August 1, 2001

Micah 3

The persons addressed are the scandalous leaders of the house of Israel, i.e. of the covenant nation, and primarily those living in his own time, though by no means those only, but all who share their character and ungodliness, so that the words apply to succeeding generations quite as much as to his contemporaries. (Commentary on the Old Testament, v. 10.467. Keil-Delitzsch. Micah 3:12, for your sakes...)

Introduction:

I have been going through Micah in my personal study. As I go through a book, I like to write a commentary on it and read what others say about the subjects at hand. I did a commentary on Micah chapters 1, 2 & 5 some years ago. My wife asked me about chapter three, and when I went back to look at my notes, that chapter was missing. So I have gone back to pick up the chapters I messed.

The time in which I have reviewed what I had, much of which I will share later, is significant, in that during this period, Christians are being swept off their feet and investing billions of dollars of God's money into false teachings like The Prayer of Jabez and the Left Behind series. And material keeps coming into my hands that speak loudly against the false teachings behind these books.

As I have gone through Micah, I have been very strongly impressed with God's message there is against "Christian" teachers and writers who "fleece" the sheep with lies and half-truths. The people of God are compared to sheep, so they easily follow a strong leader regardless of the doctrinal soundness of that leader. (Ps. 74:1, 79:13, 95:7, 100:3, Jer. 23:1, &c. I found an abundance of this "following" in my research for The Death of Victory.)

Though I have never been a shepherd over literal sheep, from what I understand, sheep have very little mind of their own in that they will follow their leader wherever he leads them. The Lord said His sheep know His voice, and will flee at the voice of a stranger, which leaves us with a problem. Either all those following along after the many false shepherds of our day are not the Lord's sheep, or the false shepherds are very effective angels of light, indistinguishable to the natural mind from true shepherds. (I realize there is only one Shepherd, but throughout Scripture, spiritual leaders are called shepherds.)

The problem is that the sheep love to follow false shepherds – they love the lying messages that appeal to the flesh, e.g., wine and strong drink. (Micah 2:11, Jer. 5:31.) God's sheep many times gladly follow the lying messages, seemingly unconcerned that they are being led to the slaughter – that is, the false shepherds, lying messengers, are doing what appeals to the masses for the benefit of the shepherd. The New Testament authors, as did Christ Himself, called the lying shepherds wolves.

Because the sheep, having itching ears that like to be scratched, (2 Tim. 4:3) are being told pleasant words, they have little or no inclination to obey God's instructions to try the spirits whether they are of God, even though they have been told that many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 Jn. 4:1.)

God's condemnation throughout Scripture is primarily against the false shepherds, false religious leaders known as wolves, rather than against the easily lead astray sheep. The tone of the passages against the wolves implies that, more often than not, the false shepherds realize what they are doing – they realize that their words are lies designed to reap riches for themselves.

Parentheses: I found in my extensive research for The Death of Victory that the early (before 1850) formulators of the then new millennial doctrine which has gathered such a huge following intentionally threw out 1400 years of orthodox Christian doctrine. They knew and readily confessed that they were formulating a new line of Christian thought. The sheep did not follow them because of their sound doctrine, but because of their strong personalities.

Chapter three is divided into three parts of four verses each: 1) vv. 1-4, to the princes who turn right into wrong, and flay the people for their own benefit; 2) vv. 5-8, to the false prophets who lead the people astray and confirm them in their sin with lying prophecies of peace, as they call down God's retribution upon themselves; 3) vv. 9-12, to the three classes of the divinely-appointed chiefs of the nation – the princes, the priests, and the prophets – the destruction of Jerusalem, and the turning of Zion and the temple mountain into a ploughed field and wooded heights on account of their degeneracy. (K-D)

Micah speaks against the leaders of the house of Jacob and the princes of the house of Israel, which houses in the New Testament represent those in Christ:

Isaiah 49:3 And said to me, Thou [art] my servant, O {e} Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

(e) By Israel is meant Christ, and all the body of the faithful, as the members and their head. (Geneva. See also 42:1.)

Speaking on 1 John 5:19, Matthew Henry said:

3. They are on God's side and interest, in opposition to the state of the world: And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness, #1Jo 5:19. Mankind are divided into two great parties of dominions, that which belongs to God and that which belongs to wickedness or to the wicked one. The Christian believers belong to God. They are of God, and from him, and to him, and for him. They succeed into the right and room of the ancient Israel of God, of whom it is said, The Lord's people is his portion, his estate in this world; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance, the dividend that has fallen to him by the lot of his own determination (#De 32:9); while, on the contrary, the whole world, the rest, being by far the major part, lieth in wickedness, in the jaws in the bowels, of the wicked one...

Thus, there are only TWO classes of people in the world today, Christians and non-Christians, not Jews and Gentiles.

Micah 3:1-4

To the princes who turn right into wrong, and flay the people for their own benefit.

Typical of the word of God, 2:12, 13, gave a bright spot in the midst of the thunderings and lightenings of God's wrath against sin. God has exposed the secret motives of the heart of those in vv. 1-4; the sin being spoken against is primarily the sin of those in power, including both religious and civil leaders. They misused their power to increase their own wealth and power.

In chapter 3, the short brake in the clouds of God's wrath is over, and He again speaks against the evil ones who are in control, the princes and leaders of the families in Israel. These are the heads of the families and of the households. These are men whose duty is to know judgment and justice, to know good and evil; it is their duty to promote the good and punish evil.

However, the corruption of the "leaders" is evident; God has exposed the secret motives in 2:1, 2. They hate good and love evil. They not only rob the people, but they treat them like cattle to be butchered to produce food for the hungry. And these men are hungry wolves; hungry for power and wealth.

Vv. 2, 3, the wicked hate the good (which would include truth) and love the evil, for in the evil (lies) is their power and wealth obtained. Micah compares these wicked men to wild beasts that rip and tare apart their prey.

V. 4, the Lord promises distress upon the leaders who cause His people to err, and who give them false hope. The Lord will punish the wicked. "Therefore, in the time of judgment, God will not hear their crying to Him for help, but will hide His face from them, i.e., withdraw His mercy from them." (K-D)

Just as the victims of the wicked cried for mercy and the evil men would not hear, the lying leaders will cry for mercy, and the Lord will not hear:

Their prayer shall be rejected, because it is the mere cry of nature for deliverance from pain, not that of repentance for deliverance from sin. (JFB)

Vv. 5-8

To the false prophets who lead the people astray and confirm them in their sin with lying prophecies of peace, yet they are calling down God's retribution upon themselves.

Now Micah turns from the godless princes and judges to the prophets who lead the people astray for the profit that is in it for themselves. As the first strophe expanded on 2:1 & 2, this second expands on 2:6 & 11, and the false prophets.

Personal note: If it were me speaking, I would start placing the blame on the sheep for being so gullible and allowing themselves to be "fleeced" by their religious leaders. But it is not me, and the Lord continues to place the primary blame on the prophets who for the profit speak lies in His name.

Though Micah speaks against the corrupt family and civil leaders, his harshest words are against the corrupt religious leaders who "prophesy for profit." The Lord promises to devise evil against those who devised evil against the helpless.

Though Micah speaks to the immediate prophets of Israel, he also speaks to the prophets of the New Testament Gospel Church, qv.

V. 5, make my people err.

[They] knowingly mislead My people by not denouncing their sins as incurring judgment. (JFB)

The false shepherds make my people err by "failing to charge them with their sins, and preach repentance, as the true prophets do, and predicting prosperity for bread and payment." (K-D) They prophecy peace as long as they are supplied with the good things, but when that supply slacks off, then they foretell war and calamity; they prepare war — "literally, ‘sanctify war,' that is, proclaim it as a holy judgment of God because they are not fed." (JFB)

Example: "If you really want to prosper, read my book, or send me your money." Does this not say, "You will not prosper unless you read my book or send me your money"?

Vv. 6, 7, though the false prophets claimed to have words from God, and the people believed that they had Gods' light in them, they had no vision from God. God promises that the time will come ("Darkness is often the image of calamity, Isa. 8:22, Am. 5:18, 8:9. JFB) when everyone will see that they have nothing but darkness; then they will be afraid to speak again in the name of the Lord.

The sun will go down, and darkness will cover the false prophets. Their time of prosperity will be over, and they will lose favor with the people. Their days of huge speaking fees will be over, and the people will hold them in contempt.

The illustration that keeps coming to my mind is the book "88 Reasons Why the Lord will Come in ‘88." The author made a fortune as the sheep flocked to purchase his book and hear him speak. His sure word of prophecy turned out to be lies, and he is held in contempt, though he made enough money to retire (if he wanted to) and live on the nice piece of property he bought with the money. (Note 1Peter 1:19 is followed by 1 Peter 2:1, and the warning against false prophets among the people of God.)

Micah contrasts himself with the false prophets who have no commission from God. Micah says that God commissioned him by His Spirit; the purpose of his words is not to gain wealth nor fame, but to speak truth and judgment, and to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Micah's purpose is quite contrary to the false prophets' whose purpose was personal enhancement.

Vv. 9-12

To the three classes of the divinely-appointed chiefs of the nation – the princes, the priests, and the prophets – the destruction of Jerusalem, and the turning of Zion and the temple mountain into a ploughed field and wooded heights on account of their degeneracy.

V. 9, boldly and courageously, Micah speaks to the chief men of the land – the husbands and fathers, the judges, the priests, and all the civil leaders, and charges them with willfully and knowingly rejecting the truth of God's word. They do more than corrupt the truth with lies; they abhor, or detest, the truth, for it prevents their prosperity.

V. 10, they build their "kingdoms" with lies and half-truths.

An application: Pastors who know better compromise the truth, if not outright lie, in order to build up Zion, the physical assembly:

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Heb. 12.)

Notice how the passage in Hebrews continues:

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

The Spirit continues on as He did through Micah – He warns against rejecting the Word of God; He warns about the result of rejecting the Word of God, For our God is a consuming fire against those who compromise the truth in order to build up Zion and Jerusalem. How many pastors have knowingly compromised the truth in order to gain and hold a crowd? And my people love to have it so.

My "pet peeve" today are the writers of "fluffy" books–books that are passed off as Christian, yet have very little resemblance to the word of God, e.g., "Left Behind." These authors are building up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.

Also included here is the multitude of churches built upon what appeals to the crowd. Their goal is to have a good attendance and an good offering. It does not seem to be to "feed the flock" the truth of God's word. The word of God has a lot to say about the false shepherds, e.g.:

Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
Ezekiel 34:2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

The false shepherds abound today; men who are more interested in their personal well being and standing before the "brethren" than they are what is good for the people from God's word.

But the Lord will hold them accountable to His word:

Amos 1:2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

V. 11, they promised God's protective hand of blessings to sinners without serious conversion from sin and to righteousness and holiness.

V. 11 links the corrupt judges who judge for reward, the priests who teach for hire, and the prophets who divine for money together. Accordingly, pastors who compromise or outright ignore the word of God in order to draw a crowd are before God the same as the "pork barrel" politicians who sell their votes to the highest bidder and who purchase votes with the public treasury; they are the same as judges who accept bribes. In other words, the root cause of the corrupt political and judicial systems is corrupt religious leaders whose motive is to make a good living, build a large ministry and/or draw a crowd.

Micah describes them as people who predict peace and prosperity for a morsel of bread, and thereby lead the people astray, setting before them prosperity and salvation (pray this prayer for prosperity or "rapture" from this evil world? Ed.), instead of preaching repentance to them, by charging them with their sins. Thus they become accomplices of the wicked rulers, with whom they are therefore classed in ver. 11, together with the wicked priests. (K-D)

Do we think the scripture saith in vain that

...the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17.)

It is not hard to hear religious leaders make their "pitch" towards those who can least afford it. They say to those who are at the bottom, "Vow me the first thousand dollars that comes in after you make this vow , and fulfill that vow, and God will bless you abundantly."

[V. 11] Or, "O thou that buildest up" {g}, &c. or "everyone of them that buildeth up" {h}, &c. for the word is in the singular number; but, be fire words rendered either of these ways, they respect the heads and princes of the people; who either repaired the temple on Zion, or ornamented the king's palace, or built themselves fine stately houses in Jerusalem, or large streets there, by money they took of murderers to save them, as Kimchi; or by money got by rapine and oppression, by spoiling the poor of their goods and their livelihood, for them and their families, which was all one as shedding innocent blood; and by money obtained by bribes, for the perversion of justice, and such like illegal proceedings, truly called iniquity. The Targum is,

"who build their houses in Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with deceits." (Gill)

These false teachers use deceits to get gain; they built up Zion with the blood of the innocent:

Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. (Ez. 22:27.)

Thus the victims of the wolves who are after dishonest (lies, or fraud) gain are compared to murder victims. (Cf. Micah 2:1, 2.) Micah's main message is against the false prophets who prophecy, or speak in the name of the Lord. For their own personal gain, they perpetrate fraud upon the people of God, the sheep. Micah could not make his point clearer — those who are looked upon as religious leaders preach and teach the messages that will bring in the most followers and the most money. They clearly "preach to the purse."

In the mean time, they say, "Is not the Lord among us? Are we not seeing increases of people and money, and is not the workman is worthy of his hire? Surely, these increases mean the Lord is blessing our efforts. Even if we are doing wrong, the Lord is among us, for the increases prove His presence. Besides, none evil can come upon us, for we are under grace, not under law. Christ took the punishment for our sins." (1 Tim. 6:5, 6.)

The heads thereof judge for reward... That is, the civil rulers rule according to whatever will give them the most increase. The prophets thereof divine for money... That is, the religious rulers teach according to whatever will give them the most increase. But the same prophets who preach for profit preach against the civil rulers who rule according what profits them the most (according to the latest polling information), and against corrupt judges who sell "justice" to the highest bidder.

Divine for money... They tell men the good things that will come their way, and this they prophesy according to the sum of money that comes to them (the prophets).

Note the hypocrisy of those who "preach to the purse," yet say they are leaning on the Lord.

V. 12, Zion for your sake shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps...

For your sake... The Lord laid the blame upon the false teachers, the wolves, for the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and then later by the Romans:

34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. (Matt. 23.)

Micah 3:12 was literally fulfilled. According to Josephus (Wars, b. 7, ch. 2, s. 1. Note 2),

This Tereutius Rufus, as Reland in part observes here, is the same person whom the Talmudists call Turnus Rufus; of whom they relate, that "he ploughed up Sion as a field, and made Jerusalem become as heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest;" which was long before foretold by the prophet Micah, ch. 3:12, and quoted from him in the prophecies of Jeremiah, ch. 26:18.

The Jerusalem of Christ's day became a heap of stones. When the walls of Jerusalem were overturned, Rufus, upon Rome's orders, plowed a furrow under the overturned walls. The Jerusalem today is many feet above the Jerusalem of Christ's day.

12. #Jer 26:18 quotes this verse. The Talmud and MAIMONIDES record that at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus, Terentius Rufus, who was left in command of the army, with a ploughshare tore up the foundations of the temple.

mountain of the house—the height on which the temple stands.

as the high places of the forest—shall become as heights in a forest overrun with wild shrubs and brushwood. (JFB)

Zion housed the corrupt civil rulers and judges who sold judgments; Jerusalem housed the common man, husbands and fathers; and special mention is made of the mountain of the house – that is, the temple hill – which refers to the temple. The people had a false trust in The temple of the LORD. (Jer. 7:1-15.)

The predicates are divided rhetorically, and the thought is this: the royal palace, the city, and the temple shall be so utterly destroyed, that of all the houses and palaces only heaps of rubbish will remain, and the ground upon which the city stood will be partly used as a ploughed field, and partly overgrown with bushes (cf. Isa. xxxii. 13, 14.) (K-D)

If God would do such destruction against His people Israel because of their false prophets, then what is in store for His people today, the New Israel, the church, as the false prophets prosper at the expense of His sheep? (Heb. 10:26-31.)

Note that Micah prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and the king repented, and turned from his wicked ways. (Jer. 26:18, 19.)

Applications:

He will bring shame upon false prophets, wolves, and confound them.

There are an amazing number of passages in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, warning God's people against the false prophets who rip and tare apart His people for the money. And He promises, in His proper time, His judgment and wrath against those who take advantage of His people. The major theme of those passages is against the religious leaders, and not against the pagans, e.g., Hosea, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah 6, 23, 27, 28, Isaiah 9, Ezekiel 13, 2 Corinthians 11, 2 Thessalonians 2, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 4, &c. Note that "Bible believing" preachers preach to the purse, and then they complain about politicians who "preach to the vote."

There are far too many passages to quote, but I will give a few:

10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isa. 30.)

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? (Jer. 5:31.)

13 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. (In other words, their message is motivated by covetousness rather than by concern for the well-being of the flock.) 14 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.) (Jer. 6.)

In other words, their messages are motivated by covetousness rather than by concern for the well-being of the flock.

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3.)

Those who preach the truth wonder if the Lord will every catch up with the prospering false prophets who ignore the truth for the gain.

If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people. (Micah 2:11.)

The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. (Micah 3:11.)

For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:18.)

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3. That is, their motive is "earthly things," ed.)

Notice 2 Chronicles 18 – when God wanted to bring judgment against the wicked Ahab, He sent a lying spirit to entice Ahab to follow after his own heart to his death. And the lying spirits seem to be out in full force today.

3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2.)

I realize how the above passage is normally understood today, which I believe is totally unscriptural. But the point is that God sends a strong delusion, so His people should believe a lie. And thus they call down upon themselves God's damnation for not having pleasure in His truth – Ahab did not want to hear the truth, so God sent him a lying spirit.

But even more pointed is Christ's warning against dangerous and devouring wolves:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matt. 7:15.)
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16.)
Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:3.)

Those who heard Christ's warning knew the Old Testament, and they understood that His warnings were against the religious leaders of God's people. These leaders were not interested in the truth of God's word; rather, their concern was for the profit that was in it for them. I realize both warnings were given by Christ before His resurrection, but the warnings are reiterated by Paul, Peter and John. Paul said,

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29.)

The disciples, as well as those who heard Paul, knew the context of wolves:

1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! 2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. 3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. 4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. 5 The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. 6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. 7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings. (Zephaniah 3.)

The wolves, or false prophets, were the religious leaders who were leading His people astray. They could be and can be recognized by their love of money – that is, they compromise the truth for the profit that can be gained from God's people. Though they are false, they are also called shepherds, e.g.,

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. (Jer. 50:6.)
2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. (Ez. 34.)

These shepherds fed themselves rather than feeding the flock. And their "feeding" was off the flock. They "sheared" the sheep rather than caring for them. And the Lord is against them. In other words, the wolves that devour the flock of God are not the pagans. The grievous wolves are from among His own people. The wolves are preachers/teachers that feed on the flock with lies and half-truths. The wolves are those who compromise the truth of God's word for the financial benefit or even from fear.

Illustration: When Bettie and I were planing our wedding, we wanted a pastor to preform the ceremony who would do it strictly under the Lord's authority, and who would leave the state out of the ceremony. We could find none in the Virginia. In response to an e mail I received from Peter Kershaw, I wrote to him (July 24). Quoting:

Bro Peter:

I could not find a pastor in Northern Va who would marry Bettie and me without a State license. They all claimed the state had legitimate authority to license marriages. So I found a pastor from Pa who would do it, and we went to Gettysburg.

And all the pastors we checked with in VA claimed to hold the bible as the final authority. One started to argue with me when I asked him to do it, and I sent him back my exposition on Daniel. He then said he did not have time to study it out, yet he still would not do it. It is a sad day when so called bible believing pastors are that terrified of the state.

God help us.

Ovid

(Peter Kershaw's answer.)

God does help us, brother. But God cannot help a people whose clergy sit on their dead butts and do nothing to challenge tyranny.

Clearly the Bible is no authority to them at all, only the Virginia code:

20-28. Penalty for celebrating marriage without license.
If any person knowingly perform the ceremony of marriage without lawful license, or officiate in celebrating the rites of marriage without being authorized by law to do so, he shall be confined in jail not exceeding one year, and fined not exceeding $500.

The only reason these stinking laws exist is because no preachers challenged them when they were ratified. Until they are challenged and/or violated by those who have the legal status to do so, they will remain de facto.

Obviously the pastor of an incorporated church has no authority, apart from that granted him by the State, to perform marriage ceremonies. But your situation is especially ironic, in light of the fact that Virginia and West Virginia are the only states in the union that prohibit the incorporation of churches.

One would think that it should be especially simple to make a jurisdictional argument over the marriage license issue there. However, where is the pastor who has the moral integrity to do so?

Peter www.hushmoney.org

End of quote.

The above brings us to The Left Behind series that is blowing over the land. The following is by Rick Miesel, and appeared in The BDM Letter, Vol. 10, No. 2 Summer 2001 issue.

I see no need to replow the ground that has already been "worked." Bro. Miesel <http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/> does an excellent job, so I do not need to waste my time nor money reviewing many of the books with which he deals. Obviously, we do not agree in some areas of Eschatology, but I cannot dismiss his good work elsewhere because we do not agree in one area.

 

Book Review
By Rick Miesel

The Left Behind Series Tim LaHaye (with Jerry Jenkins)

The Left Behind series of novels about events following the Rapture has been a phenomenal commercial success. The authors are Jerry Jenkins, writer-at-large for the neo-evangelical, psychologized Moody Bible Institute, and Tim LaHaye, well-known author (over 40 books), "noted authority" on Bible prophecy (e.g., Revelation Unveiled), and promoter of the heretical "Four Temperaments" theory.

The books have doubled both the profits and staff of Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, Illinois). More than 30 million copies have been sold, generating more than a quarter of a billion dollars in sales in just five years. Twelve volumes are proposed. The seventh, The Indwelling, released in May of 2000, pre-sold 1.4 million copies before it was even released, and some stores opened at midnight to long lines of fans. It immediately hit number one on the New York Times best seller list. The same was true for the eighth volume, The Mark. The ninth volume, Desecration, due out October 30, 2001, will have a first printing of 3 million, the largest-ever print run for a "Christian" novel.

In addition to the more than 30 million books, Tyndale House has sold 10 million related items, such as computer screensavers and postcards. There is a Left Behind kids series (Left Behind: The Kids—ten books planned), an audio series, a movie, and an upcoming television series. The Left Behind website attracts 60,000 hits a day.

There is a serious problem with fictionalizing Bible subjects. Fiction, by its very nature, is not truth. At best, it goes beyond truth and reality. It is not wise to fictionalize the Bible. The Scriptures tell us exactly what God wants men to know, no more and no less, about future events. "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29). The Left Behind series goes far beyond what the Bible says, and instead, speculates about things God has not said. Revelation 22 warns about adding to or taking away from the words of God in prophecy. Why would that warning not apply to the Left Behind series? One can argue that the books are only fiction, but will the intermingling of Bible truth and fiction not leave wrong impressions in the minds of people? Will the average reader be able to tell truth from fiction?

The fictionalizing of Scripture is an egregious offense in and of itself, but the theology presented in the books is intolerable (despite the publisher's claim that "The series is guaranteed to be theologically sound."[emp. mine. Note that the authors claim it is fiction while the publishers claim it is theologically sound. And thus the series is all things to all men – whatever is needed to make the most money. Bro Need.].) Following are just a few examples of the unscriptural things found in just the first four volumes:

(1) Large numbers of relatives and friends of Christians are saved after the Rapture occurs. This sends the message that it is possible to wait and get saved later. But the Bible never offers such hope. Second Thessalonians chapter two describes the coming of the Antichrist, and it plainly states that those who are left behind who have rejected the truth will not be saved, but will be deluded by God Himself.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. AND FOR THIS CAUSE GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE (2 Thess. 2:8-11).

While it is true that many people will be saved during the Tribulation (i.e., Revelation 6:11; 7:14), it would appear that these are people who did not have opportunity to hear the Gospel before the Rapture. There are multiplied millions of people in the world today who have not heard a clear and true presentation of the Gospel. While we do not know enough perhaps to be dogmatic about exactly who will and will not be saved after the Rapture, it is irresponsible on the part of the Left Behind authors to present a position on this that at least appears to be directly contrary to 2 Thessalonians 2:8-11.

(2) The books feature the formation of a "Tribulation Force" to resist the Antichrist. There is nothing like this even hinted at in the Bible.

(3) Prayers to the dead is taught in one of the books. During the funeral for a Tribulation-era pastor, one of the leaders of the Tribulation Force is depicted as praying to the dead man (vol. 3, Nicolae, p. 315).

(4) Satan is in charge of the weather. One of the key figures in the Left Behind books is the supposed leader of the 144,000 Jews. In book four, he sends out a message to believers throughout the world via the Internet and makes the following statement: "Eons ago, God the Father conceded control of earth's weather to Satan himself, the prince and power of the air" (vol. 4, Soul Harvest, p. 232). The Bible does not say that Satan has been given control of the weather. When the Bible mentions thunder and hail and such things, it refers to them as coming from the hand of God (i.e., Job 38:22-29; Ps. 77:18). Psalm 104 describes the various aspects of this present creation and attributes the control of everything to God. Satan is not called the "god of this world" because God turned the world over to him, but because mankind in general has rejected God and believed the serpent's lie.

(5) The Christians in the books make major decisions based on their intuitions and human reasoning rather than on Bible precepts. For example, two of the heroes of the Left Behind series become romantically involved. Though they discuss the matter and wonder if it is God's will, they get married and have a child in the midst of the Great Tribulation, with no apparent consultation of the Scriptures. First Corinthians 7:29-35 would have settled their question. Another example of this is the decision made by two of the members of the "Tribulation Force" to work for the Antichrist, one as his pilot and one as the head of a news magazine. They question the propriety of their decision, but instead of consulting the Scriptures, they "feel" it is God's will. One would think that 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and Revelation 18:4 would easily have settled that question.

(6) Female Bible teachers are acceptable. Book three has two female members of the "Tribulation Force" trained to teach the Bible to mixed groups of people (vol. 3, Nicolae, pp. 354,355). Contrast this teaching with 1 Timothy 2:12.

(7) Book 4 teaches the error of infant baptism. In volume 4, one of the key characters of the series is pregnant with the child of the Antichrist! She wants a member of the Tribulation Force to be the "godmother" of the child (vol. 4, Soul Harvest, p. 390). That is language, of course, which pertains to the unscriptural practice of infant baptism.

(8) The pope is raptured away! The books depict the Roman Catholic pope as a saved man who is taken away in the Rapture. This is perhaps the most serious and dangerous error in all the books. It encourages the ecumenical movement and its powerful back-to-Rome emphasis. It adds support to the false ecumenical concept of "evangelical Catholicism." Of course, for any pope to be saved, he would have to reject what his own church teaches. The Roman Catholic Church dogmatically teaches that works and sacraments are necessary to salvation, and that man cannot be saved by the grace of Christ alone. So with this series, LaHaye and Jenkins help Chuck Colson, Billy Graham, Charles Stanley and the rest of the Catholic sympathizers to further blur the clear line of demarcation between true Christianity and apostate Christianity.

In summary, the Left Behind series may be tolerable fiction, but it is definitely intolerable theology, and thereby, must be rejected by true Christians.

* This report (and the Notes below) was excerpted and/or adapted from the following sources: (1) "Left Behind: Tolerable Fiction, Intolerable Theology," 6/28/01, FBIS, David Cloud, Way of Life Literature; and (2) "Left Behind: One of Satan's Latest Wiles," Raymond Blanton, The Perilous Times, Feb/Mar 2001.

Note#1: Books in the Left Behind series thus far: Left Behind, Tribulation Force, Nicolae, Soul Harvest, Apollyon, Assassins, The Indwelling, and The Mark. The Left Behind: The Kids series will include the following titles: The Vanishings, Second Chance, Through the Flames, Facing the Future, Nicolae High, The Underground, Busted!, Death Strike, The Search, and On the Run.

Note#2: In the Fall of 2000, co-author Tim LaHaye filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Namesake Entertainment, the Kentucky-based firm that originally bought the film rights to Left Behind, and Peter and Paul Lalonde's Cloud Ten Pictures, claiming breach of contract and requesting unspecified damages. At the time film rights were sold in 1997, fewer than 100,000 books in the Left Behind series had been purchased, and some believe the suit is an attempt to renegotiate the terms. LaHaye's suit alleges that Namesake representatives pledged to spend $40 million on a major motion picture that would be released in theaters before 1/1/00, the time when the public was most interested in the millennium. Namesake reportedly was unable to interest a major Hollywood studio in the project, and with its option for the film rights due to expire, contacted Cloud Ten. LaHaye's suit also states that he has been "caused … to suffer 'emotional and mental distress, including anxiety, worry, mental anguish and sleeplessness.'" Apparently, LaHaye's "all-inclusive" contract with Namesake and Cloud Ten will also cost him millions in potential revenue from the planned movie of the Left Behind: The Kids series. (Fighting the pain of this potential revenue loss, Tim and Beverly LaHaye still managed to scrape together enough cash to give Jerry Falwell's Liberty University $4.5 million toward a new student center; in return, the new School of Prophecy—to open January, 2002—will be named after LaHaye, and he will serve as its president.) The question one has to ask is: "If Tim LaHaye is primarily concerned for lost souls and the imminent return of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, why is he suing for more money? Does he plan to take it with him, or does he fear being 'left behind' and needing it?"

Rick's Note #2 above fits into Micah 3 far too well to be coincidental. These prophets for profit and the sheep who follow after them are calling for God's judgment against modern Western Christianity as a whole.

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Cor. 11:19.)

Millennialism and Marxism

The following is from a section of The Death of Victory. Sadly, the Left Behind series supports the false idea that "we" (Christians) will all be gone before anything really bad takes place.

What is known today as Dispensationalism — God working in different ways in different periods of time — was a solid plank in the rising millennialism. Clearly, "it is a product of nineteenth-century thought." Supporting the explosive growth of Marxism, it taught that a new age of peace and freedom can only be accomplished by the sword.

Dispensationalism and Marxism have some striking similarities:

Despite its overall similarities to older Christian views of history, dispensationalism has a number of peculiarities that identify it as a product of nineteenth-century thought. These have to do especially with its explanation of how dramatic historical change takes place, a common preoccupation of the thought of the era. In the prevailing naturalistic explanations of change the principal model was development through conflict. This is apparent in the work of the two most influential theorists of mid-century, Darwin and Marx. Marxism in fact has some formal similarities to the nearly contemporary development of dispensationalism. History is divided into distinct periods, each dominated by a prevailing principle or characteristic. Each age ends in failure, conflict, judgment on those who rule, and the violent introduction of a wholly new era. History thus proceeds in dramatic steps toward a final age of peace. The crucial difference is that in the Marxist scheme the scientific approach to history assumes that the laws of change are governed by wholly natural factors of human behavior; in dispensationalism science discovers revealed principles of supernatural laws that have guided historical change.1

Serious charges were leveled against the millenarians in 1918:

In "The Premillennial menace," (an article published in the Biblical World, ed.) Case surpassed the standards being set in the journal and produced so distorted a portrait of the millenarians (led by R.A. Torrey, speaking in Carnegie Hall, Nov. 25-28, 1918, ed.) that one is tempted to believe he was being satirical. These men, Case argued, were subversive to the American war effort, "fundamentally antagonistic to our present national idea." "Premillenarianism is a serious menace to our democracy," it "throws up the sponge... raises the white flag," is a "spiritual virus," and the "most helpless of all gospels." As if these epithets were not adequate, Case noted that the millenarians operated with a "thoroughness suspiciously Teutonic" and implied that they were financed by German secret agents. As the frosting on the cake, Case insisted that millenarians were indistinguishable from the Russellites and lent themselves to the same purposes as the IWW. The Fundamentalists, apparently, never cornered the market on invective.2Millennialism threw in "the sponge." It effectively yielded America's Democratic Republic to the forces that sought to overthrow it.

The millennial system neutralized Christianity world-wide. The millennial conquering of the nations permitted Marxism (the "New World Order," Communism) to march in its world-wide conquest with no significant Christian opposition. The millennial expectation of an imminent, any moment return of Christ to straighten out the mess with his rod of iron is justly charged with allowing Communism to prosper;3 Marxism was a major beneficiary of millennialism. In fact, America's 1933 recognition of the Communist USSR government would never have happened if the Moody Monthly had not said that the Second Coming would solve the problem.4

The national media, e.g., US News & World Report, appears to favor the premillennial view of Christianity. In doing so, they tell Christians that resistance to the "New World Order" is useless, for it is prophesied in Scripture:

Premillennialists, who include most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, take a much more pessimistic view of history. For them, says Grenz, the world will grow nastier. Only "the catastrophic return" of Christ, he says, will "inaugurate the golden age on earth."

While there are differences of opinion within the tradition, the dominant view, called dispensationalism, has its roots in the teachings of John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century Englishman and founder of the Plymouth Brethren…5

Socialism, i.e., centeralized government control of everything within its reach, is a result of Christians withdrawing from society to become personally more spiritual. One can, therefore, assume that the system the millenarians took with them in their missionary zeal was a major reason the nations of the world fell into the clutches of the wicked one. Clearly, when Christians are taught not to be involved in an area, that area will be delivered to the forces of antichrist by default.The emphasis of the early millenarians was on a heavenly calling at the expense of their earthly responsibility:

The attitude they adopted is summed up in the phrase ‘heavenly-mindedness', the title of a paper contributed by J.L. Harris to the October, 1853, issue of The Christian Witness. They regarded the world of men as being opposed to the plans and purposes of God: there was inflexible hostility between the world and the true Church. Therefore, they concluded, in the words of B.W. Newton, that ‘so far as we identify ourselves with the world, we surrender our claim to the peculiar and distinctive privilege of the Church, we lose the present discipline and the future reward, and plant ourselves in a world which, though not neglected, but often visited with goodness, remains still a barren field in the sight of God, and necessarily inherits judgment at the last'.6
Very early, Darby compared the Christian life in the world to a person traveling through a strange community. The person sees problems and turmoils in the community. However, because he is a stranger simply passing through, he has no responsibility nor desire to do anything, for his mind and desires are totally on the glory waiting for him ahead. In fact, Darby held that if the person takes his eyes off that glory and tries to do something about the problems in the community, he has departed from the Lord: "If I have any object on this side of the glory, even the welfare of the Church in detail, my soul will suffer from it." His message was simple — ignore the problems, and it appealed to the natural man, "...Christians have no business..." being involved in anything other than soul-saving. They are unconcerned, for they believe that "The Church of God has been taken entirely out of the world to be associated with God's Prince in heaven..."7 We should point out that this kind of thinking means that the Good Samaritan was a sinner for getting involved in a social issue, caring for the sick.
Their mystical attitude of "heavenly-mindedness" resulted in overlooking the practical affairs of life, as they developed and promoted the heavenly aspect of the Christian's life and of the church. They withdrew the Christian influence from ordinary life, defining sin as any involvement in worldly matters.8
It is difficult not to feel that in their retreat into "other-worldliness" some of those leaders of early Brethren, from their upper-class Anglican backgrounds, were all too unconsciously grasping at that which would enable them to avoid facing these ugly realities of life: just as something of the same sort lay behind the retreat of the Tractarians into the ancient Catholic traditions. The immense peril of this retreat is that it confines the expression of Christian devotion to religious exercises – a limitation against which the whole example and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself cries aloud.9
The result was to confine the expression of Christian devotion to a mystical, religious, emotional experience. Reacting against what they pointed out as wrong in the surrounding churches of their day, they went to the opposite extreme. They wrote off the world as incapable of turning to Christ, so it was only fit for judgment. But they forgot that the Creator still works in his physical world, using men to do his work. Basically, they gave the kingdom of God a strictly spiritual meaning as they emphasized its future aspects and ignored its present reality and importance.10
Though the more outlandish aspects of Darbyism were dropped in the revival of 1859, his dispensational system is well entrenched.11

Honestly observing the modern results of the millennial message, one will admit that the change the message brought to Christianity is not for the better. For with the soul-saving (conversion to the millennial system) missionary zeal went the doctrine of defeat. It withdrew the Lord's salt from the world's corruption and the light from the world's darkness. Since the rise of millennialism, corruption has spread and darkness increased. It is time to overthrow the otherworldliness that makes Christians useless to God and man in this present world. God promises that saltless, lightless and lifeless Christianity will be cast out and trod under the foot of man.
Modern dead Christianity must again grasp the fact that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, and that conquering victory takes place in time and space as God, with his Spirit of Grace, uses people to conquer the world for King Jesus.

 

1. Fundamentalism, 64. Pierce, in The Rapture Cult, shows how millennialism neutralized the enemies of Communism.
2. Roots, 236. Russellites, a Protestant sect begun in 1874 by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), called Jehovah's Witnesses. Among many things, they believe all allegiance is owed only to God and to nothing of this world. They refuse military service, and are excluded from having to salute the flag in public. They grow primarily by proselytizing.

3. Cult, 42, 51, &c.
4. Ibid., 38. "Dec. 1933, p. 208. Quoted by Spann (Ref. 13)."
5. U.S.News & World Report, Dec 19, 1994. See Cult, 48, 50.
6. Origins, 302.
7. Letters, I.51, 1842; Writings, II.152, 153. 457, 549, about 1852.
8. Coad, History, 364-365.
9. Ibid., 265.
10. Ibid., 264.. Darby was extremely dogmatic, teaching that the church and the world are both in complete and irreversible ruin, and both fit only for judgment, Letters, II.242.
11. Coad, History, 247.