Thursday, February 18, 2016
The Judgment of Samaria
The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:1)
Micah prophesied in Judah between about 720 and 680 BC. Over the years Syria and Assyria had gradually take most of Israel’s land. Finally, about 700 BC, the Assyrians captured the government center in Samaria and Israel collapsed. Micah explained why these things were happening, as they happened.
“Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.” (Micah 1:2-4)
The people of Judah needed to be warned about what was happening. God was going to bring Judgment on nation. He would come out onto the earth, stepping on the high places where they had been worshipping. The mountains would melt at his step and the valleys would break open like wax in a fire, flowing like water down a steep slope.
“For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof. And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.” (Micah 1:5-7)
The Judgment will come because of the sins of Jacob’s family, both Judah and Israel. Samaria, the capital of Israel had deliberately led them in worshipping idols on the high places. Judah had been more discrete in their idolatry, hiding it in Jerusalem next to the temple. Because their sin was o open, god will deal with Samaria like a pile of dirt and rubble in the middle of a field being prepared for a vineyard. He will haul the rocks away and dump them, until the pile is eliminated and the natural soil is exposed. The stone idols will be smashed, and the money that was given as sacrifices to obtain their blessings will be burned. The shrines and altars will be barren and unused. Like a prostitute, Israel has served who ever offered quick rewards, and they will continue to do so.
“Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:8-9)
When Israel was destroyed, there would be no recovery or second chances. The destruction of their sister nation would be an upsetting event for the nation of Judah, and especially as the Assyrians would come up to very gate of Jerusalem before God turned them back II Kings 18 describes the events including Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah.
“Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust. Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing. For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:10-12)
Sennacherib’s army conquered the smaller cities in Judah, including the Philistine cities the controlled. Those cities had counted on Judah and the God of Judah to protect them even as they turned to the idols of the people around them, with the army even preparing to attack Jerusalem itself.
“O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee. Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.” (Micah 1:13-14)
Lachish had adopted the goddess of war with her chariot hitched to a flying beast, and worshipped al the other idols that were worshipped in Samaria. They had spread their idolatry and influenced the kings, of Judah, especially Ahaz.
“Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.” (Micah 1:15-16)
Despite their sin and God’s judgment, descendants of those cities will one day return to the land of Palestine. In the meantime they will go through a prolonged period of sorrow and regret. For a time their descendants will be taken into captivity.