Micah :The man, his message, and the secret of his power
Micah came from the countryside who found the city life in conflict with God’s values. His message was one of judgement on the national sins of Judah—corruption, idol worship, injustice and prophets and priests who cared for money more than for God.
He was able to deliver a powerful message because of the Spirit of the Lord resting on his life: “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8).
At the same time, Micah, like most other prophets, also sounds a triumphant note of hope as he sees the Messiah come to rule and Jerusalem become the place of His throne (see Micah 4:7, 8).
Note: The Book of Micah is not a single speech delivered at one time. Instead it is a collection of various messages. The prophet hops quickly from one topic to another, sometimes talking about God’s judgement to come on Judah, sometimes foreseeing the coming of the Messiah and at times talking about the sins of Judah and its punishment. He also paints a bright picture of a glorious future for God’s people telling us a clear message that God’s purposes and plans will not fail. It will surely come to pass.
I The Messiah in Micah
Jesus Christ is presented to us by Micah seven centuries before He was born. His birthplace is clearly foretold as Bethlehem Ephrathah (5:2). There is no mistake about whom this prophecy refers to because the ruler’s “origins are from of old, from ancient times.” It can only refer to Jesus Christ, the Word of God (John 1:1).
Jesus Christ is presented as king (2:13), and reigning over the whole earth (4:1—7). The glorious future of the people of God with the Messiah as their head is thus painted here. Jerusalem or Zion will be His capital. His rule will be universal. Peace and prosperity, righteousness and justice will be the keynotes of His reign.
II Hear God
One of the key messages of Micah is hear God or listen to God. “The book of Micah seems to be divided into three parts, each beginning with, “Hear ye” (Micah 1:2, 3:1, 6:1). And each closes with a promise.
1. A promise of deliverance—2:12—13
2. A promise to overthrow the enemies in the land—5:10, 15
3. A fulfilment of promise to Abraham—7:20
–Taken from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears
III The Application of Micah’s Message
Micah teaches us that:
Surface Religion Is Useless
Religion and life-style must be linked. All the sacrifices in the world and all the religious meetings are useless unless there is also justice and kindness and humility (6:8). There is no way we can say “The Lord is with us” and claim His protection if our lives show that we don’t really care what God wants (3:11).
Business Life Matters As Well
God cares how we treat other people, and He isn’t interested in excuses like, “everybody does it” or “you couldn’t exist in business without . . .” (2:1—5). Treading on other people may help you climb the ladder, but the rewards will not be quite what you expect. Material wealth is not always the greatest blessing (6:9—15).
The Easy Answer Isn’t Always Right
We must never look just for the answers we want to hear. The kind of message that leaves a warm feeling isn’t always from the source we think (2:11)! Any message that claims to be from God must fit with what the Bible tells us of God’s love and justice (3:5—8).
The Character of God’s Messenger
He knows God is faithful—even when all around is in chaos. He speaks the truth even when people don’t want to hear it (2:6). He is conscious of a power not his own—and his messages reflect God’s justice (3:8).
— Taken from The Bible in Outline by Scripture Union
IV The Message of Judgement Concerning Sin (Micah 1—2)
The capital of Israel, Samaria, and the capital of Judah, Jerusalem, are mentioned by name and judgement pronounced on their sins. God said that He will make Samaria a heap of rubble (1:6) and describes Judah as “her wound is incurable” (1:8). The fall of Samaria was thus predicted. Even after that God gave 150 years for the people of Judah to repent. But they kept on with the sins of Israel and they also fell.
In verse 13 of chapter 1, the town Lachish is mentioned. This was a strong city. But this city started to copy the idolatry of Israel. So their negative certificate is, “You were the beginning of sin to the Daughter of Zion.” What a tragic statement! Compare the statement Jesus made, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7 NIV).
Micah also bluntly tells his people their sins (2:1—11). Along with idolatry (1:7), he finds covetousness, oppression, and violence (2:2). Even mention is made of women and children being driven away from their homes (2:9). Then there were plenty of false prophets who prophesied good things for the people instead of warning them of God’s coming judgement (2:11).
Now why was God concerned about society? It is because true worship of God demands right kind of living. It demands practical ways of demonstrating God’s love and care to others. This is why wherever the gospel has made an impact in the world, social conditions changed for the better. Yes, the light of the gospel shines and dispels darkness in the human heart and homes and societies as well.
V The Message to the Rulers Concerning the Coming Christ (Micah 3—5)
Leaders and prophets were called to be the pillars of the nation of Israel. But they got corrupted and rotted. The leaders are described as those “who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot” (3:3). The prophets are described as leading God’s people astray (3:5).
So God said He will not listen to their cry and that He will hide His face from them (3:4). Remember, unanswered prayer is mostly caused by sin in our lives. Compare Psalm 66:18, An awful description of the sins of the leaders, priests and prophets is given in 3:9—12; the worst of it being that they built Zion with bloodshed! Therefore punishment is predicted (3:12).
It is against this backdrop of gloom that the prophet sounds a note of hope. He looks forward to the day when Jesus the Messiah would rule from Jerusalem (4:1—8). The picture is of a universal reign with Zion as capital when its stature would be so high in the eyes of the nations that they will stream to it. The law of the Lord will go out from Zion and the world will listen to it. Instead of peace conferences that characterize the modern world, Jesus Christ Himself will settle disputes. And peace will reign on earth. Remember He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Then suddenly Micah predicts the coming captivity in Babylon (4:10) which came to pass 150 years later. “It is an amazing prophecy. At the time Assyria was sweeping everything before it. This was 100 years before the rise of the Babylonian empire. Yet Jerusalem survived the Assyrian onslaught, and lived on till Assyria was overthrown by Babylon, at whose hands Jerusalem fell, 606 B.C; and its people were carried away to Babylon” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
In 4:11, 12 the prophet again refers to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem and then suddenly zooms in on the coming ruler over Israel—the Messiah. Matthew makes a clear identification of this prophecy in Matthew 2:6 with the “one who was born king of the Jews!” This prophecy was thus the basis of the Messianic expectation of the Jews that a king, born as the Son of David will rule from Jerusalem.
VI A Note on “Remnant”
“The word ‘remnant’ is used often by the prophets. What does it mean? `Remnant’ means the small part of the nation that God always preserves for Himself (see Micah 2:12; 4:7; 5:3, 7—8; 7:18). –What the Bible is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
The remnant is likened to “dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass” (5:7). This talks about divine grace and enabling to be a blessing in those places where they were scattered by their enemies. Again they are likened to “like a lion among the beasts of the forest” (5:8). This talks about the strength that God will give His remaining people to triumph over their enemies in God’s chosen time. And “in that day” (5:10), God will destroy the confidences in which they had trusted in—their horses and their strong cities, their witchcraft and idols; and make them trust in God instead.
VII The Lord Argues His Case Against His People (Micah 6—7)
Hear we find the Lord prosecuting His people as if in court: “For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel” (6:2b NIV). God is asking how He had burdened them? And He reminds the people how He had brought them up from Egypt redeeming them from slavery and how he had turned curses into a blessing for them.
Now the people respond and ask God, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?” (6:6). They are desperate to get an answer and continue to ask if offerings would be enough to please God?
The answer to this question is given now. It is not by outward religious observances that you can walk with God. Instead, the answer is: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
● To act justly means to follow God’s just and fair principles in all areas of life.
● To love mercy demands of us a caring consideration for others.
● To walk humbly with your God is a call to have a personal relationship with God that is characterized by humility.
VIII Israel’s Guilt and Misery Described (6:9—7:6)
We find this portion opening with God’s call to the sinful city. It is reminded that to fear God’s name is wisdom (6:9). Then the sins of the land are listed out. And the words, “Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins” (6:13), proclaimed! The misery of Israel is so great that “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (7:2). Evil was so common that nobody had the confidence to trust even in those closest to them (see 7:5, 6).
IX The Prophet’s Hope (7:7—13)
Micah expresses hope in God that God will hear him. He describes himself in this way: “I wait for God my Saviour” (7:7). Dear young friend, can you confidently wait for God in the midst of chaos that is around you because of the explosion of sin, injustice, greed, oppression and violence? Can you have confidence in Him when you cannot put confidence “Even with her who lies in your embrace?” (7:5). Can you tell with conviction that God is my Saviour? Are you sure that God hears you when you pray? Think about these things.
The Prophet after having an upward look of hope to God now speaks to Israel’s enemy. He tells them: “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (7:8). The enemy had asked, “Where is the Lord your God?” (7:10b). The prophet acknowledges that it was Israel’s sin against God that brought about their downfall (7:9). But then he expresses the unfailing hope that God will bring the nation out into the light once again. And the nation is assured that “The day for building your walls will come.” (7:11).
X A Word for You Personally
Dear friend, all sin is ultimately against God and has consequences. It surely brings about our downfall. It can destroy us if we do not repent of our sins. There is every chance that you may fall into sin if you are not careful to walk with God. If it has already happened, do not give up. Wait for God your Saviour. He will still bring you into His light. Yes, there is hope even in darkness. The light of God will shine for you.
The prophet closes the book with a note on God’s pardoning grace. He extols the forgiveness of God towards His people. He notes, “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18b, 19 NIV). Someone has pointed out humourously but truthfully that when God hurls all our iniquities into the depths of the sea, He also puts up a sign there, “No fishing here!” Yes, when God forgives, He chooses never to bring those sins against us!
XI The Answer to Prayer
The final word is in answer to prayer. For the prophet had prayed to God, “Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest” (7:14). The people of God were now in danger. They were without help, alone in a forest with threats from enemies around them. The prayer is to God asking Him to own His sheep once again.
The prayer is answered, “As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders” (7:15) and finally in the firm conviction that, “You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago” (7:20).
Dear young friends, seek God in prayer. From sin and failure and punishment; there will be deliverance. Light will again shine and you will walk out of darkness. And God’s promises to you will be graciously fulfilled.