Micah's Misery - Micah 7:1-7
We saw last week in Micah 6:9-16 that Micah has just been used as the instrument through which the LORD has spoken. We discussed these words, “The voice of the LORD cries to the city – and it is sound wisdom to fear your name.”
In that text last week we discovered, among other things that:
The LORD peers down into our homes and sees every detail that is there.
The LORD looks into their businesses and sees the way that the books are kept. He knows if there are false measurements being used.
The LORD sees peoples hearts, He hears the lies that are spoken and the deceit that is uttered.
Therefore, the LORD will strike His people with a grievous blow, making them desolate because of their sins. (6:13) And as a result of all of this they shall experience no fulfillment or fruitfulness even though they sow in their fields and seek to preserve what it yields.
As we come to chapter 7, one of the interesting things that we observe is that we are not immediately told of how the people respond to what the LORD has said. We are not told if they were at all moved by the words that ‘I AM’ has just spoken to them. We do not know if they expressed any fear like Micah 6:9 spoke of, “...it is sound wisdom to fear your name.”
This raises two questions.
What does it look like when we respond in wisdom to fear the LORD?
How did the people respond to the LORD spoke in Micah 6:9-16?
Question #1 - What does it look like to heed sound judgment and fear the LORD? Perhaps there is no more concise definition to this than the one that we find in Joshua 24:14-15,
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to sever the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Question #2 – How did the people in Micah’s day Respond?
Sadly, we are left with the impression that only a few would respond to what the Lord said in Micah 6:9-16.
There were far more wicked than righteous.
There were many more scoffers than there were people of faith.
I say this because this book ends with these words in Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?”
There is no God like our God!
He pardons sin and passes over transgressions.
He delights in steadfast love and does not retain His anger forever.
He has compassion upon an undeserving people.
And this compassion is seen best in the fact that He treads upon iniquities and casts our sins into the depths of the sea.
Yet, sadly only a remnant will benefit from all of this. Only a few will hear the words of the LORD and respond. Far more will love wickedness and evil deeds and therefore they will not come to the LORD.
John 3:19-20 – “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Who has your attention? The crowd of scoffers, the multitude of ungodly, the hoard of the wicked. All of these can easily capture our attention and escalate our fears.
Micah does not leave us with our attention upon these godless people. And even though Micah is an example for us to follow in this text, the prophet is pointing us to something greater than his example. He knows that the people are sinners and that he is as well. All are in need of salvation.
Micah 7:2, “The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net.”
Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him...”
Micah has now heard the word of the Lord at the end of Micah 6 and in our text today he goes out into the city to see if there is any righteous among them. After having gone out to look for some fruit among the people he uses a powerful illustration to describe what he has seen. He says that he is the poor man who has gone out to the fields to find some fruit among the crops. When he arrives at the fields he finds that the lawlessness of the people has consumed everything. He looks intently for any fruit but he finds none. He says, “...there is nothing to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.” (7:1)
[Application: Throughout your day how much of what is put before you to consume is really good for you to partake of? What percentage of conversations honor God? What portion of what you see is glorifying to the LORD? What products held out to you would be acceptable to the LORD? Micah looked around and admitted that there was nothing that was good to consume. How will this effect us if we will honestly evaluate our lives?]
I will be honest, my flesh has never truly known the desire of which Micah describes here. When I am hungry I go to the kitchen and I see lot’s of stuff; and yet, I say that I cannot find anything to eat. If I were truly hungry I would open cans, cook noodles, thaw out something and eat it. There is always plenty of things to eat in our house if I really wanted to make it.
Micah looks for any fruit of righteousness and finds none.
He checks every stalk,
he climbs every tree,
he searches among every grape bearing vine and finds nothing.
He looks upon the ground to find something of value and yet he finds no food. Driven by his desire he even kneels upon the ground and crawls among the rows of wheat but finds nothing. He crawls among the vines and it yields him nothing of value. He climbs in the fig trees but they provide him nothing. The sin of greed has consumed everything. The transgressions of this people has trampled upon any fruit that had fallen.
Micah describes the people of his day in the following ways:
“They all wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge.” (7:2b-4)
How deeply had this sin infiltrated the nation of Judah? It has poisoned everything. It has infected
every relationship. Micah says, “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in our arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” (7:5-6)
Consider the contrast of the godless, who speak outloud every evil and ask for bribes; to the righteous who cannot trust in anyone. Micah says to the faithful that they are to guard their mouths from her who lies in your arms, from their sons and daughters, and from those who live trustingly among them.
In light of this we can see why this caused Micah to say in Micah 7:1 in the ESV, “Woe is me!”
NIV translates this as, “What misery is mine!”
New Living Translation as, “How miserable am I!”
Christian Standard Bible as, “How sad for me!”
Contemporary English Version as, “I feel so empty inside!”
Good News Translation as, “It’s hopeless!”
Micah has been overwhelmed by the following:
the godly have perished,
the ungodly give free reign to do evil,
sin has compromised every relationship and they are no longer blessings to enjoy,
and now judgment is coming upon the city by a fierce enemy.
Micah has walked throughout the city and has found that Jerusalem and its people are to be likened unto what is described in Proverbs 25:28, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” This city displays no self-control; therefore, Jerusalem is a city which has been compromised and left without any walls.
Brian Hedges in his book entitled, “Watchfulness – Recovering A Lost Spiritual Discipline” says something similar pertaining to the individual when he writes, “Our external practices affect our internal lives, and vice versa. If we neglect our hearts, we will soon drift into outward sin. But if we fail to guard the gates to the heart, sin will soon creep through its corridors.”
Most individuals are blind to the sin they do and to the sin that is lurking through the corridors of their hearts. Likewise, most communities are also unaware of the sin that they perform and to the sin that is motivating their actions and their judgments.
Micah, however, sees these things and is brought to misery, sadness, distress, heartbreak, grieving, pain and hopelessness. His sorrow is akin to the hopelessness that the apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” But Paul adds these words, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
I suppose that Micah has three options.
He can look upon the wicked and godless and despair unto death.
He can try to look to himself and endure to the end through some strength of his own.
Or Micah will discover the same thing that Paul did, that he can only rely upon the LORD.
Micah chooses to do the latter. He says in Micah 7:7, “But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”
Let’s end by making some observations about Micah 7:7.
“But as for me” - The significance of the contrasting word ‘But’. Micah is contrasting those who will put their ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ in anyone other than the LORD. Multitudes of people trust in a friend, a doctor, a politician, a program, a family member, a lawyer, a preacher, a motivational speaker, a psychologist. But Micah is not like that. Micah will look to the LORD and wait for Him alone.
What relationships do you invest the most time, effort and attention too?
How do they compare with your relationship with the LORD?
Do you spend time in His Word and in prayer?
To what degree do you center your life and affections around Him?
“But as for me” - This time let’s notice that this is Micah’s personal decision. Each person has to cry out to the LORD and have a personal faith and confidence in the LORD to be saved.
A friend cannot save another friend.
A family member cannot save another family member.
“I will look” - It would be easy for me to take this verse and apply it in a complicated manner. I could easily give you many ways to look to the Lord and inadvertently burden you with a long list of things to do. But would it be right for me to do so in this context? In this context we are to look confidently and trustingly to the LORD and not to any other relationship.
Isaiah 45:22 was expounded upon when Charles Spurgeon was brought to a saving faith? It says, “Look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!”
The preacher said, “Now this is a simple text. For it says, “look”. Now looking doesn’t take a lot of work. It’s not like lifting your foot or your finger. It is just look. You don’t have to go to college to learn how to look…Many of you are looking to yourselves. There is no use to look there. You won’t find comfort in yourselves. You’ll only find darkness and despair. You need the Light. Only Jesus is that Light.”
“I will look to the LORD” - Micah did not fasten his gaze upon the people, nor did he look to himself. He looked to the LORD. To quote David, “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1) Micah looked up, away from the enemies against him, the friends beside him, and away from the sword that was in his hand.
“I will wait for the God of my salvation” - The eye of faith that can look upon the Lord will make the whole soul abound in grace. This grace produces many things: rejoicing, patience, rest, peace, and a heart that is content in waiting.
Waiting is not merely the passing of time till the answer arrives. Waiting is the evidence of God’s provision of grace, that is the initial action upon the heart of faith, that enables a person to wait upon the fulfillment of the promise given by a covenant keeping God.
“My God will hear me” -
Micah is certain that God will respond to save him despite what is about to come. He knows that his waiting will not be in vain. He can rest in the fact that God will hear his prayer and act to save.
One example of this type of faith is found in Genesis 18:33. In these verses Abraham becomes aware of the impending doom of Sodom. Abraham intercedes for the righteous in the city. Because of Abraham’s faith we read of his incredible response at the end. “And the LORD went His way, when He had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.”
Abraham did not wait to see if the Lord would show mercy to the godly.
Abraham’s faith allowed him to return home even though Lot and his family were there.
This is the same type of faith that Micah displays in our text.
When I look at Micah 7:1-7 I see a prophet who walks the streets of the city gazing upon realities that make his heart weep and his prayer to be, “Woe is me, what a misery is mine!”. What the prophet sees makes him sad, empty and hopeless.
Not all of us will be made to witness the same things. You will see some things that I will not. You will see some sins in closer proximity then I will. On the other hand, there are probably some sins I will see that you will not. Or there may be some things that I will see more closely than you. If I mention them to you, you may blow them off as unimportant. Or I may here about what you have seen and say to you that you are over-reacting.
What is my point? If we are to be like Micah it is in the fact that we look to the Lord, wait for the Lord and are confident in Him and His ability to save us. Our relationship to Him is primary. And it is because of our relationship to him that we are able to display grace to this fallen world.
For example, Micah had inside information about what is going to happen to Israel. He heard God, he saw the peoples sin and he could see the coming judgment. Yet, for all of this the prophet did not leave the people. Their woe (2:1) became his misery (7:1). Among a generation of so many self-seeking people; Micah remained among a condemned people so that they might repent and be saved.
Abraham also shows us that the most important trait of the godly in a sinful world is that they stay close, and draw close to Him, so that they and others might be saved. In Genesis 18:17, “The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?’” The Lord takes Abraham to look upon Sodom from afar.
In Genesis 18:22 we read, “So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?’”
Brothers and sisters, every day we walk through the halls of our homes, the corridors of our workplace, and the streets of this city. We see so much sin: in us and around us both close and far. What is our reaction to be? Look to the Lord, stand before the Lord, draw near to the Lord. Let this be our ambition.