*Good morning. I pray you are well today. Today we will deal with the Book of Micah. After Micah we only have six more books to cover. Then, we will be in the New Testament. I can't wait for that. As much as I have enjoyed the Old Testament I think we will have so much more fun in the New. But for now...the Book of Micah.

"Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; 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?" (Micah 3:1-3)

Umm...what a passage to begin our study today! I never watched the entire movie "Silence of the Lambs" which was about a cannibalistic killer, but perhaps he would have an inspirational poster on his wall with these words on it. Is the Lord saying that the people are cannibals? No, but he compares their behavior to that of cannibals. To begin with, let's back up and learn a bit more about the book and the prophet.

Micah was from the south. He was from Judah. The book consists of three main units, each with a section that beginning with the call: "Hear!" "Hear, O peoples, all of you,..." (Micah 1:2) The bulk of Micah's message was directed at Judah. Micah's social criticism consists of a critique of the economic aristocrats, whose greed for homes and property had no bounds. They would stop at nothing to get what they wanted. Long ago, I was speaking to a friend of mine. He had one of the most beautiful farms I have ever stepped foot on. It was also one of the most peaceful places I have ever encountered. My friend told of how often he had been approached by a local land baron who made offer after offer for his farm. Apparently, there was more happening here in our story than someone making a good offer. Maybe it was more like someone "making them an offer they couldn't refuse."

In the passage that I began with the people are not actually eating the flesh of others, but their actions are comparable to that behavior. Micah most likely belonged to the people of the land, in other words, landowners who were distrustful of royal and religious bureaucrats who sought to control their lives. It is believed that some of the parables that Jesus told were in regards to these types of individuals.

"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." (Micah 3:5-6)

Here Micah criticizes the prophets who promoted a theology that was highly supportive of the governing establishment. He says that their theology was prone to deceive and tell the people what they wanted to hear. In other words, they catered to those who "took care of them." I have said before, that I believe this works both ways today. There are those who tell people what they want to hear by various means. There are those who want to hear nothing but "feel good" messages. Therefore, whoever preaches "feel good" stuff has this audience. This audience "takes care of" their messenger. Then there are those who expect "fire and brimstone, doom and gloom, the world is going to end and this disaster was caused by...." They only listen to the deliverers of this type of message. Long ago I was talking to a man who was telling about his "favorite" preacher. Yes, people have their favorites even when it comes to preachers. His "favorite" preacher, according to him, "told it like it was." Of course he did...He was telling me that on Easter Sunday when everyone came to church expecting to hear a sermon about the resurrection this preacher did not preach on the resurrection. He looked at me with big eyes and asked in almost a whisper..."Doooo yooouuu (spelling intentional) know what he preached on?" he asked me. I looked at him with equally big eyes and said, "What waaaaas ittttt?" He then, not in a whisper but a booming voice, answered: "Helllllll.....Hell, is what he preached on!" I answered, "Oh, wow!" *I couldn't say much because I was there to pick up his daughter for a date. I was glad when she finally got ready and we could leave. This guy was his "favorite" preacher's biggest fan and cheerleader. My question is still: "What's wrong with preaching the resurrection? Isn't that the basis for our hope?

Micah follows a similar pattern as most of the other prophets. Join me tomorrow as we take a quick look at Naham. -Pastor Rick

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