Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Listen, all you peoples; pay attention, earth and everyone in it!  The Lord God will be a witness against you, the Lord, from His holy temple.” (Micah 1:2 HCSB)

A.D.D.—Attention Deficit Disorder: if you don’t know what it is, just ask a public school teacher, and they can tell you all about it.  As a preacher, I am an expert.  I see it every Sunday.  I am opening the treasure of truth for the congregation to reach into and be spiritually enriched, and some—too many—are staring off into space or looking at the back of their eyelids.  Another, more recent invention is checking email on a smart phone.  When I was a teenager we would pass notes to friends, and that has been replaced by texting.

Yes, I have been guilty too.  I struggle at times with paying attention.  Focusing on truth can be hard.  The devil will see to that.  Jesus spoke of how the seed of God’s Word is sown, intended to find fertile soil and then bear fruit for God’s glory.  Some hearts are hard and resistant to it and it never penetrates—not for a moment.  Satan, like an evil bird, swoops in and carries the seed away.  Others, respond emotionally, but have no depth, so their potential withers under daily difficulties.  According to Christ’s parable, some seed is choked out by the weeds of the world.  Be careful!  Pay attention!  Jesus makes this point in closing that story of the sower:

“‘Still other seed fell on good ground; when it sprang up, it produced a crop: 100 times [what was sown].’  As He said this, He called out, ‘Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!’" (Luke 8:8)

“But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.” (Luke 8:15)

“Therefore take care how you listen. For whoever has, more will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him." (Luke 8:18)

This isn’t a new problem.  Micah dealt with spiritual A.D.D. among God’s people.  In fact, his sermon begins with a demand from God, “Listen…pay attention…” (1:2). 

Pay attention; there is DIRECT TRUTH in the first chapter of Micah.

Because of this I will lament and wail; I will walk barefoot and naked.  I will howl like the jackals and mourn like ostriches.  For her wound is incurable and has reached even Judah; it has approached the gate of my people,
as far as Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:8-9 HCSB)

This is truth that is naked truth—raw, plain—uncomfortable truth.  Micah tears off his outer garment, kicks off his sandals, cries out like an animal—such is the horror of what he knows, the hurt that he feels and the harshness of what he must preach.  He must be heard!  The thought of the preacher in a “Speedo” is frightful, but it would certainly get the congregation’s attention!

God’s truth can be so comforting, but also disturbing.  Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless.”  A little boy misquoted the verse and told his mother, “Jesus said, ‘I will not leave you comfortable.’”  No—He will not.  When we don’t pay attention, He will shake us up.  Micah’s sermon did that.  He meant to do so.  The nation was facing judgment.  They could hear and heed the truth or suffer the consequences.

Pay attention; there is DESPISED TRUTH in the second chapter of Micah.

“’Quit your preaching,’ they preach.  They should not preach these things; shame will not overtake us.’" (Micah 2:6 HCSB)

God said through His messenger, “Pay attention!’”  Their response was, “Shut up!  We don’t want to hear it!”  They didn’t want to hear the subject of judgment from any preacher—notice the plural “they should not preach these things.”  “They” would have included Micah’s contemporaries, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel and Amos.  They didn’t care who the preacher was—it was the sermon topic they despised.

This is human nature.  We are told that people quit coming to church because they are tired of hearing about sin, hell, wrath, and etcetera.  They crave a self-help guru rather than a preacher—someone to scratch their itch instead of driving a stake in their wicked heart.  This is not a modern condition only.  Here is the way Micah framed it, “If a man of wind comes and invents lies:I will preach to you about wine and beer,’ he would be just the preacher for this people!”  By the way, it wasn’t a sermon against alcohol, they were longing for, but one promoting it!  Essentially, they wanted somebody to get in the pulpit and say, “Party time! Excellent!”  Micah calls such preachers, “Wind bags.”  That they are and pulpits today are full of such hot air balloons!

Pay attention; there is DISTORTED TRUTH in the third chapter of Micah.

“Her leaders issue rulings for a bribe, her priests teach for payment, and her prophets practice divination for money.  Yet they lean on the Lord, saying,Isn't the Lord among us?  No disaster will overtake us.’  Therefore, because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become ruins, and the hill of the temple mount will be a thicket.” (Micah 3:11-12 HCSB)

The compromisers tailored the truth to suit the tastes of the contributors.  They sold out.  Priests and prophets distorted the truth.  They told the people what they wanted to hear.  It was palatable preaching rather than powerful preaching.

Thankfully, there was also a man like Micah who still had God’s hand on him because the preacher had God’s Word on his lips.

As for me, however, I am filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and courage, to proclaim to Jacob his rebellion and to Israel his sin.”  (Micah 3:8 HCSB)

Another cause of people leaving the church—according to the experts—is all the politics heard in the pulpit.  It is a particular complaint in an election year.  Micah was guilty.  Listen to this:

Then I said, ‘Now listen, leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Aren't you supposed to know what is just?  You hate good and love evil.  You tear off people's skin and [strip] their flesh from their bones.  You eat the flesh of my people after you strip their skin from them and break their bones.  You chop them up like flesh for the cooking pot, like meat in a cauldron.’ Then they will cry out to the Lord, but He will not answer them.  He will hide His face from them at that time because of the crimes they have committed.” (Micah 3:1-4 HCSB)

That sounds terribly political.  I don’t guess Micah would find many who would want him as their pastor today.  They had rather follow a Pied Piper Pastor who leads them to destruction.  God will judge those who distort truth with great severity.

This is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who lead my people astray,
who proclaim peace when they have [food] to sink their teeth into but declare war against the one who puts nothing in their mouths.  Therefore, it will be night for you—without visions; it will grow dark for you—without divination.  The sun will set on these prophets, and the daylight will turn black over them.  Then the seers will be ashamed and the diviners disappointed.  They will all cover their mouths because there will be no answer from God.” (Micah 3:5-7 HCSB)

This is the fearful fate of such smooth-talkers.

Pay attention; there is DELIGHTFUL TRUTH in the fourth chapter of Micah.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord's house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills.  Peoples will stream to it, and many nations will come and say,Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us about His ways so we may walk in His paths.’  For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1-2 HCSB)

We would be wrong to assume that God’s truth is always alarming—sometimes it is also assuring.  Certainly, there are negative warnings that need preaching, but there are also positive words that need presenting.  Micah is like the spiritual surgeon who wields a painful scalpel in order to bring healing to the patient.  Beyond the pain, there is pleasure.  It leads to life—in all its fullness: abundant peace, hope, joy and love!

Had Micah ended his sermon with a message of wrath alone, it would have been as distorted as those who wanted no mention of judgment.  But, he is faithful to show that God has a glorious future for those who will yield to His Word.   Yes, sin will be judged, but sinners can be saved!  That’s the Gospel truth!

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