There were many social injustices in the lands of Israel and Judah. Micah placed the blame for those oppressions upon the rulers of the people.
Many prophets spoke before the kings and their governors. However, the words of false prophets who spoke of peace and prosperity were more welcome than those of the prophets of God who warned of impending destruction. Because of their wicked ways, Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord would become heaps of rubble and desolation.
Since Micah and Isaiah prophesied from God during the same time to the same people, their messages were sometimes very similar. They both looked into the future and saw the Judah that God desired. Both prophesied the coming of the Lord’s house, the church in the last days. All nations, Gentiles included, not just the Hebrews would be included in its fellowship. The law of that house would come from Jerusalem.
A mother endures much pain and suffering while giving birth to her child. Likewise, God’s people would be subject to much pain and suffering before the birth of the new kingdom, the church. Part of that pain and suffering would come as captivity in Babylon many years after Micah had spoken.
Kingdoms come and go. Both Assyria and Babylon mighty at one time would be overthrown. However, from the remnant of Jacob, a new King would come from Bethlehem who would reign forever. Gentiles would also become subjects of that kingdom.
God used a plurality of contemporary prophets to convey His word during the depths of Israel’s and Judah’s sinful times. Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah lived and prophesied during overlapping times. Whereas Jonah was sent to prophesy against Nineveh in Assyria, Amos and Hosea were sent to warn Israel of their impending doom. The thrust of Isaiah’s messages was to speak against the wickedness that had come upon Judah mainly during the reign of their king, Ahaz. Micah’s prophecy warned both Israel and Judah of the judgment that was to come upon them. The chief sins of Israel and Judah involved the idolatrous worship that was prevalent at that time.
Micah, in his first of three messages depicted God as coming down to administer His justice upon Israel. Samaria, being the capital of Israel was the seat of their idolatrous worship. However, during the time of Ahaz, Judah in Jerusalem had fallen into the same iniquity and was subject to the same wrath of God. The prophet painted a bleak picture of their devastation. God is also pictured as weeping and mourning over His people’s impending destruction.
In addition to idolatry, the rich were guilty of oppressing the poor. Houses and land were taken illegally. Micah warned that disaster was in order for those people. However, they ignored the prophet’s warning as empty meaningless words. Instead, they would willingly heed the words of a false prophet or liar who would speak the things that they desired to hear.
Micah concluded his first message by alluding to the remnant that would eventually be gathered together, “like sheep of the fold…”
Is. 17:1-14; 14:24-32
Israel/Ephraim had allied themselves with idolatrous Syria against Judah. Isaiah stated that Syria’s capital city, Damascus would cease from being a city and would become a ruinous heap. Ephraim would also be carried away as a harvester reaps his grain. However, as gleanings from grain, grape and olive harvests are left, so would a remnant of Israel remain in the land.
God used evil people such as Assyria and Philistia to serve His purposes in punishing His children for their sins. That, however, did not prevent Him from punishing those same evil persons for their sins also.
The prophet Isaiah stated God’s intention to, “break the Assyrian in My land…tread him underfoot…”
Philistia also would face the same wrath of God for their wickedness. “…All you of Philistia are dissolved; For smoke will come from the north, And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”
Is. 7:10-10:4; II Kin. 16:10-20; II Chron. 28:22-27
Those who are ignorant of history or choose to ignore its lessons are likely to repeat the consequences of poor choices. When the children of Israel, even after the kingdom had divided followed and depended upon God, He helped them to defeat their enemies. Isaiah had informed Ahaz that God would be with Judah, but Ahaz refused to accept God’s assistance. “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” That was a grave mistake made by the king of Judah. He trusted the king of Assyria instead of trusting God. However, the Assyrians whom they trusted would in turn enslave them into captivity.
Isaiah continued his prophecy against Ahaz by revealing a sign that even in his rebellion, there would not be complete destruction of Judah. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” That would not be just any young woman, but a VIRGIN. She would give an earthly birth to the heavenly Son of God! The prophet further stated that, “For Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…”
There would be no end to the government of that Child upon the throne of David in His kingdom, the church. BUT before those things were to happen, Judah would go through the period of oppression and stress because of their unfaithfulness to God.
The prophet also spoke words against Israel as he conveyed the message of God. They had been puffed up with pride, which God hates. Syria and the Philistines would devour them because of the wickedness of their leaders.
Even after hearing those words of warning from Isaiah, the rebellious Ahaz met again with the Assyrian king in Damascus after Assyria had taken the city from Syria. Upon seeing an altar that was in Damascus, he sent the design and specifications to Urijah, the Judean priest. The priest acting upon the orders of King Ahaz made major alterations to the altar and other articles of the temple of God. So-called worship to God was then patterned after idolatrous worship instead of by His commands.
II Kin. 15:27-31; 16:1-9; II Chron. 28:1-21; Is. 7:1-9
Ahaz was a wicked king in Judah. He soon began to walk in the ways of the kings of Israel. After he had become king in Judah, Israel’s King Pekah and Syria’s King Rezin formed a coalition against Judah. They attacked Jerusalem, but were not able to defeat them.
Israel and Syria plotted to set a coalition type of king over Judah. The Lord sent Isaiah to assure Ahaz that He would be with Judah and that, “It shall not stand, Nor shall it come to pass…” However, there was a stipulation that, “If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established.”
That would have been a great opportunity for the Judean king to call upon God to save him and his nation. However, instead of moving closer to the Lord, Ahaz separated himself farther from God. He even participated in the evil practice of burning his children as sacrifices to the Baal gods.
Israel, led by Pekah killed a vast number of their Judean brothers and took as captives two hundred thousand women and children. That act was displeasing to God. When confronted by the prophet Obed, Pekah released the captives.
Ahaz looked to his now strong neighbor, Assyria for help against Israel and Syria. He paid a great price in gold and silver from the temple of God. He also took from the treasuries of the king’s house to pay the Assyrian king for his help. Assyria did attack Damascus and killed the Syrian king, Rezin, but when the Edomites and Philistines attacked Judah, he did not assist Ahaz in that war.
As Isaiah continued to reveal the revelation of his vision, he pictured the desolation and poverty of the once mighty and proud Judah. Even in their destruction, the righteous would eventually enjoy the fruit of their righteousness.
The prophet likened Judah to a vain woman concerned only with her appearance. In the day of their impending captivity all of that would be taken from them. They were also pictured as a fertile well-dressed vineyard that yielded only wild grapes. God had nurtured His people from the wilderness to the vineyard of Canaan. He had cleared the rocks from the ground by fighting their wars for them. Judah was yielding only bitter grapes of disobedience in return for all that God, their vine dresser had done for them.
As the owner of a vineyard destroys his unfruitful vineyard, God also promised to allow Judah to be laid waste. Isaiah enumerated a list of woes that would befall the unfaithful nation. Listed among those woes: Woe to those who follow intoxicating drink; call evil good and good evil; darkness for light and light for darkness; wise in their own sight and other woes.
God still had a plan for Judah. Eventually, there would be a Branch—the Messiah that would come to purify His people.
Isaiah’s vision concerned events that would occur in Judah during the reigns of Azariah/Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. He referred to Judah as Israel various times in his prophecy because Judah was a part of the original Israelite nation.
The prophet stated the condition to which Judah had allowed themselves to fall. He compared them to a person’s body that had been corrupted with open sores from the sole of its foot to its head. No attempt had been made to medicate the body with the ointment of repentance. They were also likened to the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that God had destroyed many centuries earlier.
God had instituted the type of worship that He required. Even though they had followed a form of that worship, it was from pretentious hearts and was abominable before Him. When the heart is not right, even the right form of worship becomes wrong before God.
“Come now, and let us reason together.” Isaiah appealed to the people to repent and to wash themselves clean. He pictured their sins as like scarlet and red like crimson. With their repentance and God’s forgiveness, they would become white like snow and wool. However, since Judah insisted on remaining in her rebellious condition, God would do the cleansing of them from the dross of their sin and restore them to their former righteousness.
Isaiah looked into the future and saw the Judah that God desired. He prophesied the coming of the Lord’s house, the church in the last days. All nations, Gentiles included, not just the Hebrews would be included in its fellowship. The law of that house would come from Jerusalem.
Before the future Judah could be seen, the old Judah must be cleansed of its sins. Judah’s sins were numerous. Their chief fault was in depending upon themselves and the works of their own hands. They attributed their successes to the various idols that they worshipped instead of recognizing the true source from the living God. Man may look to himself in pride for the possessions that he has, but in time, GOD WILL BE EXALTED!