15/03/20 – Micah 3:5-12
Micah 3:5 – Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
the prophets – spokesman; speaker; prophet; false prophet.
err – to cause to wander (physically, or of intoxication); to cause to err, mislead (mentally and morally).
These false prophets were making God’s people go astray by prophesying that which was pleasing to the people. (See Micah 2:11) Clearly they were promising that the good times could continue, for God would continue to honour His covenant with them; He would not permit them to be defeated (?!) because they were His people. (But they did not want Him to be their God, it seems.)
bite – They were metaphorically sinking their teeth into their victims (see Micah 3:3).
This is probably the correct interpretation although this term can mean to pay interest, or be made to pay interest.
peace – shalowm or shalom
As a side note, Israel was not to lend money with interest to their own people – see the following:
Deuteronomy 23:19-20 – 19Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: 20Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
If they obeyed God (Deuteronomy 28:1) they would have an abundance to lend and not to borrow.
Deuteronomy 28:12-13 – 12The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. 13And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do [them]:
If they did not obey God (Deuteronomy 28:15), then they would be forced to borrow off the other nations.
Deuteronomy 28:44 – He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
Here it would mean that the false prophets were committing evil against their people while at the same time proclaiming peace to those same people. They were committing evil while pretending to work toward peace. Benson says: Who speak smooth things, and promise peace and prosperity to the people, while they are bringing destruction upon them; or, who compliment and flatter those that will furnish them with gifts, and feed them well.
he that putteth not into their mouths – he who doesn’t bribe these false prophets (pay them the required fee) for what they proclaim. They would declare war against those who refused to be “bitten” (see Micah 2:1-2), those who refused to support such lies.
Effectively, the false prophets promised that God would bless with peace those who supported them (that is, God would bring peace to the people if they did as these prophets said). If the false prophets did not receive their “bribes” as they required, their God would be angry against them and would bring war against them. Do what we say and our God will bless you with peace; give us our money or our God will bring war against you. In light of the threat of war at that time against Jerusalem, it must have been comforting to hear these prophets talk of coming peace and not war (even if untrue). The people either assumed that the prophets were telling the truth or else possibly they just didn’t want to know it if it were negative. It could also mean that the false prophets would badly mistreat those (bring war against them) who didn’t bribe them with enough money (see Micah 2:1-2).
Micah 3:6 – Therefore night [shall be] unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
it will be dark – it will be hidden, concealed from you; prophecy (even false) will be obscured or confused.
Therefore, says Micah, you will be kept in darkness so that you will not have any prophecy to make. You will be unable to even make a false prophecy.
shall ….. divine – to practice divination; divine; of diviners of the nations such as Balaam; of false prophets of Israel; to be prohibited (probably by the law) – thus a rebellious prophecy.
It will be too dark (not enough clarity of thought) for you to even make false prophecies.
the sun shall go down – You will not be able to make any prophecies because your prophecies are from the darkness that prevents effective sight (of visions).
Effectively this verse is saying that God will prevent these false prophets from making any prophecy, even false prophecies, because there will be darkness (or lack of clarity or understanding) clouding all their thinking.
Some suggest that this darkness will come because their prophecies will fail, causing them to be seen as failures, false prophets. No-one will listen to them because their prophecies will fail. They will be seen for what they really are. This, though, probably applies better to the next verse.
Micah 3:7 – Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for [there is] no answer of God.
ashamed – to be put to shame; be ashamed; be disconcerted; be disappointed; to feel shame.
confounded – to be ashamed; be confounded; be abashed.
Then shall these seers (prophets; those who speak of their visions) be put to shame (shamed; “put down” by reason of their failure to speak the truth), and these diviners (false prophets) be confounded (confused, unable to understand what is happening). Yes, they shall cover their lips (or put their hands over their mouths, literally cover their beards) for there will be no answer (or response; revelation) from God. There is nothing they can say because without any revelation from God, their false prophecies are worthless (as nothing; empty). They are literally confounded. Such covering of the mouth signified mourning, sorrow, uncleanness. They have prophesied and God has not given what they prophesied, and they have been put to shame.
Note Job’s silence before God in Job 40:4.
Job 40:1-5 – 1Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, 2Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct [him]? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 4Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
Micah 3:8 – But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
But, says Micah, I am truly (genuinely) full of power (of prophecy) by the Spirit of the Lord, full of judgment and full of might, to declare (make known – as a messenger) to Jacob (here meaning Judah, especially Jerusalem) his transgression (rebellion) and to Israel His sin (or uncleanness). See Luke 4:18 & Isaiah 61:1.
But – Micah is contrasting the false messages of the false prophets with his genuine prophecy from God.
But you have spoken words which did not come from God. You teach that “good” is evil and “evil” is good because you hate good and love evil (Micah 3:2) but I speak the genuine message from God. Micah was the messenger who declared God’s truth, the one who brought the good news from God, yet his people would rather have listened to the false prophets who promised them good times, of wine and strong drink. I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people. (Micah 2:11)
Micah was the one who spoke with power, and judgment, and might, to bring the real truth: that God was condemning His people for their rebellion and wickedness, and they would be punished accordingly. Micah was the real messenger of God, bringing good tidings and not evil.
Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Israel’s only hope was to recognise their sin, confess it and repent, in order to be forgiven. But the false prophets kept telling them that God would not condemn them for their sin, because they were God’s people. Effectively there was no sin that they could commit that could prevent them from being God’s people forever! Or so they thought! Shades of the Sonship Theology movement from which sprang the new calvinism of today. (Sonship theology says that if you are a child of God, there is no sin that you can possibly commit that can prevent you from entering heaven.)
Micah 3:9 – Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.
And now the message, says Micah.
Hear (listen to and obey) what I am now telling you, you heads (chief people) of the house of Jacob and princes (rulers, commanders) of the house of Israel, you who abhor (loathe; regard as an abomination) all judgment (justice) and pervert (twist; distort) all equity (righteous; that which is upright, proper or correct).
Micah describes the chief people and rulers of Judah here as loathing all true justice, instead perverting righteousness. Perverting righteousness can be seen here as judging unfairly, allowing some to escape proper justice while increasing the penalties for others (or even punishing those who were innocent while declaring the guilty to be innocent – those “Who hate the good, and love the evil” – Micah 3:2)
Perverting the course of justice – Perverting the course of justice is an incredibly serious crime that involves one person attempting to misdirect the direction of justice to influence the outcome of a case. In many instances, the motivation is to allow a guilty person to escape full punishment for the crimes that they have committed. (https://www.localsolicitors.com/criminal-guides/perverting-the-course-of-justice)
Micah 3:10 – They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.
They build up Zion (can mean Jerusalem) with money derived from violence and bloodshed (and even murder); they build up Jerusalem with iniquity (injustice; unrighteousness; violent deeds of injustice). Isaiah said much the same.
Isaiah 1:11-15 – 11To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them]. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
They consider that the end justifies the means, that it’s alright to do bad things in order to achieve good things. After all, what does a bit of violence matter if it gets the building done properly! However, the ends never justify the means. God required that they do things according to His law, or not do it at all. Do it properly or not at all!
And the pharisees still hadn’t learned this important message. Jesus said of them:
Matthew 15:7-9 – 7[Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.
As a result of this, the Jews were to be blinded in part …..
Romans 11:7-8 – 7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
….. until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled.
Romans 11:25-27 – 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
There are none so blind as those who just will not see!
Micah 3:11 – The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, [Is] not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.
The heads (chief people; leaders) judge (administer justice) for reward (a present; a bribe), the priests teach (instruct) for hire (reward; gain), and the prophets (or false prophets) divine (practise divination) for money (silver).
Note that the priests were required to administer knowledge, but not all did so.
Malachi 2:7-9 – 7For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he [is] the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. 9Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
It was the custom for prophets to receive payment for their prophecies; after all, how is this different from paying a pastor to preach the word?
1 Samuel 9:7-8 – 7Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, [if] we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and [there is] not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we? 8And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: [that] will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.
It is scriptural to pay those who minister the word, or preach the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14 – 13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
The problem here was that the rulers of Judah were expecting reward for false teaching. That is, payment for lies!
Hosea 4:6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Despite all their false prophecy and teachings, they still expected God to protect them from all evil, crying, “Is not the Lord among us? None evil shall come upon us!”
We are God’s covenanted people; He will never leave us nor forsake us! However, what if they deserted and forsook the Lord? But they still demanded that their covenant required God’s mercy to all generations, hence the need for Paul to set them straight in Romans 9:15-16 – 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Note also Exodus 17:7 – And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?
Micah 3:12 – Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed [as] a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
Therefore (because of your arrogant presumption), Zion (or Jerusalem) will be literally destroyed completely out of existence. It will be ploughed like a field, it will left as heaps of rubble, and the mountain (Moriah) upon which the house (of the Lord – the temple) sits will be no different from any other mountain with a forest of trees on it. That is, it will be overgrown with bushes and trees, or maybe it will become no more than just another of their high places of false worship.
Jeremiah 26:8-19 – 8Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded [him] to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. 9Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord. 10When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’s [house]. 11Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man [is] worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. 12Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. 13Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. 14As for me, behold, I [am] in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. 15But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. 16Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man [is] not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God. 17Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, 18Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed [like] a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. 19Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.
Today we have many churches with their pastors/church leaders/theologians/etc who have determined just how God must be worshipped. There must be some basic requirements. First and foremost is that there must be a reward for worship built into it somewhere. God must be required to bless them with a variety of good things: money; health; nice job; big house; boat; caravan – so many forms of “blessings” often depending upon what they perceive as suitable status symbols. Note the current view that says that you must make the church inviting so that people will want to enter and stay there (preferably with plenty of money to put into the offering plate). Every church has its rules, but in general most will have rules that ensure that those required “blessings” are delivered. They then claim that God is surely blessing them because they speak His name, they have lots of people attending, they are successful, and, most importantly, the pastor and other church leaders own lots of nice status symbols (and therefore everyone else should want to be like these leaders so that they too may acquire nice status symbols as well). If you aren’t “blessed” like you should be, then you must be doing something wrong, or sinning, disobeying God’s rules (as set out by the church). If you are sick, then you have sinned. If you are poor, then you didn’t give enough. If you don’t have a big house or boat, then you are not blessed enough. This is “church” today!!