such judgements. Yes, there were other prophets in his day that were speaking a contrary message. These prophets had a certain recognition due to the prosperity that Israel as a nation was experiencing. One can understand how Micah would not be appreciated due to the message he was called to speak. There are many such prophets in the church worldwide today. Remember the words of Jeremiah that pretty well sum up the church scene through the reign of the major and Minor Prophets.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
The Lord reiterates that the coming siege is something that he has authored. In Isaiah 10:5-6 the Lord speaks of Assyria as being His rod and instrument of anger. The Word of the Lord also speaks as to how dangerous it was to live in Israel at this time. There was no proper law and order in place. Is it any different today? When there is no rule of law it then allows for the basest elements within man to manifest. The ones who are victimized are the common decent people who seek to live peaceably. Where are the defenders of Truth? This was Isaiah’s lament as he viewed the condition of Israel and Judah in his day.
Isa 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Isa 59:15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
Isa 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
There was no man; the manner of man God is looking for is one who upholds Truth and Equity.
The Word of the Lord brings a stinging statement to Israel in verse 10. The Lord intended Israel to come into a place of Rest when he brought them out of Egypt. The Lord brought them in under Joshua with instructions to possess the land and live peaceably while observing His laws (Deu 12:9-10). The Lord through His servant Moses reminded Israel on numerous occasions the consequences and blessing that would come in adhering to His laws and precepts as well as the consequences if they failed to do so. They are now about to suffer the consequences of the violation of His laws and ways. The Lord is now saying that this land is no longer your Rest (vs 10). The land is now polluted and no longer suitable for the intended purpose that God had for them.
Sadly, there was so much mixture amongst the class of prophets that the majority of people chose to believe a lie. Can you imagine being a prophet and speaking lies that embolden people to continue in sin? Can you imagine having to give an account before God while seeing the fruits of what your ministry produced?
As in other places throughout the study of the Major and Minor Prophets we see a final word of hope that is given. The Lord speaks of a future time when there will be a restoration of Israel to Himself. The primary fulfilment will be at the time of the 2nd coming. Our God is a God who is patient, long-suffering and abundant in mercy. He does everything He can to cause a people to hear His voice and avoid the consequences of sin. There does come a time when His holiness demands judgement upon unrepentant sin but there is always the anchor of hope given of a future restoration. We are heading towards that day and it is important that we come to know our calling and responsibility. The Book of Micah, like others helps, provided we incline our ears to hear.
The Word of the Lord will now come against the princes and prophets who bear much of the responsibility for where Israel as a nation is at. The indictment begins with the charge against the princes and leaders for not ensuring justice for all people. They perverted justice while oppressing the poor among them. The prophet Hosea brought forth this indictment as well. It is something the Lord takes note of. They had no problem exploiting the poor for their own good and benefit. They were a self-serving leadership that paid little regard for the less fortunate among them.
There comes a time when the pleas of a people will go unanswered due to the sin that separates them from God. This is made clear in Pro 1:28 where it speaks of the Lord not being able to be found of the people until there is repentance. We as a people are prone to turn to God when we are in need. God is gracious and often responds. The problem is how easy it is to slip back into old tendencies and ways. We get familiar with the ever revolving cycle to the point where we take the Lord for granted. This is what Israel had come to know but it was about to end. Make no mistake; sin separates a people from God (Isa 59:1-2).
In verse 5 the Lord now speaks to the prophets who were causing the people to trust in lies. These prophets were reprehensible due to their profiting from their ministry. They courted favor with the people by speaking a message that allowed the people to remain comfortable in their sin. This helped to ensure a measure of popularity and sense of entitlement. These were the kind of ministries who strongly opposed the likes of Micah and Hosea. They have their parallels today. Today’s prophets are much more polished in how they can obscure or diminish Truth. Their packaging of deception is cleverly veiled to the point that it sounds and looks like the Truth. There is a huge demand for discernment in these days. There are a lot of false teachings gaining traction which is helping to pave the way for the antichrist. This is what the Apostle Paul warned against concerning the last days (2 Tim 4:3). These false prophets will not only have to answer to God but also to the people they had led to believe a lie. The destruction that is coming will leave these prophets with no answers to give to the people they have misled.
Micah had the authority to distinguish himself from those who were speaking falsely. His message was enough to expose them resulting in his being set apart. This will happen in the last days. A clarion call, a distinguishable prophetic voice will sound forth. Right now such prophets are lightly regarded because they challenge the status quo. There is little or no Fear of the Lord in the church as yet but that is about to change. Micah goes on to further challenge these priests and leaders who help to lead the nation into corruption. They were accepting bribes and perverting justice allowing themselves to be blessed and enriched in the process. It makes you wonder what Micah would say if he were speaking to the church and leadership of today’s world. The bottom line was that God was about to destroy Israel which would later include Jerusalem and Zion.
The pouring out of the last seven vial judgement now begins. The temple of the Lord in heaven is again mentioned that has a voice coming forth instructing these angels to go forth to pour out the vials. This voice could well be that of the Lord. The vials were given to the angels by the 4 creatures that surround the throne. It is interesting to read Isaiah 66:6 in conjunction with this verse from Revelation. The final recompense against the sin and rebellion of man against God has begun. The one who is leading this defiance against God is the man of sin himself. I find it interesting that it is the fullness of judgement as seen Isa 66:6 being poured out against the personification of sin who goes by the number 666 (Rev 13:18).
The first outpouring of God’s wrath comes upon those who took on the mark of the beast as well as those who worshipped his image. These would be those who conformed to the message under pressure from the 2nd beast as seen in Revelation 13 (Rev 13:12). Those who had the mark had grievous sores that came upon them. This was a selective judgement when contrasted with the third angel’s vial. There are eternal ramifications for taking on the mark of the beast as we shall see a bit later on. There is a torment that is now beginning on earth that will be later carried on into eternity. The second vial is released in verse 3 resulting in the sea becoming like the blood of a dead man. Every living creature that lived within the sea died. In recent years there has been much marine life that has suffered under the consequences of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown. This event has been underreported but it is becoming clearer that the fallout is far greater than anyone would have imagined. Considerable marine life is turning up dead on the shores of America and other far-away places. It is but a small picture of how verse 3 can find fulfilment in the last days.
The third angel pours out his vial and the fountain of waters and rivers become as blood. It is similar to what happened in the days of Moses prior to the Exodus. It is during this time when the declaration is made in heaven concerning the blood of martyrs that has been shed. God is now vindicating those who died by the martyrs sword. There is another voice in heaven that declares the faithfulness and worthiness of God; that He is righteous in all of His ways. The fourth vial is released which has an effect upon the sun. The men of the earth will be scorched with great heat and yet through all of this they will refuse to give Him glory. There is the hint here that God is still providing an opportunity for men to repent in the midst of their torment. As mentioned in chapter 9 it is God’s way of giving men a foretaste of what hell would be like. Surprisingly they still do not turn back to God but rather carry on with their blasphemies. This is a good place to link the familiar account of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man was in torment and sought for Lazarus to tell his living family about the horrors of hell. The answer from Abraham was that even if someone would come to them from hell with such a message it would have no effect (Luke 16: 23-26).
The fifth vial is poured out upon the seat of the beast. There is great darkness that is poured out which would be similar to the ninth plague in Egypt. The seat of the beast would be the rebuilt city of ancient Babylon. He (the beast) also had a seat in Jerusalem. Here again we see the judgement being selective as they involve a regional area of the world. There will be worldwide repercussions but the focus is primarily on this portion of the world. It is an inner connected world so I do want to make clear that the effects of what is happening in these vial judgements will have ramifications on an international scale. The reach and influence of the beast will be somewhat limited. His policies however will have a rippling effect upon the world of the last days.