Micah 2 (ESV)
Woe to the Oppressors
Now Micah puts his finger on the sins of covetousness and stealing and oppression and pride.
1 Woe to those who devise wickedness
and work evil on their beds!
To pronounce “woe” upon someone was to announce their funeral. Those upon whom the woe is pronounced are described here as lying awake on their beds at night, thinking up ever more creative and corrupt schemes for increasing their own property at the expense of others less powerful. Perhaps they were military and government officials who populated the small defense cities like Moresheth (where the prophet lives). They may also have been the well-to-do who lived in Jerusalem but who wanted some property for weekends and vacations in the country, with fresh air, a few horses, and a marvelous view.
Whoever they were, these individuals were dangerous to the health of Judean society because their schemes for acquiring more and more real estate were dishonest. They can do it: “it is in the power of their hand.” They have the money and the connections to get what they want, no matter who is hurt along the way.
–James Limburg, Interpretation: Micah.
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
because it is in the power of their hand.
2They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Exodus 20:17 (NIV)
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
3Therefore 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.
Have these people been lying awake nights, devising ever more ingeniously crooked schemes? The Lord, who neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121), has been doing some “devising” too, says the prophet — devising evil against them! My mother used to say, “What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own.”
4In 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.”
5Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot
in the assembly of the LORD.
6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach—
“one should not preach of such things;
disgrace will not overtake us.”
7Should 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?
In my work as a presenter for Walk Thru the Bible seminars, I have encountered a few incidents that have left me speechless, and those who know me know that it is not easy to shut me up! One congregational member in Florida told me that they had just one request for their new pastor: that he would be willing to teach Bible Study classes to them. Their last pastor had refused to do Bible studies, preferring novels and movies! And one pastor from Texas told me he had to leave his former parish because the council asked him to please stop preaching about Jesus so much. Jesus on the cross had to do with sin and forgiveness, and that wasn’t interesting to them.
The words of Micah speak to us today. The Lord says, “Do not my words do good?” Let us be faithful to God’s Word!
8But 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.
9The women of my people you drive out
from their delightful houses;
from their young children you take away
my splendor forever.
10 Arise and go,
for this is no place to rest,
because of uncleanness that destroys
with a grievous destruction.
11If 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!
A popular preacher may be just telling people what they want to hear! Favor, and blessing, and wealth, and a good life! It reminds me of a Spurgeon sermon where he predicted that in future pulpits, instead of shepherds feeding the flocks, there would be “clowns entertaining the goats.”
Where is the preaching on obedience, holiness, service, and sacrifice? Where are the people, the prophet asks, who hunger and thirst after righteousness? They are there, and the Lord promises restoration to a remnant of Israel:
12I 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.
13 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.
Such a beautiful picture of our Savior, clearing the path, opening the gate, leading us on.
I was delighted to find this Paul Manz organ arrangement of the hymn “Jesus, Lead Thou On,” since it is one I used to play when I was a church organist. HERE. Lyrics follow.
1. Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand
To our fatherland.
2. If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a woe
To our home we go.
3. When we seek relief
From a long-felt grief;
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring;
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more.
4. Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won.
Heavenly Leader, still direct us,
Still support, control, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.