Further thoughts on the prophet Micah - this time on chapter 3.
Micah 3 is a short chapter - 12 verses - and is a chapter in three parts.
The first part - verses 1 through 4 details more of what we saw in the previous chapter about injustice, oppression, evil being perpetrated against the people by the elite (the charges are specifically against the “heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel”). But this time the language is somewhat more graphic:
- “You … who tear off their skin from them And their flesh from their bones”
- “who eat the flesh of my people”
- who “Strip off their skin from them, Break their bones And chop them up as for the pot And as meat in a kettle.” (Micah 3:2-3 from the NASB®1)
This isn’t literal flaying and cannibalism, but instead points to the oppression, exploitation and mistreatment of the people. The elite, the rulers are benefiting financially and materially from their subjects through suppression and brutality. Not a pretty picture of leadership and rulership.
So we come to verses 5 through 7. The accused changes. Charges are no longer levelled at the rulers and heads, but against the prophets, seers and diviners. These spiritual leaders preach and prophesy ‘peace’ whilst declaring holy war against those who don’t feed them! They speak hollow, false words. The judgement against them is what they have been seeing all along - nothing. Darkness, blindness, lack of spiritual vision. And they will be silenced, ashamed and embarrassed.
These first seven verses have seen moral and spiritual failure of both the political and religious leadership. The political leaders have actively oppressed and the religious have wilfully lied and mislead. It’s an ugly picture because the people have nowhere to seek redress or restitution.
But in verse 8 we see a significant shift. It is now Micah speaking and he declares:
On the other hand I am filled with power– With the Spirit of the LORD– And with justice and courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious act, Even to Israel his sin.
Micah has power, spiritual power, fuelled by the Holy Spirit of God. And this power is to be used to speak about these injustices to both the southern and northern kingdoms of Jacob2 and Israel respectively.
Verses 9 through 11 contain further elaboration on the indictments against the rules and prophets: The rulers abhor justice, welcome bloodshed and perpetrate violent injustice. The prophets - the spiritual leaders take bribes and are only in it for the money. “Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, Her priests instruct for a price And her prophets divine for money." But the greater tragedy, the greater presumption is that these people still call upon God and assume His presence and protection when they declare “Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us.” (verse 11)
The answer is no, because, as verse 12 states, “Therefore, on account of you Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest." Judgement rather than presence, calamity rather than protection.
This was the role of Micah - to highlight their injustices and declare God’s coming judgement.