JUDGMENT is Good! (Part One in Series)

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF MICAH

Scripture:  Micah 1:1-9; 1 Peter 4:17-18

Micah 1:1 (NIV)

[1]  The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah– the vision saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

The word here translated as “came” speaks of the Word ‘happening’ to Micah.  It was a ‘happening’–as unplanned and spontaneous.  It was a revelation!

Has that ever happened to you?  God speaks to you and a revelation occurs.

A PERSONAL ‘God-moment’ STORY:

Several years ago, the pastor at a church I was attending called me and asked if I could write a play, a skit, for the upcoming Easter season.  I tried to explain to him that my experience in stage productions was acting in a limited fashion, but writing a play?  His reply, “Do the best that you can,” and hung up the phone.

So for the next three days, I fervently prayed for direction and guidance from the Lord but my prayers seemed to go unanswered.  Until one very early morning, around 3 A.M., I felt a hand on my shoulder.  A clear, soft voice said, “Mel, wake up.  I’ve heard your prayers.”  Thinking I was dreaming, I rolled over to my other side.  Again, the hand and the voice,  “Get up and go into the dining room with paper and pen.  I have heard your prayer.”  Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I put my feet on the floor and quietly proceeded to the God designated room with paper and pen and sat down at the table in obedience.   Was all this a dream, was this really happening?  Time passed by quickly and at 6:30 A.M., “Mercy On Trial”, a three-act play on Christ’s death sentence, death, burial, and resurrection was written down in a draft.  Also, a clear picture that I could sketch on paper for the set design, costumes, and props.

What was absent to my dismay was a script.!  “What now, Lord?” asking out loud.

Silence.

And then a thought was placed in my spirit.  My daughter-in-law graduated from college with a major in communication and theater. Thank You, Lord.

I called her later that morning with my vision, God’s creation with directions and asked her if she could write God’s play with a script?  Her answer:   “How can I refuse?  When do you need it?”  ”

Would next week be too soon?” I asked sheepishly.  She giggled and answered,  “I’ll try.”   One month later after casting, set building, costuming, “Mercy On Trial” was performed for the first time on Easter morning.

Not everyone thinks in tidy terms, nor in a form of Systematic Theology that’s suppose to bring the orderliness to the Bible.  [*See https://www.theopedia.com/systematic-theology]

Micah not only had the Word of God “come” or “happen,” to him; it was the Word of God “which he saw.”

It’s not just that he heard God’s voice, but he was enabled to see into God’s mind.

The origin of the word describes the impact of pictorial thinking.  What Micah has now experienced and visualized, he now must translate into words to convey God’s message to man.

Micah’s prophecies began during the reign of three successive kings of Judah.

So in seven short chapters, we can see a summary of some fifty years of ministry.  I’d call that a ‘study in brevity’!

Micah’s prophecy concerned Samaria and Jerusalem, two capital cities in divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  However, Micah isn’t limited to time and space.  God’s Word never is.

The prophet goes on to address ALL people on the whole earth (verse 2).

[2]  “Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the SOVEREIGN LORD may bear witness against you, the LORD from His holy temple.”

According to 1 Peter 4:17-18, Micah seems to say that if the LORD deals with His own people, what shall the end of those be who oppress them!

Who does God call as the witness against the peoples?

He calls Himself, even the LORD from His holy temple (Micah 1:2-3).

He comes out of His place in heaven, from His holy temple, and treads upon the earth–the towering places of the earth where idolatry is widespread.

What is Idolatry?  Is it something that was just practiced in the Old Testament of the Bible?

“Idolatry” is “anything that is placed before or above the One, True God” [Footnote [i].]

Martin Luther is right; our hearts are idol factories, mine included.

At the time of Micah’s writing, the Assyrian armies were on the march.  As the instruments of God’s judgment, the whole earth shook before them.

Samaria would surely fall, her idols would be beaten to pieces.  The enemy reached even to the gates of Jerusalem, which the prophet vividly described to Judah’s high place.

The Reality of God’s Judgment.

God’s judgment on the world can be comparable to the verdict of a judge in a courtroom.  God’s universal position entitles Him to act as JUDGE.  And when God acts as JUDGE, it takes powerful and decisive actions (verse 4) –

Micah 1:4 (AMP):  And the mountains shall melt under Him and the valleys shall be cleft like wax before the fire like waters poured down a steep place.

These images portray God who comes to judge His people at His command ALL the powers of the universe.  From the beginning of Israel as a nation, God demanded absolute obedience to Him.  He prohibited allegiance to idols (Exodus 20:3).  Even in a casual reading of Samaria’s history, it discloses allegiance to idols.

Israel kept some idols of Canaan and they also utilized some of the idols of their foreign neighbors.  The LORD wouldn’t tolerate rivals; He responded in judgment.

IDOLATRY IS NOT OUTDATED!

It doesn’t belong to the superstition of ancient people.  Anything…and I mean anything that takes the place of God is an idol and the cause of God’s judgment of sin (verse 5).

[5]  All this is because of the transgression of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not [the idol worship of] Samaria?  And what are the high places [of idolatry] in Judah?  Are they not Jerusalem?  (AMP)

God’s people had committed sins against the LORD.

Micah didn’t name the specifics; he simply accused both Israel and Judah of offending God.  They deliberately rebelled against the LORD and failed to live up to His expectations.  Failing to attain God’s goal and plan for their lives made the people liable to the prosecuting action of the Judge.

God’s judgment isn’t simply an outburst of rage; one that we sometimes display as parents when our children are disobedient and rebellious.  God’s judgment is a settled disposition that resolves the issue of rebellion.  When we rebel and choose to go our own way, we can expect judgment from the LORD.

Learning from the Tragic Effects of Judgment (verses 6-7)

God’s judgment brings destruction

Micah referred to the destruction of the impressive city of Samaria in verse 6:  “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble”

This impressive city, the reputation for its beauty and military strength, became nothing more than a hill.  The city wall toppled.  Future generations used the site to plant vineyards.

Human beings must beware of what they call security.

Feeling secure in wealth and military might lead to destruction.  Armies can be bested and cities can be destroyed.

God’s JUDGMENT can bring disappointment

The Israelites gave their allegiance to the idols of the day, and the idols were destroyed by the Assyrians.  They then had no place to turn.  They were not only defenseless but bitterly disappointed in their so-called gods.

God’s great grief in His judgment (v.v. 8-9)

God discloses His aching in judgment in verse 8:

“Therefore I [Micah] will lament and wail; I will go stripped and [virtually] naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a lamentation like the ostriches.”  [AMP]

God’s is portrayed by Micah as one distraught with grief by vivid pictures such as jackals howling and ostriches crying in the night to illustrate intense grief.  Micah draws back the veil that allows us to see God’s great grief over sin.

God discloses His sadness over one person’s failure and to learn from another person’s mistake.  (v. 9)

“For [Samaria’s] wounds are incurable and they come even to Judah; He [the Lord] has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.”  [AMP]

Not only was God hurt over Samaria’s failure, but He was also sad that Judah failed to learn from their neighbor’s mistake.

JUDGMENT WAS ABOUT TO COME!

Jerusalem was to face the consequences of judgment in the same way as Samaria.

God’s people stand at a unique place and time in history.  We possess the story of former generations.  The lesson is obvious; we ought to learn from the errors of their ways.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  “What Does dolatry Mean?” by Jack Wellman, The Christian Crier.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, Settings advanced.

Youtube:  Law & Order theme music from television.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV), or where noted.

Vine”s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine and Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.

Enochlophobia: The Fear of Crowds

Rally To Restore Sanity
Overwhelmed!

Albert Einstein once said, “I hate crowds and making speeches“.  There’s a common feeling with Mr. Einsteins called “enochlophobia”–the fear of crowds. Those who suffer with this anxiety go out of their way to avoid places such as malls, theaters, or any event that crowds would regularly attend; no matter who  the center and focus of attention for the throng.   Many times in my experiences, I too had anxiety in a crowd.  Maybe NOT fear, but felt hemmed in; crowded and nervous about being so close.  All the touching became too much.  I didn’t need a REASON.

A few things will happen when FEAR arises in a crowded area:

*  Being trampled to death.

*  Contracting a deadly virus.

*  Getting lost in a massive crowd of people.

*  They themselves feel small and insignificant when surrounded by so many people.

BUT, there is definitely a CHOICE that can made in overcoming standing out in the crowd.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING “HEMMED IN”  AND TOUCHING JESUS:

Immanuel – God with Us (Isaiah 7:14)

The writer of The Letter To The Hebrews in the Bible had this to say about ImmanuelGod with us:

“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning”  (Hebrews 4:15 AMP).

*  No longer was he a God that was way up in the heavens somewhere.

*  No longer was he a God that was impersonal.

*  No longer was he a God that was distant.

*  No longer was he a God that couldn’t be touched.

Have you witnessed up close how a newborn baby’s hands reach out in eagerness to touch their mom or dad when they come near?

My wife and I just became great grandparents for the first time this past summer.  It was Deja vu— seeing Jaxon for the first time and remembering when our children were babes.  Smiling, reaching out in need for a touch!

Anticipating A Touch
Anticipating A Touch  when becoming great grandparents for the first time.  So it was Deja vu moment from our own children when they were babes.

But on a day in Bethlehem, JESUS burst on the scene in a manger, longing for and crying out for somebody to TOUCH HIM!  I have GOOD NEWS for you today.  In fact, He is here right now!

The devil thought he had killed Him, but the fact is…

I feel Him in my hands…

I feel Him in my feet…

I feel Him in my Soul..

I feel Him all over my life.

GOD IS NOT DEAD, HE IS ALIVE AND WELL!

Right now where you are sitting as you read my thoughts, He wants for someone to reach out and TOUCH HIM in faith.  He is as close as the mention of His name–JESUS.

He is still able to…

*  Heal your body.

*  Mend your broken heart.

*  Fix your messed up life.

*  Put your marriage back together.

*  Save your children.

*  Work on your behalf.

*  Make the impossible situation where you might find yourself…POSSIBLE!

He can do it if you TOUCH HIM where you are today.  Unless, you are intimidated by crowds.  “What will other think if I step out in faith?”  They might even think I’m a religious fanatic.

BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “THRONGING” AND “TOUCHING”

Thronging means:  “A large group of people gathered or crowed closely together, a multitude; to PRESS IN ON.”  ~ Online Dictionary.

The Bible tells us a story about a man who we refer to as, “rich young ruler”:

Mark 10:17-22:

[17]  And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him,  Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  [18] And Jesus said unto Him,  Why callest thou Me good?  There is none good but one, that is, God.  [19] Thou knowest the commandments,  Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  [20] And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  [21] Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him,  One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  [22] And he was sad  at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions.  (King James Bible)

Let’s ‘zero in’ on this story and see if this young man TOUCHED JESUS, or just crowded or “thronged” around Him:

The FIRST THING I noticed about this man, was he was…DISSATISFIED – vs. 17-20:

*  HE CAME RUNNING.

*  HE KEPT THE LAW…BUT WAS NOT HAPPY.

*  SOMETHING WAS STILL MISSING.

(So many people I run into are unhappy with the way things are turning out or not turning out in their lives.)

The SECOND THING I noticed about this young man is…DISAPPOINTED – VS. 21-22:

*  The TERMS WERE DISAPPOINTING in his HEARING.

*  “GO AND SELL”.

*  COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW.

*  TRAGEDY.

*  SO CLOSE TO JESUS and yet…

*  WENT AWAY SORROWFUL WITHOUT TOUCHING.

The THIRD THING I noticed was DENIAL:

*  In the present – Life of joy and peace.

*  Future – Eternal life; a life in Heaven.

This is a man who never really touched Jesus.  Maybe shook His hand, patted Him on the shoulder, but never really TOUCHED JESUS; never took the time to have a relationship with JESUS.  (Many people know how to play in church but never TOUCH JESUS because of their relationship.)

THE TEXT today is from MARK 5:24-34 ~ NIV…  “A Woman in the Crowd”:

[24] A large crowd followed and pressed around Him.  [25] And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  [26] She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak,  [28] because she thought,  “If I just TOUCH His clothes,” I will be healed.”  [29] Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”  [30] At once Jesus realized that POWER had gone out from Him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked,  “Who TOUCHED Me?”  [32] But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  [33] Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth.  [34] He said to her,  “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 

This Bible story tells us about a woman with the issue of blood:

Distressed – vs. 25-26

12 years of suffering, sickness, pain, discomfort.  Not all of her problems were according to the religious Laws of her day.

A woman with her sickness:

–  Sexually – she could not touch her husband.

–  Maternally – no longer could bear children.

– Domestically – anything she touched was considered unclean and she couldn’t take care of her family.

– Socially – considered unclean.

– Spiritually – was not allowed in the temple [church].

She was physically exhausted and socially ostracized.  She tried many different doctors without her desired results.  The Talmud gives 11 different cures for her condition and one of them was carrying the ashes of an Ostrich Egg in a linen cloth.

She was broke–spent all she had and she was getting worse!

Determined – vs. 27-28

550px-Overcome-a-Social-Phobia-Step-5
You Must Reach Out and Touch

The news had spread from all around of Jesus’ healing, casting out demons across the Lake of Galilee and here He was…in Person, getting out of a boat, on not any beach, but on this beach–her beach.

Even the local pastor was the first to greet Jesus after He set His feet on the warm sand.  His name was Jairus, whose little daughter was at the point of death.  And as Jesus went to go with the father, “a great crowd kept following…pressing Him from all sides [so as almost to suffocate Him]”  (Amplified Bible).  EVERYONE gathered…WANTED TO SEE JESUS!

A DECISION HAD TO BE MADE:

*  It was therefore obvious, the woman heard about Jesus.

*  If He could do it for them, He could certainly do it for me.

*  She had Heart FAITH.

*  Went to where He was.

*  I’m not going to WAIT for Jesus to come to me, but I’m going to TOUCH HIM, crowd or no crowd!

*  She TOUCHED Him!

Psychiatrists sometimes say, that if a person is diagnosed with Enochlophobia [women are said to outnumber men considerably in being diagnosed], all that is needed when in a throng is,,,a CALMING TOUCH by someone close to relieve the anxiety.

Did this woman, diseased with a ‘blood disorder’, have Enochlophobia?  I don’t know, but she was definitely DETERMINED to TOUCH JESUS, regardless of her condition or what others might think or do to her.

STAND –  She Was Delivered!  In the Midst of a Crowd!

This woman who TOUCHED Jesus’ garment; the fringe on His Tallit or prayer shawl; wherever the TOUCH was instantly and completely healed.  God recognized a simple TOUCH OF FAITH  among many people who were in the crowd that day.  They too probably had personal needs they wanted met just like this lady but didn’t want to chance what their neighbors might think if they did.

What was the difference?  She was delivered because she had TOUCHED Jesus.  Her fears of being in a CROWD (reasons already stated) had disappeared.  Not because of her close proximity to the Master, but because of her up close and personal TOUCH.

The Difference Between Being in a Congregation or Church Assembly…and Simply TOUCHING Jesus.

FAITH ALWAYS TOUCHES JESUS–

He knows the difference between bumping against someone in a crowded room and a TOUCH OF FAITH of a soul in need.  BUT you have to TOUCH Him first.  He is here where you and I are right now, but it is our job to reach out and TOUCH HIM.

JESUS was on His way to an important man’s house.  What are the odds that Jesus is ever going to stop by and touch this lady in fear–not very good. But she…but she touched Him.  Rank had no importance to Jesus when it came to a personal trust of faith in Him.  As you read on further in the chapter, Jesus didn’t forget the need of Jarius and his daughter.  But in the right now…this woman became the example because of a TOUCH.

In the Right Now!

JESUS is here right where you are sitting.  Doesn’t matter what your condition is:  no matter your fears, no matter what people might think when you step out from where you have been in life.

Need healing in your body?

Need healing in your spirit?

What is your NEED?  The sharing of that NEED in a crowd, taking a STAND, stepping out in FAITH… might bring you FEAR!  All you need is a gentle touch of faith where you are and any phobia will melt away.

YOU CAN STRETCH FORTH YOUR HAND AND TOUCH HIM.  A TOUCH OF FAITH!

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