Hearing What we Want to Hear
“Lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever” (vv. 8–9).- Micah 2
Many faults characterize fallen humanity, including an unwillingness to hear hard truths about ourselves. Even a cursory study of history produces a nearly endless list of corporations, nations, and empires that failed because their leaders surrounded themselves with yes-men and not those willing to tell them they were making serious errors. If a refusal to hear an accurate evaluation of ourselves leads to catastrophe on a secular level, how will such a refusal not destroy us spiritually?
Reading the Old Testament, it seems that the old covenant community never learned this lesson. Wicked leaders routinely sought out prophets who would tell them what they wanted to hear, namely, that God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob meant that their descendants would be safe and secure even when they remained impenitent. King Zedekiah of Judah and his people, for example, took comfort in the false prophet Hananiah’s erroneous predictions of peace and safety for the nation (Jer. 28). Similarly, about a century and a half earlier, today’s passage illustrates, Micah faced a people who did not want to hear his predictions of disgrace for the nation (Mic. 2:6).
Yesterday, we saw that Micah condemned idolatry in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, predicting an immediate fall of the northern kingdom (1:5–7). He also foresaw a harsh discipline of Judah, predicting that trouble would reach the gate of Jerusalem, though the city would not be destroyed (vv. 8–9). This must refer to Assyria’s invasion of Judah, which we covered in our study of Isaiah 36–37. Micah delivered this oracle early in his career when it seemed there was yet hope for Judah to repent, because in Micah 3:12 he predicts Jerusalem’s destruction.
Micah also condemned the old covenant community because its leaders oppressed their people. He speaks of individuals mulling over evil all night and performing it at dawn (Mic. 2:1). This is significant because the wicked were supposed to be revealed at dawn and the innocent were supposed to receive justice in the morning (Ps. 104:20–22; Job 38:12–13; Jer. 21:12; Zeph. 3:5). Micah’s reference indicates that justice was not occurring at morning light, but that the plans of the wicked remained hidden and not revealed as evil. Instead of the justice system vindicating the righteous, wicked men were perverting the law to take advantage of the defenseless.
Leaders continue to take advantage of the nations they are supposed to serve, using the legal system to their advantage at the expense of the powerless. In the United States, we see this all the time when unscrupulous businessmen lobby for regulations intended purely to drive their smaller competitors out of business and when eminent domain is invoked to force people out of property their families have owned for generations. Let us not be a party to such things.
Passages for Further Study
1 John 4:1