Last week, we saw that the Lord began his message to his people through Micah by uttering words reminiscent of his denouncement against the nations. He shocked them, however, by turning the message on its head and directing his rebuke toward his own people. Chapters 2 and 3 continue this theme.

In Old Testament times, pagan nations were renowned for their mistreatment of the poor and vulnerable. God’s people ought to have been different. His law was designed to show care to the marginalised. Unfortunately, the people had ignored his law and were thus harshly oppressing those they should have cared for. In chapter 2, Micah pronounces God’s woe for Israel’s mistreatment of the little guy—the poor, the disenfranchised, the widow, and the orphan—and then, in chapter 3, places the responsibility for this mistreatment on the leaders of the people: prophets, priests, and rulers. The leaders, who ought to have led the people in generosity and care for the poor, were instead leading them to mistreat those for whom God so deeply cared.

Sadly, as Micah confronted the people with their sin, they responded by roundly rejecting his preaching. “‘Do not preach’—thus they preach—‘one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us’” (2:6). They were eager to hear God’s word against the nations but when it confronted them in their own sin, they rejected it as false preaching.

Sadly, the same thing still happens today. Too often, Christians eagerly amen preaching that denounces the wickedness of the world but object when the word strikes a little too close to home. Micah’s audience strongly objected when he pointed out their oppression, but their objections could do nothing to stave off God’s coming judgement. Despite their vociferous objections that the Lord was with them and that no disaster would overtake them (3:11), Micah warned, “Therefore because of you Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height” (3:12). Israel and Judah should not think that they would escape simply because they were God’s covenant people.

As we consider Micah’s words in these chapters, several implications arise. Let me briefly mention three.

First, God’s people should not think that they get a free pass simply because they are God’s people. We cannot ignore God’s word without consequence. In this specific context, the sin of his people was oppression of the vulnerable. As we saw in the introduction, Micah reveals, in a particular way, God’s heart for the marginalised. God expected his people to care for the vulnerable in society through generosity. Sadly, they had ignored this, believing that God would not punish them because they were his people. Micah warned them that punishment was imminent.

We dare not think that we can disobey God with impunity. We may be privileged to be in covenant relationship with him, but that does not mean that we get a free pass to disregard his word.

Second, God’s people should not ignore preaching that fails to tickle their ears. When Micah confronted the people in their sin, they demanded that he stop preaching “of such things” (2:6). They would tolerate him denouncing the wickedness of the nations but they would not allow his preaching to touch too close to home. There was a line he dare not cross in his preaching.

We are always tempted to seek out preaching that does not touch on our own sins. We don’t mind hearing about God’s judgement against sin—so long as it is the sin of others. There is a reason that prosperity gospel churches are so popular. Preaching that promotes God’s promises of prosperity while overlooking sin are sure to grow. But preaching that ignores God’s standard and does not call out sin does not help God’s people to grow in holiness. As uncomfortable as it may be, we need preaching that sticks to the truth, even if the truth strikes uncomfortably close to home and requires us to change our ways.

Third, and on the other side of the coin, faithful living rests on the back of faithful preaching. We need God’s word accurately interpreted and faithfully proclaimed if we will be reminded of what God expects of us. Avoiding exposure to faithful preaching will not help us to grow in holiness and will only invite punishment.

As you reflect on Micah 2–3 this morning, ask God to open your heart to hear his word to you as you read Scripture and sit under the teaching of his word. Ask him to convict you and to change you so that you live life in a way that honours him.