Friday, July 3, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 5, 2015

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NO REST FOR THE WICKED
(GOD’s truth may hurt, but it leads us to goodness)
(Micah 2:1-11)

The prophet Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. Like Isaiah, he prophesied and preached to both northern Israel and Judah in the eight century B.C. He lived in the small town of Moresheth, just south of Jerusalem, and his messages soundly denounced the oppressive ways of the wealthy in Jerusalem and Samaria. He called for the leaders in these capital cities of Israel to set aside their pride, arrogance, greed, corruption, and religious hypocrisy, and begin setting a better example of holy and right living among the people that they were called to shepherd.
In the years leading up to the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 B.C., the social injustices of the wealthy, who defrauded the poor, and robbed widows and children of their homes, spread like a disease in a community that sorely lacked medical assistance. As families were driven from the lands of their inheritance, a “poverty class” was created, and as it took shape, an economic blight began to characterize large sections of the nation.
Peter C. Craigie once wrote, “When people cease to care, then, religion, morally, social customs, and values, all cease to function as mortar that holds together a society, and maintains ancient faith”. Here in Micah 2, we see being described by the prophet, a wealthy class of people who are, quite literally, driven by materialism, and, who gained their wealth by oppressing the poor, orphans, and widows, and robbing them of their inherited possessions. In verse 1 Micah warns of how terrible it will be for those who lay awake late at night devising ungodly, evil schemes, and then, rise up early in the morning to carry out their evil ideas.
These wealthy individuals, who were sorely destitute of morality, and bankrupt of any GODly character, were not satisfied with their financial overflow, but rather, they still greatly coveted the possessions of those who were far less prosperous than them. Their sin, apart from that of materialistic greed and theft, was their blatant disregard for the rights of their fellowman.
When GOD freed the ancestors of these same Israelites from Egypt, HE had strongly admonished them not to turn around and enslave one another, nor to violate the boundary markers that HE had set for each tribe in their new, promised land of Canaan. To take control of each other’s financial holdings would be to directly disregard the Law of GOD. Micah was sent by GOD to announce his disappointment with HIS chosen people, and to forecast the punishment that they would receive for their blatant disobedience. GOD would now replace their “pride and arrogance” with a “debased condition” that they would have to suffer through, and, that they would be unable to use their wealth to extricate themselves from.
In verses 6-11 Micah addresses the false prophets who were livid at him for prophesying coming disasters on Israel, even though his oracles were true. Throughout biblical history, we see depicted, both, true and false prophets. True prophets spoke for GOD to HIS people, and warned them to return to the moral and ethical values that were put in place by the delivery of HIS laws through HIS servant Moses. False prophets, on the other hand, often delivered a message from satan that GOD would not harm HIS people so long as they were involved in the ceremonial aspects of the law (basically “playing church”).
The true prophet’s messages have always been more “ethical” than they were “eschatological”, and they often relay GOD’s promises as being “conditional”. Man has always needed to perform at a high level in order to realize the maximum returns that can be gained through obedience. Deuteronomy 27-28 spells out the conditions by which man, through his “choices” can receive either “blessings”, or “curses”. How we fare in life is left strictly up to us. GOD gives us “wills that are free”, and HE also makes available to us, through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, great spiritual discernment that we can use in the decision-making process.
There is no rest for the wicked, as they desire greatly to control us, abuse us, and indeed, ultimately destroy us. We must strive hard as individuals to stay away from their gravitational pull and influence, desiring not their ways, but rather, by learning, and then keeping our minds focused on the Word and ways of GOD. These ways were clearly demonstrated to us by JESUS CHRIST, in person, here on earth, and while GOD’s truth may sometimes be painful to accept, it always, without fail, leads us to goodness.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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