Who is like Yahweh? (2)

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Good morning. It is good to be with you today. If you are just joining us online, let me welcome you. My name is Cal and I am the pastor here at Hope. Thank you for joining us today. If we can serve you, please do contact us and let us know.
Today we are launching into a new series through the Old Testament book of Micah. This is only the second of the minor prophets that I have preached through so I'm excited to dig in and see what God has for us.
I don't know exactly why God wanted me to preach through Micah this fall. But as I began to prepare and study the book and the context into which it was written, I started to maybe understand why I need to hear this book preached right now. Let's pray and ask God to help us as we dive into some introduction to Micah.
What I want us to really seek to do in this series is see what God has said and look for ways that it points us toward Jesus. The entirety of the scriptures are about Jesus. He tells some followers this on the way to Emmaus after his resurrection.
Micah ministered during an extremely volatile and insecure political time in the history of the Ancient Near East.
Explain the division of the two kingdoms.
The book of Micah takes place during the reigns of the Judean Kings, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.
Micah warns of military defeat. The 800 pound gorilla in the room at the time was the nation of Assyria. They had large armies led by powerful military kings. They used these large armies to control the Ancient Near East.
There was a ton of idolatry going on. There was danger of trusting in their own army or military alliances to save them rather than the Lord God.
There were difficult social and economic conditions.
- War torn
- When the northern kingdom, the nation of Israel was defeated there would have been a large increase in poor immigrants into Judah. Sennacherib had attacked but not conquered Judah but his troops would have pillaged the country as they passed through. After each war, many families would have had to start all over from scratch.
Micah has often been referred to as Miniature Isaiah. They spoke to the same audience from the same city. The two books share some similarities. These two men were prophesying during overlapping times in 8th Century B.C. Isaiah directed his messages primarily to the monarchy whereas Micah spoke more to commoners. During the ministry of Micah the northern kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Assyrian Empire. The southern kingdom of Judah came close to the same fate. Micah prophesied to both kingdoms and delivered the message that these attacks were because God's people had been abusing prosperity. Assyria put the city of Jerusalem under siege and God killed 185,000 of their troops as they slept outside the city. Due to this, Sennacherib, their ruler was forced to retreat.
By the end of the reign of Hezekiah there was a new threat. Babylon was gaining power. Micah viewed Assyria and Babylon as instruments of divine judgement for the unfaithfulness of God's people.
At the beginning of the book, Micah predicts the fall. of Samara, the capital of Israel. Then towards the end of the book, he predicts the Babylonian captivity. However, most of the material in Micah is not arranged chronologically. There are three major movements or prophetic oracles. Each of these opens with a call to listen to or hear the Word of Yahweh. So to begin these movements Micah says to listen to the Word of God. We should listen as well.
1st oracle - announces Yahweh's judgment on Israel and Judah, particularly on their selfish leaders.
2nd oracle - contrasts the ungodly leaders in Jerusalem with the future Messiah. Micah 4 and 5 offers hope that God will bring about a time of peace and prosperity.
3rd oracle - Begins with an accusation and a lament. Judah is accused of acting in an ungodly way, like Israel, the northern kingdom.
Micah concludes this book with a promise of forgiveness and future restoration coming.
There are two main themes running through these words.
1. God's judgement against idolatry and injustice.
- Warns Judah that if they act like Israel they will experience the same kind of judgment from God.
2. A hope that God's people will return to Him and be restored.
- Proclaims that salvation will rise through a ruler from the town of Bethlehem.
The book of Micah is a call to repent and authentically worship God. You can't live a life of complete and total self-absorption and then sort of tack worship onto it. Worship is a total reorienting of your whole life around God. Micah calls the people to model what God desires in His worshippers.
Ultimately, both Israel and Judah were rejecting the Lord's covenant. They did this by embracing idols and placing their faith in pagan nations.
Now that we have a picture of what we are looking at, let's begin by reading the first chapter of Micah. We'll be in Micah chapter 1, verses 1-16.
Micah 1:1–16 ESV
1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. 2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. 3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. 5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? 6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. 7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return. 8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. 9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem. 10 Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all; in Beth-le-aphrah roll yourselves in the dust. 11 Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame; the inhabitants of Zaanan do not come out; the lamentation of Beth-ezel shall take away from you its standing place. 12 For the inhabitants of Maroth wait anxiously for good, because disaster has come down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem. 13 Harness the steeds to the chariots, inhabitants of Lachish; it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, for in you were found the transgressions of Israel. 14 Therefore you shall give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath; the houses of Achzib shall be a deceitful thing to the kings of Israel. 15 I will again bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam. 16 Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.

Judgement is coming.

The people were in rebellion against God. As Micah opens his book, he doesn’t beat around the bush or have a bunch of small talk. He gives a short introduction and then brings some shocking language to his readers. If you look at verses 1-4, Micah’s meaning is pretty clear. God stood as a witness against the people and their sin. He’s coming and bringing judgment and it’s going to be rough.

1. v. 5 - as a result of the sins of Jacob

First Kings 11 - King Solomon turned away from God to worship idols. God spared Solomon because of his father, David but Solomon’s offspring didn’t benefit in that way. Solomon’s son Rehoboam was a wicked dude. He actually was responsible for Solomon’s kingdom getting divided into Judah and Israel.

2. v. 5 - as a result of the sins of Israel

Jeroboam even created a couterfeit system of worship that had to do with the worship of a couple of golden calves.
Now pay attention here: He claimed to worship Yahweh. Even so, his practices abandoned true covenant worship. And this filtered down over the years.
Micah 1:6–7
Micah 1:6–7 ESV
6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. 7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return.
Judah and Israel had become spiritual prostitutes to foreign gods. They were directly disobeying God’s law.

The people had rejected God as King by rejecting His covenant.

God had initiated the covenant with His people.
The people repeatedly broke the covenant in two ways.
Looked to pagan nations for their protection and provision instead of to God.
A covenant, in its simplest terms, is a binding agreement between two groups or individuals.
Today we are more likely to use the term contract.
Illustration of a mortgage for a house.
God initiated a covenant with Israel in Sinai. Israel agreed to it. They entered into this covenant with God on God's terms. In this covenant, God and Israel had specific obligations. God promised Israel that He would provide for their physical and spiritual needs and would protect them from the enemies around them. He took responsibility for His people's well being on every level. His care was total.
The people promised to obey God and be loyal to Him alone. God laid out what that loyalty would look like in the Ten Commandments.
First four - deal with loyalty (dealing with God)
Final six - obedience (dealing with one another)
The people broke this in every aspect.
It's easy for us to look at the people of Judah and Israel and scoff at them. But please take a minute and consider how prone we are to the exact same things in our walk with the Lord. WE are not bound to the Old Testament covenant in the same way but God's principles are still binding on our lives.
It is helpful to take an inventory of our spiritual lives by looking at them. Are we following God with our whole hearts? Or do you make Him share time with your own personal agenda?
Do your personal relationships honor God? Do we honor God? Are you embracing truth? You'll start to see how we struggle with the same things the people in ancient Judah and Israel did.
"Prone to wander Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love."
(Come Thou Fount)
Two Key Requirements for Honoring the Covenant
Matthew 22:34–40 ESV
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
1. Love God
2. Love One's Neighbor
These were the two areas they ultimately were failing in. It's how they failed to keep the covenant.

- They embraced idolatry

- breaking the first four

- They looked to the pagan nations for provision and protection.

They traded love for God for love of idols, gave their loyalty to the idols, and wound up in bondage to the very things they were trying to worship. Bondage is always the result of sinful life choices.
They replaced the love for neighbor with love of self, leading to self preservation and then to self service.
Micah was sad about this coming judgement as the consequences of the sin of the people and we see in verses 8 and 9 that Micah could simply weep at this.
Disaster was coming even though the leaders and people and priests were waiting for something good. v. 12
Eventually the people would be taken into exile. v. 16

The Tone of the Prophet

If you have read any of the prophets, you have probably noticed their extreme tone. They seem harsh and abrupt much of the time. It's because they are trying to get the attention of a very distracted people. The prophets had spoke for years givng them the truth of the Word of God. They said judgment was coming. Yet the people looked around and they were still there and living life. They believed they were not in danger because they were God's people and were in covenant with Him so nothing bad would happen to them.
As one author puts it, "Despite the fact that they had totally abandoned their role of loyalty
and obedience to the covenant, they had absolute confidence that
God would never break His promise to protect and provide for them,
regardless of how they lived.
Over time they began to trust more in their national identity than
in God. They believed God would provide for them and protect them
because they were children of Abraham, not because they were obedient
and loyal to the covenant. They believed that they could live any way they
wanted, even as idolaters, and God would bless them. We should not be
surprised that Israel and Judah drifted into this mentality. This is the
bondage that came to them through idolatry: Once we place our hope
in someone or something besides God, we make ourselves vulnerable to
falsehood. Ultimately, the people believed the lie that their nationality
was enough."
We do the same thing. We are prone to set up idols and put our trust in them. We give them our time, our loyalty, our money, and even the time when we should be worshiping God.
Bill Curtis writes, "We worship God
on Sunday, and then we quickly retreat to the temples of our "other"
gods. Soon we become more loyal to them than to God Himself, and
before long our idols have trapped us in bondage. All the while we
convince ourselves that God is okay with the existence of these idols
in our lives, and that He will continue to bless us regardless. After all,
isn't He a God of love and grace? Hasn't He promised to bless us?"
We find that we are hoping in the wrong thing.
Repent of idolatry. Repent of divided loyalty. Believe the good news!
There is one Person who truly offers hope to the world. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the Savior of the church. Only He provides the hope of salvation, freedom from our bondage to sin, and a life of purpose brining Him glory. He did this by giving His life on the cross. He died in the place of sinners, which we all are. He rose from the grave three days after He had taken our sin up on Himself and exchanged it for His righteousness imputed to us. He is so good. He is Lord. He is King. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of our obedience. In fact, the only appropriate response to His sacrifice on our behalf is obedience and unswerving loyalty.
But just like Israel and Judah, we are prone to wander. And still God promises rescue in the form of Jesus. Trust and obey. Run to Jesus as you are and experience Him releasing you from your bondage.
Let's pray.
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