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It is important to know something about the man Micah as well as his message. His name means “who is like Jehovah?” The word has the same derivation as Michael (the name of the archangel) which means “who is like God?” There are many Micahs mentioned in the Scriptures, but this man is identified as a Morasthite (Mic. 1:1), since he was an inhabitant of Moresheth–gath (Mic. 1:14), a place about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem, near Lachish. He is not to be confused with any other Micah of Scripture.
Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (see Mic. 1:1), who were kings of Judah. However, his prophecy concerns Samaria and Jerusalem. Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, while Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. Although he was a man from the southern kingdom, a great deal of his prophecy had to do with the northern kingdom. He spoke to the nation during the time that the northern kingdom was being attacked by Assyria. Although the southern kingdom was attacked also, it was the northern kingdom that actually was carried away into Assyrian captivity.
Micah was a contemporary of three other prophets: Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. It is possible that he was a friend of Isaiah, and his prophecy has been called that of a miniature Book of Isaiah. There are many striking similarities between the two. For many people, Micah is the favorite of the minor prophets. It is one of the most remarkable books as to style. If you appreciate beautiful language, if you appreciate poetry, and if you appreciate literature, you will appreciate Micah. The writing is pungent, and personal. Micah was trenchant, touching, and tender. He was realistic and reportorial—he would have made a good war correspondent. There is an exquisite beauty about this brochure which combines God’s infinite tenderness with His judgments. There are several famous passages which are familiar to the average Christian, although he may not recognize them as coming from Micah. Through the gloom of impending judgment, Micah saw clearly the coming glory of the redemption of Israel, which makes this a remarkable book.
Micah pronounced judgment on the cities of Israel and on Jerusalem in Judah. These centers influenced the people of the nation. These were the urban problems that sound very much like our present–day problems. Micah condemned violence, corruption, robbery, covetousness, gross materialism, spiritual bankruptcy, and illicit sex. He well could be labeled “the prophet of the city.”
The theme of Micah is very important to understand. Customarily, Micah is considered a prophet of judgment. That seems to be true since in the first three chapters there is a great emphasis on judgment. However, although the first three chapters are denunciatory, the last four chapters are consolatory. His great question is found in one of the loveliest passages of Scripture. “Who is like unto Thee?” that is, unto God. We find that Micah emphasizes that theme as he goes along. In the first thee chapters: Who is like unto God in proclaiming—that is, in witnessing? In chapters 4 and 5: Who is like unto God in prophesying, in consoling? In chapter 6: Who is like unto God in pleading? Finally, in chapter 7: Who is like unto God in pardoning? This is what makes Micah a wonderful little book. The main theme of the book is God’s judgment and redemption—both are there. The key verse, to me, is Micah 7:18 which says, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.”
God hates sin, but He loves the souls of sinners, and He wants to save them. Judgment is called God’s “strange work.” It is strange because He does not like to judge. But since He is a holy God and hates sin, He must deal with any rebellion. He couldn’t do otherwise. But He still loves the souls of sinners: He wants to save them, and He will save them if they come to Him in faith.
This little book can be divided in an interesting way. The more natural division of the prophecy is to note that Micah gave three messages, each beginning with the injunction, “Hear” (Mic. 1:2, 3:1; 6:1). The first message is addressed to “all people,” and the second message is addressed specifically to the leaders of Israel. The third message is a personal word of pleading to Israel to repent and return to God.
Now let me refer briefly to the attack upon the unity of this book by the German higher critics of many years ago. They made the same attack which they made upon the prophecy of Isaiah, which has been well answered by conservative scholarship. Therefore we will not waste time by delving into it. I find it interesting that Jeremiah quoted from Micah, which reveals the importance of Micah in his day. “Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest” (Jer. 26:18). Of course, the people paid no more attention to Jeremiah than they had to Micah, and what Micah had prophesied did happen to Jerusalem exactly as he said it would.
Many folk, especially young preachers who want to give an exposition, have asked me how to begin. I would say, not only to young preachers but to everyone who wants to study the Bible, first of all, get a grasp of the message of an entire book. What is it all about? What is the author trying to say? What is the main message? To get this information you must outline the book. In Micah we find that the message is, “Who is like God in proclaiming, in prophesying, in pleading, and in pardoning?” That is how the Book of Micah is divided.
(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 29: Jonah & Micah. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)