Prophet to the Cities

Micah 1:1

Overall theme for study of minor prophets, Redeemed from Ruin. Redeemed from ruin, yes! Redeemed from slavery, absolutely!! Is message usually emphasized in typical evangelistic presentations – clearly articulating mankind’s fallen sinful condition, the consequences of that according to God’s law, and then good news of salvation from sin through faith in Christ. Too often is where conversation stops… when it needs to keep going. Micah in particular makes plain there is more to full gospel message than what God redeems his people from.

All prophets “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21) spoke a balanced message. Confronted and condemned sinful behavior, threatened judgment for continued rebellious disobedience, also promised hope for people of God. No hope – no change; if all gonna die anyway, what difference does it make how we live? Prophets made that clear, also – how we live is important, does have consequences. God has redeemed from certain ruin, and redeemed to what? Submission and service to the Righteous Ruler, the Redeemer King, the Lord Jesus.

Micah summarizes what other prophets declared Mic. 6:8 = Luke 10:27 = Luke 9:23

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?’

“So he answered and said, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Micah was a preaching prophet so what we have in book is collection of transcripts. Can be divided in 3 major sections starting with imperative “Hear”, “Listen up!” Chapters 1-2 address judgment on Samaria and Judah, on all who reject God’s call to submit to the God-ordained Redeemer-King. Chapters 3-5 underscore the contrast between present devastating judgment and future exaltation – those who rule their own lives will be condemned but those who put their trust in the God-ordained Redeemer-King will enter into glorious days. Chapters 6 & 7 present Yahweh and Israel in a judicial contest over the way to salvation; the ingratitude of the self-ruled life is contrasted with the blessedness of the Christ-ruled life.

A. who was he

from Moresheth

25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near border with Philistia – area overrun by Assyrian army under Sennacherib

likely prophesying during time of capture, likely that family members killed or captured and enslaved by Assyrians

area throughout Israel’s history in Canaan had experienced conflict, skirmishes between Philistine raiders and locals

750-686 BC outside

during time of particular kings: sets date boundaries during time when Assyria dominated Near East, time of trouble for both Israel and Judah

can probably safely narrow range to 735 to 700 BC – no mention of Uzziah, spoke of distress at time of Assyrian invasion in 701

much upheaval, uncertainty because of threatening moves made by neighbors, lots of military activity throughout region

country boy

yet with significant name: Micah, short for Micaiah (compounded from parts of 3 words), “who is like the Lord”; introduces play on own name 7:18, “Who is a God like You”

an outsider to city life, not a part of corrupt political and religious circles at core of country’s problems stemming from failed leadership

perhaps better known to contemporaries than us but little direct information about him in Bible other than this verse, reference to his ministry by Jeremiah, 26:18

B. who were his contemporaries

Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

Jotham son of Azariah, aka Uzziah, given all responsibilities of king but without title at time Uzziah afflicted with leprosy

had some successes, subdued Ammonites and required tribute from them for a time; completed father’s building projects, undertook some on his own incl. entrance to new court of Temple

was in some ways good / successful regent but mostly in material ways; moral condition of leaders and people in sad shape

Ahaz – shortened form of Jehoahaz, perhaps truncataed on purpose – like father Jotham in early/mid-20’s when came to power

early on encouraged revival of Baal worship throughout Judah, also despicable worship of Moloch incl. sacrificing own children (2 Chron. 28:1-3)

described as following practices of evil kings of Israel, not doing right in sight of the Lord as his ancestor David had done

Hezekiah – much different character from his father, at one point described as doing “what was good and right and true before the Lord his God” (2 Chron. 31:20)

abuses and sinful behaviors Micah addressed a problem to be sure when Hezekiah came to power; under influence of Micah and Isaiah, made significant progress throughout his life

Isaiah, Amos and Hosea

Isaiah – if Micah one of common folk from country town, Isaiah at other end of social spectrum, perhaps even related to Uzziah

both a preaching and writing prophet with literary style unmatched or even rivalled by any other

prophesied over longer period both before and after Micah, was used by God to firm up Hezekiah’s resolve and preserve Jerusalem from capitulating to Sennacherib

Amos – like Micah not a professional prophet nor from big city; native of southern Judah, called to prophesy to northern kingdom

time of outward prosperity in Israel, guarded peace between Israel and Judah; however, all of evils present and criticized in surrounding nations alive and well in Israel also

Hosea – along with Amos a prophet to Northern Kingdom, modeling for people faithfulness of God to an unfaithful people

in addition to words of his message, demonstrated in personal life love and compassion God shows by pursuing his wayward people, restoring to right relationship

C. to whom did he prophesy

Samaria and Jerusalem

prophecies pertain to both parts of divided kingdom (still one people in God’s view), ministry more focused on Judah

probably about halfway through his ministry Samaria, having been under siege for 3 years, fell to Sargon – then began major resettlement program

Jews carried off into exile, dispersed around Assyrian territory, colonists brought in from other places to replace them

all you peoples

warnings and condemnations in Micah’s prophecies have application far beyond Israel and Judah – relevant for people in other places and times including our own

also equally applicable to all strata of society, social or economic; has especially strong language for spiritual and political leaders acting in ways displeasing to God

D. what were the issues

“The sins he rebukes are peculiarly those of cities: Oppression and violence, corruption of princes, prophets and priests, bribery, robbery, dishonesty, pride.” G. Campbell Morgan

oppression and violence

society changing in Judah, becoming more urbanized – people’s expectations changing, increasing disparity between rich and poor

corruption

more and more of “economy” dependent on some kind of currency, less on barter – investors buying up family farms… against specific principles in God’s law

not just tangible products exchanged – favors and concessions available for purchase by highest bidder both domestic and international

dishonesty

when one involved in transaction has no sweat equity in what is being traded, greater tendency for dishonest practices

pride

increasing pride in possessions, wealth, societal position; on national level… ability to defend against outside aggressors by combination of military strength and strategic alliances

E. what was his message

judgment is coming, but there is hope

certainly deserved God’s judgment for their rebellion; at same time (on human reasoning level) needed assurance if they changed, the outcome be different

God appears in order to judge but he will shepherd the remnant (2:12-13)

promised disaster on those who willfully disobeyed his laws, treated neighbors unjustly – at same time promises a remnant that He would care for

Disaster will come but not permanently (4:1-7)

political and religious leaders who oppressed and deceived their people would be judged – yet in latter days, great blessing for all nations in the mountain of the Lord

2 reasons for future hope: God’s character and God’s promises (7:18, 20)

God’s character as revealed to Moses: forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; longsuffering; merciful and gracious

God’s covenant made with Abraham: offspring become mighty nation, victorious over enemies, all nations blessed

calls people to follow God’s standard – 6:8

here’s what you are doing (6:6-7), now this is what God expects (6:8) – turn from sinful rebellion, do that and live

only possible through submission to Christ, the Righteous Ruler

the Good Shepherd who leads his people, the flock of his heritage

Micah is ideal follow-on book to Jonah – when 6:8 describes us, will delight in greatness of God’s missionary heart to bring Gospel to nations, work he is doing to accomplish it, perhaps using us in process.

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