Micah 7. Woe Is Me.
Key Notes: Micah's own situation. Resonating with himself, Israel, and God.
Micah’s last chapter is a summary of his prophecy, covering personal, political, and future matters. Some assume that the prophets do not speak of themselves, so personal issues are not discussed. When Micah says “woe is me”, who is “me”?
7:1 Woe is me.
Does the prophet speak of God? That was the general response. But “Woe is God “ cannot be right.
Does he speak of Israel? Most would agree.
But does he speak of himself? Most commentators do not mention the that possibility.
He goes on to say “I have become” like a used-up harvest. There is nothing that satisfies his soul.
If he is speaking of himself, and I think he is, we should find other prophets who also will say “woe is me’ and refer to themselves and their own problems.
“Woe is me for I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the king, The Lord of Hosts. Isa.6:5
“Woe is me because of my hurt. My wound is grievous.” Jer.10:19
“Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land.” Jer.15:10
It is evident that the OT prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah) speak of themselves often enough that we may learn something about what a prophet thinks. It is important to understand the prophets as people “of like passions as we are”. (James 5:17). The above chapters in Isaiah and Jeremiah will reward the student who finishes reading them--Isaiah and Jeremiah’s complaints and God’s response to them.
7:2–4 Micah describes the political situation. Godly men are gone. People work at evil with both hands. Actions of the prince and the judge are for sale. Getting near them is painful and entangling.
7:5–6 People cannot confide in anyone in their household; perhaps he cannot confide even to his spouse.
7:7–10 His spiritual situation is not good. He sits in the dark—probably in personal and spiritual gloom. He confesses his own sin. He is confident that God will intercede for him, bring him into the light. God will vindicate him and put down his enemy.
7:11–20 In the rest of the chapter he turns to the bright future for Israel, the nations, and concludes with a praise to God.
7:11–14 Walls will be built. Boundaries will be extended. People from the Middle East will come to Israel. The rest of the world will be desolate, under judgment.
God will shepherd Israel as if in a garden, in Bashan and Gilead as when Israel was in its prime.
“Here (Bashan) the primary crop is wheat, and the life is an endless cycle of plowing and sowing, threshing, winnowing and gathering into barns, for, flat, well-watered and fertile, the plateau is dotted everywhere with villages and produces harvests that are the envy of the surrounding people. In the New Testament…it was one of the great granaries of the Empire, exporting its grain across Galilee to the port of Ptolemais at Acre…. " (The Geography of the Bible. D.Baly; Harper,’57; p.250)
7:15–17. God will do miracles as He did at Exodus. Nations will come to God in abject humility, their weapons useless.
7;18–20 Who is a God like Thee? (Micah’s name is “Who is like God”.)
Iniquity will be pardoned. Steadfast love will be exhibited. He will have compassion on Israel. Sins will be blotted out. The covenant with Abraham and Jacob will be fulfilled.
How can God forgive later, when He cannot forgive Israel now? God forgives when people are ready for forgiveness. Israel must go into exile, through a purging, destroying the rebellious, reducing the population to the Remnant. The Remnant will eventually birth the Messiah. Even then, only a Remnant of that will be spared. This small, believing group will form the new Church. Over and over the people repeat the cycle of prosperity, decadence, judgment and restoration. With each restoration, another group becomes eligible for God’s forgiveness. Some periods of forgiveness can be quite massive, as in China today.
Why would the prophet cry “woe is me”? He is God’s servant, doing God’s will.
When the prophet says Woe is Me, he is expressing God’s anger and sorrow over sin—pathos.
“How can I give you up, O Ephraim…My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim…” (Hos.11:8–9). That is pathos, God’s pathos.
"The unique feature of religious sympathy is not self-conquest, but self-dedication; not the suppression of emotion, but its redirection; not silent subordination, but active cooperation with God; not love which aspires to the Being of God Himself, but harmony of the soul with the concerns of God. To be a prophet means to identify one’s concern with the concern of God. “
(The Prophets. VoI. II. A. Heschel; Harper’62; p. 89)
A tuning fork makes a very soft sound and to hear it, we hold it close to the ear. If it is near a string tuned to the same note, that string will vibrate without being touched—a sympathetic vibration. The tuning fork needs to touch a musical instrument, or even a table in order to amplify the sound. The prophet acts as God’s amplifier. He takes the pure tone God sends and makes it loud. Some people will rejoice in the sound and sing to it. Others clutch their ears and run.
The prophet is in the middle of the turmoil. He resonates on three different wave-lengths. He speaks for himself, for God and for the nation. He feels empty, unsatisfied. He has his own sin to deal with. He resonates with himself. He has a sorry message that nobody wants to hear. He endures isolation and rejection but he also resonates with Israel. And he knows there is a great future ahead. He resonates with God. It is a very difficult role, but it is God’s wavelength that makes him a prophet.
The note of pathos from the prophet or from the New Testament is not one that people want to hear. They hear “If you follow Jesus your life will overflow with happiness and joy. Your family will prosper. You will be cured and healthy again.” They do not realize that if their hearts are “broken with the things that break the heart of God” great good will come forth. [Witness World Vision.] They cannot imagine the joy (not happiness) that comes from being in deep fellowship with God. They do not hear Paul say:
“For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having righteousness of my own, based on Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith, that I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable to His death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”(Phil.3:8–10)
But suffering as a Christian is really not optional.
“…it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Rom.8:17
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. IPet.2:21
After church a man said: “The choir was not smiling. Can’t you get them to smile?”
Choir leader.” No. They were singing. You can’t sing and smile.”
If you sing God’s song, you may not smile, but the sound will be beautiful. And often in a minor key.