Rebellion: A path to ruin! – Micah 1:1-9; 2:1-4a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 16, 2013 AM
Susan was a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She started spending time with an on-the-edge group from work. Her father tried to warn her of her choices, but she refused to listen, thinking she knew what was best for her life. At a party she should never have attended, Susan made a tragic decision. A young man she wanted to impress gave her a taste of a dangerous drug known as Meth. Her immediate addiction took a devastating toll on every facet of her life. One year later the once beautiful girl was not heading up the corporate ladder but off to prison. Her teeth were rotting, her complexion was ruined, her hair was thin, and she was near starvation. She would have given anything to go back and make different decisions for her life.
Few adults like to be told what to do. Many prefer to reject authority, especially any that limits their freedom. They want to choose what to do and when they will do it. Many among us go even further. They delight in rebelling against God and His law. Each new generation must learn an important lesson the hard way: We cannot find fulfillment by rejecting God’s authority over our lives. God gives us His laws to protect and guide us. He wants us to have an abundant life filled with the joy of knowing Him and serving others. When we rebel against those laws, we suffer the consequences He wants to shield us from in our lives. When we decide to do our own thing, it is rebellion: a path to ruin! Let’s discover how rebellion is a path to ruin…
We learned that if our father asked us to do something, he expected us to respond right away. To ignore his request or to refuse was an act of disobedience. There would be consequences for doing so. The nations of Israel and Judah forgot the Lord and refused to submit to His will. They rejected His laws and pursued sinful worldly pleasures. Like many today, they thought they could rebel against the Lord without paying a price. God sent Micah to warn people that their rebellion would have inevitable consequences and to call them to repent before it was too late. We read about…
I. God’s response to rebellion! (Vv. 1:1-5)
1. The name Micah means, “Who is like Yahweh?” He was a contemporary of Isaiah and prophesied around 735-700 B.C. not much is known about this prophet’s personal life. His hometown of Moresheth-gath (1:14), was 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah’s prophecy is the word of the Lord. He was not speaking his thoughts but revealing God’s message. Samaria and Jerusalem were the respective capitals of Israel and Judah in Micah’s day. The division of territories and dual thrones occurred following the death of Solomon. Micah spoke about Israel; but like Isaiah, he primarily focused on the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Bible offers timeless messages for every generation. God is the same and sinful human beings are the same. Advancement has been made in information and technology but no improvement in basic human nature. People still reject the authority of a holy God and rebel against His will and laws. Micah painted a scene depicting the Lord God as a Judge with all the peoples of the earth as jury. The case was being made against Israel and Judah for their failure to obey the Lord. He would act as a witness against the rebellious kingdoms. The Lord declared He would leave His place (the holy of holies or heaven) and come down to trample the heights of the earth. God’s arrival would mean judgment and destruction for the disobedient. The coming of the Lord in anger warned sinners to repent. Sending Micah to warn the people of impending judgment was an act of mercy, giving sinners one more opportunity to repent before it was too late. Mountains and valleys represent the highest and lowest points on earth. Taken together they represent everything in the land. The Lord, however, can melt the mountains and split the valleys. These verbal images display the foolishness of opposing the Lord. “All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel.” It is God’s response to rebellion!
EXAMPLE: The listeners would ask, “What is Jacob’s transgression?” Micah responded, “Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem?” The high place was an elevated area where the people worshiped the Lord (2 Chronicles 33:17). In times of apostasy, however, these became sites of idolatry and the worship of false gods and goddesses (1 Kings 11:7). Jerusalem should have been a place where the Lord was worshiped, but had become another high place where idols were served. The leaders of both Samaria and Judah had set ungodly examples of idolatry and disobedience to the law. Do you think this could be true of America today? What are some of the high places our leaders have established? What do some believers worship today? We can be sure that the same God who punished sinful nations in the past will punish sinful nations in the present and future. Any nation that refuses to honor the Lord and His laws will eventually suffer the consequences just as Israel and Judah did. However, it is also true of disobedient believers as well! Those who rebel against the Lord will experience God’s discipline. It can be severe, depending on the depth of the rebellion; but it is always a redemptive act of a loving Father.
The message of Micah for Israel and Judah in the eighth century B.C. is relevant for those of us living in America in the 21st century. The Lord wants us to learn from the mistakes of the past so we will not repeat them and suffer similar consequences. Rebellion is a path to ruin for nations and individuals. Let’s see what Micah tells us about the…
II. Results of rebellion against God! (Vv. 1:6-9)
1. Micah predicted the destruction of Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Israel never had a godly king and never experienced a spiritual revival. Israel fell in 722 B.C. when Assyria invaded and left Samaria in a heap of ruins (2 Kings 17:1-5). Micah predicted, “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations.” Idolatry was the chief sin of Israel. God would cause Assyria to do what Israel should have done—smash her carved images and destroy all of her idols. The reference to prostitute has a double meaning. It probably refers to the cultic prostitutes who served at the pagan shrines. Symbolically Israel was a prostitute when its people abandoned God (their true Husband) and went after other gods. Therefore, “All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes, as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.” However, the wages of their prostitution would be used by the invading Assyrians, because the money taken by Assyria in its victory would be used to deport and enslave the Israelites! Micah’s response was to “weep and wail” and to “go about barefoot and naked.” He would “howl like a jackal and moan like an owl” in his grief! Her “wound is incurable” refers to the certain judgment of God on Israel. The sin and resulting judgment was certain because Israel would not repent. Israel’s sinful influence affected Judah as well. Judah’s idolatry would bring the nation to the brink of destruction, also by Assyria. The Assyrian armies would march to the gate of Jerusalem and only the repentance and the godly leadership of Hezekiah saved Judah from Assyria (2 Kings 18–19)! It was the result of rebellion against God!
EXAMPLE: The worship of idols in some parts of the world today includes the use of images. However, idolatry in most developed countries like ours is more subtle. We may not carve images to our gods, but whatever is supremely important to a person is an idol. My father used to warn, “Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true!” Relationships, money, fame, education, power, and pleasure continue to be wished for or worshiped by many. These things are not evil or bad in of themselves; however, Christians living in the world are sometimes influenced more by these things rather than their faith in Christ. We must realize God still disciplines His people and the discipline can be severe. We must recognize the power of bad company and maintain obedience with a proper fear or respect for the holiness of God. Otherwise, we too can face the results of our rebellion against God!
The Lord identified idolatry as the primary sin of the nation. The many idols demonstrated a rejection of God’s commandments, and He promised they would be destroyed. In Micah 1:8–2:13, the prophet took on the role of a mourner in anticipation of devastating judgment on the people of Israel and Judah. He called on the sinful inhabitants of various cities to join him in mourning for their sins. Otherwise, they would…
III. Suffer the ruin of rebellion! (Vv. 2:1-4a)
1. Have you ever suffered from another’s evil schemes or plans? Micah described people with hearts and minds focused on evil plans. These people were deliberate in their desire to do harm to others. Micah laments, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” Wow! These folks plotted evil before they slept, and then the first thing they did in the morning was carry it out! These wicked plotters used surprise to overpower their victims. Micah focused on the mind, where all sin originates. The mind conceives and gives birth to sin! James, Jesus’ brother wrote that, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death!” (James 1:14-15 NIV) Micah identified greed as the source of many sinful acts in his day. Hasn’t changed much has it? The wicked coveted the fields, houses, and inheritance of others. Some folks loaned others money and then demanded payment when they knew the borrower would have to default. The account of King Ahab lying about Naboth to steal his vineyard (1 Kings 21) is an example of how widespread these abuses became. Micah related, “Therefore, the LORD says: ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity.’” God’s judgment would be inescapable and would involve bondage. The neck was the place where yokes were placed, implying restraint. God tells Micah to prophesy that, “In that day men will ridicule you; they will taunt you with this mournful song: ‘We are utterly ruined; my people’s possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.’” Pride is the root of arrogant disregard for the rights of others and of rebellious rejection of God’s authority. Those who we once thought of as our friends will deride us in our suffering! God promised an evil time when His people would no longer walk so proudly. Perhaps, America is suffering or will suffer from believer’s being so arrogant and prideful? We can suffer from the ruin of our rebellion!
EXAMPLE: One of the worst punishments I ever received from my father was when he caught me planning to get even with my brother Ed. He told me while it was not right what Ed did, my scheming to get even was worse because I was plotting evil against my own brother. Crime is the work of professional criminals and amateurs who plot evil against innocent victims. Each day robberies, rapes, murders, and destructive acts are testimonies to the plans of the wicked. Some criminals are violent while others use technology to steal identities and defraud businesses and individuals. Terrorists motivated by hatred are constantly looking for ways to destroy their enemies. Greed continues to motivate many today. Unscrupulous schemers spread their lies hoping to deceive and cheat naïve victims. Some major corporations defraud investors with deceptive accounting. It is worse when believers plot against each other or family members steal form one another. The sins of Micah’s day continue to appeal to the covetous hearts of sinful human beings today. However, make no mistake; we will suffer from the ruin of our rebellion!
Those who fail to heed the warnings of God’s Word discover that opposing Him always leads to physical, emotional, and spiritual ruin. We can proudly oppose the Lord and be humbled or we can submit humbly to Him. We looked at God’s response to rebellion; the results of rebellion against God; and how we can suffer the ruin of rebellion.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.