The Poor Man’s Prophet
Micah had little love for the cities (1:5; 5:11;
6:9). He was a country boy who saw the dangers associated with big city
life. He had nothing but contempt for religious professionals who earned
their living telling people what they wanted to hear instead what they
needed to hear. False prophets enjoyed a livelihood by selling lies (Mic.
3:5). Flattery is the stock and trade of all false teachers. Because we
are all sinners, right preaching will often make the listener
uncomfortable and the speaker unpopular. Edgeless preaching that never
touches our conscience is also pointless.
Prosperity during the days of Jotham deadened the
spiritual senses. As is often the case lives of luxury are established
upon the backs of the oppressed. The wealthy are too often oblivious to
the pain and the anguish of the poorer masses. The ministry of Micah
lasted over forty years and witnessed the fall of Samaria, capital of
the northern kingdom. He was a contemporary of Isaiah. While Isaiah
spoke in the presence of kings, Micah was the poor man’s prophet.
He spoke out against the grasping, greed, avaricious,
and oppressive ways of the commercial, and religious aristocracy. He
pointed to grave crimes of social inequity, which involved the
confiscating of property of poor people, and the consumption of common
people by landlords which resembled sheep cropping grass.
Political turmoil prevailed as different factions
counseled for alliance with Egypt or submission to Assyria. Leaders not
only robbed the poor, Judges accepted bribes, and preachers accommodated
the rich with flattering words, while priests enriched themselves, and
tyrants laughed in the face of righteousness. Prosperity brought the
need for more public works which required conscription of workers,
taxes, and confiscation of land. The little guy was simply crushed if he
got in the way of these wheels.
This simple village preacher lifted his voice to warn
of judgment coming to Jerusalem. He was the first to dare such a
thought. His words not only survived, but one hundred years later became
the prophetic resource that saved Jeremiah’s life (Jer. 26). He knew he
was God’s messenger "But as for me, I am full of power by the Spirit of
Jehovah,and of judgment" (3:8).
Prosperity had fooled many. They said "Is not Jehovah
in the midst of us?" (Mic. 3:12). Jesus would later teach about the
deceitfulness of riches. Money has a way of fooling a person into
believing all is well. Prosperous people sometimes assuage their
conscience by making donations and giving financial offerings. Woe said
Micah to "Those who live selfish and luxurious lives, even though they
offer costly sacrifices, they are vampires in the sight of God, sucking
the life-blood of the poor" (Robinson).
Micah left us three great messages. The first was "Therefore shall
Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become
heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest”
3:12. Judgment not only can begin in the house of God, it must begin
there. Foolish is the man who believes he is safe because he is in the
holy city. Our assurance of salvation will never lead to arrogance or
presumption. God’s fire may fall where he wills. It rains on the just
and the unjust.
Some who sin at the foot of the cross little know the reality, the
morality, or the vitality of that cross. A true conversion produces a
transformed life. "Woe to them who are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1).
The second great message left by Micah is that of a holy geography. The
Messiah would be born, not in the sophisticated and great city, but in
the provincial hamlet called Bethlehem. This is the “X” that marked the
prophetic spot where wise men would find the world’s greatest treasure
The third message is a gem in itself for it sums up the heart of real
religion. It is the precursor to the great “spirit and in truth” sermon
given to that lonely woman of Sychar by Christ himself. Micah tells what
the Lord desires of us. “He hath showed thee, O man what is good; and
what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God.” (6:8).
This verse in on the wall in the reading room of the Congressional
Library in Washington, DC. It could stand as the life’s text for any
man. The Jewish religion was summed up in its 614 laws. Micah boiled it
all down to three. We are to do justly. Live before the balance scale of
right. May every line be plumb, and every wall square. Truth, honesty
and integrity should be our best friends. Duplicity, falsehood, and
deception should be counted as plagues and avoided at all cost. Love
mercy. Truth must be balanced with charity. We should treat all men as
we ourselves wish we would be treated. Someone said it is not enough to
do good, we must love doing good or our goodness is a sham and an
imposter. The third axiom of this profoundly simple prophet is to “walk
humbly with [our] God.” Here is the secret to happiness and spiritual
success, humility. We are to put on no airs. We are to avoid all
pretense. We are to live close to the earth (humus) which is the
etymology of the word. We are to stay close to the truth and never let
it out of our sight. If we do we will never think too highly or too
lowly of ourselves. We will be real people who will realize the
presence, power, and pleasure of God.
To Teachers and Preachers
-God put Bethlehem on the map. It is what happened in this little town
that made it famous. The fact that it was the hometown of David was
simply Bible trivia. It was meant for far more than that. It was where
God was born.
That last sentence sounds outrageous. It sounds almost blasphemous,
except for the fact that that is exactly what happened. It was where
Jesus was born. It was where the Word would become flesh. The Word
became flesh in a small, quiet, humble place. God knows where Bethlehem
is. God knows where to find you and me.
Do not put on airs. Be humble. Be real. A humble
person is not one who thinks poorly of himself. Thinking poorly of one’s
self is as sinful as thinking proudly. Self is the preoccupation in both
cases. The best teachers and preachers are those who forget themselves.
When asked who he was, John the baptist said he was "just a voice." A
truly humble person is simply a person who is down to earth.
Preachers are supposed to be able to help people find
Christ. Micah did that. Of all the places in the world the finger of God
rested on one small, almost insignificant city, "Bethlehem." Micah wrote
it down. The magi came looking for "he who was born king of the Jews."
The scribes had to go to Micah for the answer. We will never be able to
answer every question, and we shouldn't put off teaching until we can;
yet we must search the holy record ever looking for "Him," so that
should a wise man or a fool enquire of us we can point them to the
The name Micah means "Who is like God." This could be
a description as well as a question. It should be a description of every
Bible teacher and preacher. Prophets should be God-like. It is ever a
shame when we do not practice what we preach. It is a scandal when the
messenger marrs the message with ungodly behavior.
If there is any question or confusion about what is
"God-like," simply look at Jesus. The Pharisees had strange ideas of
what it meant to be "God-like." They were aloof, proud, arrogant,
pompous, cynical, self-absorbed, holier-than-thou.
On the other hand, Micah is a question, "Who is like
God?" The answer must be "no one." What a kind and gracious wonder God
is. The teacher and preacher is thrilled to answer his own question:
"Who is a pardoning God like thee?" The God of Micah is a God of Mercy.
Men must hear of God's hatred for sin. After all, it causes such woe and
sorrow in the earth. But men must also hear the words of hope. "God
delights in mercy" (7:18). What will this holy God do with all our sins
and iniquities because of Bethlehem and because of Calvary? He will bury
them in the depths of the sea (7:19).
Good preachers offer hope and their sermons mercy.
While they give no quarter to sin in any form,and place it under the
wrath of God, willing sinners are directed to a place of shelter before
the coming storm.