Micah 2:1 say, "Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand."
Even before they're out of bed, sinners devise evil schemes—without guilt or shame.
Verse 2 says, "They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance."
In Micah's time a man's inheritance would have included the land that was passed down from generation to generation, a sign of each family's allotment in the Promised Land.
The buying and selling of the land were indications not only of financial problems but also spiritual issues. Selling one's land indicated the individual didn't care about God's promises to him and his family. Buying another family's land showed a disregard for the seller—and for the Lord.
We see God's judgment in verses 3-5.
Verse 3 reads this way: "Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster."
Since the rich devised ways to harm the poor, God's devised a way to bring His judgment on them. Because these people put careful thought into their deeds, God put careful thought into the consequences of those deeds.
We, too, must heed the prophet's warning. No matter what our sin (and we all sin), if we're taking precautions not to get caught, we're devising ways to sin. We are aware of what we're doing.
We must be careful to remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who dwells within all genuine believers in Jesus, and turn from sin when we become aware of it. We mustn't turn a blind eye or deaf ear to the Lord, as the people in Micah's time were doing.
Micah 2:4 says, "In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, 'We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! To an apostate he allots our fields.'"
These people had taken everything from the poor, and when God took everything from them, they said God wasn't being fair. Ironic, isn't it?
Verse 5 goes on to say, "Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord."
Everything they valued was gone.
God takes sin seriously. He always has and always will.
The people Micah referred to wanted more and more. It's so easy for us to be guilty of the same thing.
Yet, in Mark 8:34-36, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
Are we using what the Lord has given us for His honor and glory? Are we content and thankful for what He has blessed us with? Are we concerned not only for ourselves but also for those God has brought into our life?
False prophets tried to convince the people to ignore Micah's warnings, reassuring them that everything was fine.
And Micah's response?
Verse 11 says, "If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, 'I will preach to you of wine and strong drink," he would be the preacher for this people!'"
Despite what the false prophets said, God's people and provision were not available to those who had turned their backs on Him and His ways.
We must be careful not to turn from God and His clear direction in the Scriptures. We must be careful not to treat others unjustly. We must be careful not to listen to those who assure us that everything is fine when it isn't.
Preaching that honors God calls listeners to live out their faith. To care for the poor and needy. To be good stewards of our resources. To turn from sin.
Preaching that "tickles our ears" convinces us that God wants us to be happy—no matter what the cost. This kind of preaching appeals to our sinful nature. It minimizes the effects of sin on us and on those whose lives intersect ours.
In chapter 3, Micah compared these false teachers to cannibals, who stripped God's people down to their bones.
They were corrupt and sinful. When judgment was pronounced, they whined and complained. And after that?
Verse 4 says, "Then they will cry to the Lord,"
They cried out for selfish purposes. They were not truly repented. They didn't even understand why God was judging them.
The verse goes on to tell us how God responded. "But he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil."
God is not some kind of a genie or puppet. We can't just pray when our circumstances overwhelm us and expect Him to ignore unconfessed sin and our lack of love—for Him and for others.
The leaders in Micah's day didn't care about true repentance and genuine change. They only cared about living their best life now and turned to God only when things got hard. How many of us have fallen into this?
We go about living life, rarely opening our Bible or praying. We may or may not continue to attend church. Still, our spiritual life is a mess, but we are content, even happy, with the way things are going. And then something happens. We lose our job. Our child gets sick. A loved one turns their back and walks away.
Any one of these or countless other circumstances can cause us to truly turn back to the Lord, repent of any unconfessed sin, and genuinely seek Him. But, all too often, we just want Him to make things better. And, if by God's grace, we find a new job, our child recovers, and our relationship is restored, we must be careful that we don't go back to our old habits. There must be an authentic change of heart.
As a pastor, when I read this text, I feel the weight behind what the prophet declared. The preachers caved to the desires of man to give them a more ear-pleasing message. The pressure on preachers to please the people by giving them what they want to hear was as great back in Micah's day as it is today.
But if pastors and other church leaders give into the pressure to preach only what makes listeners feel good about themselves, even when they live with total disregard for godly living, judgment will come.
While the Scriptures overflow with rich promises for God's children, blessings we could never earn or deserve, the preacher's job is not only to proclaim these promises but also to sound the alarm on sin, warn listeners of the danger, and call them to repent and do their part to strengthen their relationship with the Lord.
Micah 2:12-13 says, "I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head."
Let's read verse 12 again. "I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men."
Right there, in the middle of proclaiming judgment, the prophet pointed to the Redeemer, the Good Shepherd, the Conquering King—Jesus Christ.
Micah told the people that wealth, power, influence, social status, and good works couldn't save them. Only the Shepherd King could do that. And He's the only one who can save us to this day.
If Micah were to preach today, I imagine he would say, "Submit your life to Christ. Love what He loves. Hate what He hates. Flee from your sin. Don't live a life of worldliness. Instead, live a life set apart from the world, the life God intended."
What are you living for today? Where does your hope lie? How do you expend your time and energy?
We must be careful not to get caught up in the things of the world. While there is great joy in living for the Lord, we can't pursue happiness at any cost. While Jesus died to pay the price for our sin, we must be careful to keep short accounts with God, repenting of our sin as soon as we become aware of it. And while we must earn a living, we must guard against worshipping idols, the things money can buy—or the money itself.
We must run to our Shepherd King. And when we do, we'll discover a joy beyond anything the world has to offer. We'll recognize the seriousness of sin and the steep price Jesus paid to suffer the Father's wrath, the wrath that we deserve. We'll see how amazing, breathtaking, and beautiful the Savior truly. And we will experience true freedom!