Reading the first chapter of Micah is enlightening as well as challenging. This is one of those occasions where some might become intimidated when they see some city names that are hard to pronounce. Yet, when we compare those towns to a map of Old Testament times, we find these cities scattered in the northern and southern areas. That is significant. What purpose then does it serve to read those names, and how am I helped in the 21st century when I read Micah chapter one?
Let me suggest a few applications to our reading. First, it is interesting to note that it is actually a play on words in the chapter’s context when we read those city names. For example, the city name of Gath means “Tell Town.” Therefore, to “tell it not in Gath” (Mic. 1:10) is like saying, “Don’t tell it in Tell Town!” It is a subtle thing, but one that the people would have understood. God inspires Micah to write to those in Aphrah and say they should roll themselves in the dust. This carries a deeper meaning when we learn that “Aphrah” means “house of dust”! Therefore, those who lived in the “house of dust” needed to roll themselves in the dust (an act of lament and sorrow)! As we continue reading Micah 1:10-15, we see this play on words continue with the rest of the cities.
I call this God’s “Hall of Shame” because Micah speaks to the inhabitants of those cities, as well as those in Samaria and Jerusalem (Mic. 1:5, 9), and condemns them for their sin. No inhabitant of these cities could read the first chapter of Micah and feel good about themselves or their history before God! In fact, the promise made before this was that God was coming in judgment against these people because of their sin (v. 3-9). Let this then be a reminder that God has a standard for right and wrong, and He follows it! Unfortunately, we live in a society that has removed itself from such standards, and we are suffering for it. It is past time to be reminded that there are things that are right and wrong in this world, and we need to stand for what is right! This is because we will suffer if we do the wrong things. Over a dozen cities in Judah and Israel were made to understand this, and we need to understand it as well!
Another application I make from this reading is the very pointed and powerful preaching done by Micah. In the spirit of Acts 2, when Peter condemned “all the house of Israel” for killing Jesus (Acts 2:36), so also Micah, 700 years before Christ, condemns folks for sins. I appreciate Micah because after he wrote, the people knew what they had done and why God cursed them. In my mind’s eye, I imagine the people reading Micah’s words for the first time, and when he started mentioning their hometowns, they might have smiled. Their smile didn’t last long, though! In a moment, they were made to face their sins and see themselves as God saw them! God was coming in judgment against people who had wasted their lives on vain things, on the lusts of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:15-17)!
In light of these truths, let us hear and fear! We need to listen to what God says now while we still have the opportunity to repent (II Cor. 6:2). The people in Micah’s day were told essentially to “brace themselves” because God was about to bring judgment against them (Mic. 1:3-4). In like manner, we are told that the Lord is coming “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and those who obey not the gospel” (II Thess. 1:7-9)! This is not an empty threat. God’s longsuffering grants us time to repent (Rom. 2:4), but the longsuffering will not continue indefinitely!
One final application I see is the bravery of Micah! I am impressed that when given the responsibility to bring a very unpopular message to both the northern and southern kingdoms, Micah accepted the challenge! This same bravery characterized preachers of the first century, and it needs to describe God’s people today (I Cor. 16:13-14; Prov. 28:1; I Thess. 2:2; Eph. 3:12; I Jn. 4:17)! Paul encouraged Timothy (and us by inference) to preach the word “in season and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2). This means when people like it and when they don’t like it! It means preaching the word without compromise or changing the message because of who is listening. Notice how brave Micah was in chapter one. He will have more to say later, but think about how Micah was taking his life into his hands. Yet, he would write what God wanted to be written, and he was willing to face the consequences. Are we ready to say the same (Rom. 15:4)?
What a dubious honor it was to be listed in such a place as Micah one. If we had been living in that time, what decisions might we have made after hearing this read? Would we repent? Would we get mad at Micah? Would we be angry at ourselves? God’s blessing is seen in the fact that we can change! We can repent and do things His way (Acts 2:38, 17:30). Are you willing to leave the shame of sin behind (Rom. 6:21)? Don’t get mad at the messenger for saying you are in sin (Rom. 3:23). Be thankful someone cares enough and loves you enough to tell you (Eph. 4:15). Now, let’s do something about it (Heb. 5:9; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Where did the people come from that brought God’s word in Bible days? Did they come from Jerusalem? Did they come from Samaria? How about Dan or Beersheba? In truth, they come from those places and many more. Some came from small villages on the edge of Philistia (Micah 1:1, 14)! Some came from obscure places like Tishbe (I Kings 17:1), while still others come from far-flung villages like Nazareth (Matt. 2:23)! It may surprise you where the men come from who preach the gospel of Christ today! Some come from large cities or even foreign countries, while still others were born and raised in small communities you might never see or visit in your life. A dear friend of mine told me he grew up in a town that does not exist! I have been to the area where he grew up and can attest that his words were true. The town does not exist!
Why say these things? I write as a reminder that the power of the gospel does not rest with men. It does not rest in the towns where men live, nor does it rest in the things that provide “comfort” or “familiarity” to us. Instead, the gospel has its own power. The gospel saves us (Rom. 1:16-17) and does so by its own intrinsic power. When someone is saved from his sin through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16), it is the result of that person hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:13-16; Heb. 5:9, 11:6). It is not because of the eloquence of a man’s voice (I Cor. 2:1-5), nor is it because the one teaching came from the “right area,” the “well-known” part of the world, he attended the “right college,” or was raised in the “right” family according to men’s standards.
God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29). When we read in the Bible about Morasheth, Tishbe, Dan, Gilead, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even Nazareth, let us not be distracted by those places (or even their pronunciation in some cases!). Instead, let us focus on the fact that a messenger of God came from there, and it is the message of God to which we need to give heed (Micah 1:1)! Had folks done this in Micah’s day, perhaps even more would have been saved. If people focused on the message from the Man from Nazareth instead of worrying about His pedigree (Jn. 1:46, 7:41-42; Lk. 4:22), perhaps even more could have been saved! Today it is no different. We need to listen to the message rather than focusing on the outward appearance of the messenger (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 4:2)! Is his message from God’s word (I Pet. 4:11)? Then accept and obey it, not because a certain man said it but because the message is from God! If it is not from God, reject the message and rebuke the messenger (Eph. 5:11; II Jn. 9-11)! Not because the man was from the “wrong place,” but because the message is false (II Pet. 2:1-3)!
It is fun to know people’s origins or “backstories,” isn’t it? Likewise, it is exciting to think of a person’s life in a remote or “exotic” location. However, let us not become so distracted by things like these that we do not focus on what is important. Micah the Morasthite spoke a message from the Lord, and people needed to listen (then and today, Rom. 15:4)! Likewise, Jesus of Nazareth has a message for us (Heb. 1:2), and we need to listen so that we will save ourselves and save those we teach as we strive toward Heaven (I Tim. 4:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I imagine there are few words of advice more needed today than the words of Christ in Mark 4:24. In a world that’s filled with “fake news,” it’s hard to know the truth. Pilate once asked sarcastically, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38), but I believe there are folks asking this question sincerely. Do you have an answer for them?
We’re a generation bombarded with information, yet we have so little knowledge! It’s tragic. In a sense, though, people in every generation have endured this problem. Had that not been so, Jesus wouldn’t have said what He did in Mark 4:24.
We face the problem of being bombarded with information but little knowledge because the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) roams this earth looking for victims (I Pet. 5:8). He wants us to listen to lies, idle tales, or any other thing so long as we don’t listen to the word of the Lord! He tries hard to steal the word when he can (Mk. 4:4, 15). If it takes root, though, then he tries to get us to give up as we face persecutions and hardships from those who do not wish for us to serve God (Mk. 4:5-6, 16-17). If this tactic fails, he uses the “cares of this world,” “the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” to stop our spiritual growth (Mk. 4:7, 18-19).
God’s word, the “seed” (Mk. 4:3, 14), does its best work in the “good ground” (Mk. 4:8, 20). Here in this fertile soil, the “seed” can take root, grow, and produce more fruit. How do we get to this point? We get here by taking “heed” (taking care, NAS, NET) to what we hear!
To what are you listening? What fills your ears? What fills your eyes (remember, our reading affects us, too)? Do you demand that sound words be preached and taught to you (II Tim. 4:2), or do you not care (II Tim. 4:3-4)? As you read, or as someone teaches you, are you listening carefully? Do you compare what you learn to the Scriptures (Acts 17:11)? “Take heed what ye hear” when it comes to the word of God!
Do we read God’s word through a filter? This is my way of asking do we read God’s word to prove our belief? Do we read God’s with the idea already in mind, and we simply go to God’s word to prove it? Are you upset if the preacher doesn’t say or teach something in the manner you want to hear it? Friend, “take heed what ye hear”!
Furthermore, take heed because “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4:1; II Pet. 2:1-3)! They bring “damnable heresies” and “bring upon themselves swift destruction.” This is nothing we want to fellowship (II Jn. 9-11)! Therefore, we need to “take heed.” Just because a person is nice or has a friendly face doesn’t mean that he is telling the truth when he speaks. Often, false teachers appear as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31). Thus all the more reason to “take heed” or pay attention!
Following the Lord isn’t for the lazy (II Tim. 2:15). It’s not for the unobservant person, either! Not being observant will get you in trouble. Let’s listen to the words of the Lord more, and men less! I saw a meme recently that said words to the effect that the longer we spend time in God’s word, the more we’ll see how Satan has lied to us. Amen to that! Let’s listen! Let’s take heed to the truth and see the blessings that flow from God’s throne!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the three “synoptic gospels,” we read where Jesus chose His twelve apostles. What comes to mind when we think about “apostles”? Often, we think of these men who had the ability to “heal sicknesses and cast out devils” (Mk. 3:15). Maybe we think about the men receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in Acts 2:1-5? I hope that when we think of the apostles, we think of them as teachers of the Word. This was their primary work (Mk. 3:14)!
Are you familiar with the word “apostle”? It has a simple meaning. It means “one sent” (Thayer, Vine’s). Someone sent to do a specific work is, in the strict definition, an apostle. For this reason, Jesus was called an apostle (Heb. 3:1)! This is because He was sent from Heaven to the earth with work to do (Jn. 3:16, 17:4). Of course, we know these men had a special work to do. They had been called explicitly by the Lord to take the gospel first to the Jews and later to the world (Matt. 10:6; Mk. 16:15). They also had to meet certain qualifications to be the Lord’s apostle (Acts 1:21-22).
What impresses me is the fact that these men were not what the “elite” or the “powerful” would have chosen to be apostles. Almost all of them were from Galilee, not from Jerusalem or Judea. They were from an area not known for their literacy (Acts 2:7). Four or 1/3 of the apostles were fishermen! Jesus also chose a tax collector (publican), a zealot, and others from nearby places in Galilee. These men who had not traveled much except within the borders of Israel were chosen to take the gospel to the world! Once taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they preached the gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These men who were sent by Jesus accepted the work, the hardship, the persecution, and finally, death in order to spread the gospel.
What brave souls! What true workmen! They lived through sad times, and they also saw many victories. To their number was added two more apostles, Matthias and Paul (Acts 1:26, 26:16-18). Though they came later, they still had the same mission -- to teach and preach to people and bring lost souls to Christ! This these men did until they met their deaths -- all except John died at someone else’s hands.
I know there are no living apostles today in the sense that Jesus had them (Acts 1:21-22). Yet, we still have their testimony with us in the epistles and gospel records. These men wrote the words of the New Testament. Therefore, we can take the words of the apostles of Christ to the world as we teach others and preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2). The point being that as Timothy told “others” what he had been taught, then they would tell “others,” and those “others” would tell “others,” etc., until we come to this present day! Friend, you and I are supposed to be in that “chain”! We are supposed to accept the Lord’s will, believe it (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24), obey it (Heb. 5:9; Mk. 16:16), and then teach others (Matt. 28:20) what we have done so that they can do it, too!
We are not the ones Christ chose, but we still must take up the mantle and go to others to tell them about the Lord and salvation. Are you going to do what God wants you to do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark 2:3-12 records the miracle of the lame man “borne of four” and lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. I’m very impressed with this miracle and impressed with the lesson behind it (v. 9-10). However, have you ever considered why the men lowered their friend through the roof? They had to do this because they couldn’t get their friend through the front door (v. 2, 4)! Prior to them bringing their friend to meet Jesus and be healed, Jesus had entered the house in Capernaum, and when He taught the people, they filled the house, so there was no more room in the house for anyone else (v. 1-2).
As I thought about the full house, it brought to mind two lessons:
- What Jesus brought to the people. Jesus didn’t come to Capernaum with bags of gold. He didn’t offer people freedom from enemies or some scheme for getting rich quick. He came to Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mk. 1:14). I’m impressed with the book of Mark and how it emphasizes the word of Christ. Twenty-two times in sixteen chapters, we read about Christ’s work in spreading God’s truth. Some of the words used to describe Christ’s work include: “Taught” (9x); “preached” (2x); “preach” (1x); “teach” (4x); “teaching” (2x); and “doctrine” (4x). Jesus brought the people the truth (Jn. 17:17)! He made a point of telling as many people as possible about the “gospel of the kingdom.” May we learn a lesson from Christ in this. What’s on our lips? Do we take the time to tell someone about the Lord? If not, why not? Only through Christ will any man have salvation (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)!
- What interest do we show in Christ’s teaching? I’m also impressed when I read passages like Mark 2:1-2 because I see a generation of people who took a genuine interest in the truth taught. I hear about similar responses in foreign countries like the Philippines, Colombia, China, and other places today, and for this, I am thankful. Yet, being a citizen of America, I wonder about those of us in the USA! What interest are we showing in God’s word? As Christians, is God’s word still our “first love”? Are we hungering and thirsting for the truth (Matt. 5:6)? If not, why not? Only the doctrine of Christ will bring salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:15)! Only the doctrine of Christ tells us from whence we’ve come, why we’re here, and where we’re going when this life is over! There’s no other sustenance for the soul (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14). Is there any wonder folks in the first century flooded the house where Jesus was? They wanted nourishment! Do we appreciate God’s spiritual nourishment?
Having considered the above carefully, there is only one thing left to do: apply what we have learned! You see, these two elements go together like a hand in a glove. First, what are we teaching people? Do we know God’s word well enough to tell it to others? It’s high time we woke from our sleep and got busy learning the word so we can tell the truth to others (Heb. 5:12-14)! I am convinced there are people in the good ol’ “U.S. of A.” that want to hear the truth. Their problem is that they don’t know where to look! Too many groups calling themselves “churches” and claiming to love the Lord and His word talk about everything else but what is most important! Unfortunately, even some of my brethren are more concerned about social events, or whether or not the community thinks well of them, rather than focusing on the one thing that will save!
Have we ever thought about the fact that if we got focused again on the most important thing - the truth - we would attract people now as Christ did then! The gospel has the same power it has always had. Could it be, though, that we have lost faith in it?
Let’s remember what Christ brought the people and the people’s interest. These things are inseparable! Paul encouraged the same thing when he taught Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim 4:2)! Are we willing to follow in the Lord’s footsteps? I’m convinced we haven’t worn out the Lord’s way yet! Let’s go back to that and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs