“Thus says Yahweh concerning the prophets
Who lead my people astray;
When they have something to bite with their teeth,
They cry, ‘Peace,’
But against him who puts nothing in their mouths
They declare holy war.
Therefore it will be night for you—without vision,
And darkness for you—without divination,
The sun will go down on the prophets,
And the day will become dark over them.
The seers will be ashamed
And the diviners will be embarrassed.
Indeed, they will all cover their mouths
Because there is no answer from God.”
The passage before us today is a stinging condemnation of the prophets in Israel. Entrusted with the sacred office of the ministry, these men had spurned God’s law and invented their own maxims and sayings. For the sake of a meal, they were willing to sell their goods to interested shoppers. But for those who failed to offer the required payment, judgment was severe. Jihad was nothing compared to the wrath of these offended prophets.
The prophetic office in Israel was, in many respects, similar to the office of the ministry in the church today. There were schools of prophets—seminaries—where these folks were trained in their duties. They were to be schooled in the Word of God; equipped to lead the people in righteousness; enabled to counsel God’s people when in trouble; rebuke them when in sin; chastise them when impenitent. They were to be prepared to apply the Word of God to all of life.
Alas, not all good intentions manifest themselves in actual performance. The schools had become corrupt. Many of the prophets were charlatans. They pretended to speak for God but they really spoke for themselves. These schools equipped them not to minister the Word but to undermine it. They comforted when they should have condemned; they compromised when they should have stood fast; they remained immovable when they should have bowed in repentance. They were prophets of the worst kind.
So what of today? What would Micah say to our prophets? What is it that pours forth from many of the pulpits in America? Is it the rich milk of the Word of God? Rarely. Frequently it is the curdled remains of week-old, luke-warm milk. The Word of God is set aside in favor of the traditions of men. “What? Those old-fashioned ideas? No one believes them any more. We are too sophisticated.” So we sanction vice; we distort the Word of God to suit our fancies; and we do it all for a buck.
And so God comes—God who is not mocked, the same God Micah served—and He steals their wisdom, undermines their influence, depletes their churches, robs their treasuries. The very thing that is happening in historic churches that have abandoned the truth. And they ask, what has happened? Micah tells us. The day has become dark over them; they shall be ashamed and embarrassed; they shall be destroyed.
“Amen!” we say to all this. Praise God our pulpit is different. Aye, do praise God but also fear. The churches whose prophets now spew forth such filth once drank from the clear and living stream of the Word of God; they once were filled with loathing at those churches which in their day had drifted from Scripture. And so what is to keep us from drifting down the same course?
First, we must give ear to the Word of God. The word of God is our life, our salvation, our hope. Whatever you must do, get to the Word of God. Demand that the preaching cling to the Word; devote time to personal study of the Word; saturate your families with the Word. If we are faithful to receive His Word—all of it, all the time—then He shall bless us for it.
Second, plead with God on behalf of this church. Only He can avert the shift to ungodliness and keep us in His paths. Only he can prevent our prophets from giving ear to idle tales. Only He can grant us wisdom to press into the future. And so pray.
This reminds us that we often fail to listen to the Word of God and to beseech Him to protect and defend His Church. Our ears are often closed; our mouths fail to speak. Let us then draw near to God and ask Him to cleanse us of our sins and forgive us for the sake of Christ.