The Expository Files.

The Word of the Lord Came to Micah    

Minor Prophets Series #6  

Micah began his work as a prophet about 735 B.C. and continued up until about 700 B.C. He directed most of his words to Judah, the southern part of the divided kingdom, though some remarks are directed toward the northern kingdom of Israel (also referred to as Samaria). It is during this time frame that the predicted carrying away of the northern kingdom of Israel into Assyrian captivity takes place. Israel's infidelity had finally brought forth its bitterest fruit. It had been a long time coming and God had been more than patient, giving His people over two centuries in which to repent.

But Micah deals mainly with the southern kingdom and the more faithful of the two. Where Israel had one corrupt leader after another, Judah had ups and downs. There were periods of faithfulness to God as well as periods of digression and apostasy.

At the beginning of Micah's work, Judah is enjoying prosperity under the reign of Uzziah not seen since the days of Solomon. Unfortunately, and as was usually the case, Judah (also referred to as "Jerusalem" which was its capital city) did not deal with their prosperity very well, and declined morally and spiritually. Uzziah was succeeded by his son Jotham who was a good king and the nation continued to prosper. After Jotham came Ahaz, who was one of the worst kings Judah had in about every way possible. Judah saw a steep decline during his reign. Ahaz was succeeded by Hezekiah, an exceptional king who sought to bring about social, political and spiritual reforms. His dependence upon God brought about the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the powerful besieging Assyrian army. Though the king's decree brought about the needed actions,  unfortunately it seems as if the peoples' hearts were not in the reforms. One cannot change hearts through decrees. The results are Micah's warnings that proper actions without proper motive are not enough, and later history will show that following wicked kings are able to reverse the progress of Judah under Hezekiah almost overnight. It seems as if Judah is either too far gone already or too wishy washy to be firm in their resolve to obey the Lord. For that reason, in about another century, Judah will suffer a similar fate as Israel had as they are also taken into captivity. Though they did  better than their brethren to the north, and because of that lasted longer, ultimately their lack of enduring loyalty to God will bring their downfall as well.

"The word of the Lord which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem." (MICAH 1:1). There are several prominent themes of Micah's prophecy. Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, addressed many of the same things Isaiah did. But it seems that where Isaiah did most of his work in Jerusalem among the elite of society, Micah did his in the country among the people. Where Isaiah dealt with kings and leaders, civil policies and the religious leadership, Micah chiefly dealt with the social and moral issues of the common people, and the adverse affect the leadership was having on them.

Micah promises the coming judgment of God upon His people because of their disobedience, including both the houses of Israel as well as Judah. His point is that if the people deal faithfully with God and one another, Jehovah will bless them. But if they behave wickedly, they will lose their blessings. Another strong point is made that people cannot obtain the good graces of God by emptily following ritual. Micah also gives a clear revelation concerning the coming Messiah yet 700 years in the future, revealing several specific aspects about Him and His kingdom.

"For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth...All this is for the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?" (MICAH 1:3-5). The first chapter deals with the coming judgment and destruction of both Israel and Judah. In the second and third chapters some of the reasons why are given. They "scheme iniquity" and "work out evil on their beds!" (2:1). In other words, they lie awake at night dreaming up evil plans for the next day. They figure out ways to unjustly rob others of their fields, houses and inheritances (2:2). The Lord will repay their greed by taking everything away from them (2:3-5).

Micah also charges both false prophet and people by saying that they prefer easy, soft prophecies to those urging repentance and warning of the dangers of their present path. Particularly interesting is Micah's accusation of the peoples' lack of concern for what is true and right in favor of what is appealing: "If a man walking after wind and falsehood had told lies and said, 'I will speak to you concerning wine and liquor,' he would be spokesman to this people." (MICAH 2:11). Can you imagine supposed religious leaders using the pulpit to encourage drunkeness and other illicit behavior? Micah says that such would be right up these peoples' alley.

Micah levels more charges against the leadership of the land in chapter three. Vividly, he portrays the rulers of using their offices to betray the people and enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. The false prophets lead the people astray. Judges accept bribes and religion has become big business to the prophets and priests. For these things calamity will fall upon the nation.

Please remember that Micah is talking about events which took place seven centuries before Christ. You might need to remind yourself of this often, because it sounds so much like he is talking not about Israel and Judah, but about twentieth century America.

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." (MICAH 5:2). There are several rather long discourses about future events, including discussions about the Messiah to come. In the reference above, several things are stated about Him: He will arrive in Bethlehem, a small village in Judah. He will be a ruler of Israel. He is eternal. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (MATTHEW 2:5,6). Jesus was born to be a king over spiritual Israel (JOHN  18:36,37). Jesus is eternal (JOHN 1:1-3). Jesus fulfilled every detail of Micah's prophecies about Himself. The place of His birth was no lucky guess, but by the inspiration of God (LUKE 24:27; 44-47).

Another aspect of the coming Messiah is the nature of His kingdom and gospel. "And it will come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord will be established as the chief of mountains. I will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream into it. And many nations will come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.' For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (MICAH 4:1-2). Several points are made here about events which would occur seven centuries later. God's mountain, or kingdom, would be established. It would not be limited to only those of Israel or Judah, but people from all nations would become its citizens. Citizenship would not be by literal birth, but through receiving the teachings of the Messiah. The kingdom and the word of the Lord would begin at Jerusalem. Again, these prophecies find their fulfillment in first century events. The Lord's spiritual kingdom was established (MARK 1:15; 9:1; COLOSSIANS 1:13). Following Jesus' ascension to His heavenly throne, the gospel was preached, beginning at Jerusalem (ACTS 2:1-4). The first century saw the gospel preached to all nations as people from various cultures responded and were added to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, His church (MARK 16:15,16; ACTS 10: 34,35; COLOSSIANS 1:23; HEBREWS 12:22,23).

By Jon W. Quinn 
From Expository Files 4.6; June 1997