Family members will turn on each other (Mk 13:12-13:12)

“Brother

Will betray brother

To death.

A father

Will betray his child.

Children

Will rise

Against parents.

They will have them

Put to death.”

 

καὶ παραδώσει ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον, καὶ ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς·

 

This is one of the few verses that are exactly word for word in Matthew, chapter 10:21, somewhat similar in Luke, chapter 21:16.  This was also similar to Micah, chapter 7:6, where the prophet warned that they should not trust anyone.  He said that the son was treating his father with contempt.  The daughter was against her mother.  The daughter-in-law was against her mother-in-law.  Their worst enemies were not outside, but in their very own house.  This was a time and a place where you could not trust anyone, even your friends, family, and lovers.  You had to be careful with everyone.  Jesus, via Mark, seems to indicate the same thing.  Brother would betray or hand over his brother to death (καὶ παραδώσει ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον).  A father would hand over or betray his child to death (καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον).  Children would rise up against their parents (ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς).  They would have them put to death (καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς).  Family disputes would arise over Jesus.  This was a far cry from love your neighbor.

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Family disputes (Mt 10:21-10:21)

“Brother will betray

Brother

To death.

A father will betray

His child.

Children will rise

Against their parents.

They will have them

Put to death.”

 

παραδώσει δὲ ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον, καὶ ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς.

 

Mark 13:12 has a similar saying, word for word as found in Matthew.  This was also similar to Micah, chapter 7:6, where the prophet warned that they should not trust anyone.  He said that the son was treating his father with contempt.  The daughter was against her mother.  The daughter-in-law was against her mother-in-law.  Their worst enemies were not outside, but in their very own house.  This was a time and a place where you could not trust anyone, even your friends, family, and lovers.  You had to be careful with everyone.  Jesus, via Matthew, seems to indicate the same thing.  Brother would betray or hand over his brother to death (παραδώσει δὲ ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον).  A father would hand over or betray his child to death (καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον).  Children would rise up against their parents (ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς).  They would have them put to death (καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς).  Family disputes would arise over Jesus.

False prophets (Mt 7:15-7:15)

“Beware of false prophets!

They come to you

In sheep’s clothing.

But inwardly they are

Ravenous wolves.”

 

Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες.

 

Another great Old Testament theme was the warning against false prophets, as can be found in Jeremiah, chapters 5:6, 5:31, and 6:12-15, Ezekiel, chapter 22:27-28, Zechariah, chapter 13:2, and Micah, chapter 3:5-8.  Mark, chapter 13:22 had a similar warning from Jesus.  The followers of Jesus should be on guard, should pay attention, and be aware (Προσέχετε) of these false or pseudo prophets (ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν).  They come to them with their sheep’s clothing (οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες).  These false prophets look like meek sheep, but they are really like veracious wolves.

The unique perspective of Joseph

The Gospel of Matthew presented the infancy story of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, unlike the Gospel of Luke that presented the same story from the perspective of Mary. What do they have in common and what is unique. Mary and the child Jesus play a secondary role in this narration, since it was all about Joseph, the son of Jacob, the father of the child. There were certain things in common with the Luke story. Both Joseph and Mary were troubled by this pregnancy. Both had an angel come and explain that the child was from the Holy Spirit. Both were told that the name of the child would be Jesus. In both stories, the child is born in Bethlehem. Beyond that, there were some unique things to the story of Joseph in Matthew. He almost divorced Mary. He had a number of angelic dreams. He was told to go to Egypt, which he did. He then returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth in Galilee. In between, there was the strange story of King Herod and the magi. Matthew used 5 different Old Testament Hebrew prophecies to show that Jesus was truly within the Jewish prophetic tradition. Clearly, in these two opening chapters, Matthew was a Jewish scripture scholar with his use of 1 Chronicles in the genealogy and the various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Judges. Whatever sources he used for this unique perspective on the birth of Jesus, they were clearly Jewish based. Joseph was a righteous Jewish man. After this presentation, Joseph seemed to drift off the center stage in the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

The twelve Minor Prophets

The twelve minor writing prophets have shorter books than the major prophets.  These writing prophets range from the 8th to the 5th century BCE.  These include Hosea from the 8th century BCE, Joel from the 8th -5th century BCE, Amos from the 8th century BCE, Obadiah and Jonah from the 6th century BCE, Micah and Nahum from the 8th century BCE, Habakkuk and Zephaniah from the 7th century BCE, Haggai and Zechariah from the 6th century BCE, and Malachi from the 5th century BCE.  Some of these prophets had an influence on New Testament Christian writers.

My Understanding of Micah

This Book of Micah is the sixth prophetic book in the the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible.  Micah means ‘Who is like Yahweh?’  While this book is relatively short, it includes laments, and petitions.  Micah probably prophesied during the reigns of King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) of Judah.  Micah may have been a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea.  The Book of Jeremiah mentioned Micah as a prophet from Moresheth, who prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah.

Micah rebuked the people of Judah for their dishonesty and idolatry.  His prophecy about the Messiah to be born in the town of Bethlehem was later cited in the Gospel of Matthew.  Micah was active in Judah before the fall of Samaria in 722 BCE.  He also experienced the devastation of the Assyrian King Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BCE also.  As Micah lived in a rural area, he often rebuked the corruption of city life in Israel and Judah, especially the city of Jerusalem.

Micah’s messages were a mixture of denunciations and prophecies.  In his early prophecies, he predicted the destruction of both Samaria and Jerusalem for their respective sins.  Micah predicted the downfall of Jerusalem, because they had used dishonest business practices that impoverished the city’s citizens.  He also was against the prophets of his own day, whom he accused of accepting money for their oracles.

Micah also criticized Israel because of their dishonesty in the marketplace and the corruption in their government.  He warned the people about the coming destruction, if they did not change their ways.  Between 734 and 727 BCE, King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria conducted almost annual campaigns in Israel, reducing Israel and Judah to vassal states.  On Tiglath-Pileser’s death, Israel has rebelled, resulting in an Assyrian counter-attack and the destruction of their capital, Samaria, in 721, after a three-year siege.  Micah said that Yahweh had destroyed Samaria because of their crimes of idolatry, oppression of the poor, and misuse of power.  However, many of the northern kingdom people became refugees into Judah that increased social stresses in Jerusalem.

Perhaps only the first three chapters come directly from this 8th century prophet Micah.  The first stage would have been the collection and arrangement of some spoken sayings of the historical Micah.  Still later, after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, this  book may have been revised and expanded further to reflect the circumstances of the late exilic and post-exilic community.  Thus, the early 5th century BCE would seem to be the correct time period when this book was completed.

Like Isaiah, this book has a vision about the punishment of Israel and the creation of a ‘remnant.’  There would be world peace at Zion under the leadership of a new Davidic monarch.  The people would be just and turn to Yahweh, awaiting the end of their punishment.  Micah looked forward to Israel ruling over various countries.  Micah was also a favorite of New Testament gospel writers.

The Book of Micah book opens with the typical title of all the prophetic books, as the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Micah.  The Assyrian King Sennacherib had attacked Judah in 701 BCE via the Philistine coastline near Lachish.  Thus, Micah warned that the fall of Samaria might mean these same towns would be next.  Yahweh’s punishment was for their sins of idolatry and the abuse of the poor people.

Micah denounced the greed of the wealthy and powerful, as he wanted Yahweh to curse the wicked ones, because they had misused their power.  They had become a military people.  Thus, they would not have any inheritance.  However, Micah was warned by others not to prophesize about the rulers harming Yahweh’s people.  All the people wanted to do was to listen to those prophets extolling the virtues of wine.  Although they would be scattered, there would be a new assembly.

There would be a judgment on wicked Zion and its rulers who did not listen to the cry of their people.  Micah was against the lying corrupt prophets, who thought that Yahweh would be with them all the time.  Micah was the exception to these bad prophets.  This bad situation was going to lead to their ruin.

Zion had a future hope because Yahweh would have a peaceful reign there.  They had to walk with Yahweh, who would gather all the people to Mount Zion, including the lame.  Like Isaiah, he wanted them to know that they would have a future when the enemies of Zion would be defeated.  Despite their trials, Yahweh would not desert his people.

Although the king of Israel would be insulted, there would be a new promised ruler from Bethlehem.  Assyria would be defeated with a remnant of Jacob returning to Israel.  Then Yahweh was going to do away with false worship with a vengeance.

There would be lawsuit or controversy with Yahweh.  He accused the people of Judah of breaking the covenant through their lack of justice and honesty, just like the northern kings of Israel.  Micah explained how they could get back on Yahweh’s good side.  They had to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Yahweh.  The burnt offerings of both animals and humans were not necessary.  There still had dishonest trade practices in the city, even though Yahweh had saved them in Egypt and Canaan.

Micah complained that there were no more just people, since everyone was evil.  You could not trust anyone.  Micah, however was different.  If he got knocked down, he would get up again.  He was going to hope in a future restoration.  He prayed to Yahweh for protection.   There would be future prosperity, as Micah was grateful for Yahweh’s mercy.

 

Divine appeal (Mic 7:18-7:20)

“Who is a God

Like you?

You pardon iniquity.

You pass over

The transgressions

Of the remnant

Of your possessions.

He does not retain

His anger forever,

Because he delights

In showing clemency.

He will again have compassion

Upon us.

He will tread

Our iniquities

Under foot.

You will cast all our sins

Into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness

To Jacob.

You will show

Unswerving loyalty

To Abraham,

As you have sworn

To our ancestors,

From the days of old.”

This Book of Micah ends with this psalm of praise to Yahweh, while asking for his mercy.  There is no other God like Yahweh, who has pardoned iniquity.  He has let go of the transgressions of his people.  His anger was short lived, because he delighted in granting clemency, since he had compassion for them.  He has stamped on and thrown out all their sins.  He has shown faithfulness and loyalty to Jacob and Abraham, just as he did to all their ancestors in the good old days.  Notice the change from the descriptive “he” to the more intimate “you”.