Through the Old Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Micah 1:1-16; 2:12-13 – Judgment and promise

The Lord Jesus has broken through the gates of death and led his people out into life and freedom.

Read Bible Passage Bible Passage English   ... in New Testament Greek Bible Passage Greek   Greek Notes Greek Notes on Reading for Today

Micah tells us that he was a prophet "during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah" (1:1). What do we know about these kings? The book of Kings summarises their reigns as follows:

"Jotham … reigned in Jerusalem for sixteen years... He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there." (2 Kings 15:32-35)

"Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king… He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree." (2 Kings 16:2-4)

We read that king Hezekiah sought to bring the inhabitants of Judah back to the exclusive worship of the Lord their God after the disastrous reign of his father. He even destroyed the high places that were sites for idolatrous worship. Micah ministered during this time of turmoil in the life of Jerusalem and Judah, a time when Jerusalem was under threat from Sennacherib, king of Assyria.

Micah's prophecy begins with the Lord's declaration of judgment upon his rebellious people in the northern kingdom of Israel with its capital in Samaria. God is going to make Samaria "a heap of rubble" (1:6). But God's words of judgment are not confined to the northern kingdom:

Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread to Judah.
It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.
Tell it not in Gath… (1:9-10) 

The idolatry and Baal worship that had been common in the northern kingdom had spread to the south like an incurable disease. The clouds of judgment were gathering around Jerusalem.

When Saul, the first king of Israel, was defeated in battle by the Philistines and he and his son, Jonathan, died, David lamented over them with the words, "Tell it not in Gath … lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice" (2 Samuel 1:20). David did not want the defeat of God's people to become a cause of rejoicing and mockery amongst their enemies. Now this phrase is used again by Micah. The descent of God's people into idolatry and the threat of their defeat are in danger of becoming the cause of gossip and laughter among the nations. Those who should have been a light to the nations are becoming the butt of their jokes.

But this will not be the end of the story. In the verses we have read from Micah chapter 2, God promises to forgive, restore and to bless his people again. At this time when Sennacherib's army was surrounding Jerusalem, Micah declares:

The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
    they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
    the LORD at their head.

Their king will break through the siege and lead God's people out into freedom.

The Lord Jesus is the King of kings who has broken the powers of sin and death and has led his people out into freedom. He is the ultimate Saviour in whom all the promises and prophecies of Scripture find their fulfilment. He is the one in whom we gain forgiveness and blessing.

Father God, we acknowledge that we were deserving of your judgment for we also have rebelled against you. We thank you for our precious Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have forgiveness and redemption. May your salvation become the source of gossip and wonder amongst all the nations of this world.

Peter Misselbrook