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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a mourning like the ostriches, for her wounds are incurable. For it has come to Judah; it has come to the gate of My people—to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all; in Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust. Pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir; the inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out. Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you. For the inhabitant of Maroth pined for good, but disaster came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem. O inhabitant of Lachish, harness the chariot to the swift steeds (she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion), for the transgressions of Israel were found in you. Therefore you shall give presents to Moresheth Gath; the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. I will yet bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam.”—Micah 1:8–15 (NKJV)
The Book of Micah isn’t an “easy read.” It’s vitally important, but it isn’t easy for a couple of reasons. From a practical standpoint, it’s challenging because it frequently references places and people that most of us in the twenty-first century are unfamiliar with (hopefully that changes after reading these devotionals).
But what makes this book much more challenging is the fact that it’s a painful pronouncement of punishment to a rebellions people: the children of Israel. God had been patient, but as their sins of oppression and exploitation swelled and swelled, the floodgates of justice were on the brink of bursting. We see this as Micah, inspired by God’s Spirit, begins to describe all of the disasters that was about to befall God’s people. How severe would this sentence be? In today’s Scripture above, the prophet paints the painful picture.
Now, after reading those verses, you may have thought to yourself, What’s with all these places? And even though you probably aren’t familiar with these places, the effect this had on you was the same effect this would have had on those who first heard this prophecy about 2,700 years ago! Micah’s audience would have also been struck by the quick succession of places listed here. But for them, these places were actual places they were personally familiar with!
Why did God express His coming judgment this way? For the purpose of emphasizing that this was real! His punishment wasn’t going to be hypothetical or theoretical. It was going to spill over and into the real world around them. In other words, we might say that God’s reaction to their sin was grounded in reality!
This is something we all need to recognize, as well. It’s easy to think of our sins the same way those in Micah’s time did. To trivialize them and assume their consequences were somehow going to be passed along to someone else in the far distant future. That God wouldn’t really deal with it in a tangible way. That’s one of sin’s strengths, it has the capacity to blind us to where its leading us. But wise is the one who stops and says, “Wait, this is only going to result in something way worse than any upside it can ever give to me. Let me admit that what I’m doing is wrong, apologize to God for sinning against Him, and ask for the forgiveness that He freely gives.” Nobody has ever regretted doing that!
Sin always takes more than it gives and Micah’s audience tragically learned this first hand. We; however, have the ability to pursue a different path by recognizing the reality of sin’s consequences and repenting as we rest in God’s grace to restore us.
Pause: Why isn’t the Book of Micah an “easy read”?
Practice: Consider what vital lessons can be taken away from Micah’s message.
Pray: Lord, please give me a heightened sensitivity to the consequences of sin and my need to repent of it. Help me to take the path that those in Micah’s day didn’t. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.