May 11, 2013

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XXIV: Who Is Like God?

Micah (Who Is Like God?)

Micah's lived in the village of Moreshah which was a on a Mediterranean flood plain of Judah, near the borders of the Philistines. The word of the Lord came to him in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. His prophecies concerned Samaria and Jerusalem (the northern and southern kingdoms). God’s word through Micah primarily hammered Judah. He was a contemporary or lived at the same time as Hosea and Isaiah. It is clear God was hitting his people with prophecies from multiple sources just in case they might have thought it was a fluke coming from one. It was a divine double-barrel.

Micah had the same name (albeit abbreviated) as Micaiah, the son of Iralah a prophet of Israel, who stood alone for God against 400 false prophets in the days of Ahab, when he and Jehoshaphat went against Ramoth-Gilead in 1 Kings 22. Micaiah ends his prophecy with the following words:

1 Kings 22:28 ~ “Micaiah said, “If you indeed return safely the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Listen, all you people.”

It is interesting that 150 years later his namesake Micah (abbreviated) will begin his prophecies with the very same words. All the main divisions of his prophecies will begin with the same exact exhortation (Micah 1:2, 3:1, 6:1). People are to hear or take heed. Just like people need to hear the Gospel as it is by hearing that faith comes (Romans 10:17). We see hints of the belief and faith that will be required to trust in the Gospel, just as these hearers of prophecy will need to trust in prophetic foretelling/forthtelling.

Micah 1:2 ~ “Hear, O peoples, all of you; listen, O earth and all it contains, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.

Micaiah (in 1 Kings) had seen:

1 Kings 22:17, 2 Chronicles 18:16  ~ “…all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each of them return to his house in peace.”

It would therefore be ironic (or cleverly planned by god) that Micah's prophecies teem with allusions to the Good Shepherd and His merciful care over His flock. With a broken heart Micah announces God's judgment on Judah for sin, but he seems to dawdle purposely over the message of God's love and mercy. He then concludes his prophecy with an especially beautiful proclamation in which he uses his very namesake Micah or (Who is like God)…

Micah 7:18-20 ~ “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and unchanging love to Abraham, which You swore to our forefather from the days of old.

It is here that we see Jesus in his most luminescent state in Micah. We see Jesus the Redeemer from sin, the One that will tread our iniquities under foot. No other idol can forgive sins and no false God can save us from our sins. This is the work only from Jesus. This is the message Micah took the most joy in proclaiming and it is the one that we as Christians should also get the most joy from also. It is Micah’s very name that makes his most joyous proclamation (and ours) for him (and us).

So a message is delivered to Samaria and the Cities or Judah. Micah proclaims the coming judgment to Samaria first, and then upon Judah. These were all fulfilled by the forces of Assyria. The idolatry and contamination of Israel had spread south to Jerusalem, and the point of contagion appears to have been Lachish.

Micah 1:13 ~ “Harness the chariot to the team of horses, O inhabitant of Lachish-She was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion—Because in you were found the rebellious acts of Israel.

It is idolatry and its associated evils that Micah condemns and he also rebukes the extreme oppression of the poor, women and little children being made homeless. Micah rips into those that are being covetousness, even at the cost of blood and violence which Micah compares to cannibalism. He specially denounces the sins of the rulers, bribery in the courts and among the judges, and false weights and balances. We can see many of these parallels today in the culture worldwide. It should come as no surprise that these crimes and moral infractions brought with them severe judgment just as we see in Micah’s time, and just as we are seeing now with the degrading of the American culture and all that it influences.

Obviously though the most focused allusion to Christ our savior in Micah 5:

Micah 5:2 ~ “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

It was from this very book from this very prophet that all the chief priests and scribes of the people would gather together with Herod and proclaimed unhesitatingly that it was at Bethlehem
of Judea that the Messiah would be born.

Matthew 2:4-6 ~ “When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he [Herod] asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Micah in the end shows a picture of the restoration of Zion and all the  nations that will flow into it. He shows the glory and prosperity of Christ's Kingdom and His reign of universal peace and this also parallels Isaiah into his prophecy.

Isaiah 7:14 “…and He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.

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