By Walter Kim
1 Then I said, "Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of the house of Israel.
Should you not know justice,
2 you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
3 who eat my people's flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?"
4 Then they will cry out to the LORD,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.
5 This is what the LORD says: "As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
if one feeds them,
they proclaim ‘peace';
if he does not,
they prepare to wage war against him.
6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.
7 The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God."
8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.
9 Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob,
you rulers of the house of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;
10 who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness.
11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they lean upon the LORD
and say, "Is not the LORD among us?
No disaster will come upon us."
12 Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.
Criteria of Leadership (3:1-7)
We expect a lot of things from our leaders. We hope our business leaders are organized and efficient; we want our political leaders to be honest and inspiring; we look for intelligence and competence. All these things are admirable. In this passage, we see God's criteria of effective leadership in His stinging rebuke. The rulers of Israel ought to know better. They ought to know justice, love good, and hate evil, because these reflect the heart of God's own leadership. These characteristics are so critical that failure here is a fiasco so great that it can be described as tearing the skin or breaking the bones of God's people. While we may not be called to prominent public leadership, we all exercise some influence over the lives of others. How would Micah describe the influence that you have in the lives of others?
True Power (3:8-12)
In stark contrast to Israel's failed leadership, Micah declares that his power is not a function of official position but of spiritual authority. Since Micah came from Moresheth outside of Jerusalem (1:1), his credentials were probably questioned in the capital city. Yet, the faithful prophet remains unfazed. He is filled with the Spirit, who assures him of the justice and might of his unpopular message. Justice in the biblical world is more than the application of an abstract legal system. It entails the peaceful and orderly function of a covenant community in right relation to one another and to God. This is something that only the Holy Spirit can produce. The Lord confronts Israel with its sin ultimately not to condemn but to redeem. Even today, the Spirit empowers believers to be agents of justice, who call people to a right relationship with one another and with God.