Teacher’s overview of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: Micah 3:1-12, “Leaders Needed”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson of Micah 3:1-2, for Sunday, November 13, 2022, with the title, “Leaders Needed.” A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

INTRO:  ONE way you could introduce this lesson would be to ask your class members if they had a favorite president or governor or other political leader – either from modern days, or from history — and why?

(One of mine is James A. Garfield, president of the U.S. in 1881 (he was assassinated in his first year) but he was a real Christian. He once said, “I had rather be beaten in Right than succeed in Wrong.” (Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic, p. 98) And there are many others I could name.)

You and your class members can discuss current and former leaders you admire, and why. 

THEN you could say: This morning our lesson is entitled, “Leaders Needed,” and our passage from the Book of Micah speaks about good and bad qualities of leaders, and how they are accountable to God for what they do.

OR for an alternate introduction, you could take a few minutes and discuss the results of the elections that were held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 all across the country. People may be talking about them anyway, so this may be a good way to plug into that. Then make the transition: “As a matter of fact, today’s lesson deals with “Leaders” — a very appropriate topic for this week!

However you decide to open the lesson, I’d then do a brief overview of the Book of Micah, and the CONTEXT for the lesson this week:

Chapter 1:1 gives us a bit of background: 

— it calls him “Micah of Moresheth” — Moresheth was a town on the border with the Philistines, about 30 miles SW of Jerusalem.

— it says it was “in the days of Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (SO he preached about the same time as Isaiah)

— and he prophesied concerning “Samaria and Jerusalem” (Samaria was the capital of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and Jerusalem was capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah. So Micah spoke to both the Northern & Southern kingdoms. 

— Jeremiah 26:18 mentions Micah; some people wanted to put Jeremiah to death, but others said, Micah preached judgment in the days of Hezekiah, but he didn’t put HIM to death. So Micah and his preaching are mentioned in Jeremiah.  

There are 7 Chapters in this brief book, and we are scheduled to do 3 lessons out of it as we finish our study in the Minor Prophets. Micah is probably best-known for 5:2, “But as for you Bethlehem … from you One will go forth from Me to be ruler”; the prophecy of Christ, that is often referred to during the Christmas season (we’ll look at that verse next week!). But there is more to Micah than that. He primarily preaches on sin and judgment, as most true prophets do:

— In Chapter 1 he speaks against both Judah and Israel for their idolatry (:7 etc.) 

— In Chapter 2 he preaches against those who scheme evil on their beds: and he mentions sins of taking advantage of people, evicting women from their homes (:9) etc.

— 2:11 is one of the most striking verses to me: “If a man walking after wind and falsehood had told lies and said, ‘I will speak out to you  concerning wine and liquor,’ he would be spokesman for this people.” Sarcastic language, and strong. But sadly, isn’t that starting to become true for OUR country today? What kind of leaders are we putting in office?  

This context brings us then to Chapter 3, which specifically deals with leaders. If you want to teach from an outline, you could do it like this:

I. God’s word to crooked leaders (:1-4, 9-11)

II. God’s word to religious leaders (:5-8,11)

III. God’s word of judgment because of these leaders (:12)

I. God’s word to crooked leaders.

In :1 He addresses the leaders. He calls them “heads of Jacob” and “rulers of the house of Israel.” He says, you’re supposed to know justice — people look to their leaders for justice in the land.

But he says in :2, “you hate good and love evil.” What’s wrong with that sentence? It’s the exact OPPOSITE, right? They’re supposed love good and hate evil, but they have it backwards! They LOVE evil, and HATE good!

(One way you could emphasize this for your group would be, before you look at these verses, to have those 5 words: “hate,” “good,” “love,” “evil,” “and”, on 5 cards, and scramble them on the table in front you. (Or write them on your DE board). Have your class “put them in order.” Any intelligent group will come up with “love good and hate evil.” Then you could say, “YES, that is what most people would say” — but then point out :2, that the leaders of Israel did the OPPOSITE: they love evil and hate good!

??? You could also apply this to today: what are some ways that leaders in America today love evil and hate good? 

(Answers could include: by loving the murder of babies through abortion; by hating the right to life; by loving homosexuality and perversions; by hating Biblical morality; by loving the distortion of gender; by hating God’s plan for gender — and so on)

Then:2-3 talk about how they “eat the flesh of My people” and “chop them up … as meat in a kettle.”

Now, understand that this is NOT literal; he’s not saying they are cannibals, who literally eat people. He’s speaking symbolically.

??? You might discuss with your group: “What specific kinds of  practices could he be referring to?” 

(We see some hints of it from their day in 2:2, which speaks of taking fields and inheritances from people; 2:8 says they take people’s robes; 2:9 says they evict women from their homes, etc.) 

??? And then I would ask: What are some practices TODAY that might be spoken of as “devouring” people?

(Answers could include: human trafficking; price gouging during the hurricanes and other emergencies; payday loans at exorbitant rates; You/your group can think of others. It’s anything that takes advantage of people. What he’s saying is, they make their living by taking advantage of people. We need to know that God does not look favorably on such things!  

Then in :9-11 God addresses the leaders again, using those same terms, “heads,” and “rulers.” He says they:

— abhor justice 

— and twist everything that is straight (we talked last week about “iniquity,” that it “twists” or distorts God’s good things, into evil.

— :10 says they build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with violent injustice. (Think of how Ahab took the field from Naboth)

— :11 Says it’s all about money for them. It emphasizes it three ways: “her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe. Her priests instruct for a price, her prophets divine for money.”  (We’ll talk about that some more in the next section …

II. God’s word to religious leaders

In :5-8, 11 God addresses a specific group of leaders: “the prophets who lead My people astray”

:5 He specifically addresses their motivation: “When they have something to bite with their teeth (I.e., when you give them something to eat) they cry ‘peace.’ But against him who puts nothing in their mouths they declare holy war.”

:11 ‘Her priests instruct for a price and her prophets divine for money.”

In other words, MONEY is these religious leaders’ motivation. 

Now, we need to be clear: there is nothing wrong with a minister being supported financially; both Old and New Testament teach that priests/ministers should be supported. I Cor. 9:14 says those who preach the gospel should make their living by the gospel. But “doing it for the money” is a whole different thing. Is money their motivation? Do they ONLY do it for the money? Do they make decisions based on money, instead of what is right, or what is God’s will?  

I once heard it said of a minister I knew, “He just loves money.” And I’m afraid to say, there was evidence that that was true.

When leaders, spiritual or political, make it all about money, they have gone astray. That is what had happened in Israel, and it is still happening today.

Sadly we don’t have to look far for examples of money-loving ministers: they make the headlines all the time. We might think of the “prosperity preachers” who flaunt money; who must have a Lear jet; who preach and teach about money all the time — 

??? One good discussion question might be: “What might be some outwards signs in a minister’s life, that he loved money?”

(Some answers might include: he always leaves to go to another church for more money; he has very expensive taste in clothes, cars, and other things; he pays special attention to wealthy people in his church; he always makes decisions in the church based on money — you/your group can think of more.)

But Micah says in :8 he is different: “But 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.”

Micah says he is not controlled by MONEY, but by the SPIRIT of God!  And one evidence of that, is that he preaches against SIN: he makes known their rebellious acts; their sin. Preaching against a people’s sin is not always good for the church budget! But that is what God has called His men to do. Over & over in scripture God says His true prophets preach against sin — and false prophets do not. 

— God says inJeremiah 23:22 if the false prophets had stood in His counsel, “they would have announced My words to My people and would have turned them back from their evil way”

— Ezekiel 13:22 says the false prophets did not encourage the wicked to turn from his wicked way.

False prophets do not address sin. True men of God do.

Micah says, I’m not concerned about money; I preached against their sin.  

I can tell you as a pastor, this is a struggle that every pastor faces. When you hear your pastor preach a strong message against sin, thank him for it, even if it stepped on your toes. I know it will be an encouragement and a blessing to him.

AND: this doesn’t just apply to pastors. As a Sunday School teacher/Bible study leader, you have that responsibility too. As you apply God’s word each week for your class, ask God to show you sins in your group that need to be addressed. Don’t be like the false prophets who didn’t have the courage to address sin. “Make known to Israel his sin.”  

III. God’s word of JUDGMENT on the wicked leaders

Because of the wickedness of the leaders in Judah and Israel, punishment was coming upon them and their land.

:12 “Therefore, on account of YOU, Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the Temple will become high places of a forest.”

This came to pass. Assyria devastated the Northern Kingdom and took many of them into captivity. A few years later Babylon ravaged Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and took many of them into captivity.  And these things came to pass.

I am currently reading a book by John Lloyd Stephens, an American who traveled to Egypt and the Holy Land in 1833. He went to the city of Jerusalem and looked at where the Temple used to be, and where the Muslim Mosque of Omar stands now. He wrote: “At the place where our Savior, more than eighteen hundred years ago, wept over the city and predicted its eternal ruin, I sat down on a rough stone to survey and muse over the favored and fallen Jerusalem. … Solomon and all his glory have departed; centuries ago the great temple which he built, ‘the glory of the whole earth,’ was a heap of ruins; in the prophetic words of our Savior, not one stone was left upon another; and, in the wanton spirit of triumph, a conquering general drove his plough over its sight.” (Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land, p. 357 )

Indeed, The old Babylonian Talmud (Jewish commentary on the scripture) says the Romans ran a plow over Zion on the 9th day of the Jewish month of Ab, and that Turnus Rufus, a Roman officer, plowed the area of the Temple. 

So Micah’s prophecy of destruction in :12, that Zion would be “plowed as a field,” literally came true!  

So our leaders are accountable to God for how they lead us.

But I think an important point to remember, is that the Bible teaches that people generally get the kind of leadership they deserve. Psalm 125:3 says: “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hand to do wrong.” That says God is not going to allow wicked rulers over a righteous people — basically saying that a people will have the kind of leadership they deserve.

This text teaches us that our leaders are accountable to God, surely. But we also see that we as a PEOPLE are responsible too. ESPECIALLY in a democracy, or republic like we have, where we ourselves VOTE for the rulers we have over us. So we need to pray for our rulers; we need to VOTE and participate in the process; and most importantly, we need to BE the kind of righteous people for whom God will provide good leaders.  This challenges all of us as God’s people!  

PRAYING FOR YOUR LEADERS.

One important application that I would make from the lesson this week, would be to encourage your group to regularly pray for their leaders on all levels. 

For example: I divide up my prayer requests and pray for different people and situations each day. Thursday is the day I pray for “authorities”/leaders. I pray for our officials like the President and Supreme Court, our two Senators and representative to Congress; our governor, state representatives, city council and mayor, local school principals, etc.  

This would be a great lesson to challenge your group to begin to pray for their leaders if they are not doing so already. 


ONE PROJECT you could do to help your class apply this, would be to make a “Leaders” or “Authorities” prayer sheet for them, that lists national, state, and local leaders for prayer. You might leave some blanks so they can add others too. Give these to your group, and encourage them to take at least one day every week that they would pray for their leaders. This will help them take the application of this lesson HOME with them, to put into practice every week — which is what we want them to do.

I hope this gives you some ideas for the passage this week. I encourage you to read this chapter over and over, pray about it, and ask God to help you apply it specifically the way that YOUR group needs.

Per my licensing agreement with Lifeway:

– These weekly lessons are based on content from Explore the Bible Adult Resources. The presentation is my own and has not been reviewed by Lifeway.

– Lifeway resources are available at: goExploretheBible.com  and: goexplorethebible.com/adults-training

– If you have questions about Explore the Bible resources you may send emails to explorethebible@lifeway.com

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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2 Responses to Teacher’s overview of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson: Micah 3:1-12, “Leaders Needed”

  1. Midge Wilson says:

    Thank you so much for your overviews. They are so helpful in trying to teach!

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