micah-2

1 Chronicles 23, Micah 2

Today we’re reading 1 Chronicles 23, Micah 2.

This devotional is about Micah 2.

Micah fought a two-front war in this chapter.

First he spoke out against powerful, greedy people who used power to take the land and homes of others (vv. 1-2). Because of their sins, God would take all the land and hand it over others (vv. 3-5).

The second front Micah battled was from false prophets who attempted to silence Micah’s message (vv. 6-11). The message of these false prophets was summarized in the last line of verse 6 and the first three lines of verse 7. I will paraphrase their false message this way: “Shut up! We’re not going to lose to another nation, Micah! God’s patience is infinite (vv. 7b). He will never turn on his people.” Their argument was that God’s promises to his people were completely unconditional. No matter how much God’s people sinned, they would be safe because God loves them just that much.

It is always more pleasant to believe the prediction that we’ll be OK. If one economist is predicting a recession and another is saying that current problems in the economy are temporary but then a big boom is coming, which one would you want to believe? If one doctor tells you that your cough will clear up in a few days while the other says you have lung cancer, which message is more appealing?

Micah’s situation was similar. He predicted pain and suffering for all of God’s people because the wealthy were exploiting average citizens. Meanwhile, the prophets of eternal optimism rebuked him and told these unrighteous businessmen that everything would be fine.

We want things to be fine; we want good times. God’s message, however, wasn’t that good times were impossible. Instead, he offered a better way to prosperity: “Do not my words do good to the one whose ways are upright?” (v. 7d-e). God wanted his people to prosper but he wanted their prosperity to come as a blessing for obedience to his word. “Take the medicine,” God was telling his people. “Repent of your greedy oppression and do what is right and then everyone will prosper because I will bless you.”

Ultimately, God does have good plans in store for his people (vv. 12) when Jesus comes as king (v. 13). Before that, however, they would pay a heavy price for their sins. The best course of action was to believe God’s word, pay the price to undo what they had sinfully done, and do what was right going forward. Instead, they chose to listen to the sunny-side up prophets. Verse 11 sarcastically describes the kind of prophets we all, in our sinful nature, want: “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ that would be just the prophet for this people!”

Are you listening to the hard truths of God’s word? Do we pay attention and change our ways when God’s word rebukes us? Or do we change the channel and listen instead to a message that offers more encouragement? Encouragement is good unless it distorts God’s word (as in verse 7a-c) and comforts us in our sinful ways. Everyone would rather get a massage than have surgery but only one of those ways will remove cancer and put you on the road to health again. Let God’s word surgically address your sins and shortcomings; then you will walk more righteously and follow Christ right into his kingdom.

1 Chronicles 23, 1 Peter 4, Micah 2, Luke 11

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 23, 1 Peter 4, Micah 2, Luke 11. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Micah 2.

This passage begins by announcing “woe to those who plan iniquity.” The “woe” is a prayer or a wish for a curse; it is an announcement, in this context, of sorrow that is coming due to God’s judgment. The object of this sorrow is those who exploit other people. Verse 2 says, “They covet fields and seize them,  and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance.” And why do they do these evil things? Because they can: “...because it is in their power to do it.” This suggests either those who hold positions of power in the government or those who are politically well-connected to the government. Undoubtedly there were private citizens in Israel and Judah who had the strength and weapons to exploit others. Had they done so, however, the person who was exploited could appeal to judges for justice. If the judges, however, are corrupt then there is no recourse for justice.

Apparently this is how things went in Israel and Judah. Those who had positions of power in the king’s administration could use that power to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Those who were private citizens but knew who to bribe or how to bribe or had their own cronies in the government could exploit others without fear of accountability. God prophesied (and later brought) judgment on Israel and Judah for these sins (vv. 3-5) and other sins we’ve read about in the prophets. 

Instead of speaking out against these sins, however, there were prophets in Israel and Judah who tried to silence the truth-telling of Micah (vv. 6-7) and speak only of a pleasant, pleasurable future for God’s people (v. 11). A prophet who fails to speak out against exploitation and injustice enables that exploitation and injustice to continue (vv. 8-9). 

This is part of our discipleship that we ought to consider. While we don’t live in Israel and are not God’s chosen people, God hates injustice wherever it lives and will judge those who exploit others in eternity, if not in this life. In our world, the idea of “injustice” has been alleged and used to gain political power and to exploit the innocent. See the irony? “Injustice” as an accusation is now a tool to commit injustice against one’s political enemies under the new, popular phrase, “social justice.” God has not called us as believers to effect social change by taking on social issues. He’s charged us with calling people out of their sins to Jesus in faith and repentance. Part of living for the glory of the Lord, however, is seeking to do what is right in our lives wherever possible. That means, at times, doing justice when we are in a position to do so--such as when we serve on a jury or vote. It also means speaking out if we witness abuses of power against the weak. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.