An Acute Approach to the Apocalyptic Address

Micah Chapter 1

The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley, And will lay bare her foundations. All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire, And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return. Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, For it has come to Judah; It has reached the gate of my people, Even to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, Weep not at all. At Beth-le-aphrah roll yourself in the dust. Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness. The inhabitant of Zaanan does not escape. The lamentation of Bethezel: “He will take from you its support.” For the inhabitant of Maroth Becomes weak waiting for good, Because a calamity has come down from the LORD To the gate of Jerusalem. Harness the chariot to the team of horses, O inhabitant of Lachish— She was the beginning of sin To the daughter of Zion— Because in you were found The rebellious acts of Israel. Therefore, you will give parting gifts On behalf of Moresheth-gath; The houses of Achzib will become a deception To the kings of Israel. Moreover, I will bring on you The one who takes possession, O inhabitant of Mareshah. The glory of Israel will enter Adullam. Make yourself bald and cut off your hair, Because of the children of your delight; Extend your baldness like the eagle, For they will go from you into exile.

Most of this makes little sense to us because we weren’t there–we don’t know what these names mean or where they are located on a map or their connection to Israel and Judah. Nevertheless context is king and while the Bible is timeless in its teachings, this is a great example of how the Bible is often written to certain people at a certain time, meaning we must explore the cultural context through expository exegesis of examples. We must also ascertain the author’s aspirations to his audience and the genre in which the Scripture was written. Only then can we rightly divide the word of truth.

The average American is not necessarily a student of Scripture. This makes diving into the divine discourse difficult, studying to see the sublime string, unless one has a study Bible which was written by men, or the NASB which indicates Old Testament quotes with all capital letters in the New Testament. But what if one wishes to walk in the Old Testament, how do we explore examples if we don’t have reference points? This blog’s intent is  to demonstrate to the reader how to study the Bible, mining it for gold, by using a hermeneutical tool called the CAGED method, where; context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions, which keep the Bible caged. Studying the Scripture certainly gets easier with this tool, patience and practice. When studying the Old Testament, to begin with, look for familiar names especially in the beginning of books. Then we can flip through the Bible, often in the beginning of books and search for the same names.

For example, look at today’s text; “The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” First, we see the names of kings of Judah. We therefore can explore the books of 1 and 2 Kings looking for these names. Admittedly, if one has no familiarity with the kings of Judah, this could be time consuming. Therefore we search the beginnings of books of prophecy to see if we can find these names; Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Today is our lucky day because Isaiah is the first prophetical book in the Bible and its first sentence reads; “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” We have hit the proverbial jackpot with relative ease. We now have two contemporaries recording similar scenarios. This makes taking our vitamin E, or our expository exegesis of examples, easier. Granted, this method of searching the Scripture doesn’t always work, but it is a good place to start. The absolute best way to study the Bible is to read it from Genesis to Revelation first, so that we become familiar with names and genres and then taking a more methodical and deeper approach. Nevertheless this is very time consuming and it is not written down in chronological order, hence Isaiah and Micah being contemporaries but separated by 8 other prophets. The best recommendation I have is to read the Bible through and study other parts as well on the side. Perhaps read 10 chapters every night before bed and study certain passages in the morning. I won’t lie, reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, without reading other passages at the same time is difficult, especially in Leviticus, Numbers and for me, Psalms. I did it twice when I was in my teens and then early twenties–I have not done it since. No matter how you choose to do it, I do recommend reading through an entire book at a time, even if you are reading another book as well. Daniel and Revelation go well together, as does Psalms and Matthew and of course, Micah and Isaiah. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with reading one book at a time as long as one takes their vitamin E and explores other examples, letting the Bible interpret the Bible. In a world of taking verses out of context, we take the long view here.

We need the cultural context of Micah and Isaiah before we continue if we are to explore and exhaust our expository exegesis of examples. Let’s try a similar approach as we used before, looking at the beginning of not books, but chapters. The chapters and verses were added later for just such an occasion, but after we use them as they were intended, as references, forget about them. We’re looking for Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. We don’t need to look early in 1 Kings because that’s all about Solomon and the United Kingdom of Israel. Therefore we flip through all the way until 2 Kings 16, to see two of the names used together, where at the beginning of the chapter we read; “In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king.” Now we have two footholds of examples to Micah of which we can explore to get some historical context. But there is a problem, even more historical context is needed to fully understand. Nevertheless do not be bogged down or deflated because things tend to work themselves out as we consider the continuing context. For example, we read, “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had adriven out from before the sons of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.” Deuteronomy is the retelling of the Law, we can read about abominations there. Nevertheless, the context of Kings confirms these things because it is also a historical narrative. Essentially, God said don’t do this and the King did it. Rebellion is right in front of our faces. Thus ends the boring background as rebellion is released to the forefront for now.

Micah begins his prophecy with a brief introduction, then delves deeper into an apocalyptic address and then explains why God is angry within the apocalyptic address. “The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem [That was the introduction]. Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place [Apocalyptic address]. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel [The reason for the apocalyptic address].” And within the apocalyptic address we see a calling to the people of Israel and especially Judah because prophecy is always a call to something–to get the attention of the reader to see what God says, so that everyone will believe. The problem with the apocalyptic address is that it is unfamiliar to us. However if one has read the Bible in its entirety, one should be familiar with the apocalyptic address because they are strewn about in the Bible like seeds of wheat in the field. Consider this about apocalyptic addresses before we continue: how else could God describe his glory to mortal man? Metaphors, similes, symbols and the like are ways in which God reveals his divine power and his plan to his people and to the nations. Apocalyptic addresses are easy to recognize because they utilize metaphor, similes, symbols, numbers and names which may or may not be symbolic themselves. For instance; sometimes Egypt is symbolic for Israel and after the Babylonian exile, especially in Revelation, Babylon is used for Israel, more specifically, Jerusalem. Many proclaimed prophecy pundits dismiss this, arguing amongst themselves what “Babylon,” means in Revelation. But a careful analysis of the author’s aspirations and the context clearly claim that “Babylon” is Jerusalem. Each time it represents “the great city,” and John also writes, “the great city…where they also killed our Lord.” He uses Sodom and Egypt in this instance which I suppose leads to their speculations but it actually clarifies the context because throughout Scripture Sodom, Egypt and Babylon are used as symbols of Jerusalem. Other symbolic statements are made, such as, the harlot or an adulterous woman when referencing Israel and Judah in an apocalyptic address. Look for these things as we continue.

“For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley, And will lay bare her foundations. All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire, And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return. Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, For it has come to Judah; It has reached the gate of my people, Even to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, Weep not at all. At Beth-le-aphrah roll yourself in the dust. Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness.”

That is a lot of names leading the reader in modern times to realize that this book was intended to be understood by the people of that time. That generation of people would have known those names and in this generation, we have to research those names. Before we get bogged down, we start with the simple; Samaria. Samaria has become synonymous with the northern kingdom of Israel yet it can also symbolically mean all of Israel. The reason is a little difficult to understand unless one has a historical understanding of Israel. Nevertheless to the brand new student of the Scriptures, a study Bible and an interweb search can be used but are not necessarily essential. The context indicates that Samaria is closely related to Israel so that we can look for Samaria in a historical narrative, since we are already examining examples in the book of 2 Kings, let’s look there.

In the same way as we searched before, looking at the beginning of chapters for a name, we flip one chapter to 2 Kings 17 and read, “In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him.” It’s nice to know that Israel had not-totally-wicked kings. Samaria was to Israel as Jerusalem was to Judah. Even in the New Testament we see this in John, chapter four, in the exchange between Jesus and the woman at the well–Jacob’s well–Jacob was Israel. And while Samaria or Shechem has a convoluted history, we have enough information to start to see what the people of that generation would have seen; except that they didn’t.

It is utterly ironic to me that that generation didn’t think that that prophecy was against them but that this generation does. We are told by modern day prophecy pundits that we are to take prophecy literally and that “rosh” is Russia and “Meshech” is Moscow, swords and shields are nuclear weapons and locusts that sting are attack helicopters. Yet none of these are my favorite claims from the prophecy pundits. They claim, completely against clearly written Scripture, that the church is the bride of Christ and Israel is the bride of YAHWEH, or “the Father.” Problem; and it’s a HUGE problem; Jesus is YAHWEH. John writes; “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” And Jesus clarified this; “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” In Greek, Jesus literally said the translation of YAHWEH, the proof is in the following sentence; “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.” They were going to stone him for blasphemy because Jesus absolutely asserted that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Paul is clear when he writes that God made both groups into one. Yet this erroneous assumption is still not my favorite part of the prophecy pundits’ assumptions. They believe in far-future fulfillment of prophecy, because they claim to take the Bible literally and see that God the father, even though it was actually the son, gave specific details that could only be explained in our generation, such as attack helicopters and nuclear weapons, micro chips and a cashless society but didn’t realize or tell the prophets the modern-day names.,Right? God knows the future but not the names? Yet, way before there was a Cyrus, Jesus named Cyrus. Nevertheless Trump is the real Cyrus, according to their dubious dogma. My point in all of this is that they think God knows the future but not future names. God knew the name of Cyrus, why would we jump to the conclusion that God wouldn’t use modern names? I always remind myself to keep it simple stupid– God doesn’t use modern names because the prophecies happened in the past. Which brings us back to the irony that they didn’t want the prophecy to be about them but we do, however, only the good parts, such as a rapture rescue. Again, I am using a lot of words to point out that the prophecy meant something to them in their time, because they knew the names and it was written to them.

How can prophecy be past? So that they would believe and so that we would believe. History repeats itself but as for specific prophecies, most have been fulfilled. Isaiah 53 is an excellent example. “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” To the true Israel this is the Messiah Jesus but to apostate Israel this is yet to be fulfilled. True Israel looks back and sees the fulfillment in Jesus. Yet it was written to apostate Israel, given the context of Isaiah which mirrors Micah.

“He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?” Micah prophesied about the two capitals and centers of worship in the dived kingdoms, Judah and Israel, Jerusalem and Samaria. We see the similarities in the similes yet also the differences which indicates that they are not to be taken literally. What does wax have to do with water or water with fire? However the indicator is the flow, melted wax moves like water on a steep place. Continuing in the context we read of all these names, which the people of the time would have understoodd, but even with much research, they are vague to us, meaning that the prophecy was fulfilled because they were all but wiped out and all we have left is a historical prophecy. Nevertheless we will look at the basics as we read and the context will become more clear. This is the most difficult part–finding these fairly obscure names but again, it is proof that it was written to them. There is no trick to this other than research or a study Bible or search engine. The problem with using those things is that one will also get man’s opinions as well. Nevertheless, it does make it faster to research.

“For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley, And will lay bare her foundations. All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire, And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return. Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, For it has come to Judah; It has reached the gate of my people, Even to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath [a Philistine city of which Israel never conquered but were intended to], Weep not at all. At Beth-le-aphrah[House of Dust] roll yourself in the dust. Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir [Glittering; probably a Philistine city], in shameful nakedness. The inhabitant of Zaanan [don’t know what this means but may mean “go forth,” Probably a Philistine city] does not escape. The lamentation of Bethezel [House of the neighbor, the Philistines were neighbors to Judah and Israel–modern day Gaza strip area]: “He will take from you its support.” For the inhabitant of Maroth [unknown] Becomes weak waiting for good, Because a calamity has come down from the LORD To the gate of Jerusalem. Harness the chariot to the team of horses, O inhabitant of Lachish [conquered in Joshua; a fortified city, conquered by Assyria]— She was the beginning of sin To the daughter of Zion— Because in you were found The rebellious acts of Israel. Therefore, you will give parting gifts On behalf of Moresheth-gath[verse one, Micah’s hometown, located near Lachish]; The houses of Achzib [“Failing” near Lachish and Moresheth-gath] will become a deception To the kings of Israel. Moreover, I will bring on you The one who takes possession, O inhabitant of Mareshah. The glory of Israel will enter Adullam [David and Goliath]. Make yourself bald and cut off your hair, Because of the children of your delight; Extend your baldness like the eagle, For they will go from you into exile.”

Confused yet? Essentially Micah speaks about Philistine cities as opposed to neighboring cities of Judah. Notice the last sentence; “Make yourself bald and cut off your hair, Because of the children of your delight; Extend your baldness like the eagle, For they will go from you into exile.” The apocalyptic address is summed up by the statement that “they will go from you into exile.” History in the Bible confirms this. Therefore we have a better understanding of the prophecy because we see it’s fulfillment in the Bible, even though we don’t know all the names or there exact meanings. Nevertheless it is clear that Judah will go into captivity–at least, some of the cities will. We also remember reading the reason; “All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard.”

Isaiah also begins his prophecy in a similar statement. “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’ Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him. Where will you be stricken again, As you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick, And the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head There is nothing sound in it, Only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, Not pressed out or bandaged, Nor softened with oil.”

Micah speaks thusly; “Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, For it has come to Judah; It has reached the gate of my people, Even to Jerusalem.” The sin of the people is like a wound of which a cure cannot be found…yet. We will have to continue in the context to see what God’s plan is to cure the sickness of sin. It sounds sarcastic because it is. We know the cure is Christ on the cross because we have the advantage of being on the right side of the cross and resurrection. They didn’t, therefore we must see what they saw to better understand the need for the cross of Christ and only Christ. Through prophecy we see that the cross is the only way.

This prophecy is a promise to do to Judah what God is doing to Israel in Samaria, given the historical context. In 2 Kings, during the time of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, in Israel; “Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him, and Hoshea became his servant and paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, who had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and had offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; so the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” To Judah Micah writes, watch what is about to happen to your brothers because it is going to happen to you.

When we study the apocalyptic address coupled with the historical narrative we begin to understand the apocalyptic address. Therefore we learn how to interpret prophecy based upon its fulfillment as recorded in the historical narrative. Luke records Peter proclaiming Joel was fulfilled early in the book of Acts. David writes apocalyptically in Psalm 18 concerning his/God’s victories found in 2 Samuel. Even in Isaiah we see some historical narrative along side an apocalyptic address. The Bible is woven with a sublime string and we have to take a long view and let the Bible interpret the Bible so that we see the sublime string woven into the fabric of the historical narrative and the apocalyptic address.

 

 

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