Micah tells us: “Her own rich men have become full of violence, and her own inhabitants have spoken falsehood, and their tongue is tricky in their mouth.” (Micah 6:12) It is good that we be aware of how those prophets condemned the “practicing of deception” and those whose “tongue is tricky in their mouth.” Thus even Christians, who would certainly not tell deliberate lies, can ask: ‘Might I at times practice deception or have a tricky tongue in my mouth? What does God desire of me in this respect?’
AVOID VIOLENCE IN YOUR DEALINGS
13. Micah 6:12 sheds light on what other problem that existed?
13 Micah 6:12 tells us that one way in which God’s ancient people mistreated others was ‘they spoke falsehood, and their tongue was tricky in their mouth.’ However, that verse identified yet another serious defect. It mentioned that the ‘rich men had become full of violence.’ How was that, and what lesson can we draw from it?
14, 15. Nations surrounding God’s people had what record as to violence?
14 Consider the reputation of some nations located near God’s people. To the northeast was Assyria, with its capital, Nineveh, about which Nahum wrote: “Woe to the city of bloodshed. She is all full of deception and of robbery. Prey does not depart!” (Nahum 3:1) The Assyrians were known for aggressive warfare and cruelty to prisoners of war—some prisoners were burned or skinned alive, and others were blinded or had their nose, ears, or fingers cut off. The book Gods, Graves, and Scholars says: “Nineveh was impressed on the consciousness of mankind by little else than murder, plunder, suppression, and the violation of the weak; by war and all manner of physical violence.” We have an eyewitness to (and possible sharer in) that violence. After hearing Jonah’s message, the king of Nineveh said regarding his people: “Let them cover themselves with sackcloth, man and domestic animal; and let them call out to God with strength and come back, each one from his bad way and from the violence that was in their hands.”—Jonah 3:6-8.*
15 Gross violence was not confined to Assyria. Edom, to the southeast of Judah, also faced retribution. Why? “As regards Edom, a wilderness of desolate waste it will become, because of the violence to the sons of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood.” (Joel 3:19) Did the Edomites take that warning to heart and end their violent ways? Some two centuries later, Obadiah wrote: “Your mighty men must become terrified, O Teman [an Edomite city], . . . Because of the violence to your brother Jacob, . . . you will have to be cut off to time indefinite.” (Obadiah 9, 10) What, though, about God’s people?
16. Amos and Habakkuk give us insight into what problem existing in their day?
16 Amos revealed the situation in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom: “‘See the many disorders in the midst of her and cases of defrauding inside her. And they have not known how to do what is straightforward,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘those who are storing up violence and despoiling.’” (Amos 3:9, 10) You might think that it would be different in Judah, where Jehovah’s temple was located. But Habakkuk, who lived in Judah, asked God: “How long shall I call to you for aid from violence, and you do not save? Why is it that you make me see what is hurtful, and you keep looking upon mere trouble? And why are despoiling and violence in front of me?”—Habakkuk 1:2, 3; 2:12.
17. Why might a tendency toward violence have developed among God’s people?
17 Could it be that violence became common among God’s people because they allowed themselves to be influenced by the attitude that Assyria, Edom, or other nations had toward violence? Solomon had warned of such a possibility: “Do not become envious of the man of violence, nor choose any of his ways.” (Proverbs 3:31; 24:1) Later, Jeremiah was specific: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Do not learn the way of the nations at all.’”—Jeremiah 10:2; Deuteronomy 18:9.