The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Micah 3

Mic 3:1

THEN I SAID: This second oracle begins like the first and third ones, with a summons to hear the prophet's message (cp Mic 1:2; 6:1). The initial "And I said" ties this oracle to the preceding one and provides continuity.

LISTEN, YOU LEADERS OF JACOB, YOU RULERS OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: Again, Jacob and Israel are synonyms for all 12 tribes (cp Mic 1:5; etc).

SHOULD YOU NOT KNOW JUSTICE?: Micah asked rhetorically if it was not proper for Israel's rulers to practice justice (fairness, equity). It was not only proper, but it was essential.

Mic 3:2

YOU WHO HATE GOOD AND LOVE EVIL: Yet these rulers had stood justice on its head. They hated good and loved evil (cp Pro 8:13; Isa 1:16,17; Amos 5:15).

Mic 3:3

This graphically describes the rulers' abuse of their victims for their own selfish ends. The figure is of a hunter, and the implication is that the rulers regarded and treated the ordinary citizens as mere animals rather than as human beings. The rich stripped the poor of their money and property and oppressed them unmercifully (cp Zep 3:3).

Mic 3:4

THEY WILL CRY OUT TO THE LORD, BUT HE WILL NOT ANSWER THEM: Because these rulers had turned deaf ears to the pleas of orphans and widows, they would eventually cry out to Yahweh in prayer asking Him for help. But He would not answer them (cp Psa 27:7-9; Pro 21:13; Jer 7:12-15).

AT THAT TIME HE WILL HIDE HIS FACE FROM THEM BECAUSE OF THE EVIL THEY HAVE DONE: When God chooses not to listen to cries for help from His people, it is because their behavior has alienated them from Him: cp Psa 18:41; Pro 1:28; Isa 1:15.

Mic 3:5

AS FOR THE PROPHETS WHO LEAD MY PEOPLE ASTRAY, IF ONE FEEDS THEM, THEY PROCLAIM 'PEACE'; IF HE DOES NOT, THEY PREPARE TO WAGE WAR AGAINST HIM: The Lord also had a message concerning the false prophets who were misleading His people. The false prophets gave blessings to those who paid them, but people who did not give them anything received curses of doom and gloom (cp Lam 2:14; Jer 6:14). Self-interest motivated these prophets rather than the fear of the Lord (cp 2Ti 4:3).

"It was an ancient and respectable practice for a prophet to accept payment for services rendered to his clients. After all, as Jesus affirmed, 'the worker is entitled to his wages' (Luke 10:7). But with so apparently subjective a craft as prophecy there was ever a temptation. Why not make the message match the customer's pocket?" (Allen).

Even today some "ministers" favor those who treat them well and neglect, or worse, those who do not.

Mic 3:6

THE SUN WILL SET FOR THE PROPHETS, AND THE DAY WILL GO DARK FOR THEM: Because of such abuses as described in v 5, the true prophets of Yahweh foretold a long spiritual "darkness", or "drought" -- a night or famine for the word through the prophets: cp Amos 8:11,12. This was true from Malachi until the revival under the time of John the Baptist.

Mic 3:7

THE SEERS WILL BE ASHAMED AND THE DIVINERS DISGRACED: The title "seer" is an old one describing a prophet (1Sa 9:9), but "diviners" sought knowledge of the future through illegitimate means and were outlawed in Israel (cp Deu 18:10). Thus these two titles were derogatory terms for the false prophets.

THEY WILL COVER THEIR FACES BECAUSE THERE IS NO ANSWER FROM GOD: Seers and diviners would suffer embarrassment because they would not be able to come up with any word from the Lord when the people asked for it. Covering the face was a sign of mourning (cp Lev 13:45; Eze 24:17,22).

Mic 3:8

BUT AS FOR ME, I AM FILLED WITH POWER, WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD: In contrast to the false prophets who were full of greed (cp Acts 5:3), Micah claimed to be inspired by Yahweh, being full of spiritual power as a result of God's Spirit.

AND WITH JUSTICE AND MIGHT, TO DECLARE TO JACOB HIS TRANSGRESSION, TO ISRAEL HIS SIN: Justice marked his pronouncements (cp vv 1-3,5) and courage his ministry (cp vv 4,6,7; cp Acts 4:13). He did not tailor his prophecies to his pay, or fear what people might withhold from him if his message was negative (cp 1Th 2:2-6). His ministry was to declare the sins of the Israelites (as well as their future hope), and he fulfilled it faithfully and boldly.

Mic 3:10

WHO BUILD ZION WITH BLOODSHED, AND JERUSALEM WITH WICKEDNESS: Micah further described his audience of leaders as those who built Zion or Jerusalem by sacrificing the lives of innocent people. That is, they built up their own little spiritual "kingdoms" and not God's kingdom -- their own niches of comfort and ease and wealth, with no regard for the spiritual welfare of their "sheep"!

How much this sounds like the lives of the "shepherds" of the organized Church, down through the ages!

Mic 3:11

HER LEADERS JUDGE FOR A BRIBE, HER PRIESTS TEACH FOR A PRICE, AND HER PROPHETS TELL FORTUNES FOR MONEY: The judges gave favorable verdicts to those who bribed them (cp Exo 23:8; Deu 27:25), and the priests only taught those who would pay them. The prophets likewise only prophesied for a price (cp Deu 16:19).

YET THEY LEAN UPON THE LORD AND SAY, "IS NOT THE LORD AMONG US? NO DISASTER WILL COME UPON US": Yet they all claimed to trust in the Lord and encouraged themselves with the false hope that since Yahweh was among them He would allow no evil to overtake them (cp Psa 46:4,5; Jer 7:4).

Mic 3:12

ZION WILL BE PLOWED LIKE A FIELD, JERUSALEM WILL BECOME A HEAP OF RUBBLE, THE TEMPLE HILL A MOUND OVERGROWN WITH THICKETS: Micah announced a wholly different future for the Israelites. God would plow up (overthrow) Jerusalem like a field and tear down its buildings until they were only ruins (cp Mic 1:5,6). Even the temple mount, the most holy place in all Israel, would become like a hilltop in a forest, overgrown and neglected.

Jeremiah, who lived a century later, quoted this portion of Micah's prophecy to assure the Jerusalemites of his day that the doom of their city was certain (Jer 26:18). Jeremiah prefaced this quotation with, "Thus the LORD of hosts has said." He viewed Micah's prophecy as inspired of God (cp 2Ti 3:16).

"Micah's words, remembered for their shocking severity a hundred years later, deserve to be taken to heart by each generation of God's people. They challenge every attempt to misuse the service of God for one's own glory and profit. They are a dire warning against the complacency that can take God's love and reject his lordship. They are a passionate plea for consistency between creed and conduct. The LORD is content with nothing less" (Allen).

These words were spoken to Hezekiah (Jer 26:18). This is an example of a very specific prophecy which was NOT fulfilled -- the delay was brought about by the repentance of the king. Cp Jonah's prophecy against Nineveh, which was turned aside by their repentance.
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