The Wine and Whiskey Preachers

Steve Petroelje

READ : Micah 2:9-13

“He would be the preacher for this people!” (v. 11)

Elmer Gantry is one of the most famous preachers of the 20th century, although the fictional creation of author Sinclair Lewis. Elmer Gantry’s portrayal of one preacher’s greed, immorality, and hypocrisy was intended to satirize the shallowness, materialism, and hypocrisy of middle-America’s churchgoers. But there’s nothing new about hypocritical religion. Micah beat Lewis to this story by twenty-six centuries.

Micah draws a distinction between God’s heart and Israel’s spiritual direction. These two authors, so different in purpose and point of view, saw the same problem. Micah begged his readers to “get real or get out.” Their religion was a cover for exploitation and consumption. They acted as if God was far away and didn’t care. Micah sarcastically suggests that the appropriate preacher for Judah’s congregations would be one who could discourse knowingly about wine and whiskey (v. 11). What sort of preacher might he suggest for our congregations today?

Yet, if you stop reading Micah at verse 11, you quit too soon. In verse 12 Micah speaks for God in the first person. God will gather. God will save. Come to God, follow him—this is the real message the people need to hear. Blessed are those with a preacher who proclaims it.


Lord, show us the path, we will follow.