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In the Power of the Spirit

It has been said that as the leaders go, so goes the nation, and as the pulpits go, so goes the church. That was certainly true during the time of the prophet Micah.

Ministering in the eighth century b.c., Micah’s message was directed primarily at the leaders of God’s people: judges, priests, and prophets. Perversion of justice ran deep: “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money” (v. 11). Despite the rampant corruption, these leaders acted as though nothing was wrong. Into this context, Micah delivered a message empowered “with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might” (v. 8). It was a call to turn back from sin, and a warning of judgment to Israel’s leaders.

This image of a prophetic, Spirit- empowered ministry was fulfilled most fully in the person of Jesus. At His baptism, the Spirit descended upon Him while the Father declared Him “my Son, whom I love” (Matt. 3:17). During Jesus’ ministry, His strongest words of criticism were directed against none other than the leaders of the time, especially priests and scribes of the Law.

One Gospel scene, in particular, brings these elements together. After Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, the religious leaders began accusing Jesus of performing exorcisms by the devil’s power. In response, Jesus denied the accusation and then declared: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). Those who stand against Jesus, stand against God Himself and His kingdom. The prophet Micah represented a Spirit-filled ministry of warning against Israel’s leaders. Now Jesus stands as the fulfillment and embodiment of that same prophetic message.

Apply the Word

Corruption among the world’s leaders continues today, and the warnings of Micah and Jesus remain relevant. So does our need for prayer. Create a list of local and national leaders in the government and church and pray for them by name each day this week, asking God to direct their hearts toward true justice as they lead and serve.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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