The Old Testament Lesson for this All Saints Day comes from the prophet Micah in the Book of the Twelve. The text is Micah 3:5-12 and is the end of the first significant “Law” portion of his short book. The language is very direct as Micah ends this section with strong judgement against the “prophets” and “rulers” of Israel. These words provide a very bleak picture of the future of Israel. Fortunately, the next chapters provide Gospel that is equally as clear and direct.
It is important to remember that Micah is a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah as we see many of the same themes and similar language. Some would argue Micah borrowed from Isaiah and others would say Isaiah borrowed from Micah. Ultimately, this is neither important nor a problem. Certainly, the LORD is unlikely to give contradictory or competing prophecies toward His one people through two prophets. It should come as no surprise that these contemporaries deliver a similar, consistent message to the people of God.
Certainly, the LORD is unlikely to give contradictory or competing prophecies toward His one people through two prophets.
3:5 הַמַּתְעִים (ham-mat-Im) root: תעה (taw-aw) Hiphil: “to cause to go astray; to cause to err; to mislead” Participle use: “the ones who cause to go astray”
הַנֹּשְׁכִים (han-no-she-Chim) root: נשׁן (naw-shak) Qal: “to bite” Participle use: “the ones who bite”
בְּשִׁנֵּיהֶם (be-shin-nei-Hem) from: שֵׁן (shane) “tooth” “with their teeth” “the ones who bite with their teeth and cry out, “Peace!” but declares war upon him who does not give (food) into his mouth.”
3:6 מֵחָזוֹן (me-cha-Zon) “vision”
וְחָשְׁכָה (ve-cha-she-Chah) root: חשׁך (khaw-shak) Qal: “to grow dim; to be dark; to grow dark”
מִקְּסֹם (mik-ke-Som) root: קסם (kaw-sam) Qal: “”to predict; to practice divination”
וְקָדַר (ve-ka-Dar) Qal: “to be dark; to become dark”
3:7 הַחֹזִים (ha-cho-Zim) from: חֹזֶה (kho-zeh) “seer” “the seers shall be shamed…”
וְחָפְרַוּ (ve-cha-fe-Ru) root: חפר (khaw-fare) Qal: “to be ashamed; to be disgraced; to be abashed”
הַקֹּסְמִים (hak-Ko-se-Mim) Participle used as a noun: “the ones who practice divination”
וְעָטוּ (ve-a-Tu) root: עטה (aw-taw) “to hide; to envelop” With שָׂפָם “moustache” “they will cover/hide over moustache” (Idea: lips covered by hands so they cannot speak what they do not know)
מַעֲנֵה (ma-a-Neh) “answer; response”
Note that “seers” and “diviners” have negative connotations in Scripture, whereas “prophets” have a positive connotation unless designated as evil or bad. The prophecy of Micah addresses “evil prophets” (vs 5) and then points out that they are not even real prophets—they are seers and diviners to whom the LORD does not reveal things. See then how Micah sets himself up as different from the others (vs. 8).
3:8 וּגְבוּרָה (u-ge-vu-Rah) “strength; might; valor”
פִּשְׁעוֹ (pish-O) “crime; wrongdoing; transgression”
Now, in verse nine, Micah moves from the prophets to the rulers in continuing his condemnations.
3:9 הַמֲתַעֲבִים (ha-ma-ta-a-Vim) root: תעב (taw-ab) Piel: “to detest; to abhor; to treat as an abomination”
יְעַקֵּשׁוּ (ya-ak-Ke-shu) root: עקשׁ (aw-kash) Piel: “to twist; to make crooked”
3:10 בְּעַוְלָה (be-av-Lah) from: עַוְלָה (av-lah) “iniquity; injustice; malice; badness”
3:11 בְּשֹׁחַד (be-Sho-chad) from: שֹׁחַד (shakh-ad) “bribe”
בִּמְחִיר (bim-Chir) “purchase price; price; money; hire”
יוֹרוּ (yo-Ru) root: ירה (yaw-raw) Hiphil: “to teach; to instruct; to direct”
יִשָּׁעֵנוּ (yish-sha-E-nu) root: שׁען (shaw-an) Niphal: “to support oneself; to lean on; to depend on”
3:12 בִּגְלַלְכֶם (big-lal-chem) from: גָּלָל (gaw-lawl) “because of; on account of”
תֵחָרֵשׁ (te-cha-Resh) root: חרשׁ (khaw-rash) Niphal: “to be ploughed”
עִיִּין (i-Yin) “heap of ruins”
יָעַר (Ya-ar) “thicket; woods; forest”
“The mountain of the house,” is a reference to Mount Zion, the place of the house of God—the Temple.
Even though we have seen some very strong Law in these verses, and in previous verses, the next chapters contain equally strong Gospel—the restoration of Israel and how the LORD will accomplish this.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Micah 3:5-12.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Micah 3:5-12.