In the early sixteenth century a young German monk named Martin Luther changed the world when he preached that salvation came through faith in Christ alone—and nothing else. In stark contrast, another famous preacher, Johannes Tetzel, taught that a person could buy his way into heaven—and he made a hefty profit selling indulgences. In today’s passage, we catch a glimpse of another fierce argument between false and true prophets.
At the beginning of this chapter, the Lord rebuked Israel’s political leaders for abusing God’s people: they devoured those they should have protected. In today’s text, God sharply criticizes Israel’s religious leaders for causing God’s people to sin.
Israel’s religious leaders—the very people who should have been modeling living in right relationship with God—were instead using their position to enrich themselves. Their devotion to money meant that they shaped their message according to what would fill their bank accounts (of course, ancient Israelites didn’t have actual bank accounts, but you get the picture). The Lord does not look kindly on the manipulation of His people or the illegitimate use of His name, and He promises that they will be “ashamed...disgraced...[and] cover their faces” (v. 7). God would not allow their enrichment at the expense of others.
In verse 8, Micah contrasts himself to Israel’s religious leaders saying, “But as for me...” The prophet’s words are based on the “power” of God and carry His “justice and might” (v. 8). That’s why he is able to speak hard truths and call God’s people to repentance. We may not be called to the sort of difficult prophetic ministry like Micah’s. But we can consider how faithful we are in representing God to others.
>> Today’s passage is a caution that not every religious leader is upright. We must be careful not to follow anyone blindly, but to compare everything we are being taught against the truth of God’s Word.
Lord, what minor details do we wrongly hold sacred? What untruths have we been taught to embrace? If we are deceived, free us from the sway of ungodly leaders who misrepresent You and Your Word.