I must say that I have enjoyed the challenge of writing an article about each book of the Hebrew Bible. It has forced me to seriously read each book and digest it so that I can share the bigger points. Micah has always been a great book and I have read the book of Micah many times. Honestly, I must admit that I had forgotten just how powerful and relevant this little book can be. As I prepared for this article, I read it repeatedly and was constantly reminded of its power and straightforwardness.
The name Micah means “who is like the Lord” and speaks to the message he preached. In Micah 7:18 he literally uses the phrase as he speaks about God’s ability to pardon and pass over sin simply because He chose it.
We are blessed to know a lot about Micah, especially in comparison to some of the other prophets. From vs. 1, we know that he was from Moresheth, a small town on the border of the Philistine city of Gath located about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. This was a small country town and helps us see why some call him “the country prophet.” We also know that he lived and worked during the reigns of three kings: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This would have made him a contemporary with Amos, Isaiah, and Hosea. Dates for the book range from 740-700 B.C. Based on Jeremiah 26:18, I think we would be safe saying that Micah enjoyed success as a prophet and was well known since a hundred years after his death people still remember him and his message.
The background of Micah’s work is a dark time for the people of God. It was a time of great turmoil, strife, and growth in Judah. Internally, it was because they were turning away from God. The better life became for the average person in the nation, the further they turned from Him. It gets worse because of Tiglath-Pileser III (745B.C.) began his quest to build an Assyrian empire that needed trade routes, money, slaves, and land. When Syria and Israel attack Judah, Ahaz is forced to turn to Tiglath-Pileser for support and becomes a vassal of Assyria (2 Kings 15). Soon the Assyrian king conquers Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom of Israel) and sends them into exile. This was a time of great corruption and greed but also a time of great military powers, all vying for control of the trade routes through Israel.
The book of Micah is divided in many ways, but the way that works best for me is to divide the book into three major divisions. Each section begins with the words “Hear, you…” and ends with hope (Micah 1:2; 3:1; 6:1). Each begins with judgment but ends with hope (Micah 2:12-13; 4:1-5:15; 7:7-20). This gives us a great little division that helps us see the focus of the book.
There are two passages that stand out in the book. Micah 4:1-4 and Isa. 2:2-4 both echo the reality that God is going to do something amazing for his people. Both passages speak of God building His house in Jerusalem which refers to the church. The only real difference is found in Micah 4:4 where he talks about God restoring the nation to a time of peace when each person will sit under his vine and fig tree in peace. The interesting thing about this is that Jesus mentions this in John 1:47-51. When he tells Nathanael that he saw him under the fig tree, Jesus is connecting this with Micah’s prophecy about peace. You cannot mention Micah without thinking about Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. It was Micah in chapter 5:2 that prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:3-6).
Lessons we learn from Micah are, “no one is like our God” and that what He wants is our hearts, not just blind obedience (Micah 6:6-9). We learn that how you treat people is important to God, but he can and will forgive us.
Let me encourage you to read the little book of Micah. It is relevant and powerful, containing over 20 different prophesies, each one speaking to the kind of people God wants us to be.