23/02/20 – Micah 2:1-5
Micah 2:1 – Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.
devise – to think; plan; esteem; calculate; invent; devise; impute; reckon; value; regard; invent. That is, their iniquity is definitely an act of their wills. Ellicott notes the deliberate character of the acts.
work – make (or find ways to make it?)
iniquity – trouble; wickedness; sorrow; idolatry.
power – ‘el (God; god-like one; mighty one; mighty men; angels; false god; mighty things in nature; strength; power)
Woe to them who spend their nights planning wickedness (or idolatry?) and thinking of ways to make evil happen. When the morning comes they will put their plans for iniquity and evil thinking into action. They are not like those who plan without results; these ones have all the power they need to carry out their iniquity and evil. For such people, might is their right to do evil. It seems that these people do evil simply because they are able to do it. Pulpit says: For their hand is their god. They spend their nights planning evil, and as soon as they are able, they carry out their evil.
This condemnation from Micah appears to be aimed at those in authority and leadership in Judah, those who were able to use their position to build their mini-empires. Israel had been doing this for a long time; God’s law was overruled by man’s needs (cf Ahab acquiring Naboth’s vineyard).
That heresy, calvinism, has to teach that such people are the consequence of God’s will and decree (or be accused of inconsistencies in their doctrines), yet this would require God to decree that these people deliberately plan evil, in itself an illogical statement.
Psalm 58:2 – Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.
Psalm 36:1-4 – 1The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, [that there is] no fear of God before his eyes. 2For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. 3The words of his mouth [are] iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, [and] to do good. 4He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way [that is] not good; he abhorreth not evil.
Psalm 4:4 – Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
Psalm 63:6 – When I remember thee upon my bed, [and] meditate on thee in the [night] watches.
Micah 2:2 – And they covet fields, and take [them] by violence; and houses, and take [them] away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.
fields – field; land; cultivated field. This indicates ownership of the property.
violence – to tear away; seize; plunder; tear off; pull off; rob; take away by force.
oppress – to press upon; oppress; violate; defraud; do violence; get deceitfully; wrong; extort. They are cheats.
These men coveted what others had, much like the communist “saying” of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable!” Like the super-rich of today who have no need to make more money, these people weren’t satisfied with what they had and always desired more. It goes far beyond merely making a fortune; instead it is an ultimate means of control. It is alleged that Nathan Rothschild said, “Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws,” although there is little evidence that he actually said this. However, those who control the money so often control the outcomes. Wars have been won and lost based upon who ran out of money first. Having enough for a living is all that is needed, yet so many want more than they could ever possibly need, and in the process take away from others the living that they may not be able to live without.
The 10th commandment is very clear: do not want what isn’t yours to have.
Exodus 20:17 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.
Note Isaiah 5:8 – Woe unto them that join house to house, [that] lay field to field, till [there be] no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
even a man and his heritage – All Israel was given an inheritance in the promised land of Canaan by family and by tribe (except for the Levites who were to be the inheritance of God – Numbers 3:12-13). Every family therefore had its inheritance that passed down through the family. Even if their land were sold or similar, they were able to reclaim their inheritance in the year of Jubilee, which occurred every 50 years (Leviticus 25:8-10).
Numbers 33:54 – And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: [and] to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s [inheritance] shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
The sins of Ahab were mentioned last time (see Micah 6:16). Ahab with his wicked wife Jezebel conspired to take Naboth’s inheritance off him, even having him put to death to achieve this. It was for such sins and many others worse that Israel was sent into captivity.
1 Kings 21:1-4 – 1And it came to pass after these things, [that] Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which [was] in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it [is] near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; [or], if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
1 Kings 21:15-16 – 15And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 16And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
This was one of the sins of Israel now being taken on by Judah: to defraud others and possess others’ possessions by violence, and oppress those who suffered such loss.
It was still going on a long time later with the pharisees using their rules to falsely obtain monies from others. Older people gave their “riches” to their children, expecting their children to use it to look after their parents. But the pharisees said that if that money were then given to the temple, then it became sacred (Corban) and this therefore overruled everything else. In this way they took money from the needy in order to build their own private fortunes.
Mark 7:5-13 – 5Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. 8For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free]. 12And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn anything from history!
Micah 2:3 – Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, against this family (people; nation) do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time [is] evil.
family – clan; family; tribe; people; nation; species; kind.
devise – same word as used in Vs 1 above. “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil” for the Lord will devise evil against them. (Where “evil” is the same here and in Vs 1 above) It appears that they are going to reap what they sow.
Galatians 6:6-7a – 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;
If you want to devise and carry out evil against others, and if you want to take what belongs to others and make it yours, then God will do likewise to you. Others will devise and carry out evil against you and others will take what belongs to you and make it theirs! And as others couldn’t escape your violence, neither shall you be able to escape the violence which will now come upon you.
haughtily – proudly
You have been haughty against those whom you oppressed, shaming them because of your power. Therefore you likewise will be put down, shamed, left with no pride at all.
for this time is evil – You have enjoyed committing evil against others and now it is time for evil to come against you. Evil will be repaid with evil. A time of evil will come upon you, a time when others will come and commit evil against you.
necks – neck; back of neck,
from which ye shall not remove your necks – The yoke was a burden placed across the back of their necks, or their shoulders; it signified a load, a burden that weighed heavily upon them.
Matthew 11:28-30 – 28Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.
The people of Judah had a huge problem with pride. It doesn’t say exactly what this pride dealt with, but it does seem as if those of Judah saw themselves as a cut above the northern kingdom of Israel. Judah had Jerusalem, the temple, the place of worship for God. The northern kingdom had to worship at Jerusalem or make their own places of worship.
1 Kings 12:25-31 – 25Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. 26And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, [even] unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves [of] gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29And he set the one in Beth–el, and the other put he in Dan. 30And this thing became a sin: for the people went [to worship] before the one, [even] unto Dan. 31And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
Judah must have been proud of having the temple at Jerusalem, so much so that Jeroboam decided to make a break with them. History shows us that there was not one single good king of Israel, while Judah had a few (plus a few of the wicked variety, too). It could have been this pride in their superior “spirituality” that was to become their downfall. Like the pharisees, their worship had become a set of rules for good living (much like the puritans of today). They did all the actions, sacrificed at the right times, and often obeyed all the rules to the very letter (although their hearts weren’t in it as much). However, it had more to do with their own personal standing (including their possessions and riches – note the prosperity gospel of today) than with a desire to serve God. And this is what led to their final rejection after Jesus rose again. They saw themselves as the most important beneficiaries of their worship of God, rather than God Himself!
Micah 2:4 – In that day shall [one] take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, [and] say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed [it] from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
parable – proverb; parable; proverbial saying; aphorism; byword; similitude; poem; sentences of ethical wisdom; ethical maxims. Can be used as a taunting cry or song mocking the situation of others.
Habakkuk 2:6a – Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him
lament with doleful lamentation – or wail with wailing lamentation (lament; wailing). Wail a wail of woe.
utterly – to deal violently with; despoil; devastate; ruin; destroy; spoil; violently destroy; assail.
spoiled – to be utterly ruined. The same word as used for “utterly”.
utterly spoiled – shadad shadad
We be utterly spoiled – it is all over for us.
hath changed – or “exchanged”
turning away – or “apostatise” or “to an apostate” or “to a rebellious one”
In the day that this occurs, others (probably the enemy or those who oppose) shall taunt you, shall chant taunts against you. It appears as if Judah is lamenting what they have lost yet the enemy is turning their grief and despair into a taunt at the expense of Judah. Judah laments with sad wailings (like a funeral dirge) crying, “It is all over for us. He (God) has changed the portion of my people (has exchanged our wealth and freedom for poverty, famine and servitude). How he has taken it all away from me! (How dreadfully God has dealt with us by taking what we have and giving it to the enemy!) God has turned away from us and divided our fields (our lands) among others (or our fields have been divided among the apostate enemies).”
And this lament of Judah appears to have been turned into a mockery of them by the enemy who taunts them in their misery. They are literally getting what they asked for!
That land which they had taken from others (see Vs 2 above) would now be divided up among the apostate victorious enemy.
Micah 2:5 – Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.
a cord – or “measuring line”
Therefore not one among you will be able to cast (place) a measuring line on that which was allotted to your families (when you entered Canaan) among the congregation (assembly) of the Lord. That is, your inheritance by lot in the past will no longer apply to you. The inheritance your family gained by lot will no longer be yours; it has been given to others.
In particular this was aimed squarely at those who had abused the inheritance rights of those under their control in Judah. If their inheritance can be taken away (by you) as easily as that, then yours can be taken away even more easily! These people who devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand (Micah 2:1) are getting more than just a taste of their own medicine.
Pulpit says: BECAUSE thou, the tyrannical, oppressive grandee (vers. 1, 2), hast dealt with thy neighbour's land unjustly, therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord (the line) by lot (for a lot); i.e. thou shalt have no more inheritance in Israel. The "line" is the measuring line used in dividing land, as Amos 7:17. The reference is to the original distribution of the land by lot in Joshua's time (see Joshua 14:2, etc.).
If you want the rules to be kept, you must firstly keep them yourselves! No-one is above judgment.
This is the problem calvinists have with Romans 9. Apart from Vs 1-3 actually denying the unconditional election (it’s a pity the calvinist God didn’t think to tell Paul about this!), and that the election of the nation of Israel automatically prevented all other nations from being chosen (does that mean there’s only one calvinist?), calvinists have completely misunderstood (probably on purpose) the following verse.
Romans 9:16 – So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
They use Romans 9:16 to “teach” that their God chooses on whom he will have mercy (this part is correct), and that not one person has any say in the matter (this is the lie added on). They try to teach that this demonstrates that man has no free will to ask for mercy. (Try telling that to the publican in the parable who prayed “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) Calvin said of this: “All that is said is, that after obtaining the pardon of sins he was regarded in the sight of God as righteous.” (Institutes Bk 3, Ch.11, Section 3) Perhaps the publican was foreordained to do so?? Yet then Calvin would have said so, wouldn’t he! Romans 9:16 cannot prevent man from asking God for mercy!
But Romans 9:16 is not about God sovereignly choosing unconditionally to whom He will show mercy! Romans 9 is about the lost state of Israel who, because of their unbelief (see Romans 11:20), were pruned off their natural olive tree, with the Gentiles being grafted on in their place (Romans 11:17-19). Those of Israel (especially the pharisees and their followers) were so full of their self-importance that they just would not accept that God should ever deny His covenant with them through Abraham. They could deny Him but He could never deny them! (This is a major theme of Romans 4 (mentioned 7 times) and then mentioned again in Romans 9:7.) After all, they were God’s elect nation (Romans 9:4-13) and the children of Abraham; it was inconceivable that they should ever be rejected. (So why did God scatter Israel among the nations after their captivity, and why was Judah also sent into captivity?)
The Jews thought they were better than any other nation (much like Britain thought in her days of empire) and that their God would never choose anyone else! That the Gentiles should become God’s people was, according to them, nothing short of blasphemy! After all, Israel were the recipients of God’s mercy through Abraham and why would God ever deny Abraham that covenant? For they were the chosen ones, the elect of God! God had to be merciful to them; His covenant demanded it. They demanded mercy by right of their Abrahamic covenant. It was their will that they had to receive mercy. They were the runners here; it was their race (not of others!) they were running. No others except they could run this race!
So Paul says that no-one has the right to demand mercy, no matter how much they should want it or think they deserve it. Mercy wasn’t handed out to Israel just because they decided (by their wills) that they needed it! Nor could they demand mercy because they were the runners in this race (or so they wrongly thought, for the Gentiles had now largely replaced them as God’s people). No, it was God alone who decided who should be shown mercy, and Romans teaches that this was to the spiritual children of Abraham, not the physical children (Romans 4:12-13). Micah was saying the same: Just because you are God’s nation gives you no right to demand what you do not give to others. God required free-will repentance before He showed mercy; Israel was demanding mercy without the repentance!
Like the publican (tax collector), you may cry out to God for mercy, but unless you come according to God’s requirements, you won’t be shown mercy. We may, by our own free wills, cry out to God for salvation, but unless we come according to His rules, we will be turned away. God is sovereign! God sets the rules that determine His mercy, not man. You must come before God by your own free will, but God answers according to His knowledge of your heart.
Psalm 51:16-17 – 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.