There are unmistakable messages here:
- Sin leads to judgment (5): Sins have consequences. The punishment may be a long time coming (because God is patient and merciful), but it will arrive. There is cause and effect in this verse: …because of…because of… This coming national tragedy has a cause.
- Cities and nations can be adversely affected by sin (6): Samaria and Jerusalem are mentioned, but it could be applicable to London, New York, Paris, and Rome etc. Jacob (Israel) and Judah are referred to, but these words could apply to the U.K., the U.S.A., France and Italy etc. Nowhere escapes God’s all-seeing vision and no-one is immune to His judgment. Cities in the Western world could become heaps of rubble (8) as well. We don’t want to see this happen. It’s a terrifying prospect. But if we persist in our wilful rebellion against God there will be a price to pay.
- God’s judgment is a terrible and fearful thing (3, 4): This is a powerful picture of God coming with enormous power to deal with His errant people, and nothing and no-one can stop Him. Psalm 104: 32 describes God in these terms: …he who looks at the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
- Sexual sin will be punished (5, 7): Of course, there is much more to sin than sexual sin, and all sin is sin. But there was an abundance of sexual immorality/promiscuity in Israel and Judah in Micah’s day. You ask, ”So what is Jacob’s sin?” Just look at Samaria – isn’t it obvious? And all the sex-and-religion shrines in Judah – isn’t Jerusalem responsible? The Message. However, as you can see in that quote, the bad sexual stuff was linked to false religion, and that was the real problem. They were worshipping pagan gods who were okay with this kind of living. (You might say they lived that way themselves.) A religion will only ever be as good as its gods, and these gods were bad. The religion actually taught that it was fine to have sex outside of God’s boundaries. It was expected and permitted as part of the worship. So it was a very popular religion. (This reminds me of the second half of Romans 1, which says, in effect, that people don’t like the true God who has revealed Himself in nature, so they swap Him; they trade Him in for gods who will give them the thumbs up to do what they like. But Paul also emphasises that there is a major cost to doing this.) When you consider the tidal wave of immorality in our sex-sodden society, you have to say that it also is linked to idolatry. The media reflects the popular culture, and to some degree helps to shape it. It is full of illicit sex. When do you see a normal, faithful marriage between a man and a woman represented on a T.V. drama? Hardly ever! The sexual sin we see everywhere, on the television, at the movies, in the papers and magazines etc. is linked to the idolatry of self. People want to be their own gods, establish their own boundaries, and basically say what goes. They may call it freedom, but they will pay a terrible price both here and hereafter if they do not repent and trust in Christ. Sin brings us to our own because.
Prayer: Lord God, I acknowledge that your way is right and best. Help me to always remain true to this conviction, and banish the tempter by your grace.