14/06/20 – Micah 7:14-20
Micah 7:14 – Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily [in] the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed [in] Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
Micah is praying for his fellow country-men. He requests God to shepherd His people as the flock of His inheritance, the ones whom He called through Abraham via an everlasting covenant.
Genesis 13:14-16 – 14And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, [then] shall thy seed also be numbered.
Feed – pasture; tend; graze; feed; to shepherd; teacher.
thy people – nation; people; members of one’s people; country-men; kinsmen; kindred.
thy rod – shebet (rod; staff; branch; offshoot; club; sceptre; tribe) Can be shepherd’s crook or staff.
This is a picture of the shepherd leading his people to good pastures enabling them to feed.
Psalm 23:1-2 – 1The Lord [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Micah seems to be referring to the days of the shepherd king, King David (often the reign that all other kingly reigns are measured by in the Old Testament).
1 Chronicles 17:7 – Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, [even] from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel:
heritage – possession; inheritance; heritage; portion; share; property. It also occurs as “heritage” in Micah 2:2 and 7:18.
The same word is used for “thine inheritance” in Psalm 28:9 – Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.
It is translated “inheritance” in Deuteronomy 32:9 – For the Lord’s portion [is] his people; Jacob [is] the lot of his inheritance.
Israel is God’s chosen property, His portion, His inheritance.
solitarily – alone; separated from others; figuratively: for security. The noun form can mean an isolated city. Translated “alone” 7 times out of 11 occurrences.
Translated “desolate” in the following:
Isaiah 27:9-10 – 9By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this [is] all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up. 10Yet the defenced city [shall be] desolate, [and] the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.
Translated “solitary” in How doth the city sit solitary, [that was] full of people! (Lamentations 1:1) It probably refers to Israel being a nation on its own among the other nations around it, a separated (sanctified) people for God.
Translated “alone” in Numbers 23:9 – For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
Feed your people (country-men) with the shepherd’s staff (that is, as the shepherd of the flock), the flock of your inheritance (your chosen people, the people upon whom you have placed your name) ….
Deuteronomy 12:11a – Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there;
…. a people who you have set apart for your own among all the nations.
(in) the wood – could also be “the wooded heights”. Here Carmel represents a fertile wooded high country preferred for its fertile land and heights for security. They had provisions for living and were secure in their dwellings.
Isaiah 37:24b – I will enter into the height of his border, [and] the forest of his Carmel. (where Carmel – “garden-land”; “fruitful” – is a mountain in northern Israel)
let them feed [in] Bashan and Gilead – Bashan and Gilead were both known for their cattle and live-stock production.
as in the days of old – This depicts the times of blessing in the past when Israel had enjoyed the material blessings of God in times of obedient service to God.
Micah is praying that Israel may one day return to those times when God was their God and they were to some extent His people, probably referring to the days of King David, just a distant memory in the past now that they were straying further and further away from being God’s people.
Micah 7:15 – According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous [things].
Egypt – Mitsrayim or Mizraim ) According to Genesis 10:6 Mizraim was a son of Ham.)
shew – cause to see; show; cause to look at intently; cause to gaze at.
marvellous (things) – be marvellous; be wonderful; be surpassing; be extraordinary; stand out because of distinguishing action; to do extraordinary or hard or difficult things; make wonderful; do wondrously.
And God answers this prayer by promising that His answer will go back even earlier than Israel as a nation in their land, right back to when God delivered them from their bondage in Egypt. It is the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt that best exhibits the might and power of God, His might in rescuing His people from Egypt. Egypt was at that time the most powerful nation on the known earth, and for a nondescript nation like the Hebrews to not only escape from Egypt but to literally destroy Egypt as well is still one of the most amazing miracles to ever take place. Thus Vs 15 above defines doing something that stands out because of its extraordinary-ness.
Here God promises, not just a return to the glorious days of their past such as in the reign of King David, but something far greater in the history of Israel: He brings their thinking back to their slavery in Egypt when He caused marvellous things to happen in order to free them from slavery in Egypt and destroying Egypt in the process.
Deuteronomy 26:6-9 – 6And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: 7And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: 8And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: 9And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, [even] a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Exodus 3:20 – And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
Acts 7:36 – He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
They should have never forgotten such mighty acts, yet by Micah’s day they seem to have little memory of God’s might in the past.
Deuteronomy 6:21-23 – 21Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: 22And the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: 23And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.
One day God says he will once again do such marvellous acts (that is, it’s yet in the future!).
Micah 7:16 – The nations (goy) shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay [their] hand upon [their] mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
The nations – goy (which may be generally understood to refer to non-Israel nations, that is, the Gentiles)
shall see – see with probably some degree of understanding or discernment. Translated “discern” in Malachi 3:18 – Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
be confounded – feel shame; be disconcerted; be ashamed; be disappointed (by reason of …) Translated “be ashamed” in Micah 3:7a – Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: The noun form is translated “shame” in Micah 7:10.
might – strength; might; bravery; mighty deeds (of God). It appears to refer to the potent might of God compared with the impotent might of the nations.
See 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.
It was this might of God that caused other nations to fear Israel.
Joshua 2:9-10 – 9And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that [were] on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
The Gentile nations will be totally confounded (disappointed; dismayed) at the might of Israel (with her God); they will have no answer for such might.
they shall lay (their) hand upon (their) mouth – they will be struck speechless at such might. “gobsmacked”! The same phrase is used in Job 21:5 – Mark me, and be astonished, and lay [your] hand upon [your] mouth. and almost the same in Job 40:3-4 – 3Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 4Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Also Isaiah 52:15 – So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for [that] which had not been told them shall they see; and [that] which they had not heard shall they consider.
The false prophets of Micah’s day covered their lips because God did not answer or support their false statements.
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.
their ears shall be deaf – they will be so confounded (astounded?) that they will not be able to believe their ears, what others are saying (probably about the mighty victories of Israel when God returns to be their God – He will turn again – Micah 7:19).
In spite of having mighty power in worldly situations, the nations will literally come up against a brick wall when facing Israel with her God fighting her battles for her.
Micah 7:17 – They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee.
The curse of the serpent (satan) was to eat dust. This depicted lowliness or servility.
Genesis 3:14 – And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
thefreedictionary.com says “to eat dust” means To be outperformed or outrun by someone, usually by a very wide margin. That is, to be so far behind that there was literally no contest!
To lick dust was similar to what we would now say: to lick their boots. To lick the dust off others’ feet was an extremely servile act, to “crawl” to someone, a sycophant!
A sycophant is someone who tries to gain approval by flattering influential people, and generally acting with great servility, a boot-licker.
Isaiah 49:23b – they shall bow down to thee with [their] face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I [am] the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
shall move – tremble; quake; rage; quiver; be agitated; be perturbed; be disquieted.
holes – border; fastness; rim. From a word meaning to be shut (up) or closed (up).
Translated “close places” in Psalm 18:45 – The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.
worms – to shrink back; crawl away; to fear; be afraid. The idea seems to be of great timidity. Occurs 3 times, translated “afraid” (Job 32:6), “serpents” (Deuteronomy 32:24), and “worms” (in the above).
be afraid – fear; tremble; be in awe or dread.
The Gentile nations shall be so confounded at the might of Israel (Vs 15 above) that they will lick their dust (in servility), they will be like timid worms crawling (trembling) out of their holes in the ground. They shall be afraid of the God of Israel and shall fear Israel because of their God.
Deuteronomy 28:9-10 – 9The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. 10And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.
Jeremiah 33:9 – And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
Micah 7:18 – Who [is] a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth [in] mercy.
pardoneth – lift (up); bear (up); carry (off); support; endure; take away; forgive.
Translated “will bear” in Micah 7:9 – I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, [and] I shall behold his righteousness.
Who else is like God to you, who pardons your iniquity and passes by the transgression (or rebellion) of the remnant (or residue – that is, those who are left) of His heritage (possession; portion).
the remnant – or residue. Micah 2:12a – I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold:
his heritage – or possession; portion.
Micah 7:14a (above) – Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily [in] the wood, in the midst of Carmel:
retaineth – make strong; strengthen; support; repair; prevail; keep hold of.
God does not persevere with His anger forever because He delights in mercy. Israel will not suffer God’s wrath forever if it is at all possible for God to show mercy instead. Note Romans 9:15 – For 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. Paul is saying that even if God delights in mercy, He can still choose to withhold His mercy if He wishes. That is, if Israel fails to repent, then God will not forgive. Even Christians are only required to forgive if a brother repents. Without repentance there can be no demand for mercy!
Luke 17:3 – Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
However, this passage does indicate clearly that one day a remnant of Israel will be forgiven. One day (it hasn’t happened yet) a remnant of Israel will finally call upon the name of the Lord and will be delivered (as per Joel 2:32; also note Acts 2:20-21). God’s anger is not unbreakable. God’s mercy is always an option. If only Israel can turn back to God one day, God will turn again back to them (see Vs 19 below).
Micah 7:19 – He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
will turn again – to return; turn back; come or go back; turn back from God (apostatise); turn back to God (repent); turn back (from evil). Translated “shall return” in Micah 5:3 – Therefore will he give them up, until the time [that] she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
It could also be read as “He will turn back to having compassion upon us”, or “He will once again have compassion on us”.
Note its translation as “shall no more” in Job 7:7 – O remember that my life [is] wind: mine eye shall no more see good. [Probably literally “Mine eye shall not return to (shall not turn back to) seeing good (enjoyable or pleasant things)”]
One day God will turn back from His present pathway of the destruction of His people (see Ezekiel Ch.37); one day God will have compassion (mercy) upon His people. God will subdue (bring into bondage; make subservient; dominate; tread down) their iniquities; He will cast (throw away) all their sins into the depths of the sea. Literally God will make their sins disappear into the sea such that they will be seen no more.
Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
All it would take is godly sorrow which works repentance which then leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Even Nineveh in the days of Jonah repented and were forgiven!
Joel 2:12-14 – 12Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14Who knoweth [if] he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; [even] a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?
Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Micah 7:20 – Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, [and] the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
God promised Abraham that his descendants would bring blessing to the whole earth:
Genesis 22:17-18 – 17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
And Jacob was likewise promised:
Genesis 28:13-15 – 13And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I [am] the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of.
Also see Psalm Ch.105.
Micah winds up his prophecy with a statement that God’s sworn commitment to both Jacob and Abraham would be honoured. Israel is not on the scrap-heap yet, no matter what it looks like. It was truth that God spoke to Jacob, and it was God’s mercy that He showed to Abraham. Both truth and mercy together mean that the promise is guaranteed, and God’s mercy is more than sufficient to carry out the promise, for one day God will turn back from His judgment and punishment (for the remnant).
Psalm 57:10 – For thy mercy [is] great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
If God promises to redeem His remnant (Vs 18 above), then He will do it. Prophecy is interesting in that a significant part of it is dependent upon the free will choices of people in the future (which God by His foreknowledge knows from the beginning). Added to this, God’s purposes will not be thwarted, so there will be certain decisions that God makes that overrule any free will decisions of man. Therefore, prophecy is going to be a mixture of God’s sovereign decrees and man’s free will decisions (as long as they are subject to God’s sovereignty at all times).
God will not necessarily force His people to bend to His will (although He may do so at times, such as sending them into captivity). However, God also must know beforehand that His people will choose in a certain way before He can prophecy that this is what they will do. This is where God’s foreknowledge comes into play. For example, Micah warns Israel that God will judge them severely for their sin, and that if they turn away from their sin then God, through His mercy, may either reduce or even remove the consequences for their sin. But God also knows (by His foreknowledge) that they (by their free will decisions) will not repent, so He also decrees that they be punished for their sin which He knows they will continue to commit. Thus we have a combination of free will decisions of mankind and sovereign decrees of God in prophecy.
There are some things that God will do to try to convince His people to return; judgment and discipline are part of the process.
Hebrews 12:11 – Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
But man will always have the choice of obeying or rebelling, and to accept the consequences! And God will always have the last say on the consequences of such free will decisions.
Calvinism has a serious problem with prophecy. How do they explain it? By the use of God’s foreknowledge? Not likely, because an acknowledgement of the biblical use of God’s foreknowledge has to assume free will decisions to be foreknown, and calvinists deny anything that has anything to do with the free will decisions of mankind!
Piper says (in What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, 1998 revision): God does not foreknow the free decisions of people to believe in him because there aren't any such free decisions to know. …. As C.E.B. Cranfield says, the foreknowledge of Romans 8:29 is "that special taking knowledge of a person which is God's electing grace." Such foreknowledge is virtually the same as election: "Those whom he foreknew (i.e. chose) he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son."
Therefore, calvinists must remove the free will component of prophecy, leaving only the sovereign decrees of God to define prophecy.
Calvin stated that If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain (futile) to debate about prescience (= foreknowledge), while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment. (Institutes Bk 3, Ch 23, Section 6)
That is, foreknowledge is irrelevant because God knows everything by virtue of having already decreed that they are so to happen.
And herein lies that serious problem for calvinism. If prophecy is by God’s decree alone, then the calvinist God has to command Israel to obey him, yet behind the scenes he has decreed that they disobey him so that he may be justified in punishing them according to his prophecies. With calvinist prophecy, their God is at the very least bi-polar or probably schizophrenic. In an effort to somehow “prove” that the calvinist God is not schizophrenic, Piper writes (in “Are there Two Wills in God?”): My aim here is to show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God's will for "all persons to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4) and his will to elect unconditionally those who will actually be saved is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion. ……. Affirming the will of God to save all, while also affirming the unconditional election of some, implies that there are at least "two wills" in God, or two ways of willing. It implies that God decrees one state of affairs while also willing and teaching that a different state of affairs should come to pass. This distinction in the way God wills has been expressed in various ways throughout the centuries. It is not a new contrivance. For example, theologians have spoken of sovereign will and moral will, efficient will and permissive will, secret will and revealed will, will of decree and will of command, decretive will and preceptive will, voluntas signi (will of sign) and voluntas beneplaciti (will of good pleasure), etc.
The latest comment on our church website tries to say that God has 2 wills, something that even Calvin denied, yet “great teachers” such as Piper and MacArthur teach clearly that their God has 2 wills (Piper) or even 3 wills (MacArthur). Yet the very idea of having more than one will denies their God his sovereignty that they say they uphold more than any others. However, if their God is so sovereign that no other will may exist in the universe that may oppose his will (something they clearly and consistently teach), then how may they justify their God himself having one will that opposes his other will?
Calvinists claim that it is the absolute sovereignty of their God which denies mankind any say in his own salvation; that their God alone must decide where each and every person will go when they die. It is this claimed sovereignty of their God which denies the use of the sinners’ prayer, as if such a prayer could ever undermine their God’s sovereignty. Yet how can such sovereignty allow their God to permit himself to oppose himself such that he desires the salvation of all mankind (his will of desire) – 1 Timothy 2:4, yet denies that by his will of command!
This is the serious problem of prophecy for calvinism: that to deny the biblical use of God’s foreknowledge in prophecy also denies Him that very sovereignty that calvinists so vehemently claim as the foundation of all their beliefs. In prophecy the calvinist God becomes a lying schizophrenic. This is something that clearly causes anxiety for such as Piper who then feels led to have to deny that which is so obviously true for his God: which is that all the evidence defines the calvinist God as a schizophrenic. If it is so ridiculous an accusation, then why bother going to any extent to try to logically demonstrate that it isn’t actually true? Unless, of course, that it is so obviously true that blind Freddy and his dog could see it!