Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 25 2019 - Micah 3 – Faithless leaders and false prophets

Micah tells the nation that the Lord their God is scandalised by the behaviour of those who are leaders among his people, both the rulers of Israel and those who pretend to be prophets declaring God's word.

The end of the previous chapter promised a leader who would rescue the remnant of God's people, one who by virtue of the Lord's presence with him would lead his people as a shepherd gathers together and leads his flock (2:12-13). But the rulers Micah now addresses are of a very different sort; they use their positions of power to exploit the common people, they "tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones" and "chop them up like meat for the pan" (3:2-3). Those who should have maintained justice among the people are leaders in injustice and exploitation.

Now that the nation is facing trouble, these leaders will doubtless cry out to the Lord in prayer and plead with him to save them. But God will not listen to them. The poor have cried to them for help and been ignored; now they will be ignored when they cry out for God to help them (3:4).

It may seem strange to us that rulers who have flouted God's law should think that God will rush to their aid when they cry out to him. But are we really so very different? It is all too easy to ignore the demands of the Lord Jesus Christ upon our lives but then to turn to him in prayer when facing trouble. The psalmist in Psalm 66 tells of how God answered his prayers but also notes that sin cherished in the heart would have meant that God would not have listened to him:

I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer
   or withheld his love from me! (Ps. 66:17-20)

On the other hand, the "prodigal son" who had sinned against his father, was welcomed back with open arms when he returned with a repentant heart. Furthermore, the father not only answered the prodigal's request but lavished his love upon him. We need to live generously towards others and humbly towards God so that our prayers are not hindered.

Micah also has harsh words for the "prophets" who, instead of speaking truth to power, tell the rulers what they want to hear; "they proclaim 'peace'", pretending all will be well. Such "prophets" also will find that God does not answer them and they will be filled with shame (v.7). So, instead of speaking God's word they will "tell fortunes for money" (v.11).

The Apostle Paul, many years later, warns Timothy of false teachers "who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5) – leaders who tell people what their itching ears long to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Pray for our nation and its leaders that they might be characterised by a concern for justice and for equity among those for whom they are responsible. Pray that their lives and personal conduct may exemplify these qualities.

Pray for Christian leaders in our churches and in our nation that they may be faithful to God's word and not give in to the temptation to say what will make them popular or gain them an easy hearing.

But let us also keep a careful watch over our own lives, ensuring that we do not spend our time identifying and condemning the faults in others while remaining blind to our own.

Father God, have mercy upon our land. Pour out your Spirit upon your church and its leaders that we may experience your reviving power sweeping through our land and throughout your world. "Restore, O Lord, the honour of your name."

Peter Misselbrook