A Man Learns what his Name Means
The theme of the book.
“Micah,” in Hebrew, means “who is like God?” He came from a place called Moresheth and was consequently known as Micah “the Morasthite (“inheritance”). In his prophesy, Micah frequently uses the meaning of proper names to convey spiritual meaning. His book brings before us the character of God (“who is like God”) particularly in relation to establishing the Lord Jesus Christ as the rightful Heir to the throne of His kingdom. When Micah speaks of the inheritance, he is not only speaking of the land, but of the “flock of His heritage” and the care of God for it. In his book we read of attempts of men to thwart Gods purpose in bringing the Heir to the throne, all of which attempts will fail!
Let us review 3 key concepts in this prophesy.
The inheritance and the law
Under the law of Moses, the inheritance was given to Israel conditionally upon their keeping the law. In the Old Testament, individuals were saved by faith (e.g. Abraham and Habakkuk), but following Sinai, believers were as much under the law after salvation as they were before it! The law was their “teacher until Christ” (Gal 3:24). Paul is here using a play on words because the Hebrew word for law (torah) actually means “teacher.” In other words, after salvation, if an Old Testament believer wanted to know how to lead a life pleasing to God, he or she kept the law to the best of his or her ability. In the measure in which he kept the law he enjoyed all the blessings of the earthly inheritance as outlined in the blessings of Mount Gerizim (Deut 27:12). This involved prosperity, peace, and plenty on the land. If he did not manage to keep the law, he did not lose his salvation – he simply paid the price of sustaining loss with respect to the earthly inheritance (the curse of mount Ebal of Deut 27:13). This involved famine, pestilence, the invading sword, and eventually captivity. And it was for this reason that we find Daniel and his 3 friends being carried into captivity. It was a consequence of a broken law!
A major theme of the so-called “minor” prophets is bringing to the remembrance of Israel a broken law and the necessity of God to drive His people from their inheritance (the land).
There is an important theme throughout the minor prophets: the inheritance could not be secured for the children of faith on the basis of the law! Divine intervention would be required!
In each of the minor prophets, and also the so-called “major” prophets, a slightly different aspect of “law breaking” is analyzed. Furthermore, a slightly different aspect of divine application of the curse of the law is described by each individual prophet. Beautifully, however, each prophet reveals how that divine intervention in the sending of Gods own Son would effect the purposes of God – something that couldnt be achieved through the law.
Micah assures us that there was no remedy for the nations past sin with law- keeping any more than there was a remedy in disgusting pagan religious rituals. Micah 6:7 “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Gods holy standard would still remain the same: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Yet, despite a restatement of that standard, sin still remained as rife as ever, “Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked?” (6:10).
What a tragedy if Micahs prophesy were to have ended in chapter 6, where the inability of man to help himself is emphasized! In chapter 7 we discover that there is hope in attaining to the inheritance – not now through law-keeping, but rather through the demands of Gods holy throne being met by Another. “Who is a God like unto Thee that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?”(7:18).
What aspect of law breaking does Micah focus on?
Interestingly, as a Morasthite (to do with the inheritance), he focuses on the abuses of Gods inheritance involving both the land and the flock.
Let us summarize these as follows:
The sin of covetousness: Coveting fields that did not belong to them (2:1-3). Ahabs coveting Naboths vineyard is an example of this evil. Covetousness has no place in Gods inheritance! Gods response was to remove the inheritance from such unworthy people (2:4-6). One New Testament application here is for leaders in an assembly not to lord over the heritage or be guilty of filthy lucre (1 Pet 5:2).
The sin of devouring the flock: In Micah 3:1-7, the leaders in Jerusalem were vividly described as fierce, rapacious animals, devouring the flock of His heritage. Let us not miss the New Testament application! Paul warned the elders of Ephesus of grievous wolves (false teachers) which would come in not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Also, Paul warns the Galatians in Gal 5:14-15, “for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
In a delightfully striking contrast to these false shepherds behaving like wolves, Micah describes the Good Shepherd in Micah 5:4: “He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.” Also note again in chapter 7:14, “He will feed the flock of His heritage.”
To be continued