“O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (Micah 2:7).
Here was a people who had started out in faith, but had fallen from grace. They still thought of themselves as God’s chosen people because they identified themselves with their father Jacob. The title “Christian” identifies the New Testament believer with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many who use the word, but they are anything like Christ. What Jesus spoke to the church in Sardis can be applied to many today, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). What right has any man to say that God cannot work today as He did at the beginning of the church age? God’s almighty and powerful hand is not straitened [shortened], but can still do “great and mighty things” (Jeremiah 33:3).
What is wrong with us?
The prophet Micah is speaking to people who were seeking to control how the Spirit of God moved and spoke. We find in verse 6 they were commanding the prophets not to prophesy to them, “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy.” The preachers of that day were telling the nation that it needed to repent and turn wholeheartedly unto the Lord; otherwise it was headed for certain destruction. The people gave no thought for the state of their souls while they drowned themselves in the filth of the world. Spiritual and moral decay had taken its toll, and this was the reason they were being overcome by their enemies. They refused to take any notice of the messages that the prophets were bringing to them. They did not want any Bible-basher spoiling their fun. They wanted to sin without feeling guilt and condemnation. They wanted everyone to accept their abominable ways and practices. They wanted the freedom to parade their sin in the streets and to show their pride for their sinful lifestyles. They wanted believers silenced because they knew that they were the true voice of the nation. They wanted evil to be thought of as good, and good to be thought of as evil, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Matthew Henry, in commenting upon this text, wrote, “Persecuting God’s prophets, suppressing and silencing them, is a sin that provokes God as much as anything, for it not only spits in the face of his authority over us, but spurns at the bowels of his mercy to us; for his sending prophets to us is a sure and valuable token of his goodwill.” “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).
Today we face exactly the same conditions as those of the prophet Micah. If we condemn their filthy lifestyles, we are branded as narrow-minded bigots. If we teach children good moral values based upon the Ten Commandments, they say that we are trying impose our value system upon them, and brainwashing them. Yet they are seeking to drag the nation into the sewer and force us to accept them. They want to control what people, especially Christians, can think and say. The conditions inside the church are no different. “If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people” (Micah 2:11). The church flocks after preachers that speak of prosperity, health and who never condemn sin. We have a generation of believers who desire to control what God is saying. The only message they want to hear is that God loves them and overlooks their sin. “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:9-10). They like the first part of Exodus 34:6-7, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth”, but reject the second, “and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Is this God’s fault?
Is God to be blamed for what is happening today? The misuse and abuse of the Gifts of the Spirit and the lack of power in the church cannot be blamed upon the Lord. The power and authority Christ gave to His church has slowly ebbed away until we can no longer stand up and speak out in His name without the aid of legal authorisation. Half the church says that the Gifts of the Spirit ceased with the death of the last apostle, whilst the other half uses them like clowns in a circus. No, it is not God’s fault that we are weak. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15-18). John Wesley, in his Notes on the Old Testament, wrote, “The power, wisdom, and kindness of God is not less now than formerly.”
After 2,000 years the majority of men are still in spiritual darkness, in bondage to sin, destroying themselves with wars, and lying and cheating their way through life. Has the preaching of the Gospel of Christ become ineffective? “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). The reality is that the church puts on sideshows and other worldly attractions rather than simply preaching the word of God. The church is guilty of trying to make the Gospel easier on the ears and more palatable to those who love their sin. In trying to get the world to hear, the false prophets are tickling itchy ears; watering down the preaching of repentance from sin, and the necessity of true conversion. Preachers have ceased warning men of an eternal Hell of torment that awaits the sinner. Why? Because it is not a popular subject and it usually brings ridicule from the world. So who is to blame, God or the church? “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
He is still able to fill His church with the power to get the job done. We may feel that the call of God upon our lives is too much for us, but we can encourage ourselves with the fact that Paul felt the say way, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16). When we recognise that the work of God cannot be accomplished any other way but by His will, then we will not be found guilty of trying to hinder the Holy Spirit. We are weak and ineffectual, but God is not. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).