Micah 8:7-18 - Micah's Profound Example Towards His Enemies
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. 10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.
11 A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be far extended. 12 In that day they will come to you, from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain. 13 But the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their deeds.
14 Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, who dwell alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old. 15 As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them marvelous things. 16 The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf; 17 they shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall be in fear of you. (Micah 7:8-17)
When we preached on Micah 6:8 we saw that there is a godly tension between doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. There is a tension that we all experience between seeing justice upheld and loving compassion in a world full of sin. We are often debating whether or not any particular occasion is one where justice is given out or compassion and mercy is expressed. (Example: judge giving a convicted killer a bible after judgment and the uproar that follows)
In some ways, the remainder of our text in Micah is putting this same tension before us. We will see an example of a godly man, in very difficult circumstances, respond justly, mercifully and humbly before the LORD.
Last week we pointed out a great contrast between Micah 7:1 and Micah 7:8. In Micah 7:1 the prophet Micah said, “Woe is me!”, but in Micah 7:8 he says, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy”.
Micah is in misery; his enemies rejoiced
Micah is hopeless; his enemy celebrated at his suffering.
Micah is in despair; his enemy exulted in that moment.
Micah is empty on the inside; his enemies hearts spill over with joy.
Micah weeps; the enemy chuckles and laughs.
If you have watched the news this week you would think that our culture takes the sin of “taunting” very seriously. It was in the news that a Green Bay Packer running back was fined $10,500 for taunting a Dallas Cowboys defensive player as he ran into the end zone for his third touchdown. He taunted him by waving good-bye to the player as he crossed the goal line. He rejoiced over the opponent and will pay dearly for it.
Because of this, we might conclude that we take things such as ‘taunting’ very seriously. However, there are other areas in life in which we do not display such a high view of taunting, deriding, mocking and ridiculing others. Nor are there always consequences for doing such things.
For example, on January 22nd of this year a law was passed by the New York State Assembly which legalized abortion all the way up to the point of birth. One of the things that was so shocking about that vote was the response of those who were present when it became law. When it passed they cheered and celebrated the legalization of babies being aborted right up to the moment of birth. If those babies could talk they would say, like Micah, “Rejoice not over me, Oh my enemy!”
Needless to say, there is some confusion as to the appropriateness of when and what we are celebrate in our culture. There is great confusion these days over what is right, wrong, acceptable and improper.
There are many places in scripture where we are admonished not to rejoice over the fall of our enemy. For example, consider Proverbs 24:17-18, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”
But then there are verses like Proverbs 11:10 which states, “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” In this world there is such oppression, brutality, cruelty, domination, injustice, persecution and suffering that when the wicked perish there will be shouts of great joy. When Nehemiah completed the walls which protected the city and kept the evildoers out we find these words, “And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” (Nehemiah 12:43)
There is a tension between these two things. On the one hand, we are not to rejoice and be glad when our enemy stumbles. Yet, when there is an end to the wicked there are shouts of joy from the people.
One response is acceptable to the Lord; while the other response is warned against, to be avoided and if done there will be consequences.
In our text today we will see a godly response to dealing with our enemies. Micah displays for us a love for justice, he seeks mercy and he walks humbly before the Lord.
Micah does not simply say to his enemies:
- I’m down now, but when I get up you better watch out.
- I will pay you back in full at the first opportunity that I see.
- You better watch your back!
Instead, Micah will actually rejoices in the day when God will restore Israel, extends its boundaries and saves the Gentiles. (Micah 7:11-12 – A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be extended. In that day they will come to you, from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.)
In Micah 7:7-10 we are told twice that Micah has enemies.
Who are these enemies?
We will find that Micah’s enemies were the Assyrians who gathered around the cities walls and who taunted them concerning their demise.
However, throughout most of this book, Micah’s enemies were the wicked men of Israel who sinned against the Lord. These enemies were his brothers and sisters.
But most importantly we will see that Micah’s greatest enemy was his own sin and transgression.
#1 – The Enemy is the Nation Assembled Against Israel
In our passage we see that Micah’s enemies were the Assyrians who would shout over the walls of Jerusalem saying, “Where is the LORD your God?” (v.10)
When the Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem to besiege the city we read, “Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: ‘Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surly deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’” (Isaiah 36:13-15)
Upon hearing these words Hezekiah prayed, “This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace...It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God...” (Isaiah 37:1-4)
Because of Hezekiah’s prayer of repentance the LORD struck down 185,000 (7x the population of Stevens Point).
Both Hezekiah and Micah are examples for the Remnant when they go through the coming judgment. The remnant will need to:
look and pray to the LORD
wait on the LORD
be confident in the LORD
trust that the LORD will redeem them from their enemies
humble themselves before the LORD
admit that His judgment is righteous because of their sins which have been committed against the LORD.
Look to the LORD to light their way and to deliver them into the Light.
#2 – Micah’s enemies have been those closest to him with Israel.
Consider that as we have gone through this book the ‘enemy’ is almost always in reference to the unbelieving and wicked people of Israel. Consider the following verses:
Micah 2:8 – But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive our from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.
Micah 7:6 - ...for 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.
Our tendency to become an enemy to those closest to us is seen in the fact that there are passages like Proverbs 3:29 which states, “Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells beside you”. Or consider that the law can be summed up in the words, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as you love yourself”. (Matthew 22:39)
In Nehemiah 5:1-13 we have a shocking example of how often we can sin against our brothers and sisters despite having been judged for it in the past. Nehemiah will come back to Israel after the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. While this is being done the people once again begin to sin against each other in the same way that they did in Micah’s day which brought on all of this judgment.
Moses was opposed by those closest to him – Miriam and Aaron
Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers
David’s enemy was a friend and companion in Psalm 55
Jesus was betrayed by a disciple – Judas
Jesus said in Matthew 10:36 - “A person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
#3 – Our greatest enemy is our own sin
In the text we see that another enemy Micah faced was his own sin. We see this in Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him...”. This is the greatest enemy of all.
We can free ourselves from the enemies outside the walls. We can free ourselves from those within our walls. But we are powerless to free ourselves from sin. As the apostle Paul says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
Our sin against the LORD leads to physical and spiritual death. (Ro. 6:23, Hebrews 9:27, Rev20:11-15)
Our sin leads to physical, emotional and relational breakdown. (Gal.5:19-21, James 4:1-2)
Micah knows that the justice of God demands that he be found guilty.
Micah knows that God loves mercy and responds to true repentance and brokenness of heart.
Therefore he humbles himself before the LORD.
Even in this desperate moment when Micah has fallen and his enemy were rejoicing over him he longed for the day when not only he would be saved, but all his enemies would be too. We see this in Micah 7:11-12, “A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be extended. In that day they will come to you, from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.”
Micah saw a day when Zion would expand outward filling the whole Promised Land, the Shepherd would guide his flock with authority (14), and blessings would abound even while the sinful world was made desolate because of the fruitlessness of their deeds (13).
We began this morning by talking about the tension between godly joy and worldly taunting. Let me close by giving you just a couple of examples as to when a Christian can rejoice in complete sincerity, genuineness and earnestness.
You can express the great joy in saying, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love.” You can express this with joy while at the same time you know that this kindness, forgiveness and mercy is for your enemies too.
This forgiveness is for those who hurled insults over the walls
and it is for those who hurt you while face to face with you.
Though the Apostle Paul had persecuted the people of God and tried to destroy the Church we read about the joy that his conversion brought to the church, “And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they glorified God because of me.” (Galatians 1:23-24)
We can have the greatest joy when we celebrate the salvation of
every man or woman
every Jew or Gentile
Every Barbarian or Greek
Every slave or freedman
every young person and every old person
Every rich person and poor personal
There is a part in each of us, like Jonah, who does not want to preach to Nineveh.
There is a part in us who, like Peter, has a limit as to how much we want to forgive.
Everyone in here, like Micah, has enemies within, without and among us; but will we be able to celebrate with him in Micah 7:18-20?