September 20, 2001

Micah 6

Remember, this book is addressed to those who devise iniquity:

Micah 2:1 ¶ Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. 3 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

And this theme continues throughout the book, interspaced with calls for the wicked to repent.

Vv. 1-5.

V. 1, the prophet is commanded to speak before the mountains, and to let the hills hear his voice. Contend with these people before the mountains. The people will not listen, so speak to the mountains.

V. 2, he tells the mountains and the hills, even the strong foundations of the earth, that the Lord has a controversy with his people. He tells them that the Lord will plead with His people. The controversy is that the people act like their God has done them wrong; they have turned from Him, and are honoring the false gods of the surrounding pagans.

Sin always brings about a controversy.

The Lord has a controversy with His people. In this controversy, He calls upon creation to judge: "Mountains, hills and the foundations of the earth, hear My words, and as impartial judges, judge between Me and My people. You know that I am righteous in all My actions as I judge My people."

The problem is that God's people refused to hear and head the word of the Lord, so Micah is told to speak to the hills. The command here reminds me of God's command to Ezekiel, where Ezekiel was told to speak to the dry bones. Ez. 37. However, unlike the bones that Ezekiel spoke to, the mountains will not come to life. I can imagine what Micah felt like, preaching at the top of his lungs to the mountains where no one could hear him, and where he could expect no response. But he is to speak to the mountains as though they could hear and respond, and as thought they could repent and return to the Lord their God. (See Psalms 29.)

V. 3, O my people, what have I done unto thee? "God appears to humble himself to his creatures." (Clarke)

 

God's people, Israel, had revolted against Him; therefore, God challenges them to show what He has done against them that might given reason to desert Him. (MH) The message from the Lord is delivered to the hills, for His people would not listen. The question is addressed to His people, though they are not here to hear it: "What wrong have I done to you to make you turn from me?" "What commandments have I given to you that have abused you or have made you tired of me?" (1 Jn. 5:3, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.) "If I have done you wrong, speak up."

For us: Micah was told to speak to the hills, &c., because God's people would not listen. How much more must we speak the word of the Lord to people, regardless of whether or not they will listen. Could His people then or can His people now complain that His yoke is too hard or to heavy?

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

It is those who are in forced servitude who find their master's yoke too heavy. Thus, if His yoke is considered too heavy, the person probably has not learned properly of the Lord, maybe even unsaved. It is the unsaved rebels who consider the Lord's commandments restrictive bands and cords, keeping them from following the desires of their own hearts. (Ps. 2.)

V. 4, since they cannot show Him any bad He has done against them, He will remind them of the good He has done for them. Still speaking to the creation, the Lord reminds His people of His past works that were done for their good. He redeemed them from their slavery, though they did not want to be redeemed. And part of those good things were Moses, Aaron, and Miriam :

Moses the great prophet of the Old Testament, Aaron his prophet # Ex 7:1, and Miriam a prophetess, (# Ex 15:20). Note, When we are calling to mind God's former mercies to us we must not forget the mercy of good teachers and governors when we were young; let those be made mention of, to the glory of God, who went before us, saying, This is the way, walk in it; it was God that sent them before us, to prepare the way of the Lord and to prepare a people for him. (MH)

To this sense the Chaldee, "I have sent three prophets before you; Moses, that he might teach you the tradition of judgments, Aaron, that he might make atonement for the people; and Miriam, that she might instruct the females." (Clarke)

Note here that it is part of the mercy and goodness of God to send a woman who can and will instruct the women of the church. And Bettie is such a woman who can instruct the women of our church. October 2, 2001

V. 5, remember the effort of Balak to hire Balaam to cast a curse against you, and how I would not let him speak evil against you. Remember these things, so that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

Vv. 6-8.

When we pass from Israel to Judah, we find that the country had now attained a state of national prosperity greater even than in the time of Solomon. But in its train had come luxury, vice, idolatry, and heathen thoughts and manners, to the utter corruption of the people. In vain did the prophets call to repentance (Joel 2:12-14; Isaiah 1:2-9, 16-20); in vain did they speak of nearing judgment (Micah 2:3; Isaiah 1:24; 3:1-8; 3:16-4:1:5:5-to end); in vain seek to woo by promises of mercy (Micah 4:1-5; Isaiah 2:2-5). Priests and people boasted in an outward and formal observance of ritual ordinances, as if these were the substance of religion, and in this trust set lightly by the warning of the prophets (Isaiah 1:11-15). In their overweening confidence as to the present, and their worldly policy as regarded the future, they brought on themselves the very evils which had been predicted, but from which they had deemed themselves secure. And so it came that a people who would not turn to their God while they might, had in the end this as their judgment of hardening, that they could no longer turn to Him (Isaiah 6:9-13). (Edersheim, Old Testament Bible History, Chapter 9, 2 Kings 17.)

There seems to be a move today toward worship services that are filled with various rites and rituals, obviously held over from "Mother Rome." However, there is nothing wrong with various rites and rituals in themselves, and they may even be good. The problem is when people see their religion wrapped up in those rites and rituals, and they feel that by going through those various activities, they are right with God. They not only see their religion in those outward and formal observances and are confident in their faithfulness in them, but they boast in them.

V. 6, the law suit is presented by Jehovah God. Not the defendants speak, and rather than seeking to justify themselves, they seem to plead guilty. So wishing to avoid the wrath of God, the congregation answers by asking the prophet, "What can we do to appease the Lord' wrath against us?"

The law spoke of various offerings, and here the people offer to bring offerings and sacrifices, yet there is no sin-offering mentioned. For "the people are still living under the delusion that they were standing firmly in the covenant with the Lord, which they themselves had practically dissolved." Yet the people realized these offerings were not enough, so they would offer the dearest thing of all – the first-born son. (Probably because they realized that animals were not a sufficient substitute for a man, e.g., Abraham and Isaac, Gen. 22.) (Keil.)

The problem was, however, the people made no offer to change their lives, and again conform to the law of the covenant, which violation was bringing about the wrath of God. Sin had reduced their idea of godliness to simply following the rituals of sacrifices and offerings.

The Lord told us that neither money nor good works will please Him. Favor with God cannot be purchased with money nor with self-sacrifice:

Mark 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Not even the sacrifice of one's children, as done by the pagans, can please the Lord, and ease man's conscience toward God. Man can give nothing in exchange for his soul; only what Christ gave will work before the Father.

[V. 6.] Thus the people by hypocrisy ask how to please God, and are content to offer sacrifices, but will not change their lives. (Geneva)

Note: I have observed this many times over my 30 years in the ministry — folks know what to do according to God's word, and they will make about any sacrifice other than confess sin and change their life-style.

September 25, 2001

The WTC destruction is still fresh on everyone's minds. I understand the event has increased church attendance, though it has not ours. I wonder why people are going – is it to seek the Lord's protection in this uncertain age, or is it to be told what their sins are, so they can repent and change?

[V. 7.] There is nothing so dear to man, but the hypocrites will offer it to God, if they think by this to avoid his anger. But they will never by brought to mortify their own affections, and to give themselves willingly to serve God as he commands.

Notice that men will do anything but what they ought, particularly in dealing with sin:

It is an outward offering only, a thing which they would bring. Hypocritical eagerness! a sin against light. For to enquire further, when God has already revealed anything, is to deny that He has revealed it. It comes from the wish that He had not revealed what lie has revealed: "whose, after he hath found the truth, discusseth anything further, seeketh a lie." God had told them, long before, from the time that He made them His people, what he desired of them; So Micah answers, (Barnes')

"For to enquire further, when God has already revealed" something as His will is a sin against the light.

V. 8, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good...

Micah tells them that they already know what is good, so they do not really need to ask again. (Deut. 10:12, 30:11ff.) They know it from the law of Moses — do righteously and love your neighbor as yourself.

God has shown us what we must do in exchange for our soul. He alone defines what is good. And only what He has shown will please Him. There are no options, and what pleases us is not necessary what pleases Him.

O man rather than O Israel. The command is to all men everywhere, not just to Old Testament Israel.

Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

In other words, the command for all men everywhere to repent was not just a New Testament command; Micah clearly presented it in the Old Testament.

justice is listed before mercy. Mercy cannot supercede justice, or override justice. Of course, the work of Christ enables God to show mercy without sacrificing justice.

Love mercy. It is not good enough to just do mercy; we are required to love mercy. He wants us to delight in mercy. We must be glad for the opportunity to do good, and then do it cheerfully.

Proverbs 3:27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Notice the contrast with those spoken to in Micah Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. They look for those to whom they can do evil; God's people, on the other hand, are to look for those to whom they can do good.

and to walk humbly (submitting our understandings to the truths of God and our will to his precepts and providences, MH) with thy God?

We must, in the whole course of our conversation, conform ourselves to the will of God, keep up our communion with God, and study to approve ourselves to him in our integrity; and this we must do humbly (submitting our understandings to the truths of God and our will to his precepts and providences); we must humble ourselves to walk with God (so the margin reads it); every thought within us must be brought down, to be brought into obedience to God, if we would walk comfortably with him. This is that which God requires, and without which the most costly services are vain oblations; this is more than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. (MH)

The most costly service one can offer to God is his or her every thought, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Christ summed up Micah's answer to these people:

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

As Israel of old, the religious leaders of Christ's day went through all the outward forms of godliness, but left the weightier matters of the law undone, justly/judgment, love mercy/mercy and humility/faith with God.

Vv. 9-16

The Lord leveled charges of sin against His people, vv. 1-5. The people say, "What should we do? Make all of these offerings?" Vv. 6, 7. The Lord tells them that they know what to do, v. 8.

V. 9, The Lord's voice crieth unto the city through His servants, the prophets.

Proverbs 8:1 ¶ Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. 5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. 7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. 9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. 10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. 11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Micah 6:9, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name... The call is to be willing to hear and follow wisdom ; because those with willing hearts will plainly hear and understand the word of God concerning sin, and sin's answer. In other words, the word of God, God's wisdom, is confusing only to those who do not want to understand it.

Job 33:14 ¶ For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

But the man of wisdom shall see the Lord, understand His word, and he will make good use of it.

The voice of sin cries out to God, and the voice of God, identified above as wisdom, cries out to the sinner to repent. She cries throughout the city. She speaks excellent and right things, the truth; there is nothing in her words that can be considered froward or perverse—that is, contrary to God's straight path. She calls on men to forsake sin, and follow righteousness. Her instructions are more valuable than gold, silver, precious stones, or anything that might be desired; for none of those things can deliver man from the justice of God, as attempted in Micah 6:6, 7. Her words are easy to understand to those who want to understand.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

This darkness is more than "lights out" or "nighttime." It includes being darkened to the understanding of God's word. Men want to stay in darkness, because the light that is come into the world, the Word of God, exposes man's evil deeds. Therefore, sinners find the word of God confusing because they do not want to understand it.

Amos 3:1 ¶ Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? 5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? 6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? 7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. 8 The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?

[1 Kings 24:19 Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.]

You only have I known...: therefore I will punish you... Thus the unsaved can get away with more than what God's people can. He chastens those whom He loves. Bu the Lord says that He will do nothing without first sending His warning. As a lion will not roar when he has no prey, for he does not want to scare it off, the Lord will not speak a warning without carrying out that warning. Accordingly, through His prophets, the Lord spoke His warnings against the sinners, who refused to hear and heed. His warning is compared to a lion roaring before he strikes.

[September 26, 2001, go to Brazil or not? That has been the question since the WTC, 9/11. This tells me that if there were a problem with our plans, the Lord would place a warning in our spirits. There are many stories about people who were not where they were supposed to be in the WTC, and missed the destruction. It would be interesting to know, but we never will, how many felt they should not go to work that morning.]

What does the voice of God say?

Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

Note, Every rod has a voice, and it is the voice of God that is to be heard in the rod of God, and it is well for those that understand the language of it, which if we would do we must have an eye to him that appointed it. Note, Every rod is appointed, of what kind it shall be, where it shall light, and how long it shall lie. God in every affliction performs the thing that is appointed for us (# Job 23:14), and to him therefore we must have an eye, to him we must have an ear; we must hear what he says to us by the affliction. Hear it, and know it for thy good, # Job 5:6. The work of ministers is to explain the providences of God and to quicken and direct men to learn the lessons that are taught by them. (MH)

Job 5:6 ¶ Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;

Affliction does not spring up from out of nowhere and for no reason. It comes with a purpose, and man must find that purpose. That purpose will be revealed to those who want to know it, and who are willing to search it out in God's word. Did He not say to seek wisdom? Then, He will not hide wisdom from those who obey His instruction to seek.

"The work of ministers is to explain the providences of God and to quicken and direct men to learn the lessons that are taught by them." Sadly, not many want to see God's wisdom – that is, God's hand – in the troubling events of the day. As I said elsewhere, the WTC event seemed to fill the churches, but I wonder if the motive behind going was to find the wisdom of God as to what sins brought about the event? I doubt it, for when some preachers spoke out nationally that the sins of America brought this about, there was a great uproar in the media. The media seems to be using the events to unite all people – unite, that is, in saying that Islam is a legitimate religion on equal footing with Christianity.

[V. 9.] He who has "appointed it," changeth not His decree, unless man changeth; nor is He lacking in power to fulfill it. He will surely bring it to pass. All which can be thought of, of fear, terror, motives to repentance, awe, hope, trust, is in that word "who." It is God; hopes and fears may be infinite. (Barnes'.)

(h) Meaning, that when God speaks to any city or nation, the godly will acknowledge his majesty and not consider the mortal man that brings the threatening, but God that sends it. (Geneva)

the rod appointed by the Lord refers to the Assyrian empire:

Isaiah 10:1 ¶ Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; 2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! 3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? 4 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 ¶ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. 6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings? 9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11 Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: 14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood. 16 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. 17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; 18 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth. 19 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them. 20 ¶ And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. 23 For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land. 24 ¶ Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.

Vv. 10-12, condemn the prevailing sins.

V. 10, treasures of wickedness... the abundance of wealth obtained by wicked means; scant measure implies that with unjust weights and measures, they gained their wealth (v. 11). After all the warnings and "after all the methods God has taken to teach them to do justly" (MH), will they still do injustice?

Are there yet... The Lord has laid out the charge against them, and warned them of their wicked ways and what the results are going to be. He has shown them what is good, and He has explained to them His requirements. And now He speaks with surprise: Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in your houses? It looks like My warnings would have caused you to mend your ways, but you have not.

Note: How many people have been warned, yet they continue on in their ways, with seemingly no thought. They just do not believe that the warnings of God's word will come to pass:

2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

They do not believe the Lord's word will come to pass, or they would change.

Such was the thinking here in Micah.

When suspicion of evil is great enough, a court will issue to law enforcement a Search Warrant, so the location can be searched. God needs no such search warrant, for the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10.) He has searched the hearts and houses of the wicked, and has found wickedness:

V. 11, implies that the wicked were going through all the proper religious activity, where maybe even the people were able to say, "My, look at how much they love God, yet in their business dealings, they were crooks. God says, Shall I count them pure, though they have a false balance?

Moreover, "the context requires the thought that the rich men fancy they can be pure with deceitful weights, and a refutation of this delusive idea" (Caspari). (Keil)

Note: Those who are dishonest with men will be dishonest with God:

Proverbs 30:20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

In other words, the sinners says, "I have done no wrong," though the clear facts are otherwise. Thus the proof that the natural man is dead in trespasses and sins, having no desire to seek after God. (Romans 3:10ff.) Only the Holy Spirit can give the sinner enough discontent with his sin that he will turn from it.

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

And my response to the above statement by Christ is the same as was the disciples:

V. 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

But the Lord Jesus did not leave the rich man in a hopeless fix:

27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

The Spirit can and does draw rich people to Christ, but it is not because of anything good within them.

Mark 12:37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

V. 12, the rich gained their wealth by fraud and violence. They misused their power to increase their material possessions – their houses were full of wealth, but that wealth was gotten by violence, deceit, fraud and theft. See James chapter 5. (Sounds like the Federal Reserve Banking system.)

Note: Those who desire to be rich never have enough, and fall into many snares:

1 Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

And the inhabitants of Jerusalem have spoken lies. What they could not gain by violence, the wicked gained by deceit. " Some understand it of their speaking falsely concerning God, saying, The Lord seeth not; he hath forsaken the earth, # Eze 8:12." (MH)

Both clauses express the thought, that "the inhabitants of Jerusalem are a population of liars and cheats" (Hitzig). (Keil)

Note: The wicked cannot prosper unless the general population is wicked. If the general consensus requires honesty, then those in power will be honest. This is especially true in our US form of government where we elect our leaders. If the voter had enough character and wanted honest leaders badly enough, he would elect honest leaders. I have found in our local elections, that the candidate who places the most signs around the county is the one who gets elected.

In other words, the leaders were corrupt in Micah because the people were corrupt. There were revivals in Judah from the top down, when the king determined to follow the Lord, but when that king was gone, so was the godly determination. However, we have different situations today under Christ. The Christian is to have the indwelling Spirit which is to impress or guide him in all righteousness. I do not know nor understand why that Spirit is not guiding the general Christian population today in righteousness, more than just reading his Bible. One day, our hope is, the Spirit will stir up His people to more than just "peace and personal piety."

Really, the thought continues into v. 16, with the word, For. For the statutes of Omri... all the works of the house of Ahab... They are charged with idolatry. Not only did they accumulate their wealth by violence, &c., but they followed the examples of the two most wicked kings in their history. Omri continued in the way of Jeroboam, who provoked the Lord to anger with his vanities, also marrying Jezebel, the daughter of the king of the Zidonians, as well as serving and worshiping Baal. (1 Kgs. 16:26, 31.) The policies these two kings established in Israel were still in effect hundreds of years latter, in the days of Micah.

The root of sin is easy to establish, but, O so hard to remove. Few generations can stop its growth once it takes root, and the fruits are bitter many years latter.

Note: The corrupt laws and traditions that are put in place that give to the wicked power and prosperity are not easily removed. For to change the laws back to righteousness means the wicked lose their source of power an prosperity. The way the Lord removed the corrupt laws and leaders from His people here in Micah was through His appointed rod, the Assyrian empire.

The ideal way to remove corruption is through revival, and I believe Matthew 28:19, 20, &c. teaches that there will come a day when such a revival will take place. This is not to say that the Lord will not use "the rod," i.e., a foreign power, to chastize His people and remove the corruption from them.

Vv. 13-15,

V. 13. Vv. 9-12 lays out the charge against the inhabitants of the city. Now the Lord tells them what He is going to do against them because of their sins. Now the Lord is going to smite them as they have smitten the poor and helpless among them. He tells them they will be sick and desolate because of their sins. Isaiah chapter one records this warning again, saying, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." V. 5.

Keil's statement on v. 13 is interesting:

literally, I have made the smiting thee sick, i.e., smitten thee with incurable sickness (for hechelaah, see at Nah 3:19 and Jer 30:12; and for the fact itself, Isa 1:5-6). The perfect expresses the certainty of the future. (KD)

Vv. 9-12, the wicked refuse to admit their wickedness, and a result of their evil is "incurable sickness." Not only is AIDS incurable today, but there are several things now appearing that are incurable, e.g., West Nile Virus, and the fever that is carried by ticks, not to mention the "bugs" in the hospitals that can no longer be cured by the traditional means.

Vv. 14, 15, all the things they have worked so hard to get will be useless. They will not be able to enjoy the fruits of their fraud and deception. Matthew Henry makes a very telling comment:

(2.) Their country shall not harbour and protect them:

"Thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee, that is, thou shalt be broken and ruined by the intestine troubles, mischiefs at home enough to cast thee down, though thou shouldest not be invaded by a foreign force."

God can cast a nation down by that which is in the midst of them, can consume them by a fire in their own bowels.

(3.) They shall not be able to preserve what they have from a foreign force, nor to recover what they have lost:

"Thou shalt take hold of what is about to be taken from thee, but thou shalt not hold it fast, shalt catch at it, but shalt not deliver it, shalt not retrieve it."

It is meant of their wives and children, that were very dear to them, which they took hold of, as resolved not to part with them, but there is no remedy, they must go into captivity. Note, What we hold closest we commonly lose soonest, and that proves least safe which is most dear.

September 28, 2001, God is no doubt moving against America's sin, e.g., the WTC, and the fire came from within, not from without.

V. 14, Thou shalt eat, ut not be satisfied... I realize that America is only a small part of the world, yet, obviously, I think in terms of America. It is not uncommon to read of studies saying that those addicted to "junk food" or "fast food" are undernourished.

Then Vv. 14 & 15 combined — I wonder about the efforts to genetically modify various foods? These foods are not being tested for safety, except by placing them in the food supply. How much damage is man doing to himself with his misplaced scientific efforts?

V. 15, they will not be able to enjoy that for which they worked so hard:

Leviticus 26:16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Deuteronomy 28:30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof. 38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

See this curse reversed in the New Jerusalem, the Gospel Church. Isaiah chapter 62.

V. 16 For the statutes (ordinance, or something enacted or prescribed; could refer to customs) of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels (plan, device); that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

The kings may have set the tone of idolatry and wicked behavior, but the people did not have to follow their examples. The leaders were corrupt, but that did not mean the people had to follow in their corruption.

This was the object of their existence, (1 Kings 9:7). "that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws" (Psalm 105:45). This was the summary of their disobedience, "they kept not the covenant of God" (Psalm 78:11). And now was come the contrary to all this. They had not kept the commandments of God; and those commandments of man which were the most contrary to the commandments of God, they had kept and did keep diligently. Alas! that the Christian world should be so like them! What iron habit or custom of man, what fashion, is not kept, if it is against the law of God? How few are not more afraid of man than God? Had God's command run, Speak evil one of another, brethren, would it not have been the best kept of all His commandments? God says, speak not evil; custom, the conversation around, fear of man, say, speak evil; man's commandment is kept; God's is not kept. And no one repents or makes restitution; few even cease from the sin. (Pusey, in Barnes' Notes)

The object of His people's existence is to keep God's statutes and observe His laws. Yet those people run to do the things that are contrary to His will and ways. It is a shame that we cannot show the same zeal of service to His will and ways as we do to His enemies' will and ways.

Omri settled for a while the kingdom of Israel, after the anarchy which followed on the murder of Elah, and slew Zimri, his murderer. Yet before God, he did worse than all before him, and be walked in all the way of Jeroboam (1 Kings 16:25,26). Yet this too did not suffice Judah; for it follows, And all the doings of the house of Ahab, who again "did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him and served Baal" (1Kings 30-33); Ahab, to whom none "was like in sin, who did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kings 21:25). These were they, whose statutes Judah now kept, as diligently and accurately as if it had been a religious act. They kept, not the statutes of the Lord, "but the statutes of Omri;" they kept, as their pattern before their eyes, all the doings of the house of Ahab, his luxury, oppression, the bloodshedding of Naboth; and they walked onward, not, as God bade them, humbly with Him, but in their counsels. And what must be the end of all this? that I should make thee a desolation. They acted, as though the very end and object of all their acts were that, wherein they ended, their own destruction and reproach (See the note at Hosea 8:4, vol. i. p. 81). (Ibid)

Though they claimed to God's people, their actions proved otherwise. But because they did bear the name of my people, their punishment for not obeying God's laws would be accordingly.

V. 16, they claimed to be God's people, so the object of their existence as a people was to glorify God:

Psalms 195:44 And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people; 45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

However, we see from Micah that the people became more diligent in keeping the statutes of the wicked rulers than in keeping the statutes of the Lord. Why?

I think there are several reasons:

1) fear:

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Basically, fear of the civil penalties for not following the corrupt "laws" put in place by corrupt leaders.

2) social pressure:

3) seemingly small and insignificant pagan laws were enacted, and because they were insignificant, the people ignored the basic premise of the laws, and allowed those laws to control them. But those small things because very large, to where they now control every area of life. But they are too large to challenge without almost a violent overthrow of the lawless who are in control.

Omri walked in all the ways of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. (1 Kings 16:25, 26.) After Solomon died, the 12 tribes of Israel split – 2 remained after the house of David and ten went after Jeroboam. Jeroboam's sin did not seem like a lot, for all he did was build two calves, telling the people that they did not need to go to Jerusalem to worship the Lord God, as required in the law. Rather, they could do it there under the two calves he had built.

In other words, the worship appeared to be to the same God as was worshiped in Jerusalem, so most of the people followed Jeroboam's way. And thus the laws at the start may look good, but because they are built upon the wrong foundation, they soon get out of hand.

4) misplaced love:

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I believe this was a major problem in Micah, for the words of Micah are against the rich who gained their wealth through violence and corruption.

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Being in distress because we could not find a pastor in Virginia who would preform the marriage for Bettie and me in June, 2001, I wrote the following note to a friend, Peter Kershaw <hushmoney.org>, lamenting that we had to go outside the state to find a pastor who would preform the ceremony. (We felt and feel that the state has no biblical authority over the Christian marriage ? it is between the man, woman, preacher and God.)

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, Bro. Ovid.

(Peter'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

Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

I cannot tell how many people have told me that they know what is right, but they are unwilling to do it because of the money or because of fear. They flee to Romans 13 to justify not confronting the pagan state for the ungodly laws. What are the many stripes prepared for God's people in America who know God's word and will, yet refuse to do it.

the reproach of my people—The very thing ye boast of, namely, that ye are "My people," will only increase the severity of your punishment. The greater My grace to you, the greater shall be your punishment for having despised it, Your being God's people in name, while walking in His love, was an honor; but now the name, without the reality, is only a "reproach" to you. (JFB)

God's grace has been the greatest to these united States than to any nation in history, yet we have thumbed our noses at him, and have delighted in walking in the statutes and counsels of the wicked. What does God have in store for us?

September 28, 2001