Lessons from Micah: Who is a Pardoning God Like Ours? I

Jeff Smith

The word of Jehovah that came to Micah the Morashtite
in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah,
which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

Hear, you peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is:
and let the Lord Jehovah be witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.

Micah 1:1-2

Who is a God like unto You, that pardons iniquity,
and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?

He retains not His anger for ever, because He delights in lovingkindness.
He will again have compassion upon us; He will tread our iniquities under foot;

and You wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
You will perform the truth to Jacob, and the lovingkindness to Abraham,
which You have sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

Micah 7:18-20

The Prophet

The author of this book was the prophet, Micah.  We know very little about this man, although we are told the name of his hometown, a village located some 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem (1:1).

We do know that his name means Who is like Jehovah? As we shall see, this is significant.

We are also told that Micah lived in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who were kings of Judah. This does not mean that Micah lived from the beginning of Jotham’s reign to the end of Hezekiah’s reign.  It simply means that he prophesied during the reigns of each of these 3 kings. Therefore, we can estimate that Micah probably prophesied for approximately 30 to 35 years, about 700 years prior to the birth of Christ.

His Message

The first words of the book identify its content: The Word of Jehovah that came to Micah. These words instruct us that Micah did not proclaim his own opinions. He did not proclaim his own judgments to the people of his day. No, during the course of about 35 years, Micah faithfully proclaimed the Word of Jehovah. Because this book, the record of his faithful preaching, is the Word of Jehovah, we can learn from this infallible Word of the living God today.

Furthermore, Micah began his preaching by addressing all the inhabitants of the earth: Hear, you peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is (1:2).  His message was not restricted to the Jews.  He called upon all the people of the earth to pay attention to the Word of Jehovah. Thus, his message is relevant for all of us.

The Sins of the People

Although Micah began his preaching by addressing everyone, his declarations of sin zeroed in upon the sins of the inhabitants of Israel and Judah, and their capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem (1:5). These declarations did not portray the people in an attractive light. The detailed catalogue of their sins is extensive. Their sins are hideous. Their sins are shocking.

Remembering that, as a prophet in that day, it was Micah’s duty to declare the sins of the people, note with me a sampling of Micah’s description of some of their sins.

The people were guilty of rebellion and illegitimate worship in high places, which would have included the worship of graven images and sacrifices on the altars of Baal (1:5). Their idolatry included various forms of sexual immorality (1:7). Despite the proclamations of faithful and godly prophets, the people’s lives were characterized by stubborn impenitence (1:9).

Devising iniquity occupied their thoughts at night, even when they laid on their beds to sleep. Instead of sleeping, they had their minds churning on how they could enact evil on the following day. When they arose in the morning, they practiced the evil which they had planned (2:1).

All, with very few exceptions, had hearts full of selfishness and covetousness. They would steal the property of others, even using force if necessary (2:2).

Although their sins were obvious and numerous, the people of Israel and Judah continued to be a “religious” people. They did not want faithful preaching; but they indulged and approved false prophets and their lying words (2:11).

The people, including their rulers, were ignorant of justice (3:1). They hated anything good and loved that which was evil (3:2).

The rulers of the people were not only ignorant of justice: they abhorred and perverted justice. They cared not for the lives of others, but destroyed anyone who stood in their way (3:9-10).

The priests and prophets were greedy and avaricious. They brazenly proclaimed that Jehovah was with them, and that no evil would come upon them (3:11). This was contrary to the declarations of Micah.

The people did not seek Jehovah and His Word from godly prophets. Instead, they sought after soothsayers, and countenanced witchcraft in their midst (5:12).

Although the people repeatedly professed to be followers, worshippers, lovers of Jehovah, God knew (as Micah declared), that, in fact, they were weary of Jehovah. Indeed, the Lord asked the people through the prophet Micah, “What have I done unto you? And wherein have I wearied you?” (6:3).

Jehovah’s laws, His Word, and His worship were tedious, boring, and burdensome to these people, who were very “religious,” but not at all really following Jehovah and His Word. They had forgotten, and were ungrateful for, God’s past deliverance and redemption from their enslavement in Egypt (6:4). They had forgotten, and were ungrateful, that God had delivered them many other times from many enemies (6:5).

Violence, lying, and deceit were as common with the rich as with the poor (6:12).

The people were following in the footsteps of two of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history—Omri and Ahab (6:16).

Alas, Micah’s inventory of the sins of the people is not finished!

Bloodshed and murder were commonplace (7:2). Asking for and taking bribes was so common that it was woven into the very fabric of life (7:3).

Treachery was even to be found where it should never have been seen, in homes and in families. Children dishonored their parents; and deceit, hatred, and betrayal was rife within families (7:6).

This was Micah’s faithful and necessary declaration of the sins of the people in his day.

Ten Commandments Violated

We see from Micah’s preaching how many of God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) were being transgressed by the people of his day, beginning with the first commandment, You shall have no other gods before Me.

The second commandment is, You shall not make unto you a graven image…. You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them. They were violating this commandment continually.

Next, You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain. They claimed to know the Lord and to be following Him; but, in truth, they were living ungodly lives.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. When you study Micah, you realize they were not keeping the Sabbath day holy.

They were not honoring father and mother. They were killingmurdering. They were committing adultery. They were stealing. They were lying. They were covetous.

All ten of God’s commandments were violated repeatedly and extensively throughout all the land of Israel and Judah.

The omniscient Lord, as Supreme Judge, exposed the manifold and grievous sins of His covenant people through His servant and preacher, Micah.

The Judgments Of Jehovah

Because of the sins of the people, Micah also declared the righteous judgments which Jehovah would bring upon the people: no one would be exempt.

Micah declared that the Lord would tread down the people in judgment (1:3). He would make Samaria, the capital city of Israel, as rubble (1:6). The Lord would destroy all their idols in that city, crushing and burning them with fire (1:7). The Lord would bring evil upon the people, in order to humble them (2:3).

In severe and just judgment, Jehovah declared through Micah that He would not answer their prayers (3:4). The Lord declared that He would destroy Jerusalem. Like Samaria to the north, it, too, would become heaps of rubble (3:12). As they learned of Samaria’s being destroyed into rubble, the people of Jerusalem would have no grounds for being smug and self-righteous.

Such destruction, Micah reveals, would not end the judgments of God upon the people because of their sins. Micah declared that Jehovah would bring the people into captivity in Babylon (4:9-10), and that no king and no counsellor would be able to deliver them from this fate. Because of their sins, the Lord would bring temporal judgments upon their land, making it desolate: they would labor in their fields, but never reap the fruit of their labors (6:13-15).

Grief Over Judgment

Micah found no delight in declaring these judgments of Jehovah to the people. In fact, he grieved because of the sins of the people; he wept bitterly for them; and he poured out his heart’s lamentation for them unto the Lord (1:8).

Brethren, is this not what we as Christians should be doing, as we look upon our nation and our world? As we see the sins that are manifold in our own country, should we not be asking God to indeed raise up preachers to proclaim God’s righteous judgment because of these sins?

Yet, through it all, we as a people of God should be like Micah. We should not take delight in those sobering realities; but we should be grieved because of the sins of our country and world. We should weep bitterly for our fellow citizens. We should pour out our heart’s lamenation to God for them.

Micah was faithful to his calling as a prophet, even as Jehovah Himself was faithful to His Word, which He had revealed to Moses many centuries before. We read this in Deuteronomy 28:15-16.

But it shall come to pass,
if you will not hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God,
to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes
which I command you this day,
that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you.
Cursed you shall be in the city, and cursed you shall be in the field.

Through these difficult and faithful declarations of God’s judgments, Micah wanted all the people to understand, intellectually and experientially, that these judgments were thoroughly righteous and absolutely necessary. This was true, even though these divine judgments would be sweeping in their scope, and fearful and painful in their execution. They were thoroughly righteous and absolutely necessary, for God will be faithful to His Word, both in its promises and in its threatenings.

As a godly man, Micah patiently embraced God’s judgments, because he was in solidarity with his countrymen. He, too, was a sinner (7:9).

I will bear the indignation of Jehovah, because I have sinned against him,
until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me….

Micah never despaired. He was sobered; he sorrowed; but he never despaired. He understood that he must wait patiently for God’s salvation and deliverance (7:7,9).

But as for me, I will look unto Jehovah;
I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
…he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.

Micah must persevere through times of difficulty and judgment.

Brethren, we should follow in the footsteps of Micah. When we consider the virus that has enveloped the whole world—even though we may see this as God’s judgment upon our nation and others, we must not despair; but we must wait patiently for God’s salvation and deliverance. We must persevere through times of dificulty and judgment, as Micah did.

When we, as Micah the prophet, rightly understand and embrace such judgments of God, we will see they are also merciful judgments, because, with the blessing of God, they humble proud sinners, bringing them in repentance to the living God.

Lesson 1: Regard all conviction of sin, and sense of God’s righteous judgment, as a mercy from God.

It is always a mercy from God when His Word exposes our sins, convicts us of them, and then pronounces His judgment upon us because of them.

This may not sound like a mercy from God; this may not feel like a mercy from God; but such exposure and conviction of sin by God the Spirit with God’s Holy Word is truly a mercy from God.

Many, if not all, of our sins as God’s people, are identical to the sins of the people of Israel and Judah. Even if not in actual deed (for by God’s mercy we have not commited many of those deeds that they have committed),  certainly we have committed many of these sins in our hearts, in our minds.

Lest we think that we and the people of our land are not as bad as the people of Micah’s day, all we need do is pause, think, and examine our hearts, and the lives of the people of our nation, in the light of God’s Ten Commandments.

Conviction of sin from the Word of God by the Spirit of God is never a pleasant experience; but it is always a necessary experience, if we are ever to know the reality of God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ—if we’re ever to know the realities which Micah proclaimed in Micah 7:18-19.

Therefore, dear Christian brother, man or woman, boy or girl, whenever the Word of God is preached (or read), do not deflect the arrows of conviction.

When you sense the Word is putting its finger, as it were, upon an area of sin (iniquity) in your heart and life, don’t deflect it; don’t push it off.

If the arrow has come and found its mark—if conviction has pierced your heart—and you realize, I am guilty; I am the man, or I am the woman, do not yank it out and say, I don’t like this feeling! It’s not pleasant; but don’t yank out the arrow of conviction and cast it off.

Instead, regard all conviction of sin and sense of God’s righteous judgment as a mercy from God, for He purposes it to lead you to confession of sin, and to repentance from your sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners.

Follow the example of Micah the prophet, who, like us, lived among a sinning nation. What did Micah do? He looked unto Jehovah and waited for the God of his salvation, knowing that God indeed heard his prayers (7:7).

God’s Word is always relevant and timely. God’s Word through Micah is relevant today, for us as individuals, but also for the world about us.

Second article: Lessons from Micah: Who is a Pardoning God Like Ours? II

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