“Prophesy,” “Preaching,” OR… Just “Tittle-Tattle”?

Scripture Study:  Micah 2:1-12 

*NOTE: You will need to read these 12 verses before diving into the context of this study.

To “tittle-tattle” or not to “tittle-tattle”, that’s the question.

Let’s face it, the word “tittle-tattle” seems over the years lost its meaning and use.  I haven’t heard the term used in years!  So I think it’s a good thing to inform my readers about the meaning and the reason I have connected it to our scripture study.

“tittle-tattle” or to “prattle”:  “If you say someone ‘prattle on about’ something, you are criticizing them because they are talking a lot without saying anything important.”  [Collins English Dictionary]  Synonym: Iddle babble.

In this Old Testament reading in the Book of Micah, we can readily categorize the message into two major parts.

The prophet Micah’s Warning:

  1. Covetous Materialism, and…
  2.  Idle Prattle.

“Covetous Materials” – Wanting to have the most and the best!

We see and hear a lot of this, don’t we?  “Keeping up with the Jone’s,” is still prevalent today, even in our churches.  Always driving a fancy car, dressed in the finest, even casual wear will be the ‘good stuff.’  Is it because of the quality, or is it to be viewed with envy?

Micah’s Second Warning, “Prattle”

Most of you probably haven’t heard this word or ever used it in a conversation.  I’m dating myself, but I haven’t heard the term “tittle-tattle” since my grade school days.  It means idle, silly, almost meaningless talk.  We all are probably quilty prattling from time to time and spouting off on one thing or another only to dominate a conversation to be the center of attention not to share anything meaningful.  It reminds me of a scene out of the 1987 movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a movie with much pathos, where Steve Martin’s character is reminding John Candy’s character of “meaningless talk.”

When God brought His people, the Israelites out of slavery to the Egyptians to the land of “milk and honey”. His plan was to give everyone special opportunities to prosper and live in peaceful concordance.

BUT, there are always a few that want more.

The Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:8-12)

The shrewdly found ways to amass fortunes on the backs of these pilgrims.  We’ve got to understand that God had laid out this plan for His people.

So as to guard against land barons, slum lords and a quasi-type of enslavement, a type of “sharecropping” or “owing to the company store”, the practice of Jubilee Year was set up.

I could spend a lot of time here on “The Jubilee”.  The year of Jubilee rolled around every fifty years.

  1. ALL DEBTS were canceled;
  2. ALL LIENS were deemed null and void;
  3. Properties held by owners were returned to the original owner.

In other words, ALL indebtedness was erased, and everyone got a “do-over”.

If only that was a modern-day practice, there would be a great number of very happy folks, I included!

There is a significance for today’s Christian in understanding the Jubilee, and here’s why:

Romans 5:6-11

John 6:28-29 (AMP)

[28]  They then said, “What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God?  [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?]

[29]  Jesus replied, “This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].

Our INDEBTEDNESS is paid in full…

Rescued from slavery (to sin) in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Of course, there are some that have sold themselves into slavery by worshipping materialism over God.

As to the reference of “tittle-tattle”, there are two ways to view this.

FALSE PROPHECY – false prophets will claim what they declare as facts as from God.  It becomes our responsibility to test the prophecy that we hear against Scripture which is our only means of assurance of the TRUTH.

Micah 2:6 (AMP)

“Do not preach, say the prophesying false prophets, one should not babble and harp on such things; disgrace will not overtake 8s [the reviling has no end].”

It’s so easy to listen to any speakers sharing philosophical points or opinions and know right off that his/her purpose is drawing attention to himself/herself rather than for the good of the gospel.  It can’t be said enough, “guard the gospel truth.”

The second form of “tittle-tattle” within the church is that of “tickling ears”.

Micah 2:11 and 2 Timothy 4:3

AND…

If the church service is more about entertainment and less about the gospel, a huge WARNING SIGN emerges.

We all love good “Praise and Worship” music on Sunday’s and it can be a very good form of worship.

However, CHURCH is the place for corporate prayer, confession of sins, and sharing God’s Word.  And this practice isn’t for just monthly Communion services.

Outside of the church, we need to refrain from inane and meaningless and harmful conversations.  God has a whole lot to say about that.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV)

[36]  “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  [37]  For by your words you will be acquited, and by your words, you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 5:4 (AMP)

Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people).

Colossians 3:8 (NIV)

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Proverbs 10:13-14 (NIV)

[13]  Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

[14]  The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

These passages are but just a few among the great passages of Scripture on this subject.  If it wasn’t important, then there wouldn’t be so many teachings and warning for the Church to observe.

I would invite you to conduct your own private study.  The WWW (world wide web) offers countless resources.  Just be wary unless the sources are reputable, and the information is verifiable.

So What Are We Coming Away With From Micah?

NUMBER 1.  Guard that mouth and the words that flow from it.  Avoid lies, gossip, vulgar, vain, profane, ungodly talk.

Communication is a two-way process.  The good practice is to walk away before listening to those types of conversation.  There is plenty of wholesome clean humor and entertainment available without being a part of any that isn’t acceptable to God!

NUMBER 2.  We really do need to guard against covetous materialism.

Notice that I said “WE”.  There’s nothing wrong with having nice things IF we don’t flaunt them (Facebook, included) or acquire them by taking advantage of any less fortunate than ourselves.

Ask yourself exactly what you would do with the money, won in the lottery.  Sure, you would be very generous with helping others, reaching out to the poor, the less fortunate.  I truly believe that…But what I’m asking is, what will you spend on yourself, and why?

The “WHY” here is more important than the “WHAT!”

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CREDITS:

Commentary:  Bible Hub – Micah 2:6; Studylight.org – Micah 2:11

Dictionary:  Collins English Dictionary.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); Bible translations used in photos taken from other translations from the text and noted.

Video:  Youtube – Planes, Trains, And Automobiles – Chatty Cathy Scene. 

The Misconceptions of SLAVERY and FREEDOM

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Jeremiah 34:8-21; Romans 6:15-23

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, AND SLAVERY ISN’T AN EXCEPTION

A study of history shows that great civilizations of the world averaged about 200 years and the people of the world have followed this timetable:

The people go:

From slavery to spiritual faith.

From spiritual faith to courage

From courage to liberty

From liberty to abundance

From abundance to selfishness

From selfishness to apathy

From apathy to dependence

From dependence back to slavery.

–The Bible Friend

FREEDOM IS PART OF GOD’S NATURE [Jeremiah 34:13]

At the beginning of Israel’s history, God made a COVENANT with His people to make them FREE.  He would be their God and they would be His people,  There would be times of slavery, but He would always be there to free His people.

And today, God expresses Himself as a God who wants us to live in freedom.

He said this in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).”  (2 Corinthians 3:17 Amplified Bible)

So part of God’s nature is the idea that He wants us to be FREE!

Freedom should be a characteristic of God’s people.

Jeremiah 34:14

God made it part of Israel’s social connection.  God instituted a “Year of Jubilee”.  

God provided a way for Israel to keep from hurting one another financially.  When used properly, no one became more important than God.  Everyone would be cared for properly.  [See Leviticus 25:10 for reference]

The terms of God’s covenant, or agreement, allowed service of one Hebrew to another but never slavery.  God also specified a six-year limitation of that service with the seventh year jubilee release of further obligation.

Finally, the king and the people during Jeremiah’s day agreed to the letter of the law. 

The problem was that the people misused this, enslaving people economically.  God never wants us to use our freedom to abuse someone else’s freedom.  Instead, we should be in the business of “setting people free” by using our God-given FREEDOM as our responsibility.

The Bible warns us that we shouldn’t use our liberty to sin.

1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

Charles Kingsley said,  “there are two freedoms–the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.”  If we are to be truly free we must follow the latter, not the former.  [Footnote [i].]

The trouble comes when we take the liberty and freedom which God has given us and abuse it. 

In the case of God’s people, they were taking their repentance back and were showing repentance only to get God’s favor.  They never truly wanted a change.

They wanted the benefits of freedom without the responsibility that comes with it,

Jeremiah 34:16 (NIV)

[16] But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished.  You have forced them to become your slaves again.

God doesn’t like it when we take the FREEDOM which He has given us and we misuse it.

Look at what He tells His people:  They aren’t truly changed people and as a result, they reap the consequences:

THE LORD WILL SET US FREE!

He released us from the penalty of every sin in our life.  Therefore, we are to forgive others as He has forgiven us.  And sometimes we do that…for awhile.  But then we remember what he said about us, what she did to us and, like king Zedekiah we change our minds and back into our debt they go.

So how can we have true FREEDOM–the real deal?

 


“What then [are we to conclude]?  Shall we sin because we live not under the Law but under God’s favor and mercy?  Certainly not!” (verse 15 – Amplified)

(*See v. 14) – For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

To live “under grace” means FREEDOM to do not what we want but what we ought!

It means FREEDOM for obedience, not an excuse for disobedience.

SIN DOES MATTER!

Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of rules.

We live in a free country, but I’m not free to go into your house and take your television.  There are laws in a free country.  People come to live in America because it offers an opportunity to a better way of life (not lack of laws).  The same is true about living for God.

Romans 6:19

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations”  (vs. 19a).

Paul admits that SLAVERY is an imperfect illustration of Christian life (God is not like the slave master’s of Paul’s day), but he uses it because it helps us (who have “weak” minds) understand a basic principle–

  • God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment.

So here’s the challenge:  Let God–NOT SIN–rule your life (vs. 19b).

“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”

Christians who live as SLAVES of SIN, must no longer live as SLAVES to SIN!

The Big Idea:  Since everyone is a SLAVE–either to SIN or to GOD–it’s best to choose the slavery that gives the best results.  It’s an either-or situation.  Either you’re a slave to sin or a slave to God.  There’s no middle ground.

The question is not if we bow down before a master, but before which master will we bow to?  There’s no such thing as an uncommitted Christian!

The Truth About Freedom:

WRONG THINKING #1:  Many people think serving ONESELF is freedom.

The TRUTH is that “freedom” from God is SLAVERY

Romans 6:16 (AMP)

[16] Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God).

John 8:34 (NIV)

[34] Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

WRONG THINKING #2:  Many people think serving GOD is a loss of freedoms.

The TRUTH is that “slavery” to God is FREEDOM from the power of sin (vv. 17-18).


The second word of the Book of Romans is “doulos” (Romans 1:1).  But Paul was happy to be a slave, a servant, a “doulos” of Jesus Christ.

“Righteousness”  the conduct pleasing to God.

“the standard of teaching to which you were committed” – We are committed (handed over) to the teaching of Christ Jesus like a slave is handed over to his master.  The teaching doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it.

Believe It Or Not, Our Freedom Comes With Consequences

  • Slavery to sin leads to SHAME (vv. 20-21a).

[20] When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.   [21a] What benefits did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?

  • Slavery to sin leads to ETERNAL DEATH (vv. 21b, 23a)

[21b] Those things will result in death!

[23] For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ETERNAL DEATH – The eternal separation from God in hell begins after death.

  • Slavery to God leads to HOLINESS (v. 22a).

[22a] But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves of God…

HOLINESS can mean either the state of holiness or the process of sanctification (living that’s increasingly God-centered and world renouncing.

  • Slavery to God leads to ETERNAL LIFE (v.v. 22b, 23b).

Eternal Death is a “wage” earned; Eternal life is a “gift” received.

THE SLAVERY OF CHRIST – (Matthew 20:28)

Christ, in a sense, became our slave.

He gave His life as a “ransom” for us so that we could be free.  He now asks us to give our lives to Him.

What Jesus has done leads us to what to do:  Become SLAVES of Righteousness.

FREEDOM doesn’t mean the absence of rules.

“I am using as example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (v. 19a.).

Paul admits here that slavery is an imperfect illustration of the Christian life, but he uses it because it helps us understand a basic principle:

God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment

The Big Challenge:  LET GOD–NOT SIN rule your life.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentary:  Proclaiming Freedom by Jim Erwin, July 6, 2013.

Footnotes:  My Favorite Illustrations by Herschel H. Hobbs, Nashville, TN: (Bradman Press, 1990).

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

The Interlinear Bible: Romans 1:1 (Strong’s Concordance 1401.  Greek Word, “doulos”.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or were noted in images.

Images/Photo:  Google Image search.