Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 9 - Micah

Micah 1‑7  •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 7
H. P. Barker
No. 9 — Micah
THE prophecy of Micah is particularly rich in its varied presentations of the glories of Christ. Within the limited compass of a paper like this, however, a bare outline will have to suffice.
The book before us divides itself in an easily recognized way into three sections. We shall see how the One to whom all the prophets give witness, is referred to in each of these three sections.
First Section — Micah 1-2
2. Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
3. For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place,
5. For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?
The prophecy opens with Jehovah taking the place of a witness against His people on account of their sins. How painful a position this must have been for Him to occupy, we who know something of His tender, faithful love can in some degree understand. It is as if a father were called to the witness-box to give evidence against a dearly-loved child.
But God can never be indifferent to sin, whether in His own people or in the world at large. He is a God of unsullied holiness and truth. All His ways, from the earliest moment of His dealings with men proclaim Him such. One great good that comes to us from the study of the Old Testament is that therein we learn God, as He made Himself known in His governmental ways with Israel, and with certain individuals.
In Micah we find Him coming out of His place (ver. 3). His true place is that of Blesser. It is His delight to bestow benefits upon His people with a hand that knows no stint. Judgment is His strange work. But holiness and truth demand that He should put His hand to that work in which He finds no pleasure, that He should come forth from His place where He sits as the beneficent Source of blessing, to punish transgression and to rebuke transgressors. Hence it is that sweeping destruction is foretold, both for Samaria and Judah.
But an important principle comes. out in this connection, namely, that the warnings of impending judgment are not merely to arouse the sinful and the careless, but especially to do good to those who walk uprightly. Thus we read: —
“O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (Mic. 2:77O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? (Micah 2:7))
It may be asked, how can predictions of coming judgment benefit the godly, who are either saved through, or exempted from the awful destruction which will involve others? In two ways.
First, by increasing their confidence in God. In our day, as well as in by-gone times, cavilers are found who ask, why does God permit all the evil in the world to go on unchecked? Such caviling finds its complete answer in a prophecy of this sort; and those who love the truth and walk uprightly are encouraged in their confidence as they learn that God is not going to allow evil to go on unchecked. He will intervene in judgment, to secure the final triumph of good.
Second, by separating them, heart and soul, from that upon which judgment is coming. Herein lies the great value of the prophecies of “The Revelation” to us. We see there that certain things — the great world-system, and the professing Church in its apostate state — are to be visited with unsparing judgment. The effect of that upon us is, that we thankfully keep apart from both, we have no wish to be mixed up with anything which is so soon to be disastrously overthrown.
10. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.
11. If a man, walking in the spirit and falsehood, do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
12. I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.
13. The breaker is come up before them; they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them.
On account of sin Israel and Judah were driven out of their land. It could not be their rest; they had to arise and depart. But the sure word of prophecy looks on to the future when Jehovah will assemble the remnant of Israel, and will gather them in their multitudes like sheep of Bozrah. In this connection we have a lovely presentation of Christ, for Israel’s restoration will be His work.
He is here viewed as the great Breaker of obstacles. He will break through all that hinders the recovery of His chosen people. He will make an outlet for them, wherever they are scattered, that they may break forth from their captivity. Then, as their King, He takes His place as their Leader, with Jehovah Himself at their head.
However far this may apply to Israel’s past recovery from Babylon, the final Fulfillment is assuredly yet future. What a day will that be when Israel’s King intervenes for His people, and the fetters with which the nations have bound them will be as green withes in His lands! How deep their joy when the great Breaker of bondage leads them again into the land of their blessing!
Second Section — Micah 3-5
“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin” (Mic. 3:88But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8)).
The Spirit of Christ speaks in the prophet. Whose voice can it be but His, claiming to be full of power, by the Spirit of Jehovah, and of judgment and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin? It is a foreshadowing of Christ, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, full of power for testimony.
1. But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.
Here is a magnificent prophecy of millennial blessing, the chief features of which are divine teaching of the nations, divine rule over all, world-wide peace, power and glory centered in Zion.
The “thoughts” and “counsel” of Jehovah (ver. 12) will then be brought to pass. He is Lord of the whole earth, and He will dispose of it as He pleases. His pleasure will be to exalt Zion, and to cause blessing to flow out therefrom to all peoples.
Of course, God has His thoughts and counsels for His heavenly people, as well as for those whose blessing will be on the earth. His purpose for us is to have us holy and without blame before Him in love, dwelling in His own immediate presence as His sons, along with His beloved Son who ever dwelt there. We are to bear the image of that Son, and as His brethren to share His place in the Father’s love, to enjoy holy blessed intimacy forever, with the Father and the Son. All this (and there is more that might be told) far transcends the portion that will be given to Israel, and which the prophets describe. But the same blessed Person will be the center of both the heavenly and the earthly spheres of blessing. And He is worthy!
1. Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops; he hath laid siege against us; they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
2. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
3. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
4. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
5. And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.
Micah 5 opens by presenting that blessed and adorable One, the theme of heaven’s delight, smitten with a rod upon the cheek, rejected by the Israel whose Ruler and Deliverer He came to be. The sad result of Israel’s treatment of her Messiah is given in verse 3. But verse 2 comes in as a lovely parenthesis, showing that same glorious Person, whose goings forth have been from the days of eternity (see margin), yet who was born in lowly circumstances in a small town in Judah.
How utterly beyond the highest range of human thought is the wonder of all this! Whether we think of the lofty height from which He came, or the lowly depth to which He stooped; whether we dwell on who He was, or on what He became, we can only bow in worship.
Transcendently great He ever was, the days of eternal ages long past knew His goings forth, yet He stooped to the manger, to Bethlehem, to lowliness, and poverty.
And this was the One smitten with a rod upon the cheek!
But if men knew not His worth, there was One who appreciated Him to the full. He was to come forth from Bethlehem unto God, to be Ruler in Israel. God would see to it that He should have His place as Israel’s Ruler. Meanwhile, in lowly patience and grace, He would leave all to God, and be content to be for His pleasure and delight.
The consequence of Israel’s rejection of Christ, is that the nation is given up of God, for the time (vs. 3). The time will come, however, when the nation that refused Him will acclaim Him as Ruler. Then shall He stand and feed them, as a shepherd does his flock. And their prosperity will be assured, they shall abide, because He shall be great.
Hallelujah! Let this word sink into your rejoicing souls, ye who love the Lord. He shall be great! Personally great He always was. But here where He has been belittled and put to shame, among the people who crowned Him with ignominy and contempt, He shall be great!
Not only in the midst of Israel will this be so, but “unto the ends of the earth.” He will reign without a rival then. Jubilant songs will be sung in His honor. Kings will bow down before Him. His Name shall be the national hymn of every tribe and kindred. He, He whom we know and love, He who has died for us, He shall be great! Where is the Christian, whose heart does not throb with exultation at the thought?
The bright millennial day will be ushered in with terrible conflict and unprecedented bloodshed. The vast hordes from the north, “the Assyrian” of prophecy will swoop down upon the coveted land of the chosen.
But the presence of Christ will be the shield of His people. “This man shall be the peace.” His coming will mean more than victory. It will mean the utter destruction of the foe. Not high walls, or skilful tactics, or powerful engines of war, will bring security in that day. He will be the peace.
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7. And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people, as a dew from the Lord as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
8. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
9. Thine hand shall be lifted upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
When Christ gets His place thus, Israel will have hers, in a twofold way. First, as dew, or as showers upon the grass, she will be the channel of refreshment and blessing to all. Second, as a lion, she will be the means of cutting off all adversaries, and putting down all that is contrary to the sway of Christ.
Third Section — Micah 6-7
Micah 6 brings before us a touching reminder of God’s mercy and goodness, and an appeal to His people based thereon.
The concluding chapter, gives us the spirit of Christ in the prophet, feeling and owning the state of the nation. Verse. 6 is quoted in the gospels as the condition of things produced by the presence of Christ among the people. His eyes (vs. 7) are upon Jehovah, and he waits for God to intervene, in salvation. All this voices, no doubt, the thoughts and feelings of the remnant in the coming day. The spirit of Christ will be in them as in the prophets of old, and they will be able to sing the beautiful psalm of praise and triumph given in the remaining verses of the chapter, and ending thus:
18. Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy.
19. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities: and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou halt sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
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Negative Teaching
Merely negative teachers are as the wind; they destroy but they cannot build; at their best they do but sweep away the unsubstantial fictions of human fancy or human fraud, but they erect nothing solid in the place of the discarded fictions. Positive truth alone can feed, sustain, and invigorate the soul.
It is no support in the hour of despondency, or in the hour of temptation, to reflect, or to be told, that such and such a doctrine or system is false. Possibly enough it is false, but what then? A sense of falsehood only supplies moral power so long and so far as you are confronted with the falsehood: You hate the lie, and your hatred imports force into your contradiction; you loathe the idol, and a righteous scorn nerves your arm to shatter it. But when the idol has been pulverized and the lie is exploded, your force is gone. Your force was purely relative to the objects of its animosity, and it perished with them. Nay more; even whilst they lasted, your force was good for nothing beyond and beside the function of destroying them (for example, Jehu and his subsequent failure).
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God preserve us from ingratitude, that abominable thing, that viper which creeps forth when the sun is up; for when signal mercies demand special thankfulness, how often have we resembled Hezekiah, who rendered not again according to the benefit (2 Chron. 32:2525But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 32:25)).
If because of painful circumstances we cannot praise the Lord, we ought to confess it as sin.
Divine truths are like a well-drawn portrait which looks particularly upon every one amongst the great multitude that looks upon it.