Friday, July 24, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 26, 2015

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GOD SHOWS CLEMENCY
(Misery turned to hope)
(Micah 7)

While Israel was busy growing in sin, and living out her own worldly fantasies, GOD was busy shaping her enemy, Assyria, into a world power that HE would use to crush those sinful fantasies into the dust, once and for all. But first, GOD would send into their midst, several prophets with messages that would, hopefully, turn HIS beloved nation around, and propel them back to serving HIM.
Each of those prophets condemned the sinful choices of northern Israel and Judah, and each offered a much more grander vision from GOD, that was composed of, both, discipline, and, a “spiritual road map” of the best route to preserving the future welfare of HIS “chosen people”. Through their messages, each prophet showed us a GOD WHO is committed to both judgment of sin, and, to keeping HIS covenant promises.
In Micah chapter 7, the prophet Micah can sense the misery of Israel’s spiritual defeat, and here he expresses his disappointment due to the moral and spiritual decline of this eighth century Hebrew society, in which he himself lived. And while most of that generation sat in the darkness of their own hedonistic lifestyles, Micah, along with a small remnant, all shared hope in GOD that HE would redeem those who were committed to obedience to HIS laws.
In verses 1 and 2, Micah imagines himself, analogically, being in an orchard, or a vineyard, and feeling the misery of one who looks around and sees no harvest to satisfy his hunger, after working the crops all year long. Here he is saying that he can now look around GOD’s chosen community and see, or at least, readily find no one with whom he could fellowship. He feels almost totally isolated and alone, much in the way that Elijah felt (1 kings 19:14). In verse 2 he says that the GODly people have all disappeared, and not one fair-minded person remained, throughout all of Israel.
Then, in verses 3-4 he describes a scene of total evil gone amok in the community of GOD, as people had began to sin with all their might. Here he says people were sinning with both hands, and what’s worse, they had become very adept at their evil practices. The people with money were paying others to sin with, and for them, and together they twisted justice as far as they possibly could.     
The depiction of this sinful atmosphere is escalated in verses 5-6 where Micah sends a warning not to trust anyone, not a best friend, or even a spouse. Here he even says that the son despises the father, the daughter strongly defies her mother, and so certainly, the daughter-in-law openly defies her mother-in-law.
In verse 7 Micah gives us his solution, and we can see that it is one that is actually quite practical. Here he states, “As for me, I look to the LORD for HIS help. I wait confidently for GOD to save me, and my GOD will certainly hear me”. And so Micah is urging the few people left who have a heart for GOD (the remnant) to put their hope in HIM, and not in changing their own situations by trusting in their own “human ingenuity”. They should look to what GOD will do for those who trust in HIM, and don’t focus on what people were doing around them. The word “hope” implies a willingness to wait, and, a confidence that GOD has a future stored with great blessings, for those who believe on HIM when times are tough.
In verses 14-20 Micah begins to pray for the LORD’s compassion on Israel, which will certainly come after judgment, and, after giving the sins of HIS people a chance to run its course in Assyria. HE pleads that the LORD will, once again, come and rule over HIS people, leading them as “a great shepherd” leads his sheep into greener pastures, and then, protects them from the enemies of the wilds around them.
Then hopefully, GOD’s powerful intervention will humble, not only the Israelites, but also, all the other nations of the world who aspire to attack and conquer GOD’s chosen people. Micah says the enemy nations will one day be embarrassed that their power is so insignificant, and they will stand in awe, and realize how lowly they are compared to GOD. And then ultimately, they too will come out to meet the LORD in fear and trembling (Vs.16-17).
In verses 18-20 the prophet ends his book praising the Almighty GOD. What sets the FATHER of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST apart from all the “false gods” is HIS willingness, despite HIS sovereign power, to pardon the sins of HIS greatest creation, mankind. Even when we fail HIM, HE remains faithful to us. And in HIS faithfulness, HE cleanses us through HIS discipline, and uses that same discipline to transform us into individuals who are more pleasing to HIM. And all the while, at one and the same time, HE keeps every promise HE ever made to “the faithful people” (Noah, Abraham, David, etc.) who came before us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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