April 5, 2011

Minor Prophets LVII: Rotten Rulers and Profane Prophets

Then I said, “Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?” Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. Micah 3:1-4

In Micah 3:1-4 the prophet is flinging accusations left and right and they do not sound to me as if he or God whom he represents is even half pleased. Frankly, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of this verbal onslaught, mostly because of what these accusations imply and what the aftermath will be in terms of punishment.

We see judgment on “leaders” and I use the term leaders loosely. These people did everything but lead. If they did lead they led people into chaos and evil. Having undermined justice and fairness the leaders and prophets were acting as ravenous wild beasts tearing skin flesh from God’s people’s bones. Who figuratively cannibalize His people’s flesh and shatter bones into pieces. Based on Micah’s vivid and emotive tone we know that they will cry to God for help…and He will turn a deaf ear. These people are being soundly rebuked. Due to their deeds they are going to be repaid and it will not be pretty.

"This is what the LORD says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them. Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin." Micah 3:5-8

We see comparisons between the false prophets and Micah himslef in Micah 3:5-8.

Micah addresses the false prophets directly now. They lead people astray. The word “feeds” is actually bite (of a serpent) in Hebrew so what Micah appears to be saying here is that they bite with their teeth and proclaim peace. (Longman, Garland 520). In other words they inflict harm on his people through their deception and lying. “Therefore” they will go blank. They will have no visions. There will be no divination, no nothing, “The sun will set for them”. Things will go black. They will be ashamed and disgraced because there will be no answers from God.

Micah on the other hand will be filled with power…the Spirit of the Lord-the Holy Spirit. Because of this infilling he will also be filled with might and something that has been sorely lacking from the fakers and false prophets: justice and might to deckare the true state of men and their sin and transgression.

"Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the LORD’s support and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us.” Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets." Micah 3:9-12

So who is Micah indicting in Micah 3:9-12?

Micah continues his verbal assault on the house of Jacob for despising justice. Specifically he rails against the civil and religious authorities. As they do their duties they do them in bloodshed and with greed. Prophets are prophets for hire and prophesy for money. The leader’s will only judge for a bribe, and priest teach only at a cost. The entire social system that revolves around the religious aspect of Jewish society will be corrupt and vile. This in turn costs Zion more than they can afford. They of course erroneously believe that they are under God’s grace and that no disaster will befall them. Instead “Zion will be plowed like a field”, “Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble” and “the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets” as it will be abandoned. The once great city of Jerusalem will become a ghost town and the symbol of God’s presence among the people-the Temple will become the residence for rubble and thickets.

Longman, Tremper, and David E. Garland. "The Second Oracle." The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel-Malachi . Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 20062010. 519-520. Print.

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