doctor giving diagnosis July 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Micah 1:9–2:13

Stopping a Spreading Cancer

“Bad news…it is a spreading cancer, an incurable disease,” says the doctor. “Unless we do an immediate surgery you will be dead in six weeks. Even then there is no guarantee the cancer will not come back. Do you want the surgery?” This is woeful news. The woman weeps and wails; she wants to live longer. “What will happen to my husband and children?” she asks herself. If we were in her place most of us would probably say, “Have the surgery.” What if we have spreading cancer in our spiritual lives? Do we want the surgery it will take so we can keep on living and enjoying our lives, or will we let sins’ cancer destroy us?

Israel was once a united kingdom. Then, because of Solomon’s idolatry late in life, the LORD raised up enemies against him. His kingdom was divided in the early reign of his son Rehoboam. Providentially, God used Rehoboam’s unruly pride in a labor dispute to divide the kingdom. Rehoboam was given two tribes, Benjamin and Judah, which became known from then on as the larger tribe, “Judah”. The labor union leader, Jeroboam, was given the ten northern tribes of Israel. He was made king of the new federation. From then on these ten tribes were known as “Israel” or “Jacob,” or by its most powerful and influential tribe, “Ephraim.”

Jeroboam led Israel into idolatry. He set up his own idols, worship centers and priests, and he followed after the sinful ways of the surrounding nations. Israel had an incurable cancer called sin. Instead of listening to the prophets (which could be likened to advice from a doctor), they went on living in their sin until their situation became incurable. God performed surgery by cutting Israel out of the land. Would Judah be saved or would Israel’s cancer affect her, too?

Micah was a prophet primarily to the nation of Judah, but he first prophesies to Israel because she is on the verge of being destroyed by her incurable cancer. Micah writes to Judah because he is also concerned about Judah’s prognosis. The prophet Micah weeps and wails because Israel’s cancer is also infecting Judah. “For her (Israel’s) wound is incurable; it has come to Judah” (Micah 1:9, NIV). Like Israel, she, too, does not listen to her doctors, the prophets. Micah continues, “Therefore, the LORD says: ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity’” (Micah 2:3, NIV). Judah will eventually be taken from her land as Israel was and foreigners will occupy it.

A typical response by patients when they receive a negative medical report and prognosis is to deny it. Judah is no different.

“Do not prophesy,” their [false] prophets say. “Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should it be said, O house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD angry? Does he do such things?” (Micah 2:6-7, NIV). *

In other words, the false prophets of Judah were saying, “God is good and we are his people. He wouldn't take our lives. Surely, God is not that angry with us.” What is God’s answer?

The LORD says to Judah (and by principle, to us), “Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright? Lately my people have risen up like an enemy” (Micah 2:7-8, NIV). What follows in Micah’s prophecy is a listing of Judah’s sins. If we are living a life of sin, injustice and unrighteousness, we are becoming like the nation of Judah. Although we may have a relationship with God, we are becoming like his enemies. The LORD therefore says to Judah, “Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy” (Micah 2:10, NIV). Let this judgment not be true in our own lives, that God would remove our place in this world because we are wicked.

What is Judah’s response? The response of her leaders is to get another opinion. They want to find prophets who will give them comforting words. By doing so, the leaders deceive themselves because judgment is near.

We can also find counselors and preachers who tell us what we want to hear. It is comforting, but it is deceptive. Listen to the Word of God. All sin is cancerous and must be removed. If you are living with cancerous sin, follow the diagnosis of good doctors (i.e., true preachers of God’s Word). Weep and wail over your sin. Ask the LORD to forgive you. Allow some surgery to be done to remove your cancerous sin and then he will forgive you and bring you back into his favor. Afterwards, live a healthy lifestyle—a life pleasing to the LORD. If you do that, God will have mercy on you and give you spiritual health and joy.

Note to readers: This Bible lesson does not intend to imply that those who have physical cancer are in sin. We know illnesses come upon us all. Micah 2:12-13 gives Israel hope, and we also have hope. Cancer may be a killer, but like the promise of a future land for Israel and Judah, those who trust in Jesus for their salvation have the promise of heaven (more...). The best part of this promise is that Jesus will be there, and he is the healer of our souls.

*Occasionally, Judah is called Jacob or Israel by the writing prophets and others because it is the remaining tribe after the northern kingdom is exiled.

Lessons to Live By

  • If we have a spiritual illness, we must get rid of that cancerous sin so we will not be destroyed or infect others.
  • Go to God for healing and forgiveness (more...).
  • Follow the prescriptions for spiritual health which are found in his Word, the Bible.
  • God desires our spiritual health and joy for now and into eternity

Focus Verse

Micah 6:8, NIV “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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A Look Ahead: The nation of Judah was given a bad prognosis, however, they don't understand it. How do we Understand Punishment and Discipline? What are we to learn from it? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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