In a world where injustice seems to reign and sin runs rampant, I often find myself wondering why God has allowed this. Recently, I have been asking this question, and I have found solace in the pages of the book of Micah. I hope and pray my words and thoughts surrounding these verses can help you see that God is still working amid injustice and hardship.
The History of Micah
I know history can be a little boring, but with the Old Testament especially, it is SO important to understand the historical context going along with God’s words. A lot of times, we can’t understand why God is so wrathful in the Old Testament, but often that’s because we aren’t aware of the whole story.
Micah was a prophet in Southern Judah when he wrote this book (around 735-700 B.C.) Believe it or not, the people of Judah were NOT listening to what God was telling them. The people of Judah claimed to know & believe in God, yet they still worshipped idols and relied on the devil rather than the Lord. God was heartbroken that His people had turned their backs from Him yet again. God was also burning with righteous anger.
Through Micah, God told His people that if they didn’t change their ways, Judah would be overtaken and destroyed. The people of Judah didn’t believe that God would destroy their holy city. After all, it was the site of God’s temple, so they believed they were automatically considered holy and right before God. Yet they worshipped idols, lived in sexual sin, and allowed pride to overtake them. And dear friends, this is so like us today. We think because we throw around the term “Christian” that it makes us holy. But only believing in the atonement of Christ can make you holy enough to stand before the Lord. Atonement is the first step, but we must also die to our flesh to live a life for God.
Through Micah, the Lord intertwines the ideas of judgment and mercy. He points to the true meanings of justice, and He reminds us of all the promises He has in store for His children. While God is a wrathful judge, He is also a forgiving Father and an Author that has written a salvation story over each one of our hearts.
Open your Bible to the book of Micah and let’s get started!
Micah 1: The Lord Sees You
To start this chapter off, God tells His people that He will bear witness against their sinful actions (1:2). He wants His people to hear His words of truth and repent. Verse 3 even declares the Lord is coming down from the heavens to be with His people. Part of this declaration was to prove His mighty power as a reminder that without change, His people would be punished.
But I also think this creates a sense of intimacy and closeness between the Lord and His people. So often we view punishment as only a negative thing, but God’s punishment is not rejection. God’s punishment is to remind us that there is something better in store for us than the worldly things we are chasing. Imagine, a Creator of the entire universe, caring so much about YOU that He wants to spend the time and effort to correct your path amd bless you. We must also remember that God is a perfect and holy judge. He sees the sin we choose to ignore or that we are blinded to, and He wants to help us purify ourselves; We must only let Him in.
In verse 4, the Lord says something striking. He says, “But all of this is Jacob’s transgressions, because of the sins of Israel. What is Jacob’s transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem?” (these questions refer to the split of the 12 tribes of Israel) And I can totally see the people of Judah saying “YEP!! That’s exactly what it is, it’s all their fault! You can leave us alone now! :)” And just like the Judahites we so often allow our sins to get muddled into acceptable behavior because we make excuses like:
- “Well, I only did this because…”
- “It’s their fault, not mine…”
- “I didn’t know I was doing something bad…”
But God CLEARLY draws the line between good & bad within His Word, and we must be willing to incorporate His sense of justice and goodness within our own lives. And I know from a worldly perspective, not every situation or decision has a clear “good or bad” answer. Sometimes there is a gray area, but during those times reach out to God and ask for guidance!
Then, for the next couple of verses, God talks about the destruction He will bring upon the city. But something that caught my attention especially was verse 6, when He says,
I will make it a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. – Micah 1:6
And honestly, I don’t know the first thing about vineyard planting, maybe rubble is just a great place to grow grapes, but this verse is talking about how out of destruction, God is bringing a new wine- Jesus Christ!
The next subtitle in my Bible is called “Weeping and Mourning.” And guess what the people of Judah were doing…. yeah, weeping and mourning! I get it, God has come down and threatened destruction. God then makes the point of WHY are you weeping like I haven’t warned you for years that change must happen? WHY are you asking me to help you when you ignore the needy and oppressed in your own country? WHY do you think I will allow you to define the standards of justice?
And everyone, right now, WHY are we still doing that?! And the simple answer is because of human nature, but that is no excuse to hinder justice when the Lord gives us specific standards to live according to His Word. Please do not mistake my words as harsh, but see them as the Lord’s Truth, because when we choose a life from God, we are committing ourselves to a life of sin.
God so clearly reveals His utter heartbreak and fury at watching His children twist the name of justice for their own good. God is justice. His Word is justice. His peace, comfort, and power is justice. So why are we so afraid to really dig into the true meaning of justice? Of love? Of compassion? And I think Micah says it best when he says the injustices of Judah are like an “incurable plague.” And YES there is a seemingly literal incurable plague going on right now but throughout the Bible, God gives us the “cure” to combat the plague of injustices, even though it certainly does seem “incurable.” As we continue through the rest of the book of Micah, you will clearly see how what went on in Judah relates to us now.
In this verse, the “horses and chariots” refer to a leader. Who will lead in such a time as this? As Christians, we cannot be afraid to be the leaders of justice. This world is a corrupt place, and without the power of God’s children, nothing will ever change. So be that change and accept the calling God has placed over each one of our lives.
The second part of verse 13 is a reminder that we all are consumed by sin. But we have the choice to hand it to God and live freely. If not, we become slaves to evil and will never feel the freedom that God intends to bless us with. Micah cleverly paints a picture of this slavery when he tells the Judahites who refuse repentance to “shave their heads in mourning, make yourself as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.” As believers today, we have a second option: repent and be free.
Micah 2: God’s Plan Over All
Evil thoughts lead to evil deeds. In all of your ventures, be fair and loving to eliminate the spread of evil, and promote the spread of the Gospel.
This is a warning from Micah to avoid using power and position to take advantage of others. In 1 Kings 21: 1-16, Jezebel had a man killed simply so the king could use the man’s garden whenever he pleased. The leaders of Judah were making similar mistakes as they oppressed their people and led lives of sin. So when you are given authority, be just with your decisions and work with your people, not against them.
Similarly, we should be praying for rulers all around the world to embrace God’s truth and rule with heavenly power rather than earthly distractions.
These verses describe the punishment God is going to put upon the people of Judah for their sins. While all of His people will be punished, God makes a promise that He will divide the land among the righteous believers, and the oppressors will receive nothing. This reminds me of the beatitudes that Jesus preached as He said, “Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, etc.” While we may not feel blessed during times of trial and hardships, our reward is coming in the form of an eternity in paradise!
These verses also reveal the immense power behind God’s words and His plan. He is Almighty. No matter what we say or do, the Lord will always have ultimate power. And I think when a lot of people hear “ultimate power,” especially in the context of Micah when the Lord is threatening destruction, they immediately think that God is some sort of a dictator. But that’s not the case at all. God gives us free will. However, He uses His divine power to transform our lives into something beautiful on the account of His goodness. With the people of Judah, the Lord knew that without destruction, His people could never recreate their society to reflect their religion. Sometimes, as crazy as it sounds, reaching rock bottom is the biggest blessing because it allows us to completely rebuild our lives upon the Rock.
In the verses, we are warned about false prophets. People will sweet talk us and try to steer us away from our faith. We must root ourselves in the Word. This kind of false jargon is one of the devil’s biggest tools to distract us from what really matters: Our relationship with God.
The people of Judah fell for this talk from the devil. They turned their backs on God, and God was not only outraged but heartbroken. God tells Micah that, “Lately my people have risen up like an enemy” (2:8). Ouch. If we so willingly rise against the Lord, why are we so angry when He sends punishment? Do we not deserve it?
But despite this, God still sent Jesus Christ to take the punishment for us (John 3:16). Yes, we will still have hardships. But we will never have to endure the separation from God that sin so wickedly brings.
The Lord promises deliverance. He promises His people that He will “bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture.” He will leave the 99 sheep to find the one for He is the good shepherd. The Lord then says He will go before them, preparing the way for goodness and glory. In Judah’s case, and many others, punishment is preparation. And undergoing that preparation can lead to eternity.
If that’s a little confusing, let’s go back to the historical context. God’s punishment for Judah ended up being captivity by the Babylonians. There were many years between this capture and the walk of the Messiah, but during their oppression, Judah realized that the Savior was coming. In the end, God’s punishment for their sin gave them more hope than they would ever have because it forced them to turn their eyes to a higher place. They realized they were called out of sin and into righteousness. And that’s what the Lord wants for you!!
Micah 3: Justice Above All
The leaders of Judah were oppressors. They hid behind a mask of faith, only to turn their need for God on and off like a light switch. They ravaged and killed their people for their own satisfaction, yet when anything went wrong in their lives, they turned to God and demanded help. God was heartbroken and angry. He revealed His plan of punishment if the leaders did not change their ways, but then He went into a time of grieving when He “hid His face from them because of the evil they had done” (3:4).
God’s face is brilliant and bright. In Exodus, it is described to be the brightest light ever seen and Moses could not look at it. When Saul was walking and saw the face of the Lord, he was instantly blinded. The Lord hid His face because His children in Judah were choosing darkness over light. Yes, the light of the Lord will always have victory over darkness, but we cannot live in both. When the days of revelation come, the Light will rule all, but right now, we choose where we stand. And both simply is not an option.
Even later in this chapter, the Lord says,
Those who lead my people astray…the night will come for you. The sun will set for you and the days will go dark. – Micah 3:5-6
Choosing to allow injustices to rule tears us away from the Lord. Look around the world right now. What do you see? I see destruction and injustice and oppression. But I also see hope. I sense the kind of hope that envelopes your whole spirit and brings you peace during the darkest times. I feel the hope of Jesus Christ.
After all this, Micah then says,
But as for me, I am filled with power from the Spirit of God. – Micah 3:8
Micah believed fully, trusted extensively, and served faithfully. But so many of the people around him saw God as a crutch to their problems and used Him as so. But when we put our faith in Him, and when we fully lay our lives down for the good of the kingdom, we are filled with HIS power! A quote from my study Bible says: “You can’t witness effectively by relying on your own strength, because fear will keep you from sneaking out for God. Only by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit can you live and witness for Him.” We cannot get strength from the Lord only during hardships. We need strength from the Lord CONSTANTLY in order to truly accomplish the kingdom work that He has in store for us.
The leaders of Judah “distorted what was right” (3:9). The Lord promised punishment. But He also promised hope and redemption. While most of the leaders of this earth are crooked and unjust, know that God will attend to them. It is not our place to judge or condemn them. It is our job to have hope for a better future in the belief that the Lord will provide. Yes, go fight for what is right and make changes to the injustices in this world; we NEED to do this. We need to stand firm in justice and mercy, we need to stand strong within our churches and families. But when you feel helpless and you cannot act, simply believe God will make every wrong into a right and His justice will one day be established over all else.