“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; AND A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” Matthew 10:34-36
This Old Testament quote by our Lord comes from the book of Micah, chapter seven.
Just so we can grab a bit of context from that passage in Micah, here’s verses five and six of chapter seven: “Do not trust in a neighbor; do not have confidence in a friend. From her who lies in your bosom guard your lips. For son treats father contemptuously, daughter rises up against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own household.” Jesus delivers this quote from the inspired record of Micah while imparting instructions to the twelve apostles He sent out to preach to the lost sheep of Israel. In particular, the apostles were told to preach “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). The apostles were also warned that they would be hated on account of the name of Jesus (Matt. 10:22) if the people chose not to receive them or their words. The warning delivered by Jesus and the quote from the book of Micah as mentioned above, would resonate with the apostles. Micah’s prophetic calling by the LORD is summarized well in chapter three of that book (read it!) but verse eight hones in on Micah’s mission: “On the other hand I am filled with power–with the Spirit of the LORD–and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin.” Chapter three of Micah deals with the message levied against the rulers of Israel who were twisting “everything that is straight”, leaders who “pronounce judgment for a bribe”, and the priests who “instruct for a price”. The divinely directed prophet then goes on to speak of how “Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins” (Micah 3:12) in judgment because the people scheme iniquity and work out evil on their beds. This judgment was to come at the hands of the Babylonians. Chapter four of Micah then speaks of the future restoration of the coming kingdom of the remnant of Israel (called the “kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem”; Mic. 4:8) that follows that judgment when the LORD will “reign over them in Mount Zion from now on and forever.” Obviously, that was still an unfulfilled prophecy in the days of Jesus’ earthly sojourn. The gospel accounts make it clear that Jesus had His “issues” with the religious leadership in Israel in His day as well. The message of the impending kingdom of Jesus Christ and the associated peace available only through Him as proclaimed by the apostles, would become the message of judgment if rejected. Jesus, in giving them their marching orders, knew many people would reject the message. Why? Well, no one likes being told they’re wrong! Micah likened the spiritual condition of Israel in his day thus: “The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among men. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; each of them hunts the other with a net. Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe, and a great man speaks the desire of his soul; so they weave it together. The best of them is like a briar, the most upright like a thorn hedge.” (Micah 7:2-4a) This is the context which precedes verses five and six of Micah chapter seven as quoted above. Parts of the last two chapters of the book of Micah are portrayed as a court case being adjured. God, through Micah, was rendering His decision on the coming judgment of the rebellious. Jesus communicated to His apostles that they were doing the same thing by proclaiming the message He had given them. It all hinged on whether one would confess Him or deny Him (Matt. 10:32-33) as the Messiah. We know per inspired New Testament writers, our Lord now reigns as King (Acts 2:36) and High Priest over the faithful remnant in Mount Zion in heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-24). Because we willingly have confessed Him and members of our physical families have not, many of us have personally experienced what He said would occur. But we can say as did Micah: “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7) Amen?