Micah Chapter 1 Verse 1 states that Micah was from Moresheth Gath, around 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem - and he prophesied in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. As such this prophet overlaps with Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. During the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, the Northern Kingdom of Israel still existed and in fact persecuted the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Micah's prophesies concern both kingdoms and his message is both of judgment and grace. Perhaps one of the most beautiful verses in the Old Testament is found in this book.
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
In presenting this overview, I have created three divisions: The Announcement; The Complaint; and the Promise. Scripture references are from an online King James Version of the Bible at Bible Resources.org
The book commences with a declaration that God is about to go into action against his people.
Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the LORD from his holy temple. For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. Micah 1:2-5
Micah 6:2 ("The LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel") and Micah 6:4 ("For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam") make it clear that the behavior of the secular and religious leaders and the people in general, is not in line with what they were taught. They of all people should know better than to behave as they do.
When we look at what complaints are made against the Jewish Nations of Israel and Judah, we clearly see that the issues concern what we call today. "Social Justice".
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. Micah 2:1,2
Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth Micah 3:5
Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity Micah 3:9
The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money Micah 3: 11
Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? Micah 6:11
For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. Micah 6:12
The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men Micah 7:2
The prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire Micah 7:3
For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house. Micah 7:6
Micah 7:6 is Quoted by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 10:34-38
- Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
The Promise of judgment:
Although judgment will fall on both nations, Israel (Capital Samaria of the Northern Kingdom - Fell 722 BC) and Judah (Capital Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom fell 586 BC) are given hope. Some of the verses of promise given in Micah Chapters 4 and 5 are also Messianic prophesies referring to the end times and as such are not yet fulfilled. For the Jewish nation of the day, they related to the return from the Babylonian exile.
Micah 4:9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
Micah 4:10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
The Promise of Grace:
1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
Micah Chapter 5
2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest
Micah Chapter 7
8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
Micah 5:6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
At the height of the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jeroboam II of Israel, Israel enjoyed peace and prosperity due mainly to the weak political and military state of affairs in Syria and Assyria. One can only assume that the relative peace, security and prosperity led to a decrease in dependence on religious faith and following the Law of God. Hence we have 4 prophets arise to chastise the people and warn them of impending disaster. (Isaiah, Amos, Micah and Hosea).
Subsequent to the death of King Jeroboam II of Israel and the almost immediate murder of his son, there was a succession of usurpers on the throne of the Northern Kingdom, which, combined with the rise of Assyrian military power and expansion made Israel and Judah vulnerable. Had the religious and secular leaders paid attention to the messages of the prophets, they may have been spared the disaster that befell Israel in 722 BC.
The message in the books of Isaiah, Amos, Hosea and Micah are almost identical. Secular and religious leaders and those with the power that comes from wealth neither paid attention to doing what was right in the eyes of God nor treated the common man with decency and dignity. When leadership fails to set the right example for society, that society crumbles, and since these societies - Israel and Judah - were the chosen of God - 'a light of the Gentiles' * - the people of God through whom the world would come to know God, that society could not be allowed to degenerate to the level of the common pagan world. Chastisement leading to repentance was a necessity and the time was drawing near.
- The final prophet we will look at in this time period is the prophet Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is extensive and controversial and it will need to be broken down into several articles. The main focus in that exercise will be to continue following the theme of 'social justice'.
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES
No 1: The Prophet Amos
* Isaiah 42
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.