God Requires Economic Justice

MEMORY VERSE: “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” —Isaiah 1:17

MICAH 2:1-3, 8, 9

ACCORDING to scholars, Micah was the fourth of God’s holy prophets who served during the eighth century before Christ. His home was Moresheth, in the southwestern foothills, not far from the territory occupied by the Philistines. Nothing is known concerning Micah’s background or his family, and nothing is said in the Bible concerning his occupation or activity.

Micah was used by the Lord to forecast the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom. (Micah 4:1-4) In doing this, he used almost the identical language employed by the Prophet Isaiah in his prophecy of the kingdom. (Isa. 2:2-4) Like Isaiah, Micah saw the kingdom “of the Lord’s house” as a great “mountain” into which, when established, the people will flow, seeking to know and to walk in the Lord’s ways. Micah also saw and foretold that when the nations learned to walk in the Lord’s ways they would beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks.

Micah went beyond the Prophet Isaiah in describing the blessings of the people, in that he forecast that under its rulership every man would dwell under his own vine and fig tree, and that none would make afraid. Here is a beautiful portrayal of economic justice and security—something which was sadly lacking in the country in Micah’s day.

It is this lack of economic security against which the prophet speaks in our lesson. He wrote, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.” Micah identifies the evil plans which were made—apparently by the wealthy—as they lay sleepless upon their beds at night: “They covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.”

The plots against the poor of the land included the oppression of the women: “The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory forever.” These oppressions of the poor, including the women, were not the work of Israel’s heathen neighbors, but of their own people—brother against brother. No wonder it eventually led to their captivity!

MICAH 3:1-4

Here we have another vivid description of the hardships which were being inflicted upon the helpless of Israel. And the Lord placed much of the responsibility upon the “heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel.” These should have practiced justice and judgment in their dealing with the people, but they failed to meet their responsibility. Apparently their sympathies were with the oppressors, and for the probable reason that it paid them to favor those who could reward them.

These “heads” and “princes” hated the good and loved the evil because it was to their advantage to do so. And what depth of injustice is revealed on the part of the oppressors: “Who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones.” This is probably symbolic language, but it indicates that the oppressors of the people had little or no regard for the feelings of those whom they exploited. Their only concern was to increase their own wealth and power.

But this was not to go on forever, for the Lord would punish the evildoers. “Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.”

Our memory verse presents a pleasing contrast to that which was taking place in Israel at the time of Micah. Surely it is appropriate that all the Lord’s people learn to do well; that they seek justice in judgment, and relieve the oppressed so far as possible. In other words, we should seek to bless those within our midst who are in need, such as the fatherless and the widows.


Who was Micah?

What great kingdom prophecy did he utter?

When will there be economic security in the whole earth?

How much should our memory verse mean to us today?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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