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November 2/16, 2005
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Bible Study Notes

Micah 3

 1 Then I said,
       "Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
       you rulers of the house of Israel

       Should you not know justice,

 

- This chapter focuses on jerusalem specifically.

- the leaders/rulers should know what justice is about...after all they were responsible for keeping justice for God's people....and yet they were incredibly unjust to His people!

 2 you who hate good and love evil;
      
who tear the skin from my people
       and the flesh from their bones;

 3 who eat my people's flesh,
       strip off their skin
       and break their bones in pieces;
       who chop them up like meat for the pan,
       like flesh for the pot?"

- this is not literal... remember this book is poetry and uses symbolic language

- these colorful words are meant to make us understand the severity of what was wrong with Jerusalem and its leadership.

 4 Then they will cry out to the LORD,
       but he will not answer them.
       At that time he will hide his face from them
       because of the evil they have done.

Because of Israel's sin, the entire nation went through a period of time when God did not speak to them. 

When we sin, we go through times when we get the "cold shoulder" from God.

 

 5 This is what the LORD says:
       "As for the prophets
       who lead my people astray,
       if one feeds them,
       they proclaim 'peace';
       if he does not,
       they prepare to wage war against him.

- this part is a summary of what we have already read in previous chapters.  the prophets were evil, not truly men of God

 6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
       and darkness, without divination.
       The sun will set for the prophets,
       and the day will go dark for them.

 7 The seers will be ashamed
       and the diviners disgraced.
       They will all cover their faces
       because there is no answer from God."

 8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
       with the Spirit of the LORD,
       and with justice and might,
       to declare to Jacob his transgression,
       to Israel his sin.

 9 Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob,
       you rulers of the house of Israel,
       who despise justice
       and distort all that is right;

 10 who build Zion with bloodshed,
       and Jerusalem with wickedness.

 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
       her priests teach for a price,
       and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
       Yet they lean upon the LORD and say,
       "Is not the LORD among us?
       No disaster will come upon us."

 12 Therefore because of you,
       Zion will
be plowed like a field,
       Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
       the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

3:2–3 . cannibal analogy. The rapacious nature of the leaders and judges of Judah is compared to a cannibalistic feast in which the people fall victim to the economic knives and voracious appetite of these corrupt officials. The realistic aspects of preparing the flesh and cracking the bones for their marrow may well be based on the necessities of survival during famines or military sieges (see comment on 2 Kings 6:29 ).   

3:5–7 . unsuccessful prophets. A failed or unsuccessful prophet is one who no longer receives any communication from God (see the “famine” of God’s words in Amos 8:11–12 ). This has been brought about by the greed of the prophets who sell their deceptive prophecies rather than speaking them freely in response to God’s prompting. The commercialization of prophetic speech assures “peace” or prosperity for the merchants and the nobility who give the prophets “bread” and brings down threats of ruin, allegorized here as “war,” on those who fail to bribe them. Micah, who was not a member of the prophetic guild, but, like Amos, simply a man chosen by God to speak ( Amos 7:1–15 ), replaces their failed rituals and divinatory practices with the true word of God. Prophets of this period in Assyria were often in the employ of the royal court and were expected to support the legitimacy of the regime. We would use the expression that it was important for them to recognize which side their bread was buttered on.

3:12 . plowed like a field. An area had to be totally cleared of debris in order to be plowed and planted. This metaphor demonstrates how completely the city and its foundations would be destroyed. The armies of Assyria will plow the city, returning it to its original state as cultivated land (compare Is 5:6 ). While this did not occur in his lifetime, Jeremiah takes up the oracle, and it is quoted by the elders at his trial ( Jer 26:18 ), demonstrating that the predictions of the prophets were compiled and studied. [1]

To see the face of God is linked to worship ( Rev 22:3–4 ), hinting that when God hides his face, he not only withdraws his presence and benevolent guardianship but also shuns the human offerings of worship and prayer . To hide the face is to break off communication ( Deut 31:17–18 ; 32:20 ), often implying revulsion and abhorrence. A hidden face ignores requests for help ( Ps 13:1 ; 69:17 ) and refuses to answer ( Ps 102:2 ). The poets equate this lack of divine oversight with the absence of God’s spirit ( Ezek 39:29 ), even comparing it to death and the pit ( Ps 143:7 ).[2]

Zion [Sion] (“monument; fortress; set up”), one of the hills on which Jerusalem stood. It came to be applied to the temple and the whole of Jerusalem and its people as a community whose destiny depends on God ( 2 Sam. 5:7 ; Ps. 48:11 ; Is. 8:18 ; Joel 2:23 ). Zion also was a symbol of heaven ( Rev. 14:1 ).[3]

 



[1]Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : Old Testament. electronic ed., Mic 2:11-3:12. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

 

[2]Ryken, Leland, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman et al.. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. electronic ed., Page 260. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, c1998.

[3]Packer, J.I., Merrill Chapin Tenney, and William White. Nelson's Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, Page 745. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995.