I love the Bible! It’s so real. Skeptics love to say it’s just a bunch of made up myths and fairy stories, but it reads like neither. Take the first four words of this chapter:
What misery is mine!
He looks out over that land of Israel and sees utter Godlessness everywhere. It’s gotten so bad that people can’t even trust their own families:
6 For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
It must have been very lonely to be Yahweh’s true prophet in ancient Israel. Talk about going against the grain. Not only would they have lived very different lives than their neighbors, they were commanded by God himself to condemn them! To be the constant bearers of bad news! News that nobody wants to hear, ever. What is Micah’s response to all he sees:
7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
He puts all his hope in the character and power of God. It doesn’t matter what’s happening. It doesn’t matter what things look like. God will be vindicated, as will his people. The temptation is ever present for us to judge God by circumstances and not by his promises, and it has always been so. When I talk about the Bible being real, that’s definitely part of it. God is constantly putting his servants in a position where they have to make that choice, and he doesn’t make it easy. If humans made it up, it would be so much easier.
The chapter continues with Micah declaring that Israel will eventually triumph over her enemies. He speaks as if he is Israel, and we see what “God my Savior” points forward to:
9 Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the Lord’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.
Israel has sinned, and will bear the Lord’s wrath, but how can he plead Israel’s case and cause when he must judge and punish her sin? Again, since the Old Testament is all about Christ, we know “the light” refers to Christ, as John tells us in the beginning of his gospel:
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
And the righteousness that will vindicate his people will not come from them, but will be an alien righteousness, God’s very own righteousness in Christ. Although Micah or his readers could never have guessed what this means, it was the only solution to the problem of sinful human beings and a holy God. We could never have that relationship based on the law because we could never be perfect, and that from conception! The chapter ends with another declaration of the primary issue of human existence, our sin:
18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.
Our hope always and only comes down to God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises to his people. Micah and his readers/hearers couldn’t know what this means, but some how, some way, he will deal with humanity’s sin problem. Life, and we all know it regardless of what we believe, is fundamentally moral, and something must be done with sin, with the wrongness of things. Sin will be wiped out, Micah knows, one way or the other, and as we now know in Christ.
And one last observation. How can God be faithful to Jacob, and show his love to Abraham? They’re dead, aren’t they? No! Physically yes, but as Jesus says in regard to God telling Moses he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The souls of his chosen live on until one day they are clothed with an imperishable body, as Paul promises in I Corinthians 15.