on Micah 3 :11
The heads thereof judge for reward - This does not apply to the regular law officers, who have their proper salaries for giving up their whole time and attention to the conscientious discharge of the duties of their office; but to those who take a reward, who take Bribes, for the perversion of justice; who will decide in favor of those from whom they get the greatest reward.
The prophets - divine for money - These are evidently the false prophets; for none, professing to be sent by God, used any kind of divination.
Yet will they lean upon the Lord - They will prescribe fasts and public thanksgivings, while not one sin is repented of or forsaken, and not one public grievance is redressed.
Is not the Lord among us? - Here is his temple, here are his ordinances, and here are his people. Will he leave these? Yes, he will abandon the whole, because all are polluted.
on Micah 3 :11
The heads thereof judge for reward - Every class was corrupted. One sin, the root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10, covetousness, entered into all they did. It, not God, was their one end, and so their God. Her heads, the secular authority who Acts 23:3 sat to judge according to the law, judged, contrary to the law, "for rewards." They sat as the representatives of the Majesty of God, in whose Name they judged, whose righteous Judgment and correcting Providence law exhibits and executes, and they profaned it. "To judge for rewards" was in itself sin, forbidden by the law Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19. To refuse justice, unless paid for it, was unjust, degrading to justice. The second sin followed hard upon it, to judge unjustly, absolving the guilty, condemning the innocent, justifying the oppressor, legalizing wrong.
And her priests teach for hire - The Lord was the portion and inheritance Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 18:2 of the priest. He had his sustenance assigned him by God, and, therewith, the duty to (Leviticus 10:10-11, add Deuteronomy 17:10-11; Deuteronomy 33:10; Haggai 2:11 ff) put difference between holy and unholy, and between clean and unclean, and to teach all the statutes, which God had commanded. Their lips were to keep knowledge Malachi 2:7. This then, which they were bound to give, they sold. But "whereas it is said to the holy, "Freely ye have received, freely give" Matthew 10:8, these, producing the answer of God upon the receipt of money, sold the grace of the Lord for a covetous price." Probably too, their sin co-operated with and strengthened the sin of the judges. Authorized interpreters of the law, they, to please the wealthy, probably misinterpreted the law. For wicked judges would not have given a price for a righteous interpretation of the law.
The civil authorities were entrusted by God with power to execute the law; the priests were entrusted by Him with the knowledge to expound it. Both employed in its perversion that which God gave them for its maintenance. The princes obtained by bribery the misjudgment of the priests and enforced it; the priests justified the injustice of the Princes. So Arian Bishops, themselves hirelings , by false expositions of Scripture, countenanced Arian Emperors in the oppression of the faithful . "They propped up the heresy by human patronage;" the Emperors "bestowed on" them their "reign of irreligion." The Arian Emperors tried to efface the Council of Nice by councils of Arian Bishops . Emperors perverted their power, the Bishops their knowledge.
Not publicly only but privately doubtless also, these priests taught falsely for hire, lulling the consciences of those who wished to deceive themselves as to what God forbade, and to obtain from His priests answers in His Name, which might explain away His law in favor of laxity or sin. So people now try to get ill-advised to do against God's will what they are bent on doing; only they get ill-advised for nothing. One who receives money for giving an irresponsible opinion, places himself in proximate peril of giving the answer which will please those who pay him . "It is Simony to teach and preach the doctrine of Christ and His Gospel, or to give answers to quiet the conscience, for money. For the immediate object of these two acts, is the calling forth of faith, hope, charity, penitence, and other supernatural acts, and the reception of the consolation of the Holy Spirit; and this is, among Christians, their only value. Whence they are accounted things sacred and supernatural; for their immediate end is to things supernatural; and they are done by man, as he is an instrument of the Holy Spirit."
Jerome: "Thou art permitted, O Priest, to live 1 Corinthians 9:13, not to luxuriate, from the altar 1 Corinthians 9:9. The mouth of the ox which treadeth out the corn is not muzzled. Yet the Apostle 1 Corinthians 9:18 abused not the liberty, but 1 Timothy 6:8 having food and raiment, was therewith content 1 Thessalonians 2:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; laboring night and clay, that he might not be chargeable to anybody. And in his Epistles he calls God to witness that he 1 Thessalonians 2:10 lived holily and without avarice in the Gospel of Christ. He asserts this too, not of himself alone but of his disciples, that he had sent no one who would either ask or receive anything from the Churches 2 Corinthians 12:17-18. But if in the gifts of those who sent, the grace 2 Corinthians 8:6-7 of God, he gathers not for himself but for the Romans 15:26 poor saints at Jerusalem. But these poor saints were they who of the Jews first believed in Christ, and, being cast out by parents, kinsmen, connections, had lost their possessions and all their goods, the priests of the temple and the people destroying them.
Let such poor receive. But if on plea of the poor, a few houses are enriched, and we eat in gold, glass and china, let us either with our wealth change our habit, or let not the habit of poverty seek the riches of Senators. What avails the habit of poverty, while a whole crowd of poor longs for the contents of our purse? Wherefore, for our sake who are such, "who build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem by iniquity, who judge for gifts, give answers for rewards, divine for money," and thereon, claiming to ourselves a fictitious sanctity, say, Evil will not come upon us, hear we the sentence of the Lord which follows. Sion and Jerusalem and the mountain of the temple, that is, the temple of Christ, shall, in the consummation and the end, when "love shall wax cold" Matthew 24:12 and the faith shall be rare, "be plowed as a field and became heaps as the high places of a forest" Luke 18:8; so that, where once were ample houses and countless heaps of corn, there should only be a poor cottage, keeping up the show of fruit which has no refreshment for the soul."
The three places, Zion, Jerusalem, the Temple, describe the whole city in its political and religious aspects. Locally, Mount Zion, which occupies the southwest, "had upon it the Upper city," and "was by much the loftier, and length-ways the straighter." Jerusalem, as contrasted with Zion, represented the lower city , "supported" on the East by Mount Acra, and including the valley of Tyropoeon. South of Mount Acra and lower than it, at the South Eastern corner of the city, lay Mount Moriah or the Mount of the Lord's House, separated at this time from Mount Acra by a deep ravine, which was filled up by the Asmonaean princes, who lowered Mount Acra. It was joined to the northeast corner of Mount Zion by the causeway of Solomon across the Tyropoeon. The whole city then in all its parts was to be desolated.
And her prophets divine for money - The word rendered , "divine," is always used in a bad sense. These prophets then were false prophets, "her prophets" and not God's, which "divined," in reality or appearance, giving the answer which their employers, the rich men, wanted, as if it were an answer from God . Yet they also "judge for rewards," who look rather to the earthly than to the spiritual good; "they teach for hire," who seek in the first place the things of this world, instead of teaching for the glory of God and the good of souls, and regarding earthly things in the second place only, as the support of life.
And say, Is not the Lord among us? - And after all this, not understanding their sin, as though by their guilt they purchased the love of God, they said in their impenitence, that they were judges, prophets, priests, of God. They do all this, and yet "lean on the Lord;" they stay and trust, not in themselves, but in God; good in itself, had not they been evil! "And say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can (shall) come upon us." So Jeremiah says, "Trust ye not in lying words saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are these" Jeremiah 7:4. Sanch.: "He called them lying words, as being ofttimes repeated by the false prophets, to entice the credulous people to a false security" against the threatenings of God. As though God could not forsake His own people, nor cast away Zion which He had chosen for an habitation for Himself, nor profane His own holy place! Yet it was true that God "was among them," in the midst of them, as our Lord was among the Jews, though they knew Him not.
Yet if not in the midst of His people so as to hallow, God is in the midst of them to punish. But what else do we than these Jews did, if we lean on the Apostolic line, the possession of Holy Scripture, Sacraments, pure doctrine, without setting ourselves to gain to God the souls of our pagan population? or what else is it for a soul to trust in having been made a member of Christ, or in any gifts of God, unless it be bringing forth fruit with patience? : "Learn we too hence, that all trust in the Merits of Christ is vain, so long as any willfully persist in sin." John H. Mich: "Know we, that God will be in us also, if we have not faith alone, nor on this account rest, as it were, on Him, but if to faith there be added also the excelling in good works. For faith without works is dead. But when with the riches of faith works concur, then will God indeed be with us, and will strengthen us mightily, and account us friends, and gladden us as His true sons, and free us from all evil."
on Micah 3 :11
3:11 Lean - Pretend to trust in him. Among us - As our God and our shield.