+ THE PROPHET MICAH +

His Person and Times

As a true patriot and like every true preacher, Micah fearlessly uncovered sin and pointed to the Messiah. He was a true prophet for the poor and a friend of the oppressed. He has Amos' passion for justice and Hosea's heart of love.  The secret of his power is told in Chapter 3:8.

He prophesied (taught, brought the Word of God) "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, 750 - 700 BC. Under Jotham splendid 1lixury reigned. His ambition to build fortresses and palaces in Jerusalem cost many a peasant's life. Under Ahaz, Judah. was forced to pay tribute to Assyria, which, together with the cost of the Syro-Ephraimite war of 734 BC, fell as a heavy burden upon all classes. Great social and economic injustices existed. Under Hezekiah, who instituted reforms, conditions were even worse. Men ceased to trust one another. The advisers of the king became divided in their policies, some urging alliance with Egypt against Assyria, others urging submission to Assyria. The custodians of the law abused their powers; nobles fleecing the poor, judges accepting bribes, prophets flattering the rich, and priests teaching for hire (chapter 2). Lust for wealth ruled on all sides. The moneyed tyrants laughed at possible judgment. Commercialism and materialism were supplanting almost the last vestige of everything ethical and spiritual. At such a time Micah appeared and attempted to call the nation back to the Lord God and to righteousness. Isaiah was around Jerusalem, Micah in the country along the Great Sea.

Analysis of Book

Chapters 1 – 3 -- Judgment

Chapters 4 – 5 -- Gospel

Chapters 6 – 7 -- the via Salutis, the way of godliness.

The prophet concludes with a most beautiful prayer, and a noble apostrophe to Jehovah, as the incomparable God of forgiveness and grace. (7:7 - 20)

Great Texts in Micah

3:12 --4:10 -- 4:13 -- 5:2 -- 5:7 -- 6:8 -- 7:18, 19. We will note them as we come to them.

His Message

I. As Micah proclaims the judgment of the Lord on the sins of the people,

II. He points the people

a)      back to Bethlehem and the Prince of Peace. There is forgiveness, there is comfort, there is God's power to live righteously;

b)      back to ethical righteousness This is one of the cardinal virtues of permanent religion. The other two are turning from sin and turning to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation.

Like Hosea, Micah taught that religion and ethics are inseparable. Hosea 6:6.

Two questions

  1. Which are the sins that bring down God's judgment?
  2. What is God's plan to correct these sins, according to Micah?

Outline

I)                   Sentence of God upon both idolatrous kingdoms 1:1-16

A)    God to crush Israel’s pride because of broken law 1:1-4

B)     Punishment for idolatry: destruction of Samaria 1:5-7

C)    Lament over the coming (Assyrian) invasion; its progress city by city 1:8-16

II)                 Bill of particulars: oppression by the upper class 2:1-3:12

A)    Exploitation of the defenseless by the idle rich 2:1-13

B)     The government of devourer instead of a defense 3:1-4

C)    Contrast between the corrupt state religion and the power and message of God-fearing preachers 3:5-8

D)    The utter destruction to be meted out of these three evil groups 3:9-12

III)              Ultimate triumph of God's grace 4:1-5:15

A)     Messianic triumph of the kingdom of God over the world 4:1-8

B)     Necessary conditions to be first fulfilled: suffering, exile, restoration, judgment upon heathen neighbors 4:9-13

C)    The divine-human Victor, who shall bring this to pass, defending His flock, destroying the world powers 5:1-6

D)    Triumph of Israel after humbling and purging from idolatry 5:7-15

IV)              God's controversy with ungrateful Israel 6:1-16

A)    Summons to the Northern Kingdom to respond to God's ways in view of His exodus mercies 6:1-5

B)     Response of an awakened conscience: Holy living to accompany valid worship; yet Israel still dishonest and oppressive  6:6-13

C)    Failure to repent to the followed by a crop failure; the "clever" policy of alliance with unbelievers to be discredited  6:14-16

V)                Fulfillment of covenant promise to be faithful remnant  7:1-20

A)    Lament of true Israel over prevalence of barbarous selfishness and shameful corruption  7:1-6

B)     True Israel's continued trust in God's mercy  7:7-10

C)    Christ's triumph through the church 7:11-20

The Historical Context Of The Book Of Micah

I. Micah's personal life:

A. Micah was born at Moresheth near the city of Gath in the Southern Kingdom (Judah), about twenty miles west of Jerusalem. Micah's father's name is not given, ant we may conclude that his family was of humble origin. It is believed that Micah spent much of his lifetime in the provincial areas rather than at the capital city of Jerusalem as did Isaiah. His name means "Who is like Jehovah?"

B. Micah lived at a very important time in the history of God's people. Although his preaching was addressed to the people of the South (Judah) he does devote one chapter (chapter 6) to the declining career of the nation of Israel in the North. We can put Micah as a contemporary of Isaiah (who was close to the king), Hosea, and Jonah. His ministry lasted some 50 years during the reigns of the Southern Kings of Jotham (751-736), Ahaz (736-728) and Hezekiah (728-698).

II. The General conditions of Judah (S) and Israel (N)

A. Under King Uzziah (790-739), Judah enjoyed prosperity. The government was reorganized; the defenses were built up; agriculture was improved; it had become a strong com­mercial nation and capital.

B. Numerous sins appeared, especially among the leaders. Oppression of the poor, greed; injustice, cold formalism of religion. From about 755 under King Jotham (Ussiah's son) conditions remained the same.

III. History of Judah and Israel during Micah's prophecy.

A. Under King Jotham, Tiglath-Pelizer III of Assyria con­quered Syria and Israel (North). Syria and Israel tried to get Jotham to help them. Isaiah the prophet in the city advised against it and Jotham followed this advice.

B. After Jotham died, Ahaz took his place on the throne at the age of 28. Ahaz didn't fear God and he condoned idol­atry. Israel and Syria revolted against Assyria and tried to get Ahaz to help. Isaiah again said he should stay neutral. Syria and Israel became angry with Ahaz and wanted to attack Judah. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask for a sign of assurance from God that he will not be overcome by Syria and Israel.  Ahaz refuses, so Isaiah gives a sign! (Isaiah 7:14) Ahaz decided against Israel's advice to ask for help from Assyria in conquering Syria and Israel. Tiglath-Palizer agreed after Ahaz bribed him with gold from the temple.  From then on Judah had to continue paying tribute to Assyria.  Tiglath-Palizer conquered Israel and Syria but didn’t completely conquer Judah.

C. In the year 727 Ahaz died and Hezekiah began ruling Judah. He was a great leader; he got rid of all the idolatry in Judah. Tiglath-Pelizer also died right after Hezekiah came to the throne. Sardin then became ruler of Assyria. At this time Israel and Syria again revolt against Assyria. The time Egypt Joins in with them. Sardin stops the revolt but doesn't completely destroy them.

D. Hezekiah became sick and was going to die. He prayed and was given 15 years more to live.  

In the year 705 Sardin was assassinated and Senekarib becomes the ruler of Assyria. Again Israel and Syria revolt, this time however Hezekiah Joins in! He stops paying tribute to Assyria. Egypt also joins in against Assyria. Senekarib completely destroys Syria and Israel. Then Assyria goes south along the coast first conquering Syria and Israel then going further south to Egypt. He wanted to surround Judah. Egypt retreats after a dead-lock with Assyria at the Red Sea and Senekarib sends some of his army up to Jerusalem to harass Hezekiah. The rest of his army is hung up in a battle at Lackish, south of Jerusalem.

The small group harassing Jerusalem effectively scared Hezekiah. Senekarib demands 1.5 million dollars tribute for not destroying Jerusalem. Hezekiah strips the temple and the city in order to get the cash and then gives it all to Senekarib. Senekarib becomes greedy and decides to conquer Judah and strip her of the rest of her wealth. He sends his army to Jerusalem in order to conquer the city.

Hezekiah is told "Don't worry, God will deliver you!" In one night 185,000 men of the Assyrian army were killed! There are three possible explanations:

1)      a plague.

2)      a literal angel

3)      they turned against one another.

Hezekiah continued to send Assyria the same tribute as before. Senekarib however never again tried to conquer Judah. Hezekiah died in 698 BC

Chapter 1  "The Crisis of Judah" 1:1-3:12

The first three chapters of the book of Micah are to be seen as one single unified whole, not merely a collection of separate pronouncements from different episodes in his career. It is a prophetic sermon intended for the city of Jerusalem. In this first section Micah addresses two national capitals, Samaria of Israel and Jerusalem of Judah. In both places attention is directed to the temple and in both Samaria and Jerusalem, the destruction of the city is proclaimed.

1:1-5 "The Advent of God"

Micah himself begins with a proclamation "The Word of the Lord came to me" meaning that he is to speak for God and that what he is going to say are in fact the very words of God Himself. When the preacher speaks, he does not speak of his own authority, but of God's authority.

1:2 Micah continues: God is to appear for a day of Judgment. It is Micah's intent to call everyone who hears his voice to attention. Everyone within the hearing of his voice is meant to hear the words of God. "God will be a witness against you", in other words, Micah's hearers are the object of divine judgment.

As a witness the Lord will arise against those who have despised His Word and transgressed Him commandments. Micah calls on God who speaks both as a plaintiff, and as an accuser. He will stand up against those who cheat the hireling out of his wages, against those who oppress the poor and out­rage the stranger and the helpless widow.

According to the context, Jerusalem and Samaria bear the brunt of the responsibility for this judgment! "The Lord (Jehovah) from his holy temple" is not a reference to the earthly sanctuary at Jerusalem, but points to the dwelling of God, which is heaven itself, where God dwells in all of His glory and majesty. (cf. Psalms 11:4)

1:3-4 The idea of the divine judgment’s breaking out is carried forward. This passage has often been compared with Isaiah 40:3-5. In Isaiah's words there is imagery of the building of a road for a military conqueror, whereas in the book of Micah volcanic action, earthquake, or lightning and storm is suggested. Again, this is figurative language. Micah intends to inspire soberness and awe in his leaders. He wants them to know that he means business!

1:5 Micah goes from the poetic and figurative to the concrete and the specific. He now begins with the circumstances and events the Lord wants him to describe. "The transgression of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel" remain yet to be taken up with the message of chapters 2-3.

Micah seems to use the names "Jacob" "Israel" and "Judah" interchangeably. The transgression of Jacob is, in Micah's view, first of all Samaria and the corrupt society within her. Located 40 miles north of Jerusalem, Samaria was the capital of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, which had been pol­itically separated from Judah since the death of Solomon in 931 BC.

1:6-7 "Samaria an Oman for Jerusalem"

Samaria had just been destroyed by the Assyrians. The Assyrians under their king, had laid siege to Samaria for three years before and finally took them into captivity. Micah is using these events as they were happening to be a warning to the city of Jerusalem, and to the country of Judah. He is saying that what happened, or what was happening to Samaria could happen to Judah. Samaria is used therefore as a warning and as an omen.

The reason for Jerusalem's sin is that of idolatry. King Ahaz of Judah (736-728) had imported an Assyrian altar into the temple at Jerusalem. "All her hires" and "To the hire of a harlot they shall return" is Micah's way of saying that the offspring brought to Samaria's pagan holy places and all sacred objects and gifts will be carried off to Assyrian temples if they do not repent. If they do not turn from their sin they will be carried off into captivity!

1:8-9 "The Lament of the Prophet"

Micah begins to lament and wail over the people's sins. He does so by stripping and going naked before the people. The prophet Isaiah did this also (cf. Isaiah 20:2-4). The reason for doing this is simple. It shows one as being an exile, one walking in deep humiliation.

Micah's actions signify the approaching disaster that is to come. In many places Micah's speech is controlled; however, here Micah shows in a visible way why he has been know to many as "the wailing prophet.” Samaria is without hope. The crisis of captivity came and she was unable to resist. The same situation is about to confront Judah and Jerusalem her capital.

1:10-16 "The Invoking of Disaster"

Micah summons the inhabitants of Judah to lament over a deportation into exile that would be the inevitable con­sequence of an Assyrian occupation. Micah uses a play on words to alert the people of the coming doom. Gath was a Philistine city, located directly in line with all Assyrian attacks.

As soon as Assyria moved, Gath was the first town to get hit! Through a series of taunts and insults Micah is sounding the alarm of the coming Assyrian move. From history we know that Sargon's armies in South Palestine put down a rebellion in the Philistine state of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast in 720 BC. The conquest of Samaria a few years later must have made Micah's prophetic cursing ring in the hearts and minds of those people.

Chapter 2  "The Inner Sickness of Judah"

2:1-5 In chapter one, Micah spoke of the threat of Judah from without. In chapter two he addresses himself to the threat from within. He documents the subordination of human rights within the country of Judah in the light of their pursuit of inordinate wealth and power. The political leaders are incapable of appreciating Judah's precarious pos­ition! For Micah, the collapse of the state is inevitable. How do you look at the future of our country?

2:6 Judah's affluent aristocracy is incapable of self-criticism and wishes to hear preaching that does not touch their ears. They do not want criticism but only what is pleasant. As there were many false prophets in the land, the warnings of Micah (as they were spoken also in 1:10-16) are laughed off.

Again we are reminded of that saying of Jesus "The prophet is without honor in his own country!" Preaching what is right and true, especially if it is the Law, is a most dif­ficult thing to do. Therefore, we must always remember that preaching both the Law and the Gospel must be prompted by a sincere love for the people.

2:7 Micah responds with shock and amazement to the rejection and dismissal of his words. "Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?" He asks. Literally Micah is asking, "is the Spirit of the Lord shortened?" i.e. is it possible that Micah's preaching can have so little effect? We can see Micah's frus­tration as he says "Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?" in other words he is saying "wouldn't you think that a Just man would recognize the truth of what has been said?” As we can see, the indifference of Micah's audience is the measure of their moral insensitivity.

2:8-9 The people are seen here as enemies first and foremost against God Himself. The people appear as enemies of God in two ways:

1)      by robbing and exploiting strangers and wanderers;

2)      by driving orphans and widows out of their houses and homes. It is through such acts of injustice towards their fellow men that these people rise up against their Lord as an enemy.

By their acts of injustice, they call down upon themselves God’s judgment. God calls Himself the Protector of the stranger and the Father or the widows and orphans. The Lord will not allow these helpless ones to be harmed. Whoever outrages them rises as an enemy against God Himself! (cf. Exodus 22:21; Deuteronomy 27:19)

The last line of verse 8 "with no thought of war” can be best translated as "returning from war.” The thought is this: although there is a great Assyrian threat from without, the true enemies of the people are those exploiters of the people. The returning soldier confronts worse hardships at home than on the battlefield!

2:10 This advice appears to be Micah's ironic consolation directed to the woman and children. They are better off to leave this unclean place that is doomed for destruction!

A question: How are we protecting the widows and children?

2:11 Micah returns to the main theme of this chapter which is his address to the people who are complacent and content with any preacher as long as the preaching does not disturb them. For these individuals, Micah says, a drunk would be about as good a preacher as any!

2:12-13 The remnant to be regathered!

Most liberal commentators see this section as a later addition by a pious scribe that found Micah's preaching too harsh or as a sarcastic statement by Micah himself, who more or less gives them what they want, a picture of false hope.

We on the other hand, see this as a prophecy that has deep spiritual meaning, related to its fulfillment in the time of Christ and in the pages of the New Testament. The "King" and "Breaker" is Christ our Messiah! Without a doubt, this section comes suddenly, and out of the blue so to speak; however, so was God's activity and intervention into the lives of His people.

He comes at His perfect time plan to help and save us from evil. What we see in this section is the only hope that these people of Judah, as well as us today have, which is the salvation of our souls through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We can see that the words of these two passages are taken from the history of Israel’s liberation from Egypt. In verse 12 we have the increase and the gathering of the people, and in verse 13 we have the actual liberation.

The fulfillment of these words of prophecy are found in the New Testament. Christ is the great Good Shepherd as He gathers all people unto Himself. (cf. John 1:47ff; Romans 11:4ff) From this passage we see Jesus has a flock that is well provided for, and as it were, has a fold all of its own. So we have in this prophecy of Micah the prophet a promise which is fulfilled. This flock brings together both Jews and Gentiles to form one flock, one people which is the Church, the people of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Chapter 3  God's Departure from His People

In this chapter we see that the prophet has finished his case. The divine word is not heeded. Therefore, the people who will have their own way are now to have it altogether.

3:1-4 The heads of Jacob and the rulers of the house of Israel consume the people they are supposed to guide and protect. Rather then being led to safety by their leaders the people are torn limb from limb as a wild beast would seek to destroy the sheep from the sheepfold.

Judah’s rulers have passed the point of return; repentance can no longer help them. Should the Assyrian threat become a reality they will soon discover that they are beyond help. This is Micah's warning to those who flatter themselves thinking that "their king will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.” (2:13)

3:5-7 Micah now spells out the Judgment even further. He now moves to the prophets who have been willing to under­write corruption in Judah with their easy promises of divine approval.

As long as they were fed, they never challenged the status quo. What Micah is saying is that the day of Judah's doom will discredit the prophets, for they have done nothing to forestall evil. They will hold their tongues when that evil day comes. When asked to explain why this has come their answer will be "no comment.”

The prophets became partakers of the sins of the princes in a most shameful way, because they claimed in their prophecy that only peace and prosperity lay ahead of the people. They even went so far as to accept gifts and presents from the princes as a reward for their "optimistic" prophecy.

Micah repeats the Judgment pronounced in verse 4. God will have departed from His people. Judah will discover the eclipse of God. The coming night and darkness recall the preaching that Amos gave some years earlier. (cf. Amos 5:18)

3:8 The question that has troubled Micah, that his preaching was of little effect is now answered. Judah's doom and devastation will be the vindication of his message. God the Holy Spirit has indeed worked through him, even though his preaching was that of the Law. Isaiah, who lived at the same time comes to the same con­clusion about his preaching. (cf. Isaiah 6:9-13)

3:9-12 Micah has delivered the burden of his sermon; now he swiftly brings it to a conclusion. The deeds of the house of Jacob, the rulers of the house of Israel, the priests, and the prophets are presented with the final bill of particulars against them.

The audacity of these leaders is seen in their comments "we have nothing to fear, no evil shall come upon is, God is on our side!" This is the last outrage!

Again from our introduction it is amazing to see how this sermon which Micah preached worked out in history. The destruction of Jerusalem by the nation Assyria, which Micah saw as inevitable, never happened!

When the armies of Sennacherib did in fact approach the gates in 701 BC the Judean king, Hezekiah, bought them off with a tribute worth $1.5 million as a vassal state! (cf. 2 Kings 18:13-16)

A century later Micah's words were preserved and remembered. Jerusalem was about to fall to Babylon. At that time Jeremiah was called to take a stand and Micah's words were appealed to in his defense (cf. Jeremiah 26:18-19).

In an amazing twist of fate these words of Micah spoke to a generation he never knew-a generation that came to under­stand him better than his own!

Chapter 4

With chapter three concluded, the threat of Judgment has reached its climax. Some liberal teachers have some big problems with what comes next in chapters 4-5. They feel chapters 4 and 5 were added much later by another author. They argue that since Micah preached the Law in chapters 1-3 he can not preach the Gospel or hope in chapters 4-S. As one such teacher has put it "Indeed it contradicts Micah's preaching altogether.” How do we deal with this issue.

We can say that yes the Law "contradicts" the Gospel. They are on two sides of the same coin which is God's Word. However, both come from God, both are needed, both are true. The Law says all have sin, there is no hope, God is angry with sin. The Gospel says, there is hope, God is at peace, sin is forgiven you for Jesus' sake. Chapters 4-5 give us a living hope which comes from God. Chapters 4-5 announce the purest salvation to come. In short here the glory of the New Testament Church is foretold.

4:1-7 "Zion will be lifted up in glory through heathen nations joining it.”

4:1-5 "The Glorification Of Zion"

Looking way into the future, Micah aces a time in which God's kingdom will be a universal kingdom in which God will rule over all the earth. We see this also in Isaiah 2:2-5

Micah starts with the words "in the last days" which is a reference to New Testament times. It can also refer to "the last day" which is Judgment day.

As Christians we know that since Jesus Christ has died and come back to life again we are now living in "the last time" of the world. Because the work of Jesus has happened in time and space we can say that all the great works of God for the salvation of men has been concluded, or has been completed. The only great event yet to come is Judgment Day.

The temple hill which will rise above the mountains is not actually a physical place. It is to be seen as the place God reveals Himself to men, namely, in His Word.

Before God "poke to men from mountains...e.g. Mt. Sinai, Mt. Moriah, Mt. Zion. Now, God comes to us through His Word. Today, the church is our mountain, our Jerusalem, the temple hill, the house of the Lord. This New Testament Church outranks that of the Old in power and glory. This kingdom of the Church will be established and remain firm and immovable. (cf. Hebrews 12:28; 1 Timothy 3:15; Luke 1:33)

4:4-5 What type of peace is Micah speaking of here? A world peace. In 1964, on the occasion of the first visit of a Roman Catholic Pope to the Holy Land, the president of the state of Israel greeted Pope Paul VI with the words of verse 5. Is this the type of peace and comfort we should be looking for? Of course not. What is spoken of here is a united Church where Christ remains as head. We find that peace is in Christ now, it will be fully experience in heaven.

4:6-13 The Dominion of Zion is Foretold. Through Travail to Triumph.

The glory of the latter days is not yet; the way to glory leads through agony so intense that "the daughter of Zion" must "groan like a woman in travail; without a king to pro­tect her, with no counselor to guide her.” She shall have to travel the lone miles of the open country into the land of her exile.

The suffering of travail is suffering for a purpose and in hope; out of the deepest depths of her suffering, there, the Lord will redeem her from the hand of her enemies. He will be the victory and His the glory of redeeming love. (verse 10)

The enemies of Zion, who have attacked Zion’s God in their attack upon her (verse 11) shall receive their due reward. They shall be gathered as sheaves to the threshing floor, and God's people shall become an ox with a hoof of bronze to thresh them out.

This will be no personal, triumph on Zion’s part. The spoils of victory (their gain) will be devoted to the Lord who has, in redemption and Judgment, manifested Himself as the Lord of the whole earth and given the victory. He will be their glory (verses 12-13)

Chapter 5  The Ruler From Little Bethlehem and The Renewed People Of God

5:1-6 "The Ruler and Deliverer from Little Bethlehem"

5:1 The situation could be that of 701 BC when Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem. (cf. 2 Kings 18:13-19; Isaiah 36-37)

5:2 Ephrathah is the name of the clan of Judah, to which David belonged. Bethlehem is the town in which the clan lived. Micah's words are used in Matthew’s Gospel as fulfilled by the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was not "little" in God's eyes. According to Micah and Matthew "oh little town of Bethlehem" stands in contrast with "mighty Jerusalem" as the place where the Messiah will be born. (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27, 29)

5:3 The birth of the Messiah as a child of "mysterious parentage" will bring the return of the remnant. (cf. Isaiah 7:3, 10-17)

5:5 Assyria as the world power threatening Judah in Micah's day in a passage oriented toward the undefined Messianic future the Assyrian becomes a symbol of all hostile powers. Only the Messiah can protect us from them.

5:6 Nimrod is the founder of Babylon, here we are seeing the whole Babylonian-Assyrian empire as one unit of power. They can not hold up against the power of God.

5:7-9 "The People of God as a Blessing and a Curse Among the Nations.”

Under the Ruler from Bethlehem the people shall be blessed; and they shall be a blessing to many peoples. They shall be a blessing is the promise given to Abraham (Genesis 12:2). How­ever, since they are God's own blessing and since man opposes God's blessing, (because of sin) they shall also be a curse among the nations (Genesis 12:3). This same people which is called "dew from the Lord" is also called a devouring lion (verse 8) and an invincible nation which is triumphant over its enemies (verse 9)

5:10-15 "God's Purifying Judgment on His People"

The nation which the prophet has indicted so harshly in chapters 1-3 is not yet a people prepared to receive and impart the blessing of God. It cannot be trusted to be God's instrument.

Before it can become a "blessed dew from the Lord" or "the lion of His Judgment" it must itself be purged by His Judgment. Purged it shall be; the Lord will cut off from it all the devices by which men seek to secure themselves and assert themselves apart from God, whether they be political (horse, chariots, cities, and strong holds) or religious (sorceries, soothsayers, images, pillars). Before Israel can be blessed and become a blessing, she must be taught to walk humbly with her God.

Chapter 6  "The Road Back To God"

We now come to the third part of Micah's book. In chapters 1-3 we see nothing but Law and condemnation, and threats from God. Chapters 4-5 are almost entirely words of promise for those who have faith in God's promises. In chapters 6-7 both ideas of threat and promise can be found.

In these two chapters we also see God's plan for salvation. Through their ingratitude towards God's goodness and through their disobedience towards His commandments they are drawing God's punishment down upon themselves. Yet the people are also shown that through heartfelt repentance they can obtain the promise of salvation. In this chapter (chapter 6) we see God's call to repentance as well as His threat to those who do not turn from their sin.

6:1-2 The first two verses form the introduction. The people arraigned in God's court, the Lord shows them their sin, especially their shameful ingratitude towards God's benefits.

6:3-5 Here the people are arraigned in court. At the same time we find the Lord's indictment included as well as His formal charge of "guilty" against Israel.

6:6-8 Israel cannot deny that they have received tremendous blessings from God, but they must also blush with shame over their glaring ingratitude. The people must admit that with such thankless behavior they have committed apostasy against the Lord.

Realizing their deep fall, the people in verses 6-7 implore to the Lord, asking what they can do to recover the Lord's favor.

Micah in verse 8 shows that works of sinful men are insufficient to appease the wrath of God. All of man's own efforts to win back God's favor are in vain.

6:9-16 The contents of these verses is this: Since there is no practice in those virtues, mentioned in verse 8, such as Justice and honesty towards the neighbor, love and mercy toward the poor and lowly, and no humility before God, it is for that reason that the Lord must threaten and punish them.

In verse 9 the reproof of the people by the Lord begins.  Verses 10-12 mention the principal sins, and these are reproved in verses 13-16. God traces their punishment back to their sins.

Chapter 7 "Divine Absolution"

Chapter 7 contains a prayer for repentance and the promise of God's forgiveness which is to follow. After the Lord's threats have been set forth in chapter 6 the prophet Micah gives an answer in the name of the Lord. His answer is the penitential prayer of verses 1-6

7:1-6 In this prayer Micah confesses and laments the deep corruption of his people, and admits that God's visitation is most necessary.

7:7-13 The prophet expresses the confident hope in the name of his people that the Lord will again allow the light of His grace to shine upon His chastened people. Their enemies shall not triumph over them, but rather they shall be punished by God.

7:14 In verses 7-13 Micah confidently uttered that his trust is in the mercy of God and His help. In verse 14 he proceeds with a plea that God should feed His people as He did in the days of old.

7:15-17 Micah's appeal to the Lord's mercy and grace is not in vain. Here we have the Lord's assurance that the prayer has been heard and that the Lord will again turn to His penitent people.

Overawed by the majesty of the infinite power, justice and grace displayed in God's redeeming word and work, the nations lack words to express their thoughts. They will be deaf to the voice of sin, of self-righteousness, and of self-indulgence. In all humility they crawl, come trembling, and turn to the Lord. What a glorious promise regarding the future of the Church. Even some of the enemies of the Church will turn to the Lord and become a part of the Church.

7:18-20 Micah concludes his prophecy with a grand doxology of divine grace. The Lord forgives the transgressions of His penitent remnant.

An adoration of the incomparable Lord God of forgiveness and grace.

Truly, Who is a God like unto Thee, O Lord!

May we always worship and serve such a Lord God!

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Sources

A Survey Of Old Testament – Introduction Gleason L. Archer Jr. The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL. 1978 pp. 323-324

The Interpreter’s 0ne-Volume Commentary on the Bible, Charles M Laymon editor Abingdon Press Nashville and New York, 1971 pp. 483-490

George Stoeckhardt, Lectures on The Prophet Micah translated by H.W. Degner.