Saturday, October 29, 2016

Micah 4 – God will rescue his people!

Micah 4 – God will rescue his people!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 30, 2016

Remember last week I related that when politicians or preachers try and tell you that mankind can bring about peace that they are either misguided or lying? The real peace we will ever know is that God can provide and is found in Jesus alone. Armies, machines of war, speeches, treaties or promises by nations will never bring about the peace mankind longs for, only faith will. Only God will rescue his people!

Micah’s words resonate in our ears and resound in the longing of our hearts and souls. We find in them hope for our future and the real reason for our existence. Israel was going to be brought down because of their arrogance and sin. They would be overthrown by their enemies and hauled away into slavery; but in the midst of this horrible dark news was a beam of light; a hope for their future and for the entire world. In it we discover God will rescue his people! Let’s see what hope Micah's words have for us this morning…

READ: Micah 4

God through Micah begins to share with his people what would occur because of their refusal to repent and turn back to him. He tells them that God will rescue his people…

I. By making his presence known to everyone! (Vv. 1-5)

In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.

  1. Micah begins God’s promise by letting the Hebrews know that Jerusalem and specifically Mt. Zion, the Temple Mount, the future kingdom will become a spiritual focal point for future generations: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.” End time enthusiasts speculate that the Temple will be rebuilt but they totally ignore “we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:6 NIV) The coming kingdom is the kingdom of God found in Jesus. The entire focus of Scripture is Jesus. Jesus is our new Temple Mount, the focus of worship, and thereby why “Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’” Peace will be found in the word of God, Jesus, and his “law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.” In fact when the nations of the world come to know Jesus as Savior only then will the world know true peace; Micah promises that in fact “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” What Israel had hoped for would come true and “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.” Entering God’s kingdom does this fantastic thing! Paul would state “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22 NIV) The present time, what Micah promised, is now found in Jesus. God had spoken and while other “nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” Micah promised that God will rescue his people by making his presence known to everyone!

  EXAMPLE: When one needs help in an emergency there is nothing more comforting than to know that EMTs or Firemen are there. Often they tell those in need of their help to remain calm that they are there to help. They make their presence known. This is the comforting words Micah had for his people and for us today. God will rescue his people by making his presence known to everyone!

We often forget that God is not bound by the constraints of time; he always has been and always will be. For him the moment is now. The millennium has already begun. Therefore we discover that Micah promised God will rescue his people…

II. By restoring them completely! (Vv. 6-8)

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.”

  1. Those that have been removed, disenfranchised, or exiled will be restored by God when they enter into his kingdom. He tells Micah “In that day” that it would be him alone who would “gather the lame” and he would “assemble the exiles and those” he had “brought to grief”! Yes God held them accountable for their sin and it would be God who would fulfill his promise. God told every one of his prophets that he would gather his people to himself again. He told Zephaniah, “At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.” (Zephaniah 3:19 NIV) God tells Micah, “I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation.” The “lame” are those caught in sin, those unable to rescue themselves, those “driven away” would become a “strong nation” in God! How would this be possible? What Micah could only guess at we know for sure; that it is through Jesus we become the nation of God! This is why Peter would declare that we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV) This is how “The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.” The next statements of Micah are exciting because it is God speaking about Jesus: “As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.” All of sinful broken creation, the “former dominion”, will be made new “restored” because of Jesus! God’s promise is that “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17 NIV) Micah shared that God will rescue his people by restoring them completely!

  EXAMPLE: There are some cute commercials on TV that the retired NFL quarterback Payton Manning does. One is where he is sitting in a restaurant and everyone there is using the Nationwide Insurance ditty to sing their orders and such. Their motto is: “Nationwide is on your side.” It is supposed to conjure up the feeling of safety and security. Micah’s words to his people and for us this morning do the same thing! God will rescue his people by restoring them completely!

None of us like discipline or to suffer the consequences of our sin, yet in order to be the people of God that he desires, sometimes it has to happen. Israel would suffer but there was hope. Micah teaches us that…

III. God will rescue his people! (Vv. 9-13)

Why do you now cry aloud-- have you no king? Has your counselor perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies. But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor. “Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hoofs of bronze and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

  1. God asks the Israelites an interesting question: “Why do you now cry aloud-- have you no king? Has your counselor perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?” They did have a king, God, and they did have a counselor, the Holy Spirit, so why were they crying aloud? It was because they were like “a woman in labor” they had forgotten in whom they were to rely on! This is why they would “Writhe in agony…like a woman in labor” and “leave the city to camp in the open field.” There was nothing they could do, they would be wanderers. While Assyria was still in power Micah foretells them they “will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.” Their captivity was necessary: “There the LORD will redeem [them] out of the hand of [their] enemies.” However, Israel would have to face the scorn of other nations around them because of their foolishness, so “now many nations are gathered against you. They say, ‘Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!’” Like the children sitting in the marketplace Jesus spoke about who were bored who wanted someone to entertain them, and here it would be Israel’s enemies! Yet God also gives them words of comfort in the midst of their shame by assuring them “they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor.” In fact Israel would be the ones who would ultimately harvest their enemies so God tells them, “Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hoofs of bronze and you will break to pieces many nations. You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.” In the end, God’s people win! They will defeat their enemies but not in the way many of them thought. The weapons God would forge would be found in the gospel message. Israel’s enemies would end up using their ill-gotten gains for God’s glory! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10) We discover therefore that ultimately God will rescue his people!

  EXAMPLE: Being rescued is a good thing. Whether it is Gandalf showing up as the orc hoards surround Helms Deep or the US Mobile Cavalry Unit coming over the hill we are all glad when we are rescued. It would not happen right away and it would not happen in the way they wanted it to but it would happen. God through Micah tells his people to not lose heart, God will rescue his people!

Conclusion:

God will rescue his people by making his presence known to everyone! God will rescue his people by restoring them completely! God will rescue his people!
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This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Micah 3 – Be aware of ungodly leaders!

Micah 3 – Be aware of ungodly leaders!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 23, 2016

What does a nation do when its leaders are so corrupt that they put criminals to shame? And then what do people do when their spiritual leaders are supposed to be leading them toward God’s holiness but are so ungodly that they willingly sacrifice your future to fill their pockets? No I am not talking about the 2016 Presidential race or the current millennial view of Jesus and the future of the church. I am speaking about the words of Micah to the divided Israelite nation.

Micah’s words are just as contemporary today as when they were written thousands of years ago. What do they teach us? What can they teach us? Here within these verses we will discuss this morning we discover that just as in Micah’s day we today need to be aware of ungodly leaders. Let’s find out what Micah teaches us…

READ: Micah 3

Like all spiritual narcissists the leaders of the Hebrew people were more interested in their own selves than the needs of their people. And Micah describes them in pretty graphic terms and warns his listeners that they need to….

I. Be aware of ungodly leaders who eat their own! (Vv. 1-4)

Then I said, "Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?" Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.

  1. Micah begins this section with a rhetorical question to those in leadership. He asks them to “listen”; it is a command so-to-speak for them to hear what he is saying. He as God’s messenger has a message for them as “leaders of Jacob” and as “rulers of the house of Israel” that they had better listen to and acknowledge. He asks them, “Should you not know justice…?” And of course they definitely should in being the leaders they were supposed to be; but evidently they did not! Instead they “hate good and love evil”! Wow! Sounds like our Presidential race! Rather than doing what is right for our nation it almost seems that they are more concerned about trashing their opponent or getting filthy rich from political corruption. God declares through Micah that Israel’s leaders were like cannibals who “tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot”! This perfectly describes any politician or spiritual leader who is more interested in their own gain, power, and finances than how they are in leading people! They devour people like a commodity to be used and eaten for their personal lives. What these pathetic individuals fail to see is that because of their own spiritual blindness and personal greed God will not be mocked. For there will come a day when their ungodly and corrupt behavior will be exposed, “Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them.” What was true for the ungodly leaders of Micah’s day is just as true for those who devour our Nation today! Now some think that Micah is referring to the people crying out and God not hearing them any longer because they allowed these ungodly leaders to lead them! I believe it is the leadership he is referring to. Whatever the case God’s people can rest assured that this evil will be accounted for because “At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.” God will not hear their cries for mercy. However, we as his people need to be aware of ungodly leaders who eat their own!

  EXAMPLE: There is no culture today that protects or condones cannibalism. All progressive people realize it is repulsive, ungodly, and irreprehensible. Yet there are those political individuals who revel and celebrate the murder of newborns and the unborn, and are excited to declare their programs are “for the children”. While enslaving millions through the purchase of their votes by promising womb to the tomb governmental care, they eat the flesh off the bones of those who would work hard, cultivate a business, and try to do well in our society. They use false charities too fill their political pockets to influence other corrupt individuals all the while whispering platitudes to the unsuspecting masses. Micah warns us today to be aware of ungodly leaders who eat their own!

Sadly there are folks today who still fall into the mistaken belief that we can obtain peace in the world by talking it out, negotiated bribery, or by shear force. None of them are true. The world will never know true peace until Jesus returns and therefore Micah teaches us to…

II. Be aware of ungodly leaders who declare unfounded peace! (Vv. 5-7)

This is what the LORD says: "As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim 'peace'; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him. Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God."

  1. The reason I believe Micah was referring to Israel’s leaders is because of what he relates in the following verses. Micah continues by saying, “This is what the LORD says”. Micah is speaking to these leaders who were corrupt. God then says, “As to the prophets who lead my people astray”. These false prophets were supposed to be the nation’s shepherds who were to compassionately care for their flock, but they did not! Instead they deliberately gave the people a false hope by telling them everything was okay, there were no problems, and that God would not hold them accountable for their sin! Micah related that if some unsuspecting soul was to “feed” one of these false prophets they would only mouth what they thought the people wanted to hear and not the truth! They would “proclaim ‘peace’” which was not coming. These liars would do this simply because they wanted to retain their privilege. However if the person did not “feed” one of these ungodly shepherds they would “prepare to wage war against” them! These men were not just warring against their own people they were warring against God! There was no peace! Micah warns them again that God will not be mocked by those who falsely proclaim peace: “Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination.” Their dark lies would blind them and God would not be there for them! It is hard to sustain a lie in the light of the truth. The Light of Life would not shine for them. They would be totally spiritually blinded and “The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced.” Their time had come because God knows when we sit and when we rise and as David sang that “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalms 139:12 NIV) And in the light of God’s truth “They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God” for these ungodly liars! Micah warns us to be aware of ungodly leaders who declare unfounded peace!

  EXAMPLE: Peace cannot come because of education, money, or prestige. Peace that surpasses all understanding comes only from God alone! John writes that only in Jesus do we find peace. John reminds us that “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:20-21 NIV) Jesus promised us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV) When we know the Prince of Peace we will know peace. We must be aware of ungodly leaders who declare unfounded peace!

Contrary to popular opinion truth is not relative to societal change, convoluted morals, or the whim of the individual. There can be only one truth, not many. Therefore Micah reminds us to…

III. Be aware of leaders who pervert the truth! (Vv. 8-12)

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us." Therefore because of you Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

  1. Do you remember what two commands of God that Jesus related all the others were founded upon? God’s people are to love him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as themselves. Yet these false leaders did not. Micah has an answer for their ungodliness. He tells them just how corrupt they are and reminds them that it was he who was “filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.” Micah would tell the truth because the truth lived in him! All godly people are to practice the truth not just with the deeds they do but in the words they use as well! And so Micah boldly proclaims, “Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness.” He knew what they were about (wickedness) and he was not blinded by their spiritual clich├ęs. They were drenched in the innocent blood of the people! God had exposed the truth: Israel’s “leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money”! God gave Micah the truth to proclaim. These false leaders would be held accountable for saying they spoke for God: “Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, ‘Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us.’” Disaster was indeed coming and it was because of them! This is something we have forgotten in our day and age because we think we are so “enlightened” and that we can simply believe in God but not live like we do. The false prophets of Micah’s day thought they could just say they were speaking for God and that was good enough yet they would suffer the consequences of their sin, but not just them alone. The innocents and the guilty would suffer alike because of their ungodly lying deceit! “Therefore because of you Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” Micah warns us to be aware of leaders who pervert the truth!

  EXAMPLE: Could our Nation face the same consequences of lying politicians and spiritual leaders? Yes, but not because we are or ever have been “One Nation under God”. Rather it is because we have leaders both political and spiritual who refuse to do the right thing when they know they should. Whether it is to cement their political careers, insure their legacy, or to fill their pockets with cash we have leaders today that are just as corrupt as those of Micah’s day. They will say anything to a willing and wanting audience in order to gain control over people’s lives for personal gain. They truly do not care for us as individuals, as a Nation, nor future generations; for if they did they would speak the truth to us even if it meant their political or spiritual careers. Micah reminds us to be aware of leaders who pervert the truth!

Conclusion:

Be aware of ungodly leaders who eat their own! Be aware of ungodly leaders who declare unfounded peace! Be aware of leaders who pervert the truth!
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This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Confess! – Micah 2

Confess! – Micah 2
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 16, 2016

All of us have likely heard the truism, “Confession is good for the soul.” It’s an old Scottish proverb but there is a word missing. The proverb actually reads, “Open confession is good for the soul.” Perhaps it supports open and honest confession from one caught in their transgressions or it could come from Catholic guilt. I believe its roots come from Jesus who declared, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32 NIV) King David declared, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalms 32:5 NIV)

Micah teaches us that confession is good for the soul; not just for individuals but for nations and its leaders as well. The Hebrews had forsaken their God, their faith, and their own people for selfish gain. Micah wanted to restore them before God brought about his judgment. The sins of Judah mentioned in the following verses break the Mosaic Covenant. Therefore the destruction coming on them was justified. Their only cure was to be restored through confession; let’s discover how this could occur and if it is important for us as well…

READ: Micah 2

Today’s believers no longer can take the high road of non-involvement in our world. We see all around us the results of a holier than thou attitude that has brought about the ungodliness in our society. What is the answer? Micah related that…

I. God’s people need to realize the consequences of their sin! (Vv. 1-5)

Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning's light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance. Therefore, the LORD says: “I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity. In that day men will ridicule you; they will taunt you with this mournful song: ‘We are utterly ruined; my people's possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.’” Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the LORD to divide the land by lot.

  1. Interestingly Micah was not speaking to the spiritually “unwashed” in these verses. The fact is he was addressing his own people for their spiritual corruption! The sins in these verses address the violations of Mosaic Law! He tells them, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!” These “godly” people lay awake to scheme and plan their sin while in their beds at night! And then “At morning's light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” In their blatant and crass materialism they craved other people’s “fields and seize them” even their “houses” and they were so corrupt they would “defraud a man of his home” and others of their “inheritance”! Wow! Would God allow this ungodliness of his people who are called by his name to continue? Micah says, “NO!” “Therefore, the LORD says: ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity. In that day men will ridicule you; they will taunt you with this mournful song: “We are utterly ruined; my people's possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.’” What could the people do? In Micah’s day the judgment of God was certain. His people needed to return to him and the only way he could get their attention was to hold them completely accountable for their action. If they plotted to rob people, God would use others to take their material possessions. The warning is implicit for us today. If we do not return to God he will use our own sinful lifestyles against us! He warns them “Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the LORD to divide the land by lot.” Their system of laws would be destroyed by those who did not care. Sound familiar? God’s people need to realize the consequences of their sin!

  EXAMPLE: America is suffering from the political choices people have made in the past: A huge debt, the largest unemployment and under-employment in our history, and the breakdown of our civil and moral code. We now have two Presidential candidates who have horrendous character flaws. Whether you want to believe it or not they reflect the people they represent! America no longer has a moral or social conscience. What needs to occur? I believe that first and foremost God’s people who are called by his name must return to him! And the first step in doing so is to realize that we are the ones who have brought America to this immoral time in history. I believe, like Micah taught the Israelites that God’s people need to realize the consequences of their sin!

There is a heresy that exists within Christianity today that tacitly believes that Christians will never be held accountable for their sins. It goes something like this: “God is love, Jesus loves us, and he will never allow those he loves to be disciplined for their ungodliness.” Micah teaches us that…

II. We should be aware of false preachers! (Vv. 6-11)

“Do not prophesy,” their prophets say. “Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should it be said, O house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD angry? Does he do such things? Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?” Lately my people have risen up like an enemy. You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle. You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes. You take away my blessing from their children forever. Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy. If a liar and deceiver comes and says, “I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,” he would be just the prophet for this people!

  1. There are those in our day and age who are just like the prophets of Micah’s day. They are the sin without guilt crowd and the happy dancers who twist honesty. Micah relates the fact that these phony purveyors of truth were trying to convince him to “not prophesy” at all and to especially “not prophesy about these things” because they believed their “disgrace” their sins would “not overtake” them! They thought they could get away with declaring a false truth from God to God’s people! They wanted their listeners to believe that a good God could never judge his people so harshly and so they ask, “Should it be said, O house of Jacob: ‘Is the Spirit of the LORD angry? Does he do such things? Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?’” Yet the truth of the matter was the fact that God’s people had “risen up like an enemy” to God! These lying preachers were guilty of robbing God’s people, of driving them from their homes, and from taking away God’s blessing: “You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle. You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes. You take away my blessing from their children forever.” In fact by not telling the people the truth that they needed to turn back to God, they were deliberately keeping God’s people from repenting! Like many pathetic politicians today these ungodly representatives knew what the problem was but because of their personal greed they would not tell the people the truth! Therefore Micah tells the Israelites to “Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy.” They were to leave their homeland! There was no hope left because of the failure of those they depended upon to tell them the facts! Those who only care about themselves, their power, or filling their pockets at the cost of the people they represent are despicable; and so therefore “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this [sin sick] people!” Micah teaches us that we should be aware of false preachers!

  EXAMPLE: Far too many politicians and way too many religious leaders today have gotten involved in things that they should not be involved in. Political leaders who will say anything or do anything, including lying, cheating, or stealing in order to gain power should be held accountable. There are religious leaders who would rather sell you their latest book or pawn off their current heresy in order to abuse your trust. Rather than preaching the good news, they pander their own pathetic platitudes. Paul reminds us that “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips.” (Romans 3:13 NIV) Micah teaches us that God’s people should be aware of false preachers!

What is the answer therefore for a nation or a people who have rejected God and depended upon the spoken lies of those who were supposed to be their leaders? Micah teaches us that…

III. Confession brings restoration! (Vv. 12-13)

I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.

  1. The promises of God are certain and sure. History, the Biblical record, and past experience have shown me this to be correct. Why is it then that we far too often forget this wonderful truth? God has promised to redeem his people and to restore them. Though Israel’s politicians, priests, and leaders had forsaken them, used them for personal greed, and their enemies were getting ready to overrun them there was hope. Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, promised, “In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:11 NIV) Jeremiah proclaimed, “In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance.” (Jeremiah 3:18 NIV) God through Micah promises, “I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.” In fact it is a wonderful promise that was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus! Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11) who goes after his lost sheep and we see this picture here in the words of Micah when God shares, “I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.” In fact Micah relates that a leader, a Messiah, would be the “One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out.” Jesus is the One who did this! Micah prophesies that it will be “Their king” who “will pass through before them” and that it will be “the LORD at their head”! How would these lost Hebrews be restored? Paul reminds us that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NIV) and that “all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” (Romans 11:26-27 NIV) If we confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord!” we will be saved! (Romans 10:9) Confession brings restoration!

  EXAMPLE: I know it might sound trite to some but the answer for the ills of today is the same it always has been that “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV) Our land just like Israel needs spiritual healing and Micah teaches us that confession brings restoration!

Conclusion:

God’s people need to realize the consequences of their sin! We should be aware of false preachers! Confession brings restoration!
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This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Micah 1 – Judgment is coming!

Micah 1 – Judgment is coming!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 2, 2016

New York City tailor Hercules Mulligan had the singular distinction of saving George Washington's life—twice in fact. A Revolutionary War patriot and spy, Mulligan learned of two British plots to ambush the general and alerted him to the danger. Mulligan also persuaded founding father Alexander Hamilton--originally a supporter of British colonial rule--to promote the cause of American independence. (Huffington Post) In history it is often those who are not well-known who make a difference in the lives of those around them and for those who follow after them. The Minor Prophet Micah is such a person.

Little is known about Micah. Micah is a shortened form of the name Micaiah which means “Who is like Yahweh?” In Jeremiah’s day the elders referred to Micah and quoted him in defense of Jeremiah’s message of judgment on the nation. Micah was from Moresheth, a tiny Judean town about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem near the Philistine city of Gath. Like his contemporary Isaiah, Micah prophesied about the Assyrian destruction of the Northern Kingdom and the later defeat of the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians. Micah prophesied in the eighth century BC. Micah’s message is one of warning to a nation that judgment is coming, let’s see how it fits for our lives today…

READ: Micah 1

God speaks to those who are willing to listen and he uses those who are willing to be available and God will judge those who refuse to do his will. Micah teaches us that…

I. God judges his people when they stray from him! (Vv. 1-5)

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. Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. What is Jacob's transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah's high place? Is it not Jerusalem?

  1. We learn right away that the message of Micah is not his own: “The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth”. And we have a pretty good idea of when it occurred because it was “during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” and so it was during the 8th century BC. Micah’s vision was from God and concerned “Samaria and Jerusalem” the two capitals of the divided Israelite nation. Something was spiritually rotten in Israel: “Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.” The Assyrians were on the advance and unknown to them they would be used by God as his judgment on all the Israelite people. Micah gets very descriptive in relating the judgment to come; “Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.” Micah is describing the onslaught of Assyria to that of molten lava flowing from an active volcano! God’s judgment was coming! Why would God want to judge the Hebrew people? Micah writes that “All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. What is Jacob's transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah's high place? Is it not Jerusalem?” Jacob represents the Northern Kingdom and Judah the Southern Kingdom. One had divided its loyalties both spiritually and physically and the other had fallen into a false pretense of following God. They both had left their first love. God judges his people when they stray from him!

  EXAMPLE: What do loving parents do when their children keep wandering off when they are shopping? They frantically look for them, sternly talk to them, and disciple them for doing so. You know what; God does something that is similar. Like the lost sheep in Jesus’ example as our shepherd, God looks and looks until he finds us and brings us back to him. If we continually wander or deliberately wander away he disciplines us. Micah teaches us that God judges his people when they stray from him!

God will not be ignored nor will he be laughed at by those who say they love God but their actions continually say otherwise. They are committing spiritual adultery. They will reap what they have sown. Micah teaches us that…

II. God judges spiritual adultery! (Vv. 6-9)

Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley 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. 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. For her wound is incurable; it has come to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.

  1. Adultery may be an “old fashioned” concept to some, but God still views it as sin! God judges Israel for its spiritual slackness and he begins with its worst offender Samaria, “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations.” Like the shattered lives of families, children, and others left in the wake of sexual adultery, spiritual adultery brings about the utter destruction of those who practice it. Right down to their foundations! When God’s people try to keep one foot in the world while thinking they are living for God, they are dreadfully wrong. Even some of the people and things they hold dear will suffer because of their spiritual carelessness. God tells Micah, “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.” When God’s people commit adultery God considers it prostitution therefore these things will be destroyed. God is a jealous God and will not allow his children to sell themselves into sexual slavery that ends in spiritual death. He is always saddened when he has to discipline his people and this is why God tells Israel, “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.” God is also depicting how his people will cry out because of their condition. Like a ruined city where only the animals of the night inhabit, nothing will be left of Judah or Samaria. “For her wound is incurable; it has come to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.” Micah teaches us that God judges spiritual adultery!

  EXAMPLE: It makes me cringe when people come to me wanting to get married after they have lived together out of wedlock. Few understand that they will suffer emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically because of their poor choices. Just because one thinks something is perfectly okay to them because they are “in love” does not make it perfectly okay with God. He sees adultery as a deliberate alienation of affection only to satisfy one’s lust. Micah teaches us that God judges spiritual adultery!

There is nothing worse than someone who causes God’s children to stumble. Jesus would declare, “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2 NIV) Micah teaches us that…

III. God requires repentance when we sin! (Vv. 10-16)

Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all. In Beth Ophrah roll in the dust. Pass on in nakedness and shame, you who live in Shaphir. Those who live in Zaanan will not come out. Beth Ezel is in mourning; its protection is taken from you. Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain, waiting for relief, because disaster has come from the LORD, even to the gate of Jerusalem. You who live in Lachish, harness the team to the chariot. You were the beginning of sin to the Daughter of Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you will give parting gifts to Moresheth Gath. The town of Aczib will prove deceptive to the kings of Israel. I will bring a conqueror against you who live in Mareshah. He who is the glory of Israel will come to Adullam. Shave your heads in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourselves as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.

  1. Micah used several clever wordplays to describe the desolation the Assyrian invasion would bring to Judah’s cities. He uses the words of David when he did not want the Philistines to be glad about the Saul’s death: “Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all.” And he foretells repentance from people as they would “roll in the dust” and “Pass on in nakedness and shame, you who live in Shaphir.” And there would be no safe place for them to run to for help, “Those who live in Zaanan will not come out. Beth Ezel is in mourning; its protection is taken from you. Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain, waiting for relief, because disaster has come from the LORD, even to the gate of Jerusalem.” There always comes a time when a person, even a child of God, can go too far and God’s judgment will come and no relief will come. Believer’s are saved by grace and are safe and secure in God but this does not give them a license to keep on sinning. Paul would tell us not to let sin reign in our “mortal bodies so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life... For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14 NIV) There is no escaping God’s judgment, “You who live in Lachish, harness the team to the chariot. You were the beginning of sin to the Daughter of Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you will give parting gifts to Moresheth Gath.” “Parting gifts” means betrothal gifts, like a father gives to his daughter when she marries. God sees us as his bride. Similarly Jerusalem would “give” Moresheth Gath to the Assyrian king. And in reference to David escaping to Adullam, God’s people would try to escape to there as well, “I will bring a conqueror against you who live in Mareshah. He who is the glory of Israel will come to Adullam.” However, if we repent we still may suffer the consequences but we will be restored, “Shave your heads in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourselves as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.” We must not forget that God requires repentance when we sin!

  EXAMPLE: We have forgotten that the spiritual wages of sin is death. However, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) God is indeed gracious to his children, but he will not be mocked. When we sin those we love will face the consequences of our sin but we must return to him. John also wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 NIV) The truth of God can’t exist where there is sin, and we must repent otherwise, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:10 NIV) Micah teaches us that God requires repentance when we sin!

Conclusion:

God judges his people when they stray from him! God judges spiritual adultery! God requires repentance when we sin!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.