76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 36 - Micah and Jerusalem’s aristocrats.
August 24th, 1960
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
Along with the first Isaiah and contemporary with him is another prophet, Micah, who was born in the small town of Moreshah, situated in the southwest corner of Palestine near Gath. This name, let us remember, is connected with Goliath of Gath, in the days of King David, and shows that the Philistines had been active there, for they had lived in the coastal lowlands, while the Jews had maintained themselves in the foothills somewhat as pioneers or border settlers. It was also near the Egyptian frontier, which extended like an outstretched wing from Sinai into the land of Israel. It was a land that had known war, invasion and disaster.
Micah came of a family of farmers, sturdy and patriotic, ready to defend their rural homeland at any sign of trouble with the Philistines. Micah turned to the town and became interested in farm implements. His religious fervor became aroused at contact with the impure and idolatrous practices which he saw in evidence there. His knowledge of the sermons of Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, the great prophet, who was active in Jerusalem, aroused in him a desire to emulate them, and bring to the attention of his neighbors the terrible consequences which they were building up for themselves with their unholy and pagan practices.
Micah began to prophecy about 722 B.C., or shortly before the destruction of Israel and the exile of the Ten Tribes. And with this in mind, he turned to Samaria as the place of idol worship which was in line for punishment from God through the Assyrian scourge. Being a man of the farm, he thought that it was the large cities that were corrupting the pure country folk:
“What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?”
(Micah 1: 5)
Therefore, he thought that both of those cities would be taken by the Assyrians because of the sins found therein. Micah had never had an inkling of these evils. He had believed, as I have quoted, that evil came from Jerusalem, but at last he saw what Isaiah had seen and cried out against - that the evil from the city came from the pressure of the aristocracy against the poor, and he understood for the first time the meaning of class or social struggle. Now Micah, being a provincial at heart, spoke in a blunt, perhaps I might say, inelegant manner, because the truth is that he lacked the delicacy of the urban prophet, and his descriptions are vivid and forceful, all the more since, because he was a country man, the city aristocrats and wealthy refused to listen to him, and heckled him whenever they could, and Micah’s eloquence became all the more uncouth and belligerent as he spoke:
“Hear now, you heads of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice, you who hate the good and love the evil? You, who eat the flesh of my people, and who strip the skin from the bodies, You, who lay bare their bones, and devour the flesh of my people? You break their bones in pieces, and chop them up for the soup pot. Even as meat in the pot and flesh for the cauldron. Then you cry out to the Lord for protection; But He will not answer you, He will hide His face from you, For you have debased your deeds with evil.”
(Micah 3: 1 - 4)
Having lashed out at the evil rulers of the people, Micah then turned to the false prophets, who told the aristocrats what they wanted to hear:
“Thus says Yahweh about the people who lead astray my people, who when they bite with their teeth, they call out, ‘Peace,’ But him who puts not food in their mouth; against him they declare, ‘War.’”
(Micah 3: 5)
And shortly thereafter he testifies against the priests as well:
“Her head men render judgment for bribes, Her priests give instruction for gain And her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean upon the Lord, saying “Is not the Lord in the midst of us? Misfortune shall not come upon us.”
(Micah 3: 11)
He therefore prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, for he felt that continued sin could only lead to death, and that God could not help unless righteous conditions enabled His ministers to make contact with the people:
“Therefore, on account of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become as a heap of ruins, and the temple mount, but a bare hill in a forest.”
(Micah 3: 12)
Later, both Jeremiah and I, as well as Urijah, prophesied the Temple’s fall, and in each case we were brought to trial - Jeremiah escaping without punishment because nothing had happened to Micah. Now, when Micah prophesied ruin to the Temple of Jerusalem, this sanctuary had not become the holy precinct it became in after years. In Micah’s day other shrines such as Beth-el and Dan had been used and considered by the Israelites with great veneration, regardless of their debased form of ritual, so that the Jerusalem Temple at Mt. Zion had not attained that sacredness that characterized it a century or so later, when Jeremiah spoke forth, and also when I came to remind Judeans that their material Temple could be easily destroyed - a fact that infuriated them all the more since their first Temple, built by Solomon, had been destroyed by the Babylonians as informed by Jeremiah.
I felt the same way as Micah did when I preached in Palestine. My message, in addition to the glad tidings of the Father’s Love, which I preached constantly, was social and political. By that I meant that people, by accepting the New Birth, could thereby eliminate sin from their hearts and bring about a new era of the brotherhood of man, where all the people would be equal before the law and justice and righteousness would prevail in the land. And I also meant that the Divine Love would give the people an insight into the transitory nature of the Roman overlordship, and with this Love in their hearts, enable them to overcome the Roman yoke and remain secure in their faith in God and be peaceful. Thus the fire of the Zealots would have to be transformed into a warm glow of understanding, and the rebellions leading to the Temple’s destruction and Bar Kochba’s futile insurrection avoided.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens