The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2018
Study 2: Micah 1:8-16
Learning to Grieve for Sin
In the old Andy Griffith shows deputy Barney Fife used to say, “You’ve got to nip it in the bud, Andy, nip it in the bud!” Of course he got overly excited about little matters that were exaggerated in his imagination. The greater danger is that we don’t get concerned enough about the bud of sin before it blossoms into its full fruit.
The prophets warned God’s people that by ignoring corruption around them they were letting it grow until it would destroy them and their children. One main theme of Micah is the need to learn to grieve over our sin. About the only modern day prophet who sees any good in grief is Charley Brown in the Peanuts comics.
It’s sad when we see more wisdom in an old TV syndication and on the comic page than we hear coming from our classrooms or national leaders.
In the days of the Old Testament, Micah was called by God to warn his people. He told them that they had to learn to grieve for their sin now, or they will pay serious consequences later.
The Lord was bringing formidable charges against the two nations. Israel in the north, and Judah in the south, had broken the Covenant He made with them.
Samaria, the Northern capitol, was about to be judged (Micah 1:6-7). In 722 BC, just a few years after this warning was issued, Samaria was destroyed and its people carried away into exile. Jerusalem, the Southern capitol, will also be found guilty (Micah 1:8-9). She also deserved harsh judgment. But to fulfill other purposes, God withheld its destruction for several generations more. The fall of that nation took place in 586 BC. God’s temple was destroyed and the people were taken captive.
Micah’s advice: We need to grieve over our sin.
Sin has been accepted as all too common in our fallen societies. People tend to tune it out like the sounds of a highway to those who live near one. Our moral background can make us insensitive to wickedness. Surrounded by immorality on TV, on social media, in the stores, at work, in our schools, and in popular songs there’s a tendency to accept it without appreciating how horrible it is.
As God’s flock we need to understand how deeply immorality offends God. It counters the whole purpose for which he made all things. It champions the cause of Satan in obscuring God’s glory. It directly attacks the holy character of God himself.
This is why we need to build up the church as a refuge. As a community of believers we need to work together to keep sin in perspective. Breaking God’s law must be seen as a loathsome thing.
The time had come for lamenting.
1:8, “For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.”
The prophet laments and wails over the destruction of Samaria. Just like the jackal and ostrich he cries out. But Micah spoke primarily to Judah in the South. He was warning of the destruction of his own people Jerusalem. He calls them “my people”.
There was tragic sorrow to see those other tribes suffer, but it also warns of a similar future for Jerusalem. They shouldn’t take confidence that they were still free, and that Israel deserved it because they were worse than Judah. Their peace was about to come to an end too.
Don’t become comfortable with sin simply because God hasn’t judged you yet. Learn how God views sin and how he sees those who continue in sin against him. Let it humble you and admit the way things really are in your life.
In our own culture in the church age, we have conveniently forgotten how to grieve over sin. Instead we have become experts in grief-extermination. Romans 2:15 shows how fallen men tend to do two things: they make excuses for their sin, or they blame others for their sin. Some corrupt the law to help the guilty find someone else to blame for their crimes; society, poverty, or a diminished mental state. Secular psychologists will help us find comforting excuses for sin to convince us not to grieve over it, but to believe that its not really so bad, or find someone in our past to blame. They may blame our religious upbringing, society, or our parents.
For Judah, there had come a time to lament.
Deadly moral wounds spread like an infection.
1:9, “For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.”
The nation’s sin will destroy her like an incurable wound. It’s like a spreading infection. Its results have reached all the way to the gate of Jerusalem.
When bad things aren’t dealt with they get worse. Infections are not enjoyable experiences. They have to be treated with medicines and bandages. They may have to be lanced, cut out with surgery, or ultimately our damaged limbs may need to be amputated. Infections may start small, but if untreated one thing leads to another, perhaps even death!
The little things that surround us, and so easily influence us, grow into horrible offenses. Our society is being morally suffocated by sins such as: greed, lust, pride, and disrespect. If we don’t learn to recoil from these inner behaviors and grieve over every offense against God, sin will grow, and our Holy God will eventually withdraw his protective hand and leaves our society to its own corruption.
If there’s no grieving over greed, it becomes theft, deceit, and violence. If there’s no grieving over lust; it becomes pornography, adultery, and the shameful hurtful destruction of our homes. If there’s no grieving over selfish pride; it becomes tyranny in the home, lies, abuse, and cruelty. Pride becomes disrespect for other human lives. If children don’t grieve when they show disrespect for their parents, they will eventually openly disobey and rebel against what they were taught, and hate all proper authority including police, Elders of the church, teachers in school, and managers at work. We will grieve far more in the end if we don’t learn to grieve for the first sins.
If David had grieved for the sin of lust that night when he looked out from his balcony and saw the lovely Bathsheba bathing, he might have avoided his deeper grief for the sin of adultery, deceit, conspiracy, and finally murder. David eventually learned to grief for sin’s offense to God. In Psalm 51:2-4 he prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
When we fail to grieve for these first sins, we begin the slide down a steep cliff to be smashed on the rocks of God’s justice, or of the loving chastening of our Heavenly Father who cares too much for his children to let them get away with sin forever.
When there is moral corruption, its infection will spread. When sin becomes an accepted way of life, it works its way into the lives of people everywhere. When bad language or proud attitudes are allowed to surround you, don’t be surprised when you or your children lash out in improper ways. When improper sexuality chokes our society, don’t be surprised when the ones we love are taken in by it. When the world accepts every belief and doctrine imagined by man, don’t be shocked when our poorly trained children and friends become confused. When sin surrounds us, it comes to the gate of Jerusalem, even to the door of the christian home. When we don’t grieve over sin, its already dug a path into our hearts.
Disgrace was about to come to the cities of Judah
This section, verses 10-15, includes some interesting plays on words. Unfortunately you need to know some Hebrew to appreciate them.
1:10a, “Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all.” Gath was a powerful Philistine city, an enemy of Israel. The giant Goliath was from Gath in the days of David. Its Hebrew name sounds similar to the Hebrew phrase meaning “to tell something”. It’s as if saying, “Don’t gab about it at Gath”. The point is that they shouldn’t let the Philistines hear what will happen to God’s nation. It would make the heathen rejoice and mock God. Micah adds; “Weep not at all”. Don’t let the enemy see you crying.
This phrase isn’t new. It was a quote from 2 Samuel 1:20 where David lamented when he heard that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle. He said, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.”
Micah also addresses several cities of Judah and warns them …
1:10b, “in Beth-le-aphrah roll yourselves in the dust.” Rolling in the dust was a sign of deep mourning or sorrow. The city name beth-le-aphrah means “house of dust.”
1:11a, “Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame;” Shaphir means “beautiful”. Instead of being made up in beauty with stylish clothing, she is stripped of her beautiful garments in shame.
1:11b, “the inhabitants of Zaanan do not come out;” Zaanan means “going forth”. Its’ inhabitants will not escape or “come out”
1:11c, “the lamentation of Beth-ezel shall take away from you its standing place.” Beth-ezel (“house of standing”) will not stand. It will not be securely supported.
1:12, “For the inhabitants of Maroth wait anxiously for good, because disaster has come down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.” Maroth means “bitterness”. Its inhabitants become weak and anxious waiting for good. The reason: the Lord has sent calamity to the gate of Jerusalem
1:13, “Harness the steeds to the chariots, inhabitants of Lachish; it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, for in you were found the transgressions of Israel.” Lachish sounds like the Hebrew word for “chariot” = “rekesh”. The play on words are like, “O inhabitants of Lachish, harness the rekesh”. That is, they should get ready to travel or to flee the approaching armies. Her little beginning in sin started a drift toward Zion’s corruption.
1:14a, “Therefore you shall give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath;” Moresheth-gath should start shopping for going away presents
1:14b, “the houses of Achzib shall be a deceitful thing to the kings of Israel.” Achzib means “deceptive”, so its homes will become a deceitful thing.
1:15a, “I will again bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah;” Mareshah, which means “possession”, will be given as a possession to the enemy.
1:15b, “the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam.” Adullam means “a place of hiding”. Once Israel’s glorious king David hid in the caves of Adullum (1 Samuel 22:1). The glory of Israel will be driven into a cave, out of sight, exiled from her cities and temple.
These cities were about to be humbled and learn that security doesn’t come from strong walls, powerful armies, or a glorious past. It only comes by means of the Sovereign blessing of the Holy God. If we are an offense to that very God, we forfeit our security. An offender’s only hope is to humbly accept the work of Messiah who took their offense on himself, to restore them to God.
God’s judgment will leave Judah in deep mourning and grief.
1:16, “Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.”
When will Judah finally learn to grieve for her neglect of God’s ways? Will it come when her children are taken away? when she watches them carried off? when she hears their fading voices crying out to her in the distance? That’s when Israel and Judah finally learned to grieve for their sin. But it was too late to avoid serious consequences.
We humans tend to ignore our need to grieve over sin. We don’t like to hear about it. It’s not a popular sermon topic. That was why Jeremiah, Micaiah, and others were thrown into dungeons. This was how the false prophets stole the heart of Israel, they preached a more positive message, and never told them to grieve.
It’s easier to hear teachers who appeal to what people want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). That’s what’s popular today too. But one day, when some generation hears the cries of their children for the last time they will wish they had learned to grieve over the offense of their sin before they had to grieve over its consequences.
How will it happen to rebellious nations and societies today? It may not be from the military take over by a foreign nation. It may come when our children are taken by defecting to the bondage of drugs, sex, pornography, violence, some cult, or to apathy itself. It may come in the form of laws that forbid us from raising our children as the Bible says we should, or they are awarded to someone else.
If we don’t learn to grieve now, our lives will become a theater for the judgment or chastisement of God.
In Christ our grief over sin yields a most wonderful peace. When we learn to loathe what offends God it brings us to humble repentance, and the discovery of forgiveness. It drives us to rest in the power of God to overcome our sins. It makes us look for honorable things to take the place of our sins. It brings us to the cross, where Jesus the Messiah restores us to fellowship with the Holy God we have offended.
Micah only knew this Messiah by the promise of God. Today we know much more about Him. He is all the more the hope of our homes.
If we learn to grieve now, and humbly repent in Christ, we will learn to rejoice in our restored union with God, before we have to grieve for the unthinkable consequences of ignored sin.
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Index: The Prophesy of Micah