Jeremiah chapter two is a chapter where God demands that Jeremiah call His people to repentance. When we read Jeremiah 2, we see that God reminds them where they came from (v. 1-3) and where they are now (v. 5-8). Despite the fact God had blessed them, brought them into Canaan, and given them anything they wanted in this place, they still rejected God and turned from “the fountain of living waters” to a broken cistern (v. 13). These people were nothing like their forefathers had been when they first came into the land! Sadly, this happens to people too often! As a society, we digress and get worse (morally, spiritually) through the years rather than getting better. We are seeing that in this country, just as God saw it with the Jews so long ago.
Is there a cause for this? Is it possible that the sins that tripped up the nation of Israel also trip us up? When we read Jeremiah two, we see that God listed the specific problems those people had. For example, the people rejected Him because they refused to ask, “where is the Lord?” (v. 6, 8). In other words, the priests, those responsible for expounding the law to the people, were not asking whether or not God sanctioned what they were doing. Can you see a problem with how the priests were behaving?
Jeremiah 2:8 continues by noting that those who handled the law did not know God. Can we imagine such a thing happening? Those whose profession it was to handle the law of God (teachers) did not even acknowledge God! To refuse to acknowledge meant these people refused to comprehend, consider, discern, perceive, or have respect for God!
God said that “the pastors” (KJV) or “rulers” (NET) (i.e., civil authorities) transgressed against God. These were people expected to set the proper example before the people, and commanded to have God’s will read to them every day (Deut. 17:18-20). In this case, those who were the kings, princes, governors, and others did not respect the things God revealed and did not rule in a godly manner.
Finally, the prophets, the supposed mouthpieces for God, were speaking to the people through Baal! Prophesying “by Baal” means by his authority and not God’s authority. After saying something like this, is there any wonder why God would be so upset with these people?
After a casual reading of Jeremiah 2, do any of these things sound familiar to us? Friend, consider these following questions well. Are there not people who have little or no regard at all for what God says today? Are there not those whose profession is to expound the will of God, and yet they do not acknowledge Him? How about our civil leaders? Are there not civil authorities who have absolutely no regard for God? Even many laws passed today are laws that conflict with God’s laws! Finally, are there not those calling themselves preachers of God’s word who are actually speaking their opinions, the opinions of their creed book, synod, what is popular or “P.C.,” etc.?
As we see this occurring today, we must understand that we are in the same boat as the people were in Jeremiah’s day! We are doing that which does not profit. It is in vain (Ex: Matthew 15:8-9)! Let us make this chapter “personal.” What are we following? Who are we following? Are we walking after things that do not profit? The answer to this question is seen in how we treat God’s word today!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
God chose Jeremiah to be His prophet at a young age. He would go on to speak God’s word for the next forty years! When he began this work. God told Jeremiah not to use his age as an excuse for not doing the work (Jer. 1:7). God then said something that had great significance. He told Jeremiah, “whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” and “I have put my words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:7, 9). The NET Bible says it slightly different, using the words, “say whatever I tell you” and “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” In this same chapter, God would again tell Jeremiah that He was giving him the words to say when He declared, “I will utter my judgments” and “speak unto them all that I command thee” (Jer. 1:16-17). The NET renders verse 17 as, “Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say.”
In either version, the point is abundantly clear. When the prophets of God spoke, they were speaking via verbal inspiration. Some are under the impression that when God inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments, He only inspired a thought or a theme, and then the writers were to do their best in interpreting and expressing God’s teaching in their own words. A reading of Jeremiah shows us that this is not the case. Please note that God did not tell Jeremiah He would put the “thought in his head.” Instead, the “word” was going to be in His “mouth” (Jer. 1:9)! He was expected to say what God commanded (Jer. 1:17)!
This Biblical description matches the definition of “inspiration,” because in II Timothy 3:16-17, “inspiration of God” comes from the original term, “theopneustos.” This term means “divinely breathed.” Some have shortened this to “God-breathed,” which is the same idea. For God to “breathe out” His will is similar to us breathing out our wills when we speak. Yes, God actually spoke to Jeremiah and the other Biblical writers and prophets, and they, in turn, told the people what God had said (ex: Jer. 1:11-14, 2:1-2; etc.).
Jesus said something similar when He first sent the apostles on what has been called the “limited commission.” Jesus told those men not to worry about what they might say when confronted by others. He told them, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19-20). Jesus also respected the words from the Father, for He stated that while on earth, He was speaking what God wanted to be told to the world (Jn. 12:49-50). Paul declared, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Cor. 14:37).
When we read the Bible, we are not reading the words of men who had random thoughts concerning God’s teaching that needed to be interpreted and set forth to us in the best way they could. Instead, these words in the Bible are the inspired (God-breathed) words from the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21). These words were given so we might know the mind of God (I Cor. 2:9-11), believe the truth, and obey it (Heb. 5:9)! This was God’s intention when He gave Jeremiah and every other inspired person the words to speak to a lost and dying world.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
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
The book of Micah begins with the statement, “The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem” (Mic. 1:1). The phrase “the word of the Lord” is a powerful one. This statement affirms that a person is not speaking by his own authority, or merely speaking his feelings, or expressing an opinion. When someone in the Bible declares “the word of the Lord” has been given, this means he is speaking the very words of God and letting people know exactly what is on the mind of God!
Not only is this message something to which the listeners must take heed with caution, but it is also a great burden to the speaker! He had to get it right. He had to speak this word without expressing fear or favor toward any man, even if those listening didn’t like it! Since this is the case, I do not find it surprising that nine of the twelve “minor” prophets use this phrase in their writings. It is found 242 times in the Old Testament and 255 times in the entire Bible.
One “application” I see in this is that the same Author speaking the word to Micah and the other writers is the same Author who has spoken to me today through His Son (Heb. 1:2)! His word is just as powerful, just as accurate, and just as needed today as it ever was. The very words of God were spoken by Micah and 39 other Bible writers (II Pet. 1:20-21), and it behooves me to listen and obey! This inspired word (II Tim. 3:16-17) equips me for every good work, and it supplies all who will “read and heed”!
Another application is that just as it was Micah’s responsibility to speak only what God had told him, we have that same responsibility today. We have a responsibility to “preach the word” (II Tim. 4:2). We have a command to “speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). We cannot add to or take from the Word without dreadful and dire consequences (Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19). Thus, we need to simply speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. This is the way we respect “the word of the Lord.”
Take a moment to examine yourself (II Cor. 13:5). Do you respect the word of the Lord as you ought? Is this word on your lips and in your life? This is what God wants! Micah (and all other authors, prophets, teachers, etc.) were fearless in making sure “the word of the Lord” survived them and came down to us intact. What will we do with the message? I pray we do not hide it (Matt. 5:15), but instead shout this saving message from the rooftops that others might be saved from Hell (II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs