Intro: Do preachers impact the world? Can they change the direction of a nation? If we were make a list of those who have, Micah would certainly be on that list. He was called to speak to a one nation who sin was too severe to recover, and to another that was going down the same road. His courageous preaching contributed to a hundred year reprieve for the nation of Judah. (An Overview)
I. Micah, the prophet. His name means “Who is like Jehovah?”, and his message to God’s people focused on the absolute sovereignty of their God. Micah 1:1 – The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
A. Background: Micah prophesied from 735 – 700 BC. This places his work at the same time as Isaiah, and at least partially contemporary with both Amos and Hosea. The Assyrian conquest of the northern Kingdom of Israel takes place during his ministry. He revealed his message to both Samaria (Israel to the north), and Jerusalem (Judah to the south).
1. Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah… The three kings of Judah mentioned in these opening words not only help us place Micah’s prophecy in Israel’s history, but also depict the spiritually unstable time in which he spoke.
a. Jotham was the son of Uzziah, a good and prosperous king (although he died a leper w because his prosperity bred arrogance before God). Jotham also led Judah in the ways of God, but his righteousness did not forestall the moral decline of Judah. (2 Chron 27:2 – And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the Lord). But still the people acted corruptly.) God blessed Judah because of Jotham (2 Chron 27:6 –So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God. )
b. But after Jotham came his son, Ahaz, one of the most unrighteous kings of Judah. He even offered his own children on the altar of Baal. 2 Chron 28:1-4 – he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done. 2 For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. 3 He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. God allowed Judah to be defeated by Syria, and even Israel to the north. Ahaz was as bad as it could get.
c. But Ahaz was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah, whom we know as an exceptional king who sought to bring about true reform in Judah. 2 Chron 29:2 – And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. 2 Chron 31:20-21 – Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered. His dependence upon God brought about the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian army.
d. Although Isaiah is considered to be the prophet who was personally alongside Hezekiah, Micah, no doubt, influenced the reforms of his day. Jeremiah notes the influence of Micah’s strong preaching of judgment on Jerusalem during the days of Hezekiah. Jer 26:17-19 – Then certain of the elders of the land rose up and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying: 18 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest.”‘ 19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and seek the Lord’s favor? And the Lord relented concerning the doom which He had pronounced against them. But we are doing great evil against ourselves.” Micah became a symbol of fearless preaching.
e. Micah addressed many of the same things Isaiah did. But it seems that where Isaiah worked mostly in Jerusalem among the elite of society, Micah worked in the country among the people. Micah has little to say about the politics of the day. He chiefly dealt with the social and moral issues of the common people, and the adverse affect the leadership was having on them.
f. It was a tumultuous environment for Micah. The Assyrian threat was at its peak and the temptation was for God’s people to trust in alliances with other nations rather than serve God. Amidst this corruption there were signs of reform and a promise of righteousness. The worst and the best. This contrast is seen in the message of the prophet himself: certain judgment, but not without the hope of renewal.
B. The Message of Micah: Micah 1:2-3 – 2 Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! Let the Lord God be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. 3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; He will come down And tread on the high places of the earth. The prophet’s message speaks to the future of Israel and Judah, but he calls on all the earth to pay attention. God is in His Holy Temple in heaven(not the temple in unholy Jerusalem) and He is coming in judgment (out of His place) against all the high places among men.
1. The message of Micah is contained in 3 distinct prophetic addresses each beginning with a call for the people to “hear”: (1:2); (3:1); 6:1)
a. In chapters 1&2 Micah forcefully predicts the fall of both Israel and Judah, and describes the specific sins for which God is bringing this punishment. He is the last prophet to predict Israel’s fall, and the first to predict Judah’s captivity in Babylon.
Mic 1:6 “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the field, Places for planting a vineyard; I will pour down her stones into the valley, And I will uncover her foundations. The northern kingdom of Israel will fall… For her wounds are incurable. For it has come to Judah; It has come to the gate of My people — To Jerusalem (Mic 1:9) Micah predicts that the sin of Israel has influenced Judah and they will both be judged. (3:12 – Jerusalem will be “plowed like a field”)
b. In chapters 3,4 &5, Micah exposes the corruptness of Judah’s leaders (3:2 – “hate good, and love evil”) Micah 3:11 – Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” These words apply well today to the many religious leaders who use godliness as a way of gain, and exploit the people they are called to serve. God will not allow such unrighteousness to go unpunished.
But in the midst of this severe judgment, Micah points to a time of hope, when the nations of the world will say.. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Mic 4:2). Micah and Isaiah (2) use almost identical words to describe the time of the Messiah and the coming of the Lord’s church. These words point to Pentecost and the events of Acts 2.
One of the most powerful pictures of the coming Messiah is Micah’s prediction of Jesus’ birth. Mic 5:2-5 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” 3 Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. 4 And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; 5 And this One shall be peace. Micah not only specifies the place of Jesus’ birth as Bethlehem, but speaks of spiritual return of the remnant of God’s people under the leadership of a Shepherd who will bring true peace. Peter spoke about the redeeming power of Jesus’ death in 1 Peter 2:24-25 – he Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Paul spoke about the peace of the Messiah. Eph 2:13-17 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Christ Our Peace 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
c. In the last section of Micah’s message (6-7) there is a call for God’s people to defend themselves in a court of law. (“plead your case before the mountains” – 6:1) As in a courtroom, Micah asks some powerful questions to God’s people:
Micah 6:3 – My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. Is there any justification for their disobedience?
Micah 6:6-7 – With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? What does God require? Can I live as I want and simply offer a sacrifice in response, or does God expect more? Micah begins with the minimal (simple burnt offering of a calf) to the most precious thing they could give (their own son or daughter). But God does not require these sacrifices. He wants a penitent heart. He wants them to change how they treat God and each other.
Micah 6:10-11 – Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? 11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Was Jehovah expected to overlook their unscrupulous behavior? Should He just acquit them? Micah’s answer is no, God will not overlook their sin, but He will discipline them to bring them to repentance. Micah 6:13-15 – Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. 14 You will eat but not be satisfied… You will store up but save nothing…You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.
Conclusion: Micah was a powerful influence in his day. He is the fearless, powerful preacher calling his generation to repentance and obedience. He is also the harbinger of hope who passionately looks forward to the day of restoration when God’s people are at peace in the kingdom.
- In a very real way, Micah preached like Jesus.
- Like Jesus He spoke boldly of judgment to come (repent or you will all likewise perish.)
- Like Jesus he was disappointed at those who were given such privilege before God and instead rebelled against without cause.
- But like Jesus, he offered hope to those who would humble themselves before God and repent.
Mark 16:16 – He that believe and is baptized will be saved.