For an introduction to this series, click here.
Nov. 14, 2006In Chapter 3 Micah lists more of the sins of the Israelites. Once again, economic sins are prominently listed. We discussed that at length yesterday. Micah also speaks of the wicked spiritual leaders of Israel, who have turned the worship of God into a show and who prophesy for money. He makes an interesting assessment of their condition in verse 11-12:
“Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its prophets teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the LORD and say, ‘Is not God in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.’ Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.”
These wicked teachers and prophets thought that since they were the leaders of God's people, they could do no wrong. They believed in their divine right to say and do whatever they wanted. But God was not within a million miles of their sinful practices, and their sin was leading to their nation's destruction. Unfortunately this attitude is all too common in our day as well. It seems we are hardly surprised to hear a pastor or other church leader abusing their assembly in all sorts of ways, from sexual sins to theft to extreme manipulation. It's not enough to outwardly do the work of God. It's more important to do it with a heart of love for God and the church.
Chapter 4 is prophetic of the future kingdom of Israel, when "many nations shall come and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.'" (4:2) This will be a wonderful time of peace in which men shall "beat their swords into plowshares." (4:3) This is probably a reference to the millennial kingdom.
Chapter 5 tells us who will bring in that millenial kingdom:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is of old, from ancient of days. (5:2, ESV)
This is an example of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament that span thousands of years. Chapter 4 tells us about the kingdom that Christ will create in Israel. That has not yet happened. Yet when speaking about the king who will lead that kingdom, Micah jumps back (of course it was all future for Micah) to the birth of Christ.
We have spoken of this before, but this is the primary difference between the covenant and dispensational views of eschatology. Covenant theology looks at the prophecies that have obviously not been fulfilled yet and says they have been fulfilled spiritually in the church. Dispensational theology looks at those same prophecies and says they must refer to something in the future, because these promises were made to the Jews. I happen to be a dispensationalist. I believe that it is the more consistent view.