Reformation or Deformation

The Prophesy of Micah

Study by Bob Burridge ©2018
Study 3: Micah 2:1-11

Reformation or Deformation

One principle of the Reformed churches is represented in the Latin phrase, “Semper Reformanda”. “Semper” means “always” or “ever”. It shows an ever continuing action The famous Marine motto is Semper Fideles “Always Faithful”. “Reformanda” means “to be remolded”. So Semper Reformanda means “always being remolded.”

That doesn’t mean that Reformed churches are to be always changing. They’re not always being modified to fit changing expectations, or to be innovative. That’s not reform. That would produce a new form, not a restored form. “Reformed” means always being re-shaped to fit some original mold.

Its like re-tuning a musical instrument. For example: guitar strings get off key now and then. To re-tune them we clean them and adjust the tension on them while we listen to a standard tone. When it matches the pitch is restored.

I remember working with lead soldiers when I was little. We would melt pieces of lead and pour it into a mold. When it cooled we had a set of soldiers. You could make as many of each kind you wanted. When they broke or became bent or worn in spots, you just melted it down again and recast it into the molds. They came out restored to their original form in full detail. It restored those mangled arms, legs, bayonets, and worn out faces. They were as good as new.

Most things tend to de-form with time. Deterioration is part of the nature of creation itself. Material things are not eternal and unchangeable like their Creator.

There is a spiritual battle that has been going on since Eden. Sin and our creaturely limitations promote morally DE-formation: Fallen humans deteriorate from the perfect form that pleases God. God’s grace working by the Holy Spirit, and using the Word of God, directs Christ’s church in the process of RE-formation. We need to be being remolded to fit God’s perfect standard.

God gave us that standard and spoke to us by the Patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Prophets, by His Apostles and by the writers of Scripture. He calls us back to his standard, to be always being re-formed.

The reformers of history heard that call. Each labored in special areas where he saw DE-formation going on. Reformers such as: Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, and many more, did their work at Geneva, Westminster, Dort, and other cities around the world. They cried: “Semper Reformanda.” Always be being remolded back to the form of God’s standard.

Micah warned God’s people of a corruption at work among them.

The deformation of Israel and Judah had twisted her and marred her character so that she no longer conformed to the standard of God.

There was corruption among the leaders.

2:1-2, Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.

They planned ways to satisfy their ungodly lusts. As with all humans, our evil deeds begin in the heart. It didn’t come on them from their circumstances, or anything else. It was not an honest struggle of neutral souls.

They schemed to do unjust things, wickedness. They laid awake in their beds at night to work out evil plans. They rose up early the next day to carry out their wicked plans.

They took for themselves what God has entrusted to others. Their evil began with coveting, then proceeded to taking. They had no respect for what God had entrusted to other people. They had one motive; to satisfy their own ungodly lusts.

They wanted as many good things for themselves that they could get. They assumed that this meant that others had to forfeit good things. Just like our liberal economists today they saw everything as a “zero sum” operation. That model assumes that for someone to gain, others must lose. If some are getting rich, they must take from the poor. That is not biblical and is not logical.

But God’s blessings are infinite. There is plenty to go around. The wealth of a nation is created by work, its not simply re-distributed by taxes and government programs. God’s work ethic means that the rich can get rich by honest work. This also obligates the rich to help the truly needy when they can. More rich people means more jobs, more buyers, more cash available to be spent in stores and for services. Wealth and blessing are not zero sum operations. They are deep wells that yield more the deeper we dig.

But there are always the lazy. They would rather use their power to take from the worker what he earns, and enjoy it for themselves. Israel was corrupted in this way, just as we are today.

We need to see the DEformed ways of our society and its leaders. We need to be REformed, remolded, to fit God’s ways in politics and economics. Our motto is semper reformanda. True reformation means a restored work ethic.

Micah warned of a calamity about to come upon the wicked

2:3-5, Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! To an apostate he allots our fields.” Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.

The corrupt leaders had devised a plan (:1), so did the Lord! There will come a day of final judgment for every wicked community. They ignored the distribution of land and wealth the Lord had made. They took land that had been in families. They took garments that protected the needy (forbidden in the law). They had been unfaithful managers of what God had given them. Now the Lord would let their enemies come in against them. They will take away the mis-managed inheritance.

The Lord speaks. He is planning an inescapable, humbling calamity. The enemy will mock them and make fun of their foolish self-confidence. They will lament in shock at the complete destruction that will come. No one will be there to survey out their lost land with a measuring line and say “this is your land.”

When people abandon the principles of God, When they fail to be always being remolded, They should expect swift and degrading judgment. Be assured: it will come!

There was corruption among the prophets.
2:6-7, “Do not preach”–thus they preach– “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Has the LORD grown impatient? Are these his deeds? Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

They tried to silence the true prophets, forbidding them to speak. Micah’s warnings were not appreciated. The self-serving opposed God’s word as it was faithfully preached. False prophets tell what the people want to hear. In the last days of Israel they avoided warnings about judgment, they abused the Scriptures, and mounted a counter-reformation. Their goal was to meet the selfish expectations of the greedy and lazy. This made their message very acceptable to the deluded masses.

They pointed to God’s patience as indicating that he doesn’t care. The answer: God has been longsuffering, but not endlessly. So why were they upset by the warnings of God’s prophet? They wanted them to be ignored.

Today too, the ways of our churches and their teachers must always be being remolded. Where they have become DE-formed, they must be RE-formed, so that they again fit with the teachings and ways of God. Let’s welcome the warnings. Let’s not come to hear only what pleases us. Let’s be ready to change our ways to please God. Our attitude toward God must reflect the motto: semper reformanda.

There was corruption among the people.

2:8-11, But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever. Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction. If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

They had been led astray by corrupt leaders and prophets. As a result, the people had become the enemies of God! They found it profitable to take advantage of the weak.

The temple worship as well as their homes and businesses had become deformed. If someone came talking about wine and liquor they would not only listen, they would make that person their spokesman. Personal pleasure had replaced personal devotion to God.

The people can’t just blame the leaders and teachers. They too must commit to the motto: semper reformanda.

Reformation brings Restoration

2:12-13, I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head.

The Temple and Jerusalem were finally taken captive and destroyed 586 BC. But God hadn’t abandoned his plan for his kingdom. Great kingdom promises follow the prophet’s warning. The ones who remained faithful, the “remnant”, will be returned. They would come back again and God would lead them.

The promise was gloriously fulfilled about 50 years later. Zerubbabel led a remnant back to Jerusalem. They rebuilt the altar. About 20 years later they completed rebuilding the temple.

The Jews were restored to the land of their inheritance from God. The temple was re-built, and the sacrifice and worship was restored. This temple would be special. It would be the place where Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah, would come to his throne.

You and I live in that restoration, in the Messiah’s renew kingdom. But we must continue to be led by that motto: semper reformanda. We need to always be being remolded to conform to God’s ways in our communities, in our homes, church, work, hobbies, our worship and in the inmost thoughts of our hearts.

Deformation takes place without effort. Reformation is God’s remedy to deformation.

He calls us to be always melting down our old ways, and re-pouring into the mold of God’s truth. Those who hate reform are corrupted and will be disgraced and destroyed. Don’t listen to them. Remember the standard God gave us in his word.

Don’t just melt and cast your convictions and ways into any mold. There are appealing false prophets who misuse God’s word today too. Know the one true mold, the clear standard of God’s word. Stand ready to change, not to change into what fits comfortably in this corrupt world, but to change back into the form that pleases God.

Be encouraged, even when you see corruption all around you. restoration follows reformation. More on this as the study of Micah continues.

(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
Index to the Studies in Micah

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