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Micah Exhorting The Israelites to Repentance by Gustave Doré

Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder, priests mass-market their teaching, prophets preach for high fees, All the while posturing and pretending dependence on God: ‘We’ve got God on our side. He’ll protect us from disaster.’ ~ Micah 3:11, MSG

Prostituting the Gospel: 1. Selling information, insights, and reveals, etc., about God’s Word primarily to those “church” and ministry members and/or partners who are wealthy enough to pay the suggested prices for the offered books, CDs, DVDs, podcasts, Christian paraphernalia, and so on; 2. Charging exorbitant registration and/or admission fees to conferences, conventions, seminars, workshops, retreats, and so forth, primarily to those “church” and ministry members and/or partners who are wealthy enough to pay the fees, because it is their paid fees that allow them to benefit from the new biblical/prophetic truths that will be revealed, or the anointings that will be released, or the healings that will be received, and the like, in these planned mass gatherings; and 3. Placing unjust limitations upon (unfairly excluding) those “church” and ministry members and/or partners who are too poor, disadvantaged, and/or financially strapped to easily buy the for-sale books, CDs, DVDs, podcasts, Christian paraphernalia, and so on, or who are too poor, disadvantaged, and/or financially strapped to effortlessly pay the very expensive registration/admission fees.

In Micah 3:11, the prophet Micah gives his spin on the phrase: Prostituting the Gospel (see above definitions). Indeed, whenever this blogger reads the passages in which Micah civilly but firmly expresses his disapproval of Judah’s judges (princes/rulers), teachers (priests), and revelators (prophets), who willingly were judging, teaching, and prophesying contrary to God’s Law, the lyrics and music to The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” always come to mind. There can be no doubt that Micah is displeased with his Jewish judges, priests, and prophets, because these Jewish leaders certainly were prostituting their callings/functions (offices, positions) for the love of money!

It should be noted here that Father God always has been the only true/real King or ruler and judge of the nation of Israel. He is the One who chose His Jewish people, and, more important, He is the One who decided which Jewish leaders would be the ones to whom He would teach His Law (His Divine Truths/His Word).

Keeping the above truth in mind, it becomes easier to understand why God also chose to show, via His Word, that His chosen Jewish leaders, in Micah’s day, represent three specific groups of individuals. These three groups of Jewish leaders are: 1. The rulers or princes, who were the ones chosen to judge God’s Jewish people according to God’s Law—the ones who were supposed to practice God’s complete and untainted Law; the ones whose primary responsibility was to give fair or just court decisions; 2. The priests or teachers, who were the ones chosen to teach God’s Jewish people God’s complete and untainted Law; and 3. The prophets, who were the ones chosen to bring God’s Jewish people God’s complete and untainted prophetic messages and teachings about their future.

Concerning chapter three of the Book of Micah, it is clear that in this third chapter Micah definitely is both reminding and warning God’s three groups of Jewish leaders of this truth: Father God, the true/real ruler of Israel, will judge their sin, which for these Jewish leaders of Judah (Southern Kingdom) is their greed for money and other profitable rewards. There also can be no doubt that the prophet Micah also is reminding and warning the Jewish leaders who were living in Judah that God will judge their disobedience, which is their willful breaking of God’s Law.

God reveals through the prophet Micah the ungodly ways the princes/judges, the priests/teachers, and the revelators/prophets in Judah had committed crimes against their fellow Jewish citizens. These chosen Jewish leaders were supposed to be responsible for every Jewish person’s security and safety, but instead these Jewish leaders only were concerned about monetary gain and the power that more money could bring them. Consequently, even though these corrupt Jewish leaders expected God to help them, especially since they praised God while they were in the Temple, the truth is that they not only were being arrogant about their godly protection expectations but also they were doing evil things in their daily interactions with their fellow Jewish citizens. In particular, they demanded money and/or other rewards for their God-given services!

Along with demanding money and/or other rewards for their services, these corrupt Jewish leaders also were refusing to perform their God-assigned services for anyone who had refused to pay them for their justice (which literally means being treated honestly and fairly), their truths, or their messages and teachings that were supposed to be from God. That’s right! If Judah’s princes/rulers weren’t going to get paid, they refused to issue any rulings (whether just or unjust) for the poor, for the somewhat well-to-do, and for the very wealthy. In fact, they wouldn’t even agree to try any cases, before they were paid. Following suit were Judah’s priests/teachers. If they weren’t going to receive any money, then they refused to teach God’s Divine Truths. Also, if it looked like Judah’s prophets/revelators weren’t going to have their palms greased, these corrupt leaders refused to prophesy any favorable predictions.

Worse still, the justice, the truth, and the prophecy that were given in Micah’s day frequently were perversions of God’s Law—perversions of His fairness and righteousness, perversions of His mercy and grace, and perversions of His precise predictions. More important, even these corrupt Jewish leaders’ perverted versions of the Law always came with excessive price tags attached to them!

Because Judah’s Jewish leaders were utterly corrupt, this is the main reason why Micah takes the time to both remind and warn these men about what will happen to Israel’s Southern Kingdom if these wicked leaders continued to miss God’s point, which was that godly justice, mercy, and humility are covenantal necessities. That is to say, Micah reminds and warns Judah’s Jewish leaders that it is because their Southern Kingdom is in a covenantal relationship with a just, holy, and righteous God that He will judge them for their sin and disobedience.

Thus, by Chapter 3 of the Book of Micah, the prophet specifically makes sure that those Jewish leaders—judges/princes/rulers—who were given the power and authority to judge wrong and right behavior, justly, understood that Micah was warning them about the evil things they were doing to their fellow citizens. As earlier suggested, these judges/princes/rulers essentially were refusing to render any verdicts without first issuing a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” demand. Micah, thus, made sure that these corrupt Jewish judges/princes/rulers understood how ungodly it was to demand payment for their favorable rulings or for the “justice” that people believed they were due, long before they agreed to try any cases. Put differently, these false judges/princes/rulers were prostituting their calling/function by selling their verdicts.

Now even though it was against God’s Law to judge for money or for other rewards (see Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19), a perverted justice still was given to the highest bidder. The harsh truth is that these wicked Jewish judges/princes/rulers had resolved that they were going to rip off their fellow Jewish citizens. Once again, if a monetary gain was not possible, then these false judges/princes/rulers, who only would decide in favor of those individuals from whom they already had received the greatest monetary gain or reward, would not even judge any cases.

Then too, Micah also specifically was making sure that those Jewish leaders—priests—who were given the authority to lovingly teach understood that he was warning them about the evil things they were doing to their fellow citizens. These corrupt priests mainly only cared about lining their own pockets. Because most of Judah’s priests were greedy for more money than what God’s Law provided for them (see the Levitical Tithe, Festival or Rejoicing Tithe, and the Third-Year or Poor Tithe; see Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 14:22-29), these unfaithful and unloving priests only taught God’s Truths (His Law), when they were paid dearly to do so. Even then they just taught distorted versions of His Truths.

As earlier mentioned, the evil things that priests/teachers did to their fellow citizens involved teaching anyone whatever he or she wanted to be taught (whatever he or she preferred to learn), as in anything that would bring the seeking persons pleasure. In other words, these priests/teachers, who were supposed to teach the Jewish people about God’s Laws and His righteousness, would hire themselves out to teach contrary lessons for specified prices. Put differently, these corrupt priests/teachers were prostituting their calling/function by selling God’s Law, or rather by selling their perverted versions of God’s Law. If there was no money to be gained, these false teachers would not teach.

Similarly, Micah specifically was making sure that those Jewish leaders—prophets—who were given the authority to humbly prophesy understood that he was warning them about the evil things these revelators/prophets were doing to their fellow citizens. Once again, these corrupt revelators/prophets were receiving bribes before they would prophesy. The amount of money they received determined the kind of prophetic message these bribers supposedly would receive from God.

The revelators/prophets in Micah’s day were considered to be God’s servants, as such they, like any other laborers, deserved to be compensated for their services, especially if the people were blessed by the Word they spoke (cf. Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Samuel 9:7-8; 1 Kings 14:2-4; 1 Corinthians 9:9-12; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). The problem here is that most of the prophets in Micah’s day, instead of being God’s mouthpieces who conveyed God’s messages or His teachings, intentionally prostituted their calling/function by selling people whatever prophetic “Word” they wanted to hear. If the price was right, then these false revelators/prophets always would prophesy peace and goodwill.

On the other hand, if these false revelators/prophets did not receive any money or other rewards, or if they did not receive the exact price they wanted, they always prophesied doom and gloom.  Moreover, if there wasn’t any money to be gained, then these false revelators/prophets just pretended like they had the power to sic an angry wrathful God on the non-paying people, all because they would not give these false revelators/prophets the amount of money they demanded! Therefore, these false revelators/prophets did not deserve their wages!

In each of these for-the-love-of-money examples, no matter if the Jewish leader in question was a prince, priest, or prophet, who should have been trustworthy, every one of these unholy leaders tended to love the wages of unrighteousness more than he enjoyed doing justly, loving mercifully, and walking humbly with the One who gave him his power and authority. Put differently, every one of these wicked and unfaithful princes, priests, and prophets chose to enjoy the fruits of his wicked and corrupt leadership. The bottom line is that each of these corrupt Jewish leaders deliberately chose to fleece God’s flock!

Moreover, because these evil princes, priests, and prophets did not want to do “good” or righteous deeds, they actually hated anyone who was doing “good” deeds. Even more, they hated it when the “good”-deeds people pointed out to them (the wicked judges, teachers, and prophets) their wrongdoings. As a result, the “good” and innocent people never received any just or fair treatments from these haters of “good,” not even if the “good” and innocent people agreed to pay these corrupt Jewish leaders their requested fees.

In other words, only the guilty and evil people in Micah’s day prospered from these greedy, heartless, and false judges, teachers, and prophets. The reason why these guilty and evil people prospered is because they were more than willing to grease their princes, priests, and prophets’ palms. Once again, Micah’s princes, priests, and prophets only judged, taught, and prophesied for those bribers who offered the largest amount of money or the biggest reward, which means they used their callings/functions to their own advantage—for their own interests and greediness. In short, they were actors or performers, at best, and they sold their performances (prostituted their callings/functions) to the people who paid them the highest prices.                                    

To compound their unrighteous and unholy behaviors, these princes, priests, and prophets claimed to their “audiences” that they were in God’s presence, that they received God’s blessings, that they acquired God’s favor, and that they earned God’s provision and protection from suffering, harm, and destruction. Even though God called many of these Jewish leaders to judge, to teach, and to prophesy, and even though His “…gifts and…call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded” (Romans 11:29, MSG), the truth that these Jewish leaders appear to have forgotten is that the covenantal relationship they have with their God still requires that they demonstrate, on a daily basis and in all of their dealings with every Jewish person, the necessary godly justice, mercy, and humility.

Unfortunately, their arrogant impudence—their belief that God would grant them His favor and that He would be present among them, even though they were engaging in unholy and unrighteous acts—prevented them from seeing the truth about their love for the wages of unrighteousness. As a result, they could not, or would not, see that God never could sanction their sin or their disobedience. Nor did these unrighteous, unmerciful, and haughty Jewish leaders see that their greediness and unfaithfulness would earn them the wages of sin, if they did not turn from their wicked ways—if they did not change their stinkin’ thinkin’ (repent). 

There can be no doubt that God wants His 21st-century children, His saved Gentiles and Jews, to apply the prophet Micah’s reminders and warnings to their own lives. It’s sad to say, but there are way too many contemporary apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers who are following in the footsteps of Micah’s wicked princes, priests, and prophets.

That’s right! Far too many of today’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers also are involved in the traditional practice of prostituting the Gospel. These modern-day apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are prostituting the Gospel in this century, when they are: overcharging people with outrageous conference, retreat, seminar, workshop, or convention fees; charging for their books on biblical/prophetic truths, and so on; charging for their CDs, DVDs, and podcast recordings of their sermon/message and/or teaching series; setting astronomical fees for bringing the Gospel to a particular mega-“church,” colossal meeting hall, or gigantic stadium in a particular city; and giving people a “word” that they claim comes from God, when that “word” really is the result of their love for money, as well as the result of their unfaithfulness to the ministry work God has given to them to do.

Okay, for the record, there are men and women of God in this century who are not after a shameful profit—who are not trying to sell their callings/functions to the highest bidder. However, the sad truth is that most of these “called” men and women actually think that, since it is a given that every spiritual leader in every “church” and/or every ministry needs spiritual and financial support in order to flourish in this ever-changing world, this truth then is why it’s okay for them to sell a few books, CDs, DVDs, and so forth, and why it’s okay for them to charge  economical registration and/or admission fees for conferences, et al.

The problem with this thinking is that prostituting the Gospel is the same, no matter if the selling/charging is in high volumes, or if the costs are reasonable, or not. The point here is that, if the spiritual leaders in today’s “churches” and/or ministries are truly “called” and sent of God, then these spiritual leaders would know that as long as they are faithful and obedient to God’s commandments, He will be just and faithful about keeping His promises to provide the necessary spiritual and financial provisions His spiritual leaders need. In other words, there is never any reason why God’s truly faithful and obedient to His commandments children should ever have to sell their callings/functions.

According to God’s Word, He will provide for and protect those whom He has “called,” as long as they are faithful and obedient to His commandments and to His Voice (see God’s blessings for obedience in Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Once again, based on what God promises in His Word, no one has to coerce or beg anyone for his or her money (tithes, offerings, partnerships), and no one has to sell his or her sermons/messages, prayers, teachings, prophesies, spiritual gifts, natural talents and abilities, anointings, and so on, for the purpose of paying “churches” or ministries’ bills, including pastors’ salaries, etc.

God absolutely is able to influence or convict the hearts of those people who freely have received a Word from God, via his apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. He absolutely is able to influence or convict recipients’ hearts to give, according to how richly they have been blessed, some spiritual and financial support to those individuals who freely have poured out of themselves into the convicted receivers’ lives. Likewise, God absolutely is able to provide for and to protect the ones He truly has “called,” ordained, equipped, empowered, anointed, and sent to function as an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher, and so forth.

Where then is the faith that today’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers say that their hearers and readers should have?  Don’t today’s spiritual leaders also need to have the same kind of faith they are “charging” others to learn about from their books, CDs, DVDs, podcasts, or in their conferences, retreats, conventions, seminars, and workshops?

Certainly there is a right way to trust in God—a right way to show faith in God. Trusting in God (having faith) involves not only believing that He, according to His Word, will provide, protect, guide, heal, forgive, save, empower, revive, renew, teach, and so on, but also trusting God (having faith) involves obeying/keeping God’s commandments. This truth means that if the works or deeds people are doing (if the actual ways the people who profess Christ Jesus and declare they love God live) are contrary to God’s commandments (His Word; the Gospel of Christ), then these individuals are opposing God. They are rebelling against God and, thus, should not expect Him to keep His covenantal promises.      

The main point here is that just like it was in Micah’s days, so is it today. Too many professed believers in Christ Jesus and professed lovers of God are worshiping and serving their Lord and their God with only their lips. As a result, their actions are contrary to their words. The key reason why so many 21st–century believers are so duplicitous is because they have deceived themselves into believing that they are truly godly, when the harsh truth is that they are denying the power of God’s Holy Spirit who helps them to become holy and righteous. In other words, they are not living a genuine Christian lifestyle, because they either don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit in them, or they are not relying on (trusting in) the power of the Holy Spirit to help them become all they are meant to be.

Another reason why too many apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are just like the wicked Jewish leaders in Micah’s days is the fact that today’s spiritual leaders are charging believers excessive prices for the “truth” and/or a Word from God, which they claim to have the authority and the calling to teach or prophesy. As a result, that “truth” and Word from God many 21st-century believers are receiving often depends on how much money they are willing to pay for what they get. How long will today’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers continue to rob God’s people, for the purpose of lining their own pockets, and/or for the purpose of keeping the lights on in “their” ministry or “church”?  

Furthermore, just like it was in Micah’s days, so is it today, meaning there are far too many apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers who respond favorably to those affluent “churchgoers” who pay them well for their teaching, preaching, and prophesying. What is even worse, these wealthy “churchgoers” actually end up having a louder voice or playing a bigger role in “church” policy, even though these affluent members’ spiritual maturity is not certain!

In many of the contemporary “churches” and/or ministries, the ungodly lifestyles of the more generous givers are overlooked (their sinful behaviors never are confronted), mostly because so many of today’s “church” and/or ministry leaders fear their wealthy supporters will stop contributing, if they are held accountable for their actions. On the other hand, those members who pay little or no money at all to their “church” or their ministry, often are openly chastised and/or “sat down” (not allowed to preach, teach, sing, etc.), usually for the littlest of offenses. More important, today, as it was in Micah’s day with those who worshipped in the Jewish Temple, the poorer “church” and ministry members and/or partners either are being excluded altogether, or they constantly are being given a “free” but watered down or abridged version of that paid for extensive information the wealthy members received.

The main point here is that the rich people who give plenty of money to “churches” or ministries are receiving better treatment than those members who are not paying much money or any money to these same “churches” or ministries. What is even more nefarious is the fact that far too many of today’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are teaching believers that they can manipulate God into giving them numerous and enormous financial blessings—teaching them that they can get God to make them as prosperous as the wealthier “churchgoers” and/or their spiritual leaders. Will today’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers continue only to be interested in gaining more wealth and enlarging their own territories, primarily at the expense of the poor, disadvantaged, and financially strapped believers, instead of being interested in doing justly, loving mercifully, and walking humbly with their God?

Here’s the conclusion to the whole prostituting the Gospel issue: If the actions of anyone who is in Christ Jesus are not the same as the words he or she is speaking, as he or she judges, teaches, or prophesies to others, then these people, especially if they are spiritual leaders, are not modeling a godly life for the whole world to see, and they are not correctly serving the people whom God has “called” them to serve. According to Micah, when both the commonplace people in a country and the powerful leaders of the same country have become utterly corrupt, this corruption will cause destruction to come upon that entire nation. 

Lastly, what has to be noted here is this final truth: Micah’s fellow Jewish people didn’t listen to him, nor did they listen to Isaiah, who prophesied in the same century as Micah. As a result, like Israel (that is, the Northern Kingdom), Judah (the Southern Kingdom) eventually was destroyed. A word to the wise should be sufficient!

 

~ from Sounding A Clarion Call: A Collection of Expository, Devotional, and Creative Writings; 2003, edited