Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. — Matthew 10:18
Only the King James Version uses “against” here. All others use “to.” Why not against? Didn’t the translators understand Jesus’ meaning? I think Micah would have understood. A prophet “in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah,” Micah spoke the word of God to Israel and Judah (1:1). He condemned them for their adultery, idolatry, and oppression of the poor and warned that God would judge them in righteousness.
Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! Let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? — Micah 1:2-5 (NKJV)
Like Ezekiel prophesying to the wind so it could enter the dead bodies (37:9), Micah thought he was spitting into the wind. He thought no one was listening because they had all forsaken God, but he prophesied anyway as God commanded him. Micah didn’t know that King Hezekiah was listening – and obeying (Jeremiah 26:18-19). He reformed Judah as a result. 2 Chronicles (29-31) records Hezekiah’s reformation. Only Jeremiah mentions Micah. Hundreds of years later, chief priests and scribes also listened to this forsaken prophet. They told the wise men in Jerusalem that the king of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5-6).
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. — Micah 5:2 (NKJV)
Even if few people listened to Micah while he was alive, his prophecy against Israel and Judah was God-ordained and God would judge his people because of it. Thanks to Micah’s preaching, no one had excuses. Still, one human king listened and reformed Jerusalem. A greater divine king, Jesus Christ, was born outside Jerusalem in order to fulfill Micah’s prophecy.
Jesus died, as he was born and as he lived, outside Jerusalem. The city didn’t want him. When he died on a cross, to the disciples Jesus’ 3.5-year preaching and reformation tour seemed like a dismal failure. But Jesus had already judged Israel for her rejection of him (Matthew 23:37-39). His preaching was “a testimony against them” and they had no excuses. Israel’s rejection of her Messiah produced destruction (24:2). But Jesus Christ will come again. He will stand on the Mount of Olives one day and save Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4). Israel will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (23:39).
As with Jesus, so with his disciples. He told them to preach to “the lost sheep” in Israel that “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 10:6-7). Jesus also told them to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, [and] cast out demons” (10:8). Only those who believed the disciples received God’s words and miracles. Those who rejected them would be judged. The disciples’ preaching would be “a testimony against them.”
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! — Matthew 10:14-15 (NKJV)
Why would Sodom and Gomorrah be more tolerable? No one preached righteousness to them. While Noah was building the ark for 100 years, he also preached righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). Did anyone listen? No. Only eight people entered the ark, as God had said 100 years before (6:18, 7:1). I think God led Noah to preach so that when the prophesied flood finally came, no one would have excuses. Noah’s preaching was “a testimony against them.”
- Cain rejected the word of God and was cursed (Genesis 4).
- The world rejected the word of God through Noah and was destroyed by a flood (Genesis 6-8).
- Egypt’s pharaoh rejected the word of God through Moses and lost his oldest son and his chariots (Exodus 4-14).
- God witnessed against his people through the law placed in the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:26).
- Moses witnessed against God’s people through his prophetic song (Deuteronomy 31:21).
- Through all his prophets, God “testified against Israel and against Judah” (2 Kings 17:13; cf 1 Samuel 12:3-5, Nehemiah 9:34, Psalm 50:7, Isaiah 3:9, Malachi 3:5).
- Israel rejected the word and person of her Messiah Jesus Christ and was destroyed by a Roman army in AD 70.
- James said the treasures of the rich would be a “witness against” them during eternal judgment (James 5:3).
- After the Great Tribulation, unbelievers will reject the word of God and be thrown into hell for eternity (Revelation 19-21). They will be damned for believing a lie and choosing not to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Few people read my writing. I feel like I’m spitting into the wind. “Is anyone listening? Can you hear me now?” This fact used to anger me, but I’m fine with it now. God will direct my words to those who need to hear them. Until then, my words are a “testimony against them” – unbelievers, sleeping Christians, and spiritually lazy ones. The former don’t listen. The latter don’t preach. I wonder what God has in store for those who reject my words. It won’t be pretty.