Micah - Discover the Book Ministries


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The most amazing event surrounding Micah is barely (maybe alluded to in  4:11-13) even mentioned in this little book. It is the astounding way God revealed Himself in revival after the faithful preaching of Micah. Perhaps the sum of his preaching would be watch, wait and win (7:7-8)! After 16 to 25 years of preaching, in a time of crisis, Jerusalem turns to their Lord. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was weak. They had recently lost 120,000 soldiers in one day of  civil war (II Chronicles 28:6). But year after year, Micah and Isaiah’s messages strike home. In the most desperate hour, Hezekiah humbles himself. Sennacherib’s army is mortally wounded. (II Kings 18-19; II Chronicles 32; Isaiah 36-37 report 185,000 Assyrians are killed in a single night by an angel.)  That is revival and the hand of God. But now, to the text.

Over the past 20 plus years, I have ministered in prisons, institutions, and city slums around the world. Few scenes compare with what we saw on our trips to Egypt.  Humans living like animals. In holes and tombs, from caves and shacks, with broken limbs, little or no clothing, and approaching starvation. Why are the poor so plagued?  What did they do to warrant their lot in life?  In a day when leaders have no solutions, do the less fortunate have any hope? As the media focuses on the plight of the rest of the world, the handicapped, and the poor, all of us need answers.  The Old Testament prophet Micah is timely and relevant in our day. He gives answers to these very questions.

Micah was contemporary with the prophet Isaiah[1].  But while Isaiah was a court poet, Micah was from a small village.  Isaiah was a statesman, a herald to kings.  But Micah was an evangelist and social reformer, God’s messenger to the misfortunate, oppressed common people.  Micah’s message, however, like Isaiah’s, is one of hope.  Both speak of the birth of the coming Messiah and the salvation He would bring.  And in two of the most remarkable passages in all of Scripture, both speak, almost word for word, of Israel’s future and the coming glorious earthly reign of the Messiah (Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3). Only seven chapters long, Micah’s message contains some of the most familiar passages in all of Scripture.  For example, the prophet announces the place of the Messiah’s birth: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (5:2).

If we were to choose a birthplace for the King of kings, we would pick a city like New York, London, or Tokyo-if not Jerusalem.  But Micah said it would be Bethlehem, a small city, where Christ would share the burdens of the poor This is why Micah, the prophet of the poor, gives this great announcement. He gives another familiar prophecy, one that relates to godly living: “He has told you, 0 man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).  This should be the goal of our lives.

Micah lived at Moresheth-gath (1:1, 14), 20 to 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem.  An obscure village that at one time had been under the rule of the Philistine city of Gath, it was near the busy highway that went from Egypt to Jerusalem.  Although he was a country boy, Micah would be well acquainted with the problems of a fast-moving, high-living society.

According to verse 1, he ministered during the reign of three major kings of Judah: Jotham (742-735 B.C.) Ahaz (735-715 B.C. ), and Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.). Jotham, for the most part, was a good king, one who “did right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 27:2).  But although he supported Micah’s spiritual program, Jotham did not remove the idolatrous high places from his kingdom.  Many also grew rich and prosperous at the expense of others.

Ahaz, on the other hand, had no regard for the Lord.  Instead of recognizing Judah’s sins, he formed alliances with the Assyrians.  The people were forced to pay high taxes to foreign powers.  Landlords confiscated property and threw widows into the streets.

Ahaz introduced more idolatry as he set aside God’s altar and substituted one of heathen design.  Israel needed a reminder of God’s judgment.  During Ahaz’s reign the northern tribes were taken captive. King Hezekiah succeeded Ahaz.  Hezekiah honored God in his administration and demonstrated it through outward form and ceremony But his reforms were too little and too late.  Conditions became hopeless. The people had welcomed compromise for so long that it was difficult to turn back.  Leaders wanted only money, not ministry.  Commercialism and materialism ruled the day.  Although the people went through the motions of worship, they harbored hearts of impurity, injustice, and oppression.

I.                    WORSHIPPING Christ IN Micah:

A.                 LESSON ONE: LIVE THE TRUTH.  One deeply impactful truth  Micah points out is that as the leaders go, so go the people.  He says Jerusalem’s leaders “pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price, and her prophets divine for money” (3:11).  For this reason, he says, “Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins’ (3:12). Wherever we are in life, all of us exercise some leadership.  A genuine leader serves others, not himself.  Others can be led no further than we ourselves have gone. This standard qualifies any who want to rule in our church, community, and country.

B.                 LESSON TWO: LOOK TO JESUS. Micah points to Jesus Christ as the only answer to the world’s problems.  The poor, the oppressed, and the misfortunate have the “breaker [who] goes up before them” (2:13).  The Messiah breaks through the obstacles in the path ahead. In the future He will do this for Israel, when the remnant is gathered into the fold.  Today He helps us through our perplexing paths as we trust in Him.

C.                LESSON THREE: PARADISE CHRIST’S PROMISED PEACE IS RETURNING. Messiah’s kingdom will come (4:1-8), and Jerusalem will be its center (4:1,2).  Peace will reign.  Nations “will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war” (4:3). Prosperity will abound, each will “sit under his vine and … fig tree” (4:4). God will be central as “we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever” (4:5).  The same God who brings heaven to earth can bring solutions to our problems today.

D.                LESSON FOUR: CLOTHED WITH CHRIST IS GOD’S EXPECTATIONS  What does God want from us?  Micah answers that, too: “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).  No one is exempt.. Justice suggests  pursuing  God’s law.  Kindness is the Old Testament word lovingkindness; it means “grace,” “favor,” or “compassion.”  Micah says it is not enough just to do God’s law.  Love it. Pursue it. .Make it our way of life. follow the spirit not just the letter of God’s Word. Finally, “to walk humbly,” means to bow down before our God. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (KJV).  We think and act in oneness with him.  As Enoch and Noah walked with God (Gen. 5:24; 6:9), so should we. How can we achieve this holy requirement?  Micah gave promises of the Messiah’s coming (2:13; 5:2) The New Testament shows us the new and living way. Through the blood of the new covenant, we have the power and desire to do His will  (John 1:12Ezekiel 36:26-27;Hebrews 13:20-21).

II.                   THE MESSAGES OF THIS BOOK: THE FIRST PROPHECY (1:1-2:13)Each of the three sections of Micah begins with the word hear (1:2; 3:1; 6:1).  Each time, the prophet denounces the people’s sin, how they had turned their backs on God.  But each time he also gives a promise of the future, the hope they would have by trusting in the Lord. His first message (1:1-2:13) describes the judgment God would bring upon both Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitals of the northern and southern kingdoms.  Why would God judge them?  Because of their idolatry-going after other things, other ways, and other gods.  Micah concludes that the “wound is incurable” (1:9).  God’s judgment must come.

A.                 The Pronouncing of Judgment (1:1-2:11) GOD REMEMBERS 1.2-5; 5.10-15

1.                  His Word Declares:

a)                 He sends a Messenger.  v. 1 Who was this man Micah?  His name means “Who is like Jehovah?” and was common among the Hebrews.  At least six other Micahs are mentioned in Scripture. Micah lived at Moresheth-gath (1:1, 14), 20 to 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem.  An obscure village that at one time had been under the rule of the Philistine city of Gath, it was near the busy highway that went from Egypt to Jerusalem.  Although he was a country boy, Micah would be well acquainted with the problems of a fast-moving, high-living society. According to verse 1, he ministered during the reign of three major kings of Judah: Jotham (742-735 B.C.) Ahaz (735-715 B.C. ), and Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.).

b)                 He gives His Message v. 2a The book divides naturally into three sections:

(1)               The LOCALS or people are summoned to listen in chapters 1-2. Imminent judgment is predicted. “Hear, all ye people” (1:2)

(2)               The LEADERS are summoned to listen in chapters 3-5. Present repentance is called for.  “Hear, o heads of Jacob” (3:1)

(3)               The LAND is summoned to listen in chapters 6-7. Ultimate blessing is promised. “Hear . . .ye mountains” (6:1)

c)                  He is the Master v. 2b From His Holy Temple God rules.

(1)               HE IS AWESOME. Psalm 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. (KJV)

(2)               HE IS ALL PRESENT. Zechariah 6:5And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. (KJV)

(3)               HE IS ALMIGHTY. Joshua 3:10-13And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. 12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. (KJV)

2.                  His Word Describes the Doom of Israel (1:8-16)

a)                 The first[2] of the cities is Beth Ophrah (v. 10).  To Micah the second part of the name sounded like ‘tipiir, which means “dust.” So he told the citizens of this city to “roll in the dust.” That is, they will cover themselves with dust in a traditional rite of mourning.

b)                 The next city, Shaphir (v. 11), sounds like the word for “beautiful.” But it will not be beautiful for long, said Micah.  Instead its citizens will be marched away naked and in shame, as will others of the southern kingdom.

c)                  Zaanan (v. 11) sounds like the Hebrew word for “exit” or “go out” (yiitsii).  But just like the beautiful city, which will not be beautiful, so this city will not go out to face its enemies.  The citizens will be shut up inside their city like animals, and they will remain there until the city falls.

d)                 Beth Ezel (v. 11) means “the nearby city.” But it will not be near in that day.  It will be so taken up with its own mourning that it will be of no help to the other cities.

e)                 The citizens of Maroth (“bitterness”) will writhe in bitterness (v. 12).

f)                    Lachish (v. 13), a well-known military city about thirty miles southwest of Jerusalem, was famous for its chariot horses.  Micah says that in the Day of Judgment these will be harnessed up, but the implication is that they will be harnessed to flee, not to fight.  This important city was taken years later at the time of Sennacherib’s invasion. Sennacherib considered its conquest significant, for he used scenes from the city’s encirclement and fall to decorate his great palace at Nineveh.  Today these reliefs are in the British Museum.

g)                 Moresheth (v. 14), Micah’s home town, sounds like meoreshet (“betrothed”).  So he speaks of giving the city wedding gifts as she passes from the rule of her own family to the authority of her cruet new husband, the invader.

h)                  Aczib (v. 14) sounds like ‘aksab (“deceitful, disappointing”).  Micah says she will “prove deceptive to the kings of Israel” (v. 14).

i)                    Mareshah (v. 15) is related to the word yeresh (“possessor, heir”).  She will be possessed by someone else.

j)                    Adullam (v. 15) was the place of refuge to which David had gone during the dismal days when he was in flight from King Saul.  It will happen again, says Micah, for the aristocracy of Israel will be forced to take refuge in this area.

3.                  The chapter closes with an appeal to Jerusalem as the father or mother of the outlying villages, her children.  The people of Jerusalem are to shave their heads in mourning, for the children in whom they delight are to be taken away into exile.  Exile!  This is the climax of the chapter.  For although Micah has been moving his readers in this direction, he has nevertheless not used this word until now.  Now that he does, nothing could be more dreaded or more severe.  To go into exile was to become a slave, and to have an entire people exiled was the death of the nation. Can we feel the force of this?

B.                 God reminds  2.3-7; 3.4, 9-12

1.                  He sees our Thoughts (2:1) As Amos had already warned them:

a)                 While the poor had no homes they had many Amos 3:15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD. (KJV)

b)                 While the poor are desolate they luxuriate themselves in exquisite furniture Amos 6:4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; (KJV)

c)                  While poverty and hunger stalk the alleys, they feast from lush provisions Amos 6:5-6 Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; 6 Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. (NKJV)

2.                  He sees our Activities ( 2:

a)                 The rich were oppressing the poor (2:1-13)

b)                 The leaders were defrauding the followers (3:1-12)

(1)               Judges are corrupt v. 1-4

(2)               Prophets are for hire v. 5-8

(3)               Politicians are selfish v. 9-12

C.               The Promising of Hope (2:12,13)  He offers hope. A day is coming when the remnant of Israel will be blessed (2:12,13).  The coming Messiah will be their Breaker who will remove the obstacles so they can pass through the gate.  Their King will go before them, their Lord who is at their head.

III.                  THE SECOND PROPHECY (3:1-5:15) The second prophecy (3:1-5:15) enumerates ‘the sins of the rulers, false prophets, judges, and priests.  They had disregarded moral righteousness and were interested only in their own personal gain.  Therefore, the Lord would deliver Jerusalem to its enemies. In the last part of that message, however, Micah speaks of the Messiah’s coming kingdom (4:1-5:1), a time of peace and power, a time when people will know the Lord.  In the meantime, problems and suffering will remain.  The prophecy closes with the announcement of the Messiah’s birth and a description of His first and second comings (5:2-15).

A.               The Coming Kingdom (4:1-5:1)

1.                  God reveals 4.1-4; 7.16-17

a)                 uses messengers who speak truth when all others lie or won’t listen 2.6;

b)                 uses messengers who know its God’s power not his 3.8 so reflects God’s message

c)                  uses messengers who knows God is faithful when all else crumbles 7.7;

2.                  God rules 4.8-13; 7.8-10

B.                 The Coming King (5:2-15)

1.                  GOD RESCUES 5.2-9

a)                 He sends the Supreme Ruler who comes from Heaven (5:2)

b)                 He sends the Supreme Shepherd who cares for the flock (5:4)

c)                  THE PERSPECTIVE:

(1)               In Psalm 22 We meet the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep. This mirrors Christ in John 10:11. This is the PAST aspect of His ministry. My Savior. Past  Grace

(2)               In Psalm 23 is the Great Shepherd living to Equip His sheep. This explainsHeb 13:20-21. This is His PRESENT ministry. My Shepherd. Present  Guidance.

(3)               In Psalm 24 we meet the Chief Shepherd Returning to Reward His sheep. This explains I Peter 5:4. This is the FUTURE aspect of His ministry. My King. Future Glory

d)                 THE PSALM (11 blessings to go!):

(1)               Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (CONTENTMENT)

(2)               Psalm 23:2a He maketh me to lie down in green pastures (REST):

(3)               Psalm 23:2b he leadeth me beside the still waters. (REFRESHMENT)

(4)               Psalm 23:3a He restoreth my soul: (RENEWAL)

(5)               Psalm 23:3b he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.(RIGHTEOUSNESS)

(6)               Psalm 23:4a Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  (COMPANIONSHIP)

(7)               Psalm 23:4b I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (COMFORT)

(8)               Psalm 23:5a Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: (SECURITY)

(9)               Psalm 23:5b thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (POWER)

(10)          Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: (HOPE)

(11)          and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (DESTINY) 

e)                 In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller[3] tells how difficult it is to get a sheep to lie down.  Sheep do not easily lie down, he says.  In fact, “It is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.  Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free from all fear.  Because of the social behavior within a flock, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind.  If tormented by flies or parasites, sheep will not lie down…. Lastly, sheep will not lie down as long as they feel in need of finding food.  They must be free from hunger.”‘ To rest, a sheep must be free from fear, tension, aggravation, and hunger.  So the psalm begins with a picture of a sheep who has found its shepherd to be a good shepherd, able to meet its physical needs and provide release from anxiety.

f)                    He sends the Supreme Offer: His Peace

2.                  GODLY RETURNING  5:10-15

a)                 Forsake unholy alliances v. 10-11

b)                 Forsake any occultic contact v. 12

c)                  Forsake all false gods v. 13-14

d)                 Flee to your godly heritage v. 15. 

Without overly comparing the United States of America with Israel, we do not want to err on the side of missing our unique experiences of God’s blessings either.  We are not God’s covenant nation.  But we were a godly nation once.  We have been richly blessed by God.  We are in danger of judgment for having forgotten both God and those blessings.

We live in such a secular age that our spiritual roots are even willfully suppressed and forgotten.  We have been told repeatedly that Christopher Columbus, the pathfinder to the New World, discovered this new continent almost accidentally and that his sole concern in sailing westward was for gold.  But this was not the way Columbus himself told it.  He confessed a deep faith in Christ and believed that God had put it into his mind to convey the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to new lands.[4] Among the founders of this nation were the Puritans who settled New England.  Modern history has portrayed them as narrow-minded, self-righteous fanatics whose ways were quickly and rightly forgotten.  But these were actually godly men and women who endured great hardship to establish a Christian society in America.  They called their venture an “errand into the wilderness.”[5]

George Washington has been portrayed as little more than a deist, whose struggle was for personal fame rather than for any genuine moral ends.  But Washington was a devout believer in Christ.  In a small prayer book written when he was about twenty years old Washington implored:  “O most glorious God … remember that I am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences and ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices (of sin, praise and thanksgiving) which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me…. Direct my thoughts, words, and work; wash away my sin in the immaculate blood of the Lamb; and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit.[6]

IV.               THE THIRD PROPHECY (6:1-7:20) The third prophecy is a legal pronouncement of Israel’s sins (6:1-7:20).  God gives His indictment, and Israel replies.  The Lord lists the many blessings He gave them, but they turned their backs on Him, lacking even the basic requirements for blessing, Yet the book closes with a prediction of future blessing, as God is faithful to the Abrahamic covenant (7:11-20).  By trusting the Lord, the nation will experience God’s blessing and compassion.

A.                The Promise (7:11-20) GOD RESTORES (also 6.3-5;  2.12-13)

1.                  Who is like God? Nothing in the Universe! Exodus 15:11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (KJV); Psalm 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee! (KJV)

2.                  He is the Supreme Judge (7:1-6). As a nation turns away from God, He gives them up to sin. Romans 1:18-32 vividly illustrates the decline and fall of human society.  The fabric of society tears in three obvious areas.

a)                 MORAL DECLENSION v. 2

b)                 LEADERSHIP DESOLATION v. 3

c)                  FAMILY DISINTEGRATION v. 6

3.                  He is the Ultimate Rescuer (7:7-13). God pulled off some incredible rescues in the Old Testament. The ark for Noah and his family. The Red Sea path for 3 million Jews. The dry Jordan crossed and crumbled walls of the promised land conquest. Gideon’s band. 185,000 enemies killed in one night . . .But the Ultimate Rescue is salvation. All others are only temporary. As Wesley wrote:

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray:
I woke—the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Chorus Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

4.                  He is the Perfect Shepherd (7:14-20)

a)                 He Pardons our sins. v. 18-19

b)                 He loves us with Unchanging love v. 20   Revelation 7:16-17 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (KJV)

c)                  He reveals Himself in Christ

(1)               To the Old Testament saints the name Jehovah was an ointment poured forth shedding its fragrance over all. New Testament saints think of Him as JESUS.  If ever there was a name that, as ointment poured forth,” shed a fragrance over all of human life” it is the name of Jesus! 

(2)               It is the saving name: “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). 

(3)               It is the sanctifying name.  We are to do all things, in word and deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus (c.f. Colossians 3:17).

(4)               It is the sovereign name.  “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2: 1 0).  It is the name that charms our fears and bids our sorrows cease.” It is the name that, as “music in the sinner’s ears, brings life and health and peace.”

[1] Edgar C. James, Moody Monthly, pp. 58ff.

[2] Boice, Minor Prophets, II, 17.

[3] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), p. 35.

[4] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1977), pp. 17, 25-66.

[5] This was the topic of a sermon preached by Samuel Danforth in 1670 and subsequently used by Perry Miller as the title of his classic book on the New England experiment (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956).

[6] William J. Johnson, George Washington, the Christian (NashviJ]e: Abingdon Press, 1919), pp. 23-28.