About the Book of Micah
‘People, the *LORD told you what goodness is. This is what the *LORD wants you to do. Be fair to other people. Love kindness. Live humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8).
Here are some facts about who Micah was.
- He was the 6th in order of the minor *prophets. He was one of 12 minor *prophets. ‘Minor’ means that these *prophets wrote shorter *prophecies than the 4 greater *prophets. The greater ones were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
- Micah is called the Morasthite. This word means that he was an inhabitant of Moresheth Gath, a small village. It was about 22 miles south-west from Jerusalem.
- He was a *prophet when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. They were kings from 756 to 697 *BC.
Micah’s name means ‘Who is like Yahweh (God)?’ Yahweh is a *Hebrew name for God. And the answer to this question is that nobody is like God. Nobody is as wonderful as God is. Micah’s parents gave him that name. The name describes God’s wonderful character. In the end, God forgave his people. The end of Micah’s book describes this. The people sang a song to praise God (Micah 7:18). In *Hebrew, the song starts with the words ‘Who is like God?’ God is wonderful. There is nobody else like him. He is the God who has forgiven his guilty people. So Micah uses a form of his own name here. His name describes God’s goodness. God pities his people. He is kind to them. He forgives their *sins.
About the nations called *Israel and Judah
In the year 975 *BC, King Solomon’s nation, *Israel, became divided. The nation had not obeyed God or his laws. But God did not destroy the nation. A long time before that he had given them a promise. He had promised to send someone who would save *Israel. This person would come by means of Abraham’s family. After Abraham, the plan would continue. It would continue by means of his *descendant David. Then it would continue by means of David’s *descendants. God’s plan would succeed. He would bring Jesus the *Messiah into the world. He would save the world from *sin.
There was a war between Solomon son, Rehoboam, and a servant of Solomon called Jeroboam. Solomon had blessed Rehoboam. He appointed Rehoboam to be the new king. But Jeroboam had more power with the army chiefs. In the end, Rehoboam ruled only the southern part of the nation. He called it Judah. Jeroboam formed his government in the northern part. He kept the name *Israel for that part. Each man had declared himself to be the king that God had chosen.
At first, only Judah’s family followed Rehoboam, the king of Judah. Then the larger part of Benjamin’s family followed him too.
What happened in Judah and in *Israel, the divided nation
After Rehoboam’s death, the disagreement continued. The northern 10 families called themselves *Israel. The southern families called themselves Judah. The modern word ‘*Jew’ comes from that name. Judah remained loyal to the *covenant. Kings from David’s family continued to rule in Jerusalem, Judah’s capital.
In the northern nation (*Israel), there were several dynasties (groups of kings from the same family). This happened because the people did not obey the *covenant. In various different periods, *Israel’s kings had different cities as capitals. The last capital was Samaria. The kings of *Israel became powerful rulers. They controlled the people by means of changes to their religion. They changed the ways in which people prayed. They chose new *priests. They built two new *temples. One was at Dan (on the northern border of *Israel). The other was at Bethel (on *Israel’s border with Judah). There were many wars between *Israel and Judah.
Micah especially mentions three kings who ruled over the southern nation, Judah. They ruled in Jerusalem. But he does not mention the kings that ruled the northern nation in the same period. These kings ruled in *Israel’s capital, called Samaria. Micah would not have respected the northern nation. Neither would other *prophets such as Isaiah and Hosea. The reason was that, in the northern nation, the people themselves had appointed their kings. God had not chosen these kings. That is how the *prophets might have seen the situation. Micah, however, uses the name *Israel for both nations.
God sent many *prophets to Judah and *Israel. Some *prophets were *priests. Other *prophets were farmers. Some *prophets were rich and they advised the kings. Other *prophets lived much more simply. Some *prophets wrote down the things that they taught (their prophecies). Many other *prophets did not do that. But all the *prophets taught the people. They taught about right judgements in the courts. They taught about how people should be fair to other people. They taught that people need to trust God for help.
Many *prophets warned that the people would suffer defeat. Their enemies would take them away to different places abroad. That would happen if they did not start to obey God again. Some *prophets had dreams from God about future success. They also dreamed about future punishments. They understood God’s plans for their nation. They looked forward into the future. They looked forward to the time when a new king would come. He would rule the nation. Some *prophets saw that this king would come from David’s family. The new king would lead God’s people. He would lead them into a wonderful new age. Some *prophets described how this king would then rule always. Other *prophets saw that he would also be a servant. He would suffer many things. The things that this king suffered would cause his people to come back to God.
But all the *prophets saw that this king would be the *Messiah. He would be the man that God had chosen. The *Messiah would bring his people into the new age.
*Israel’s and Judah’s enemies would destroy those two nations
Some very important events happened during Micah’s life.
God had warned *Israel’s people about things that might happen in the future. But they had not listened to him. So in 722 or 721 *BC, an army came from a nation called Assyria. That army fought against the people in *Israel’s capital, Samaria. The *Assyrians defeated the people in that city. They took the people from their homes. They took *Israel’s people away to various places all over the country called Assyria. Their relatives in Judah could not have communication with them any longer. The *Assyrians then brought foreigners to live in *Israel. *Israel’s *priests taught these people. The *priests taught them about the religion that Judah’s and *Israel’s people had followed. Therefore many foreigners tried to obey the *covenant. These people were called the Samaritans (2 Kings chapter 17).
Then the *Assyrians tried to control Judah. They defeated the people in much of that country. But God saved Jerusalem. The people there defeated the king of Assyria. He returned to his home, where two of his sons killed him. God had saved Judah (2 Kings chapter 19).
Judah continued to exist for over 100 years after the defeat of *Israel. But in the end the army from Babylon defeated Judah’s people. The army led them away from Judah. So the people from Judah also became foreigners in another country.
This city is 30 miles north from Jerusalem. It is on a hill that has steep sides. The hill also has a long flat top, which was difficult to reach then. King Omri chose that hill as the place where he intended to build a city. The city would be the capital of the nation called *Israel. Omri bought the hill from a man called Shemer. Omri paid two pieces of silver for it. He built a city on the hill. He named the city Samaria. That name came from the name of the previous owner, Shemer (1 Kings 16:23, 24). This happened in 925 *BC. The hill was called the hill of Samaria. The city called Samaria became the capital for the 10 northern families. And people also gave the same name to that northern nation.
The structure of Micah’s book
The book consists of *prophecy. We can divide it into 3 sections:
Section 1 chapters 1-2
Section 2 chapters 3-5
Section 3 chapters 6-7.
Each section begins with the command ‘hear’ or ‘listen’. It starts with blame. It starts with things about which Micah warned. Each section then continues from judgement to hope. And it ends with a promise.
The first section has a magnificent start. It describes God’s punishment. God declares that he will punish *Israel and Judah because of their *sins. He will punish them because they *worship idols (verses 2-4). (An idol is something that people *worship instead of the one real God. It may be the sun, the moon, or any object or animal.) Then Micah describes how God will punish Samaria (verses 5-9). Its people will be slaves in another country (Micah 2:10). But immediately afterwards there is a promise about success and about a wonderful return (Micah 2:12-13).
The second section is especially for the rulers and leaders of the people. Their *sins are these: They have evil desire and they steal from other people. God blames them with strong words. First he *curses the people. Then he *blesses them. Then there is a promise that one day they will return to their country.
The last section is in chapters 6 and 7. God calls his people to a meeting with him. He argues with them. He speaks to them about urgent matters. His actions are right for his people. He has good reasons for his actions. His reasons are right and proper.
The book ends with a grand song that expresses happiness. God will rescue his people. A long time ago, God brought his people out of Egypt. It will be like that again. Everyone will agree with God. They will know that he is a kind God. He is a loyal God. He has done what he promised to do (Micah 7:16-20). The last verse is similar to what Zacharias the *priest later sang (Luke 1:72-73). Micah’s *prophecies are distinct and clear. He says that the Ruler (the *Messiah) will come. The Ruler will come from the town called Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Micah writes like Hosea and Isaiah. The words that he writes are strong and firm.
The messages in this book were especially for Samaria. This was the capital of *Israel. The messages were also for Jerusalem. This was the capital of Judah. God chose rulers to lead their nations. God intended that the rulers should *worship him. And they should obey him. Instead they led their people badly. They taught their people to *worship other gods. This was true about both nations. The rulers also cheated people. They robbed the poor people. God therefore had to punish *Israel and Judah.
However, God promised that things would change. The people in *Israel and in Judah would start to *worship him again. His people would live in safety and peace (Micah 4:3-4).
Sections in the Book of Micah
|1:1-2||Brief description of the book|
|Section 1||1:3-2:13||Punishment and Rescue|
|1:2-16||God will punish the people in Samaria and Judah|
|2:1-11||Evil leaders and false *prophets will suffer|
|2:12-13||God will bring a *remnant back to Zion (another name for Jerusalem)|
|Section 2||3:1-5:15||Micah accuses false leaders. He promises that a good, fair King will come|
|3:1-12||The false leaders of old Jerusalem will fail and that city will fall|
|4:1-8||New Jerusalem will have a high position over the nations|
|4:9-13||Zion’s (Jerusalem’s) people will suffer pains that will lead to the beginning of a new age|
|5:1-6||The *Messiah’s birth and his future greatness|
|5:7-9||The *remnant will rule the nations|
|5:10-15||God will protect his new *spiritually clean nation|
|Section 3||6:1-7:20||Third series of *prophecies. God will forgive the *remnant of his people|
|6:1-8||Micah accuses *Israel’s people because they have not obeyed the *covenant|
|6:9-16||The *curses in the *covenant will all become true for Jerusalem’s people|
|7:1-7||Jerusalem’s social structures will break apart|
|7:8-20||The Song about Success|