“Micah prophesied during a period of intense social injustice in Judah. False prophets preached for riches, not for righteousness. Princes thrived on cruelty, violence, and corruption. Priests ministered more for greed than for God. Landlords stole from the poor and evicted widows. Judges lusted after bribes. Businessmen used deceitful scales and weights. Sin had infiltrated every segment of society. A word from God was mandatory.
Micah enumerates the sins of the nation, sins which will ultimately lead to destruction and captivity. But in the midst of blackness there is hope. A Divine Deliverer will appear and righteousness will prevail. Though justice is now trampled underfoot, it will one day triumph.”
In every prophetic record, the hearer (or reader) is reminded of God’s covenants to Moses and Abraham. If they obey, they will enjoy blessing. If they disobey, they will experience punishment. Ultimate restoration is promised.
The Christian legacy goes all the way back to God choosing Abraham and God choosing Moses.
One of the distinctions in Micah’s prophetic ministry is that he was a rural prophet.
Isaiah is speaking to kings and princes, people in power. But Micah is out in the country, in more remote areas.
“Social wrongs are always felt most acutely, not in the town, but in the country…Political discontent and religious heresy take their start among industrial and manufacturing centers, but the first springs of social revolt are nearly always found among rural populations.” (2.)
A common theme among the prophetic literature:
God will discipline His people, judging them for their sins, but He will also fulfill His covenant promises to His covenant people.
We’re reading the if-then of the ultimate future we hope for.
Micah will introduce the remnant a bit more pronounced than some of the other prophets: God’s covenant with His chosen people brings judgment, yet He preserves a remnant to whom He will give the land and bless the nations.
There are as many as 20 different sections of this book if you’d want to outline it into the minutiae. More simply, here are three specific oracles or messages, all beginning with “Hear” (Significance – Deuteronomy 6:4 – the great Shema. שָׁמַע Hear, O Israel!):
- Micah 1:2: Hear, O peoples, all of you;Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,The Lord from His holy temple.
- Micah 3:1: And I said,“Hear now, heads of Jacob And rulers of the house of Israel. Is it not for you to know justice?
- Micah 6:1: Hear now what the LORD is saying,“Arise, plead your case before the mountains,And let the hills hear your voice.
“Micah’s doctrine of the remnant is unique among the Prophets and is perhaps his most significant contribution to the prophetic theology of hope. The remnant is a force in the world, not simply a residue of people, as the word ‘remnant’ may seem to imply. It is a force that will ultimately conquer the world (4:11-13). This triumph, while presented in apparently militaristic terminology (4:13; 5:5-6), is actually accomplished by other than physical force [cf. Matt. 5:3-12]. By removing everything that robs his people of complete trust inHim (5:10-15), the Ruler from Bethlehem will effect the deliverance of his people. The source of power for God’s people in the world is their absolute trust in Him and His resources.” (3.)
This is a really good lesson.
The source of our power, confidence, trustworthiness is in God’s resources – not man’s.
Maybe not consciously, but the way we tend to function is to believe “If I do these things, I’ll be okay. I can expect a general trajectory for my life…” and that’s not necessarily wrong, but that’s dependent on man. When we’re doing our best, there’s nothing wrong with it – but the subtlety is: am I doing my best simply in the flesh? Galatians 2:20
Like all prophetic literature, warning and judgment are unmistakable themes.
Judgment on broad people groups:
Micah 1:2-6 judgment on samaria
Micah 3:9-12 judgmnet on Judah
Judgment on individuals:
2:3-5 land grabbers
3:5-12 false prophets, judges who take bribes, priests for hireAs well as a list of other unsavory sinners: the cheaters, violent, liars, deceptive, idolatrous, sorcerers, those with “wicked scales” we might say opportunists, murderers, and even those who treat parents with contempt.
Even with breathtaking judgment from broad to individual levels, there is a striking appeal of truth AND search for truth: Micah 4:2
There will come a time when men of many nations will “go up to the mountain of the Lord to learn of His ways…”
You go to Israel and you see the nations come to this little sliver of land. Why? What draws them there?
I think it’s God’s sense of humor. They’re coming looking for truth.
Many Bible students note that Micah has more references about the Advent of Messiah, Kingdom of Messiah, and Israel’s future than any other prophetic book.
Micah 5 offers a sweeping and delightful prophetic account of the coming Messiah (Micah 5:2-5).
Christ will come from Bethlehem Ephrathah. David was also born in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1, 19-19; 1 Samuel 17:12) and the Son of God, descendant of the throne of David. Matthew 2:3-6 refers to this text.
When unstoppable judgment comes, God’s requirements of man have not changed from the beginning. Micah 6:8.
God made man in His image. He made them – male and female – to have relationship, fellowship, with Him.
A most remarkable passage, perhaps overlooked because of the grandeur of Micah 6:8, but note: Micah 7:18-20.
As the book ends, what we read as a question (Who is a God like you?), we note: this is actually a word-play. “Who is a God like you,” in Hebrew, is the name Micah.
מִי־א ֵ֣ל כָׁמ֗וֹךָ
“Micah, by artfully inserting his name in the forgiven people’s hymn of praise at the end of his book (7:18), applies the meaning of his name, ‘Who is like Yahweh?’, to the Lord’s incomparable quality to forgive his guiltypeople and to be true to his promises to the patriarchs.” (4.)
To paraphrase Ralph Smith:
“This is only possible because God pardons iniquity and does not remain angry. He is a God of compassion who treads iniquities underfoot, casts sins into the depth of the sea, and keeps his covenant with Abraham (7:18–20). Micah caught a glimpse of the future kingdom of God when he saw that a future ruler of Israel would be born in Bethlehem. He would stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.” (5.)
In his first prophecy, Micah pictures Israel’s Ruler as a victorious conqueror. He rises from his heavenly throne, marches forth from his holy sanctuary, and strides upon the earth’s heights (Micah 1:3). Under the heat of the Lord’s glowing wrath and under his heavy tread, the eternal and majestic mountains melt and flow like hot wax, and the arable (able to be plowed, furrowed and used) plains where humankind finds its immediate source of life split apart like waterfalls roaring down a rocky gorge (Micah 1:4). When this majestic God suddenly erupts with awesome power, puny human walls and fortifications crumble and fall into ravines (Micah 1:6–7). Humans feel secure as long as the long-suffering God remains in heaven; but when he marches forth in judgment, they are gripped by the stark reality that they must meet the holy God in person. (6.)
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 261.
- George Adam Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets Commonly Called the Minor, 1:386, 387.
- Thomas McComiskey
- Donald J. Wiseman, T. Desmond Alexander, and Bruce K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 26, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 149.
- Ralph L. Smith, “Micah, Book Of,”Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1452.
- Bruce K. Waltke, “Micah, Theology Of,”in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed., Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 527.