God Takes Sin Seriously

Micah 1
Have you ever felt shocked when God convicted you of sin?

Think of this feeling as you read Micah 1:2: Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.

Verse 3 goes on to say, "For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth."

God is many things. Creator. King. Judge.

A human judge has authority in their courtroom. But God's power far surpasses any human power. Verse 4 reads this way: And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open.

Those in the high places of wealth, security, and protection would not escape God's judgement. Neither would those in the lush valleys of peace, rest, and abundance.

How do you think Israel would have initially reacted to Micah's prophecy? Were they fearful? Shocked? Scared?

Unlikely. They were probably excited to hear what Micah had to say. They'd heard messages like this before. When God sent a prophet and used language like this, it was always against their enemies.

So, when God's people first heard Micah's message, it would have caused them great joy. The Assyrians were at their doorstep. Invasion was near. Surely, Micah's message was against these invaders.

But wait!

Micah continued, "All this is for the transgression of …"

Here it comes!

But wait!

What did he say?

"All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?" (v. 5)

Wait! What? You meant to say, "… the transgression of Assyria." Right?

They were almost certainly in shock at the prophet's words.

God didn't differentiate between the northern and southern kingdoms. He said, "… the sins of the house of Israel." He didn't view His people as divided, even though they did.

Verse 6 says, "Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations."

Complete destruction!

But why? What sin could they possible have committed that would warrant such punishment?

Verse 7 makes it clear. "All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return."

Temple prostitution was common in both Samaria and Jerusalem. Women would become prostitutes as "an act of worship" to their god. They would take the money earned from their so-called worship and donate it to the temple to support the priest and the manufacturing of idols.

And now the Assyrians were going to seize the wealth of the land. Ironically, the wealth of the temple would again be used as it had been, for the furtherance of idol worship.

We must be careful to examine ourselves. Do we love our possessions, our career, or our family and friends more than we love the Lord? Do we look down our noses at others and consider ourselves better than they are?

Micah made it clear that God was not indifferent to sin, not even the sin of His own people. But how did the prophet feel about pronouncing judgment on God's people? His people?

Verse 8 says, "For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem."

Micah was not joyful, believing they were getting what they deserved. He was broken. The language Micah used was the language used when someone was mourning the death of a loved one. That was how he felt when he delivered this message to the people. His heart was broken and his spirit crushed. He longed for them to repent.

Do we feel the same about the reality of God's ultimate judgment, an eternity of suffering in hell? Is our heart broken, our spirit crushed? Do we warn our unsaved family, friends, and neighbors about the certainty of God's judgment or do we prefer to refer only to His love? Perhaps we don't share with them at all, believing they heard the truth and rejected it and it's no longer up to us.

No one truly understands their need of the Savior without recognizing their sin and the reality of eternal punishment.

If we have believed the gospel, repented of our sin, and accepted Jesus as our Savior, we must not allow ourselves to become callous, to feel superior and self-righteous. We must allow our hearts to break, to spend time in prayer for the unsaved, and to take every opportunity to share the truth with them.

Micah warned God's people that there would be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from the Assyrian invasion, from His judgment. We must recognize the same today. Our security is not in our wealth or position. It isn't in our job or our possessions. Our only security is in a genuine relationship with the Lord through faith in Jesus Christ.

And even if we believe we are right with God, we must guard against becoming lukewarm, a halfhearted approach to faith. The Lord cannot stomach such faith.

Revelation 3:16 says, "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."

Now, believers cannot lose their salvation. If we are, indeed, right with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our tendencies toward apathy, self-righteousness, and lukewarmness. And He will enable us to do better.

But God does not take sin lightly. That's the message of Micah, and it's the same message today. But there is hope. Even in Micah's day, there was hope.

Micah says, in verse 15, "The glory of Israel shall come to Adullam."

Adullam was a complex system of caves that acted as a stronghold. Those who believed the prophet's message and fled there were spared.

What a beautiful picture of the gospel! Jesus is our refuge, our stronghold! When we repent of sin and accept the price He paid on the cross, we are saved from God's wrath.

Invite the Lord to use these truths to soften your heart; to bring you to repentance if you don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord; to stir you to pray for unbelievers and take every opportunity to share the realities of the gospel with them, both the love of the Lord and warnings against His righteous judgment.