God’s Payment Plan

[542 words]

Micah was a prophet of God from 740-700 BC who had a message of destruction for both the northern and southern kingdoms of God’s people. Population centers of both kingdoms would be destroyed and become places of desolation. The capital of Israel in the north was Samaria. Micah foretold that it would become a heap of ruins in a field (Micah 1:6). In 722 BC, the city was destroyed by the Assyrians. The capital of the southern kingdom of Judah was Jerusalem. Micah 3:12 predicted that this city where the temple stood would be plowed like a field, become a heap of ruins, and look like high places of a forest. Micah 4:10 forewarned of the deportation of its inhabitants to faraway Babylon. This was an amazing projection of future events in light of the fact that Assyria was the world power when this was uttered; Babylon was still a vassal state in Micah’s day.

God had been long-suffering to His people, but justice demanded the penalty be paid for their sins. While idolatry and host of other sins drove the nation toward captivity, Micah particularly focused on injustices done to the poor. God’s message through Micah was aimed at corrupt rulers and judges who took advantage of the poor while accepting bribes from the rich (3:1-3, 9-10; 7:2-3), crooked businessmen who cheated others out of their property (2:2; 6:10-12), and religious leaders (priests and false prophets) with mercenary motives (3:5-7,11).

Seventy years of captivity in a foreign land was the result of their stubborn refusal to repent of their sins. Nations today need to learn lessons from Micah, including our nation. When those in power get rich at the expense of people in lower economic classes, God’s justice demands punishment. Rich and powerful people may be able to evade the law of man, but not God’s law. Read James 5:1-6 and consider God’s response to the wicked rich who abuse the righteous poor.

Everything of value in Jerusalem was taken away into Babylon as a result of these sins. Yet, God gave a glimmer of hope. In Micah 4:10, He said, “Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” God would redeem them—buy them back—to be His own people again. He would rescue them from captivity and return them to their previous place.

Today, Christians have been redeemed from the bondage of sin (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7). The blood of Christ shed on the cross is the price paid for our redemption; it is far more valuable than any corruptible currency like silver or gold (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Just as Israel of old should have been grateful for God’s unfailing love that brought them back from captivity, so we must be ever-grateful for the ultimate declaration of God’s love in Christ who paid the penalty of our sins to save us from the punishment we deserved.

Mark Day
Flatwoods church of Christ
Flatwoods, KY

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