All sin is bad before God, but premeditated sin is worse – Saturday, 15th Week in ordinary time – Micah 2:1-5

All sin is bad before God, but premeditated sin is worse – Saturday, 15th Week in ordinary time – Micah 2:1-5

Between the years 787 BC and 750 BC, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom have two great prophets each. In the North, Hosea and Amos prophecy to Israel with its capital in Samaria and in the South, Isaiah and Micah prophecy to Judah with its capital in Jerusalem.

Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. His name is an abbreviated form of the name Mikayahu which means, “Who is like the Lord?” The book’s superscription (1:1) places his prophetic activity during the reigns of three kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. It identifies him as a resident of Moresheth. This village in the Judean foothills was about 40 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem on the border lands between Judah and the Philistines.

Unlike Isaiah, who was a native of the holy city, Micah was an outsider from the countryside. The prophet Micah was thus like the prophet Amos, a man from the country sent to the cities to bring the word of the LORD and this must have made him quite a controversial figure. He would have been unpopular with the leaders whom he condemned (3:1–4) and the wealthy whom he criticized (2:1–5). He was quick to separate himself from priests and other prophets, whom he considered to be corrupt (3:5–8).

He ministered during a time of change in the politics of Israel and Judah. Assyria was threatening the borders of Israel and Syria, so those two countries bullied Judah to make an alliance with them against Assyria. But instead, Ahaz, king of Judah, made a pact with Tiglath-Pilesar, king of Assyria (2 Kings 16). Thus, Assyria overran Israel in 722 and dragged the people into exile but left Judah untouched. Later however, Assyria nearly conquered the whole of Judah, but was miraculously thwarted by the Lord (2 Kings 19).

It was also a time of religious confusion. While Jotham was a good king, he permitted some idolatry to continue under his leadership. Yet his successor Ahaz launched a full-blown project of idolatrous worship in his effort to win the trust of the Assyrians and firm up his alliance with Tiglath-Pilesar (2 Kings 16). During this time, the northern kingdom of Israel was in a continuous pattern of idolatry.

But idolatry was not the only problem; its social evils and its lust for money had got the better of them. All sin is bad before God, but premeditated sin is worse. Micah speaks plainly to those who devise wickedness; in this case, those who oppress others through their greed and covetousness. They do this only because they are powerful (verse1). So, who are these powerful people that the scriptures are drawing attention to?

Typically, thieves practice their work at night, under the cover of darkness. In the ancient world, law courts opened for business at morning light because the rising sun demonstrated light dispelling darkness. Micah saw the corruption of Israel’s law courts and explained that they practiced their theft and evil at morning light, when the courts opened. Because they are powerful, they covet the fields and houses of others and seize them. They oppress the householder and rob them of their inheritance.
Judgment in the Old Testament is pronounced by the word “therefore”. “Therefore” also reveals the threshold of God against his patience put to the test. Just as the keepers of law devised their wicked and unjust plans (verse 1), God now devises his plans of disaster (verse3) against these unjust ‘families of evil’. In His justice, He will give to them what they gave to others.

Micah rebuked the pride among God’s people and announced that in the evil time to come; the time of judgment on God’s people, they would be brought low and will no longer walk haughtily. So heavy will be their yoke, that they would not be able to rid themselves of it, forcing them to not only bear a burden too heavy to carry but by default, forcing their heads to bow low in shame.

This came to pass when Judah was defeated by the Babylonians and were enslaved in a foreign land. The very land that they usurped illegally from the helpless were now divided by the conquering armies of both Assyria and then Babylon

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