The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Micah
NEXT comes a still more brilliant seer: the word of Jehovah that came to Micah the Morasthite, a contemporary of Isaiah, concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. It is composed of three chief divisions, ushered in by a call to listen, "Hear, ye peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that is therein" (Micah 1: 2); "And I said, Hear, I pray you, ye heads of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel" (Micah 3: 1); and "Hear ye now what Jehovah saith," etc. (Micah 6: 1). Can the least discerning Of believers fail to apprehend its distinctive character?
It opens with the imminent fall of the northern kingdom because of its transgression, but goes on to the punishment of Judah also and Jerusalem. "Of late my people is risen up as an enemy." "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not the rest, because of defilement that destroyeth, even a grievous destruction" (Micah 2: 8, 10). The people and their prophets were alike wicked and rebellious. As chap. 1 has a predictive sketch of the Assyrian foe coming against Jerusalem, so does the end of chap. 2 present Him Who will effectuate Jehovah's purpose of deliverance and blessing for the remnant of Israel at the end.
In the next section he appeals to the chiefs, warning them against the prophets that cause Jehovah's people to err. If they cried, Peace, without a vision or light from God, Micah could say that he was filled with power by the Spirit of Jehovah to declare unto Jacob his transgression and unto Israel his sin. Heads, priests, prophets were only building up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with unrighteousness, while veiling iniquity under the privilege of His name. Zion and Jerusalem should come to utter desolation (Micah 3: 9-12). But this is followed in Micah 4 by the glowing picture with which Isaiah begins his Isa. 2. Only Micah, instead of going on to the overwhelming judgment of the day of Jehovah as there, predicts the going to Babylon as Isaiah does in his Isa. 39. Thence he turns to the closing scenes where many nations gather against Zion, which is told to arise and thresh many peoples: a judgment awaiting its sure fulfilment, when the first or former dominion shall come to her.
This gives occasion for announcing a still deeper reason for putting off blessing and the giving up His people for a season. Awful to think and say, they should smite the Judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek (Micah 5: 1)! And a parenthesis reveals Him born at Bethlehem, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. His rejection was their own rejection, till God's counsel comes to birth; when the residue of His brethren, instead of merging in the church of God as now, shall return unto the children of Israel, and the kingdom be displayed in power and glory before all the world. And the prospect is beautifully described to the end of this part.
The third section is a most affecting call to hear Jehovah's controversy with His people, in spite of His goodness to them from the beginning and through the wilderness into Canaan. It is not offerings but righteousness He values. In the face of iniquity, deceit, and violence, of family bonds turned to enmity all the more evil and destructive, the prophet waits on Jehovah with confidence of deliverance and vindication. And he looks through the desolation that must intervene because of Israel's sins to the restitution of all things in the latter day, when the nations shall be ashamed of all their might, and lick the dust. "Who is a God like Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again and have mercy upon us; He will tread under foot our iniquities. And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the seas. Thou wilt perform truth to Jacob, loving-kindness to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old" (Micah 7: 18-20).
In denying God's faithfulness to Israel and monopolising the earthly promises, Babylon has shown herself, as in all else, faithless to the true place of His church, in present suffering and future glory with Christ. But we speak not of her that occupied the plain of Shinar, but of the more guilty woman that sits on seven hills, mystery written on her forehead, the corrupt counterpart of the bride, the Lamb's wife.