Micah 1. Attention Earth!
Key Notes: Attention, world. The problem of high places in Israel's religious life. Earlier judgment days. Warning to ten towns.
1:2–4 "Hear you peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that is in it. ...the Lord is coming forth out of his place... and will tread upon the high places of the earth."
Micah introduces his writings with a call to everyone on earth to listen to his message. God does not limit his attention to one kingdom.
1:4 "What are the high places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?"
The high places were a recurring spiritual and geographic problem of OT life.
"Do not offer burnt offerings at every place you see, but at the place which the Lord your God will chose." (Deut.12:10–14). That place was Jerusalem. This rule explains the tension regarding "high places."
For a while the people sacrificed at the tabernacle at Shiloh.(ISam.1:3). Then the ark was captured by the Philistines and later returned to Kirjath-jearim. (ISam.7:2.) After this, it appears that the Ark of the Covenant was in one place, and the rest of the tabernacle furniture in another. This encouraged people to make their own places of sacrifice--on the tops of hills where there were trees. Later David brought the Ark to a tent in Jerusalem. (IIChron.1:4). The rest of the tabernacle was at the high place at Gibeon until Solomon's time when the temple was built in Jerusalem and all the tabernacle components were reunited. IIChron.2:2
Samuel made sacrifice at the high place at Ramah. ISam.9:12
Even prophets were seen coming from the high place. ISam.10:5
Jeroboam made houses on the high places. IK.12:31
Various reformers attempted to get rid of the high places: Joash, IIK.12:3; Amaziah, IIK.14:4; Uzziah, IIK15:4.
Ahaz used them. IIK.16:4
Hezekiah removed them. IIK.18:4
Manasseh, his son rebuilt them.. IIK.21:3
The places were sites of nature worship, with idolatry implicated. Jeremiah said "as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah." (Jer.2:28). So it was not just Baal and Ashterte, but a host of gods and goddesses, like the Egyptians or Greeks, that gradually came into the life of Israel. The lack of a central focus in worship tempted the worshiper to go up to any lofty spot, offering incense and prayers to whatever deity he or she might be devoted to.
1:5 But it is on the basis of the sins of Samaria and Jerusalem that God calls the whole earth to attention. Why would God bring Israel's sin to the attention of the whole world?
The Lord will judge the whole earth. The Day of the Lord was first announced to Amos as judgment for Israel. Amos 5:18–20 and Joel 2:1–11 describe it in terms of the invading army of Assyria. Jeremiah (Jer.46:10) refers it to the vengeance of God upon the enemies of Israel (eg. Egypt). Isa.13:9 describes it as a day of judgment for all nations.
Prophecies of the Final Day, include "the abomination of desolation" (Dan.9:27) believed partially fulfilled by the Greeks in 168BC, and again by the Romans in 70AD (Matt.24:15). But we know that God's judgment fell on Israel in 722BC when Samaria fell to Assyria, and 586 BC when Jerusalem fell to Babylonians. So we have multiple replicas of God's final judgment which will fall on the whole world. Peter (IIPet.3:10) uses "The Day of the Lord" for the final cataclysm consuming the earth. So when God says "Attention, Earth", we are not hearing prophetic exaggeration.
1:6–7 Samaria will be the first to go. Her idols were made from the gold collected by the temple prostitutes for their services; the gold will be recycled by the Assyrians for the same purposes.
1:8–9 Unlike some modern prophets of doom, OT prophets wept and suffered with their people. Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. Jer.4:19.
1:10 "Tell it not in Gath" is a plea that the Philistines not be allowed to gloat over Israel's troubles. It is a phrase David spoke in IISam.1:20 in his eulogy for Saul and Jonathan who died in war at the hands of the Philistines.
1:10–16 This passage is hard to understand because we do not understand Hebrew, and our translations do not do justice to it. Micah pronounces judgment on all the little towns in his neighborhood, using each town's Hebrew name to personalize its fate.
•Beth-le-aphrah ("house of dust"), roll in the dust.
•Saphir ("house of beauty"), pass on in nakedness and shame. 1:11
•Zaanan ("going forth"), do not come forth (i.e. hide).
•Beth-ezel ("house of taking away"), your wailing will take you away from your place.
•Maroth ("bitter"), waiting for good, but evil comes from the Lord. 1:12
•Lachish (sounds like "to the horses"), harness the racing horses to the chariots (1:13). You were the corrupter of Zion.
•Moresheth-gath (Moresheth="betrothed", hence dowry), is pledged to the enemy and you will be giving your parting gifts to them. 1:14
•Achzib ("deception"), is a deceitful thing to the kings of Israel. Its "houses" or "workshops" do not yield revenue for the king.
•Mareshah (sounds like "conqueror"), will have a conqueror come to her.1:15
•Adullam is the cave where David hid during his exile from Saul (ISame.22:1; IISam.23:13) and there the glory of Israel (her king) will go.
1:16 He advises his countrymen to dress in mourning for their coming exile.
Of these cities, Lachish comes into focus for us because Sennacharib carried out a major siege there. (IIK.18:14,17). Assyrian clay murals of the battle can be found on the walls of the British Museum.
In summary, God calls the attention of the whole world to the fate of Samaria and Jerusalem because their judgment is a warning of the judgment to come upon all mankind. But God also pinpoints little towns by name and paints their judgment in personal colors so that they are aware that none will escape. And these words are not said with grim satisfaction by the prophet , but with loud crying and lament. As Amos said, "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory... and are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph." Amos.6:6
How shall we respond to our society's spiritual suicide?