Prayer Psalm: 126
Prayer Point: After years of exile, a remnant of the nation of Israel is allowed to return home. “We were like men who dreamed.” But after returning home, they realize that the world is still broken and Israel is nothing like its former glory. We also look back to the victory of Jesus over the cross, but we are also confronted by the violence and brokenness of our world. What breaks your heart about this world, pray that to God. Ask him to restore our fortunes and to send his Son, Jesus.
Centurions were Roman army officers who commanded a force of 100 men. The fact that Jewish elders were willing to plead on behalf of an officer in the hated occupying army speaks volumes of this man’s character. Why does the centurion had such a good understanding of Jesus’ authority? What does Jesus see in the centurion that causes him to exclaim that his faith surpassed anything he found in Israel?
Widows without family had no means of financial support. Many were forced into prostitution or begging to avoid starvation. Many sons died in Jesus’ day but he chose to raise this particular widow’s son.
What does it say about Jesus’ character that he chose to resurrect this widow’s son? What does this passage say about the power of Jesus over death? What does it say about the importance of taking care of the poor?
Here is God’s final mission for Paul from yesterday’s reading:
Acts 23:11 “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
Who attempts to derail this mission? How does God thwart their plans? Who does God ironically use to protect Paul’s life and preserve the mission?
Micah 1:1-9 – The coming destruction
From The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1693
“Author and Title”
“Rather than being identified by his father or family (cf. Joel “son of Pethuel” [Joel 1:1]; Jonah “son of Amittai” [Jonah 1:1], this prophet is identified by location, “Micah of Moresheth” (Mic. 1:1; for Moresheth-gath, see 1:14). It (Moresheth) was about 22 miles (35km) southwest of Jerusalem in the “lowland” or Shephelah region. Unlike the calls to prophetic office of some other prophets (e.g., Isa. 6:1-13; Jeremiah 1), Micah’s call is not recorded. Micah is never explicitly referred to as “prophet” but the source of his power is explicitly attributed to the “Spirit of the LORD” (Mic. 3:8; cf. 2 Peter1:20-21). The name “Micah” may be translated as a simple rhetorical question: “Who is like Yahweh?” Similarly, the book concludes with an inquiry: “Who is a God like you?” (Micah 7:18). These questions underscore the unrivaled character and actions of the Lord.”
“Micah prophesied during the reigns of the Judean kings Jotham (750-735 B.C.), Ahaz (735-715), and Hezekiah (715-687). The time span roughly parallels those of other eighth-century prophets like Hosea (Hos. 1:1) and Isaiah (Isa. 1:1), though Micah 1:1’s omission of the name of King Uzziah (767-739 B.C.) may place Micah somewhat later. It is difficult to assess the length of Micah’s public activity with any precision. At a minimum, the 16-year reign of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:2), in combination with the presumed transitions at the end of the reign of Jotham and the start of the reign of Hezekiah, provides a ministry length of 20-25 years. In Jeremiah 26:18 the elders of the land note the influence of Micah’s words on Hezekiah (directly quoting Mic. 3:12).”
“The theme of Micah is judgment and forgiveness. The LORD, the Judge who scatters his people for their transgressions and sins, is also the Shepherd-King who in covenant faithfulness gathers, protects, and forgives them.”
“Purpose, Occasion, and Background”
“Micah writes in order to bring God’s “lawsuit” against his people (3:8). He indicts Samaria and Jerusalem for their sins (1:2-7), with both Assyria (5:5-6) and Babylon (4:10) looming as instruments of divine sentence.
“Free from Assyrian interference in the first half of the eighth century, the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel (782-753 B.C.) and the Judean kings Uzziah and Jotham (see “Date”) witnessed the emergence of a wealthy upper class. Yet this brought with it significant corruption. As Amos had condemned the economic and legal injustices prevalent in the northern kingdom in the first half of the eighth century (Amos 2:6-7; 5:10-12; 6:4-5), so Micah catalogs specific sins of both the northern and southern kingdoms. These sins included idolatry (Mic. 1:7; 5:12-14); the seizure of property (2:2, 9); the failure of civil leadership (3:1-3, 9-10; 7:3), religious leadership (3:11), and prophetic leadership (3:5-7, 11); the belief that personal sacrifice satisfies divine justice (6:6-7); and corrupt business practices and violence.” (The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1693.)
To whom is Micah addressing his message? (“Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the LORD from his holy temple.” (Micah 1:2 NIV) So Micah is taking his message beyond Israel and Judah — world-wide as it were (“O peoples, all of you…”))
From where is the LORD coming? (“Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place…” (Micah 1:3a NIV))
Why does the LORD tread the high places of the earth? (The high places represent all those places other than the temple where worship was conducted. The “high places” came to equal shrines to “foreign gods” adopted by the Jews (both of Samaria [the northern kingdom] and of Judah). High places = false gods!)
Notice also in verses 1:2 and 1:3 the senses Micah appeals to: “Hear” (hearing, of course) and “Look!” (seeing).
What is Jacob’s sin, the transgression of Israel? (Idolatry)
What is Judah’s sin (i.e., Jerusalem’s “high place”)? (Oh, that would be idolatry!)
What will be the penalty for Israel’s (and ultimately Judah’s) sin? (“Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. … I will … lay bare her foundations. Her idols will be broken to pieces; all here temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images.” (Micah 1:6, 7 NIV) This sounds very much like these Jews were worshiping the LORD along with the false gods.)
By what means were the gifts (of the altar) provided? (The gifts were provided from that noble profession: prostitution. They will, of course, be refused by God.)
What is Micah’s plan to bring the message to the people? (“… I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.” (Micah 1:9 NIV) He just wants to be heard. — j.t.)
What is the bad news for Judah? (“…her wound is incurable; it has come to Judah. It has reached the very gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself.” (Micah 1:9 NIV))