Sermon #6[i] Micah Series
Title: Judgment and Mercy
Text: Micah 2:1-13
Subject: Judgment and Mercy
My subject is Judgment and Mercy. He who is our God is “the God of judgment” (Isaiah 30:18) and God whose “mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 136:2). He is the Judge of all the earth who must do right (Genesis 18:25) and “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 1:10) by whom we are saved. He who is our God is both the Lord God Who pours out His indignation and wrath upon the ungodly (Psalm 69:24) and “the God of Peace” (Hebrews 13:20) by whom we are redeemed.
In the first chapter of his prophecy, God’s prophet Micah denounced the idolatry and sins of his people and told both Samaria and Jerusalem of the sure judgment of God that would befall them because of their idolatry and sins. In the second chapter Micah continues to expose and reprove the sins of Israel and Judah, those favored men and women who were “named the house of Jacob” (Micah 2:7).
Š God’s Covenant People!
Š Those to Whom God Gave His Law!
Š The People to Whom God sent His Prophets!
Š The People who had God’s Temple, God’s Altar, God’s Priests, and God’s Ordinances!
Š But a People who had Abandoned the Lord God and the Worship of God, and had Substituted Idolatry for the Worship of the Triune God, still calling it the Worship of Jehovah!
Let’s read Micah 2:1-13 together.
Proposition: Here Micah declares both the reason for God’s judgment against the sins of Israel and Judah and the certainty of God’s salvation for His chosen, covenant people.
(Micah 2:1-13) “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and take [them] by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. 3 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time [is] evil.”
“4 In that day shall [one] take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, [and] say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed [it] from me! turning away he hath divided our fields. 5 Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.”
“6 ¶ Prophesy ye not, [say they to them that] prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, [that] they shall not take shame.”
“7 O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? [are] these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? 8 Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. 9 The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.”
“10 Arise ye, and depart; for this is not [your] rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy [you], even with a sore destruction.”
“11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, [saying], I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.”
“12 ¶ I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of [the multitude of] men. 13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.”
Divisions: In these thirteen verses of Inspiration God the Holy Spirit shows us four things, four matters of great importance revealed in Holy Scripture that we ought to lay to heart.
1. The judgment of God is always just (vv. 1-3).
2. Faithful men and women, while bowing to the justice of God, truly lament the evil men and women bring upon themselves by sin (vv. 4-6).
3. The Lord God graciously calls sinners who deserve His wrath to Christ and to salvation in and by Him through the preaching of the Gospel (vv. 7-11).
4. The God of all grace assures us of the complete restoration and salvation of His chosen by Christ Jesus (vv. 12-13).
The first thing we learn from Micah in this chapter is the fact that the judgment of God is always just (vv. 1-3).
“1 ¶ Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and take [them] by violence; and houses, and take [them] away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. 3 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time [is] evil.” (Micah 2:1-3)
When men devise iniquity God devises judgment. When men practice evil God gives evil. When men walk in haughtiness God brings them down.
We recognize the fact that God has, from eternity ordained all things. We do not apologize for asserting what God asserts in this Book.
God is the Potter. We are the clay. He can do with us what He will; and He always does. Election, reprobation, and predestination are things plainly revealed in Holy Scripture (Jeremiah 18:1-6).
“1 ¶ The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it]. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
Yes, God is absolutely sovereign. Yet, throughout the Book of God, Divine judgment is always set before us as a matter of justice, absolute, strict, unbending justice (Jeremiah 18:7-22).
“7 [At what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy [it]; 8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9 And [at what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it]; 10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”
“11 ¶ Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. 12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart. 13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. 14 Will [a man] leave the snow of Lebanon [which cometh] from the rock of the field? [or] shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? 15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways [from] the ancient paths, to walk in paths, [in] a way not cast up; 16 To make their land desolate, [and] a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.”
“18 ¶ Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words. 19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. 20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, [and] to turn away thy wrath from them. 21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their [blood] by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and [be] widows; and let their men be put to death; [let] their young men [be] slain by the sword in battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.” (Jeremiah 18:7-22)
God’s sovereignty, God’s decrees of election and reprobation, God’s unalterable, eternal purpose do not diminish our responsibility. If you go to hell, it will be your own fault alone. — “The wages of sin is death!”
Salvation is God’s gift! Eternal life is God’s gift! Heaven is God’s gift! There are no degrees of reward in heaven because heavenly glory is the gift of God to His chosen, earned and purchased for us by the obedience and blood, by the righteousness and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. But there are degrees of punishment in hell, because eternal death in hell is something you earn by your willful rebellion against God and your willful transgressions. — Divine judgment is God’s strict retribution against sin (Proverbs 1:23-33).
“23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:23-33)
First, Divine judgment is always just. Second, Micah shows us that faithful men and women, while bowing to the justice of God, truly lament the evil men and women bring upon themselves by rebellion, unbelief, and sin (vv. 4-6). — God’s prophet calls this “a doleful lamentation,” a very painful lamentation (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1).
“4 In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields. 5 Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD. 6 ¶ Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.” (Micah 2:4-6)
Those who will not hear God’s prophets heap to themselves teachers having itching ears. Those who persecute and imprison and slaughter God’s prophets hire for themselves fake prophets and call them God’s prophets. Still, God’s prophets, like Micah, pour out their hearts in great, “doleful lamentation” for the souls of men (Micah 1:8).
“Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.” (Micah 1:8)
Read what Paul says of Israel, against whom he spoke exactly the same message as Micah had declared hundreds of years before.
(Romans 9:1-3) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”
(Romans 10:1) “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”
I sometimes I hear men preach who do not appear to have any real burden upon their hearts. Their doctrine is orthodox. They are well prepared. And they have unquestionable ability. But they do not seem to really care whether people believe or do not believe, whether their hearers are saved or damned. They just come before men and lay out the facts. The Prophet Micah was not such a man. The Apostle Paul was not such a man. Those men had a message from the heart of God, which they had experienced in their own hearts. They were men with fire in their souls. And they delivered their message to the hearts of immortal souls, as men who could not endure the thought of men and women perishing without Christ. Knowing the terror of the Lord, they persuaded sinners to flee to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
“10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)
Paul reveals his heart’s emotions in his Epistle to the Romans. — “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:1-3).
Paul the Apostle was moved to record those words by the same Spirit who moved Moses the prophet to say to the Lord, If Thou wilt not forgive their sin, “blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written” (Exodus 32:32).
Most of the commentators I have read try very hard to make passages like these say what they do not say. They cannot understand orthodox men making such statements. I am confident that Moses, Micah, and Paul meant exactly what they said! They loved the people to whom they preached. Yes, they spoke extravagantly. But love speaks extravagantly! Love does not speak in calculated terms, without feeling. Love, when it is bursting to make itself known, will often speak beyond pure rationality.
Of course, in more sober moments, no man would give up Christ for another, or exchange his own soul’s salvation for another’s. And every believer knows that such a ransom could never be accepted by God. But a genuine love for the souls of men and an earnest desire for their salvation, for the glory of Christ, compelled these men of God to speak beyond mere rationality. They spoke as dying men to dying men! —— God make me such a preacher! Men with aching hearts are likely to hear men whose hearts ache for them.
Third, God the Holy Spirit shows us by His prophet Micah that the Lord God graciously calls sinners who deserve His wrath to Christ and to salvation in and by Him through the preaching of the Gospel (vv. 7-11).
“7 O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? 8 Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. 9 The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever. 10 Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. 11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” (Micah 2:7-11)
These people, “named the house of Jacob,” called God’s chosen, covenant people, were weary of God’s true prophets, and would not hear them (2:6); but they loved religion and fondly embraced their false prophets. Those false prophets promised them peace and happiness, prosperity and security.
Those prophets “walking in the spirit and falsehood,” pretend to walk in the Spirit and boldly promise pleasing things in God’s name. But they “do lie.” They lie, against God and lie to their hearers. —— Go to a funeral sometime and listen to one of them!
Such false prophets are both the choice of men and the just and dreadful judgment from God upon men (1 Kings 22:6,10-12, with 1 Kings 22:34; Ezekiel 13:3,10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
Such sinners, doomed to unparalleled misery by God for their sins, and pulling it upon themselves by their obstinate impenitence and willful blindness, the Lord God calls to Christ and salvation in Him by His rich, free grace. Though unworthy, degenerate, and fallen, still Jacob is reminded of his name, and called to repentance Look at verse 10.
“Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.” (Micah 2:10)
There was no rest for Israel and Judah in the Land of Canaan; and there is no rest for our souls in this world.
Our Rest is in Christ and in His everlasting salvation in the glory of the world to come (Psalm 116:7; Isaiah 28:12; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:3-9).
(Psalms 116:7) “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”
(Isaiah 28:12) “This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”
(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Hebrews 4:3-9) “For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
Up to verse 7 everything in Micah’s prophecy has been judgment, justice, fury, and wrath. Now Micah begins to lift up mercy’s Banner. Mercy’s Banner is Christ Jesus the Lord. —— “To Him shall the gathering of the people be!”
(Isaiah 11:10-12) “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
First, Micah tells us that God’s judgment is just (vv. 1-3). — Second, faithful men lament the evil that men bring upon themselves by sin (vv. 4-6). — Third, God calls sinners to Christ and His salvation by the Gospel (vv. 7-11). — And, fourth, in verses 12-13, the God of all grace assures us of the complete restoration and salvation of His chosen by Christ Jesus.
“12 ¶ I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. 13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.” (Micah 2:12-13)
How rich is the grace of our God! How abundant! How free! Here Lord God sweetly promises Christ and His salvation to His people. The gathering of the people to Christ by God is here assured. Mark the words He uses. He says, “all of thee,” — “all of Jacob!” As Moses said to Pharaoh (Exodus 10:26), “Not an hoof shall be left behind!”
Bozrah was a place well known for its cattle. It is used here to symbolize what a great multitude the remnant of Israel is, what a great multitude God’s elect is! Christ’s fold is a fold of many sheep, a great multitude which no man can number (Revelation 7:9).
(Micah 2:13) “The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.”
When prophesying of His coming, Micah, writing by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, called the Lord Jesus Christ “The Breaker.” Has He broken you? You will never know Him as your Savior until you know Him as the Breaker.
The almighty Breaker of men is God our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came up as the Breaker from everlasting. In the council of peace, the divine decree was broken open and the Son of God stood forth as the Surety of God’s elect. He it was who alone was found worthy to take the book of God’s eternal purpose out of the hand of Him that sat upon the throne. Christ alone, as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, is worthy and able to loose the seals of the book, break it open, and fulfill its decrees.
It was this same Holy One, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when He found it written of Him in the volume of His Father’s book (The Book of His Decrees and The Book of Inspiration) that He should fulfill the law of the Lord for chosen sinners, cried out, — “Lo, I come. I delight to do thy will, O God.”
In the fulness of time our all-glorious Christ came up as a Breaker in this world to break down the wall of separation between God and His chosen people, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and to open, by His precious shed blood, a new and living way, by which sinners might draw near to God with full assurance of acceptance, upon the basis of pardoned sin. Our Lord Jesus, by His one great sacrifice, forever put away all the sins of His people, forever silenced the accusations of Satan, forever freed us from the curse and penalty of God’s holy law, and forever justified and sanctified every sinner for whom He bled and died upon the cursed tree. This great work He did by Himself alone, when He who knew no sin was made sin for us!
After He lay in the grave for three days, the almighty Breaker came forth from the dead, bursting asunder the bars of death. Triumphant over death, hell, and the grave, He proved Himself to be the Breaker spoken of by the prophet Micah, passing through the gate before us as our great Head, Representative, Lord, and King. It was not possible that death could hold Him. His holy soul must not and could not see corruption. Therefore the almighty Breaker broke through all the obstacles before Him as our Representative, ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and entered into heaven having obtained eternal redemption for us! There He sat down upon His throne, took possession of heaven as our Forerunner, and ever lives to make intercession for us according to the will of God.
At the appointed time, in “the time of love” appointed by God the Father for the regeneration, effectual calling, and conversion of our souls, the Lord Jesus, by His sovereign Holy Spirit, came as the almighty Breaker in all the glorious force and power of His irresistible grace into our hearts. He did not stand outside our hearts’ doors and meekly knock, hoping and pleading that we might, by the mere exercise of our wills, let Him in. Had He done so, we would yet be without life before God. This almighty, saving, gracious, effectual Breaker broke into our hearts and took possession of our souls. When He came in, He brought His welcome with Him, causing us to cry, “Come in! Come in Lord Jesus! Come, reign in me forever.” Oh, may this great, saving Breaker break into your soul this very hour by His all-saving power and grace!
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[i] Danville — Tuesday Evening—September 27, 2011
Grace Baptist Church, Taylor, AR — (FRI 09/07/11)
Tape: Micah #6
Readings: Bob Duff and Larry Brown