Welcome to our Bible Study Series on the Minor Prophets.
This is – Micah; Sin, Pardon, or God
Click on the link above for the study session. Find the notes below.
Micah; Sin, Pardon, or God:
- Let’s recap! We’ve looked at Hosea from the North, Joel in the South, then Amos, who was from the South, but served in the North. Then again Obadiah in the South. And Jonah, a prophet from the North, who tried to outrun God’s call being sent to Nineveh.
- Now we get to Micah. The book of Micah rebukes anyone who
would use social status or political power for personal gain. Crazy fact, one third of Micah exposes the sins of his countrymen, another third pictures the punishment God is about to send, and the final third holds out the hope of restoration once that discipline has ended.
- Yet, through it all, God’s righteous demands upon His people are clear: “To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). This bring us to the first point for tonight:
1. Micah’s Setting:
- The prophet Micah, whose name means “Who is like the Lord?” was one of the eighth century prophets, together with Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and Jonah. He is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18. This places Micah’s ministry in the days of Jotham (739–731 B.C.), Ahaz (731–715 B.C.) and Hezekiah (715–686 B.C.), kings of Judah.
- Micah’s home was Moresheth Gath (1:14); a town probably located about 40 kilometres Southwest of Jerusalem. Although from this area his main prophetic activity probably took place in Jerusalem. He addressed the “House of Jacob” – 2: 7 and “heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel” – 3: 1, 9. He also refers to the Temple as the “house of the God of Jacob” in 4: 1-2.
- Even though he refers to the destruction of Samaria in 1: 6-7, his
main concern is not the Northern Kingdom but Judah. Therefore the logical place for his ministry would be Jerusalem. Now unlike Amos and Hosea, Micah has related no account of his call to be a prophet, only the experience of carrying out his awesome task.
- Judging from the address, Micah directed his message to the leaders of Judah – 3: 1, 9 that hate the good and love the evil – 3: 2. He accuses them for building Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with violent injustice – 3: 10. He also accuses the people just in case they might think he would let them off the hook.
- In a beautiful question he portrays the heart of God who demands an answer: “My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied
you? Answer Me.” – 6: 3. Micah then, aimed his prophecy mainly at the civil and religious leaders of Judah, but he was not blinded to the sins of the people.
- So like Amos, Micah was a man of the country who had time for thought and clear vision. Blessed with Amos’ passion for justice and Hosea’s heart of love, Micah’s spirit burned with indignation over how the city dwellers oppressed the labourers. Yet his teaching is not entirely unique; he echoes great truths proclaimed by his predecessors and contemporaries, especially Isaiah of Jerusalem. So this is setting.
2. Micah’s Purpose:
- Now while Micah addresses Judah primarily, he also addresses the Northern Kingdom of Israel and predicts the fall of Samaria (1:6). Which tells us his ministry took place before the Assyrian captivity of Israel in 722 B.C.
- His strong condemnations of idolatry and immorality also suggest that his ministry largely preceded the sweeping religious reforms of Hezekiah. Now during the ministry of Micah, the kingdom of Israel continued to crumble inwardly and outwardly until its collapse in 722 B.C.
- The Assyrian Empire reached the peak of its power and became a constant threat to Judah. Babylon was still under Assyrian domination, and Micah’s prediction of a future Babylonian captivity for Judah (4:10) must have seemed unlikely.
- So Samaria’s doom is certain and Judah’s is not far behind. The people plan wickedness and oppress the poor without any concern for divine judgement on their behaviour. The corruption of the political and
religious leaders of Judah is also highlighted in chapter 3.
- However, God will restore His people and give them a true Ruler who will lead them in victory, but that hope stands only on the other side
of the judgement that is coming because they failed to accept their covenant responsibilities as God’s chosen people.
- So Micah exposes the injustices of Judah and the righteousness and justice of JHWH. He accuses the people for specific sins including oppression, bribery among Judges, prophets and priests, exploiting of the powerless, covetousness, cheating, violence and pride. He then predicts the judgement that will come as a result of those sins.
3. Micah’s Message:
- Micah’s message is comforting, if you are right with God – and daunting if you are not. See Micah’s view of God as the Covenant God, left his audience no room for escaping the consequences of their sins. The reason is; He is the God who demands moral obedience rather than
sacrificial appeasement – 6: 6-8. He required that Judah’s leaders knew justice – 3: 1, but their response had been to pervert it – 3: 9.
- So it is worthy to take note of the fact that Micah does not summon the members of the community to repentance or to change their ways, instead he directs them to the Lord – “plead your case” – 6: 1 – where He is the key witness and judge – 1: 2-7.
- Yet, in spite of the doom he had to announce over Judah, her people, leaders, priests and prophets, were called to repentance and offered a message of hope. That hope is JHWH’s sovereign rule. Micah stresses this truth which stretches beyond the national boundaries of Israel and includes the whole earth – 4: 1-4, 13, 7: 16-17.
- So the inevitability of that glorious future, with Messiah’s reign of peace, was assured by the forgiving, loving and
compassionate nature of the Lord Himself. And although the Lord was angry, He would not be like that forever. The Lord delights in steadfast love.
- He would tread the iniquities of Judah under His feet and cast their sins in the depth of the sea. This was no new face of JHWH, for
He had long ago sworn His steadfast love to Abraham – 7: 18-20.80, bring is to the application.
4. The Book’s Application:
- The book may be divided into three sections:
- the prediction of judgement (chs. 1–3),
- the prediction of restoration (chs. 4 and 5), and
- the plea for repentance (chs. 6 and 7).
- And the closing section of Micah describes a courtroom scene. God has a controversy with his people and He calls the mountains and hills together to form the jury as He sets forth His case. The great sin the people have committed was the replacement of a heartfelt worship
with empty rituals, thinking that this is what God wants.
- They have no concern for God’s standards of justice and righteousness in daily living. They have failed what God demands of man. The verdict: guilty!
- And yet, the book closes off on a note of hope. This is the perfection of God. Although He executes His judgement, He is always ready to extend His grace; Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”
- No wonder the prophet exclaims, “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” – 7: 7. Furthermore, the prediction of Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would be born in the city of Bethlehem is one of the clearest and most important of all Old Testament messianic prophecies. This prophecy concerning the
birthplace and eternity of our Lord and Saviour was made seven hundred years before His birth.
- The chief priests and scribes paraphrased this verse in Matt.2: 5-6 when they were questioned about His birthplace. Micah offers some of the best Old Testament descriptions of the righteous reign of Christ over
the whole world.
- Micah teaches us what is good for us, and what God requires of us, not religiosity but – to: Practice justice; Love kindness; and Walk humbly before God.
- Which is main teachings of this book, telling us that God hates injustice and wickedness. That God requires integrity and honesty. And that no one is like the Lord who forgives sin and whose covenant love and faithfulness are unfailing.