The Not So Shy Prophet
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
SShalom, my name is Joseph Shulam. I am the retired director and founder of Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry in Jerusalem and in other countries as well. And we are now embarking on a long trip of studying the Hebrew prophets from what is called the Tanakh in Hebrew, or the Old Testament in English.
We going to begin here with Micah the prophet.
Now Micah the prophet opens in this way, "The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah, "which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem."
So first of all, verse one dates Micah's prophecy. And if you compare Micah's opening statement to Isaiah's opening statement, you see that they prophesied more or less in the same period, overlapping. Now, it says that he's from Moresheth. Well, Moresheth is a town on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. It was a big town in those days. A big fortified Israelite town that was then conquered by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonians, and during the Hellenistic period, by the Greeks pagans.
So it's a wonderful archeological site to visit, having so many very interesting things. It was known for its rich archeological finds in modern times, but in ancient time, it was a big agricultural center because it was right at the edge of the lower hill country, the Shephelah and the coastal plain, which was very fertile and rich in archeology. So that's where Micah comes from.
As you go from Jerusalem, you reach Beth-Shemesh, another one of the ancient great cities. Then you pass Bayt Jibrin, and Shaaraim (a very important city where the battle between Goliath and the lad, David, before he was king). And then you get to Moresheth. That's where Micah comes from.
And as you see, the kings that he mentioned are mentioned, at least some of them, in Isaiah chapter one. The vision of Isaiah, in Judea and in Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Yotham, Ahaz, and Ḥizqiyah. "In the days of Jotham, Ahaz, Ḥizqiyah, Kings of Judah." So we are talking about the same period of time. And therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, there is a lot of similarities. Not in the length of Isaiah but in the material that Micah is presenting. No doubt in my opinion, that they either knew each other or that Micah knew about the prophecies of Isaiah already in his days. And we are going to see it.
Now, I want to say a few words about these classical prophets. They said some very, very harsh things. Great condemnations of their own people, of their own nation. Nothing of the enemy nations around them, but only of their own people. This is very critical.
I mean, in some places in the world, even today, if somebody got up and spoke so strongly about the government that rules their country, whether it is in the Middle East, or in the far East, or in South America, or in other Asian countries, if somebody spoke in the name of God, such strong condemnations of the sins and of the wrongdoings of their nation, politicians, or leaders, they'd end up either dead, in jail, or beaten up badly with a strong threat on them and their family.
The prophets were not shy to condemn their own nations. To call the sins that beset these people, the nation, by the kings, by the rulers, by the priests, by the prophets and the false prophets.
And Micah is one of them. Another general comment about Micah: most of Micah is in verse, in song. And when you look at the Hebrew Bible, you'll see that it's in two columns. In other words, it is parallel. The first column is parallel to the second column. The first column is interpreted by the second column and made clearer for the hearers of the prophecy. Also, like Isaiah, like Amos, and like the other prophets, like Jonah, the prophecies are not only addressed to the people of Israel, and the condemnation is not only for the people of Israel.
It is for Israel. Mainly in Micah, but also for some of our neighbors that were not any less evil than Israel was in their day. "Hear all you nations." "Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! "Let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple. "For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; "He will come down "And tread on the high places of the earth. "The mountains will melt under Him, "And the valleys will split "Like wax before the fire, "Like water poured down a steep place."
This is similar to Isaiah. We have passages that have great similarities to Isaiah the prophet. With similar readings, whether it's chapter two of Isaiah, chapter 25 of Isaiah, chapter 26 of Isaiah, all the way to chapter 64 of Isaiah; there are similarities to Micah's prophecies. Of course, the verses 3-5 are similar to Isaiah chapter 40. He's talking about some kind of earthquake. Mountains will melt, valleys will split. Isaiah 40 has similar motifs. It's important for us to see why this is important. It’s important because we see the cultural mood and language of the time.
What was the "Avatar" of the times?” I'm using this modern word. I don't even know myself what it really means, but it is the pattern of the time. And we see it here in Isaiah. We see it in Micah, and we see it in some of the other prophets from nearby seasons.
And then he moves against Samaria. Why? Because during that time, Samaria was flourishing. It was before the fall of Samaria. But he is predicting in verse six, that Samaria will become a heap of ruins in the field. A place of planting a vineyard will be uprooted from its foundations.
If some politician or famous writer or famous artist or somebody that is in the media, got up on the television and said things like that about Israel or about a certain population within Israel, like against the Orthodox or against the Arabs or against the gays, against the LGBTs, he would be blackballed. He will be shut down, at least, if not worse than that.
No government, no king, no prime minister likes for some religious leader or some leader or some famous person in the community, to get up and say such harsh things about the ruling party. And I'm skipping now from Micah 1:6-8 to verse 10.
"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 it takes away from you. "The inhabitants of Maroth pinned for good."
He has a long list of cities and villages in the western part of southern Shephelah and coastline of Israel; the Philistine lands. Which by that time, most of the Philistines were driven out and there were Israelites living there. And he names all these places specifically and condemns them.
But it starts with, "Tell it not in Gath." That's a quotation from 2 Samuel; David's lament over the death of Saul and Jonathan. "Tell it not in Gath "And proclaim it not in Ashkelon "Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised, the Philistines rejoice.
So what we see here is very important. For me, as a Bible student, to see that Micah knows and quotes from 2 Samuel. Why is this important? Because modern scholarship, western scholarship, thinks that everything is very late, unreliable, and untrustworthy.
That even the Torah was written very late, parts of it even the days of Josiah, King Josiah, which is after Micah: after Isaiah. But I see here so many details that witness to us that the Bible is trustworthy, that the Bible is historical, and that it reflects a reality, and not some kind of a later version of "Gone With The Wind"; or some Hollywood production.
No, we have several cases in this Bible that tell us, hint to us, bring evidence, that these people, living in the eighth century, already knew the Torah, and quoted from it.
Let’s go forward now to chapter 2:1-3. Still we're talking about poetry, song.
"Woe to those who devise inequity, and work out evil on their beds. At morning light, they practice it. Because it is the power of their hand."
In other, if they have the power to do evil, they do evil. Because this reflects a very famous European paradigm, philosophical paradigm, that might makes right. If you have a power to do something, even evil, and you do it, you could be very well considered a hero in a corrupt society, in a corrupt government. "Therefore," verse three, "thus says the Lord: "Behold, against this family, I am devising this disaster "From which you cannot remove your necks "Nor shall you walk haughtily, "For this is an evil time."
When I read this, I think of today. Today in the world, today in the land of Israel, this is an evil time. Where right is considered wrong and wrong is considered right on so many levels. Especially in our relationship with our neighbors. In their side and in our side, we share the same bad blood, bad relationship, and there is no solution in sight. And that's the situation that Micah from Moresheth is sharing with us. I'm reading verse five: "Therefore, you will have no one "to determine boundaries by lot "In the assembly of the Lord." There's no borders. If you have the power, you can do it and get by with it. And the leadership, the priests and the prophets, the pastors and the elders, the leaders of the of the community, the leaders of the house of Jacob in this case, restrict the spirit of God. In verse seven, they think that the word of God is not right. That their word is righter than the word of God. Ignore the commandments of the Lord of Yeshua in the gospel, in the churches.
Micah is not shy. As a prophet of the Lord, he speaks what the Lord gives on his heart. The women are divorced, are cast out from their houses, separated from their children. The courthouses do that; in the West, especially! I don't know about Asia, but in the West for sure. Yes, from experience, I'm telling you; in verse 11 of chapter 2, "If men should walk in a false spirit "And speak lies, saying, "'I will prophesy to you for wine and for drink,' "Even he would be prattled for this people." Yes. He would be praised by the people, the false prophet who says, if you give me wine and drink or drugs or sex, then I'll prophesy for you. It's not condemned by society.
Yes, Micah is a pretty tough prophet. It speaks about the lack of justice, the lack of care for the poor, the taking advantage of the poor. I'm reading now verse 1 of chapter 3: "Hear now, O heads of Jacob," "And you rulers of the house of Israel. "Is it not for you to know justice?" Don't you know what justice means? That's what Micah says. But I'm going to skip and go on because Micah is prophesying some very, very harsh, things. But he also has the wonderful parallel to Isaiah chapter 2, in which the Gentiles, the nations are going to come to Zion, to the mountain of the Lord's house.
In chapter four: "Now, it shall come to pass in the latter days "That the mountain of the Lord's house Shall be established to the top of the mountains, "And shall be exalted above the hills, "And the nations shall flow to it. "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. "'He will teach us His ways, "'And we shall walk in His path.' "For out of Zion the Torah shall come forth, "And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem"; almost word for word to Isaiah chapter two.
And Micah is consistent with Isaiah on the fact that the time will come when Jerusalem will become the spiritual capital of the world and the nations are going to come here to celebrate the feast of Sukkot. Zechariah 14 says it too. Ezekiel hints on it. Isaiah 66 proclaims it and also the Book of Revelation.
Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem, will be a center of the world. Micah proclaims it, and with the harshness against Israel and Samaria, there comes this great hope of what the nations are going to do for Zion and for Israel and for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and for humanity. This is true for Isaiah, it's true for Amos, it's true for Hosea, it's true for Ezekiel, it's true for Jeremiah.
Yes, dear brothers and sisters there is so much material here. I can't house it all in one session but I urge you to read it. It's not so long. It's not so hard. But you will be inspired if you read it slowly, pay attention, and pray to God that the Holy Spirit will quicken the word of Micah the prophet for your own situation, in your own country, in your own churches, in your own spiritual atmosphere.
Because whatever Micah says here is universal. Yes, he is talking about the daughter of Zion. He is talking about the women of God's people that have birth banks, not for babies in the flesh, but for a renewal, for a revival; for getting out of Babylon and returning back to Zion.
The church needs this too, to get out of Babylon; of the traditions that they've inherited from Babylon. Whether it's Rome or Constantinople, or Germany or Switzerland or Holland or Belgium. With the reformation preachers and leaders and founders, where most of them were people who hated Jews, who hated Israel, and who hated the Old Testament.
Micah is a great prophet. A small book with great prophecies, and I urge you to read it and pray for the Holy Spirit to quicken the words of Micah in your own heart, in your own lives, in Yeshua's name. I bless you all my dear brothers and sisters. Amen.