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Micah

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MICAH

 

Theme:     Divine judgment upon social injustice, but restoration for the remnant in the future Messianic kingdom

 

Summary:     The God who punishes the social injustice of Judah and Samaria will pardon and restore a remnant of His people in the Messianic Era.

Date:  750-700 BC

Introductory comments

Micah was from the (rural) South, the area experiencing the heavy impact of the Assyrian invasion of 701.

Micah was to Judah what Amos was to Israel.

Micah heavily influenced the reformation of Hezekiah (Jer. 26:18-19).  One man can make a difference.

 

 

Detailed outline

 

Micah consists of three sections, each beginning with the Hebrew imperative “Hear!” (1:2; 3:1; 6:1).[1]

I.       Scattering and Regathering (chs. 1-2)

A.       Divine judgment upon Samaria and Judah (1:2-16)

1.       Announcement of Yahweh’s coming forth (1:2-4)

2.       Brief statement of the reason for His coming forth (1:5)

3.       Judgment upon Samaria (by the Assyrians) as a warning for Jerusalem (1:6-9)

Micah refers undoubtedly to the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  This Assyrian judgment upon Samaria was to be a warning to Jerusalem and Judah (v. 8-9).  God would use these same Assyrians, under King Sennacherib, to “spank” Judah in 701.

4.       Judgment upon Judah’s southwestern cities as a warning for Jerusalem (1:10-16)[2]

The cities or towns mentioned in vv. 10-16 are in the lowlands area of southwestern Judah, Micah’s home area.  His own city of Moresheth is mentioned in 1:14.  Micah plays on words a number of times in these verses in order to convey his point.  “Tell it not in Gath” is a reference to David’s comments in II Samuel 1:20.[3]  Aphrah literally means “dust.”  The inhabitants of Shapir (meaning pleasant or “Fairtown”[4]) will go into exile in shameful nakedness (v. 11).  Zaanan is similar in sound to the Hebrew verb translated “came forth” (yatsah; v. 11).  Maroth sounds like “bitter” (which describes the destiny of its inhabitants).  Moresheth-Gath, Micah’s hometown, sounds like the Hebrew word for betrothed.[5]  A parting gift—a dowry[6]—would be given for Moresheth,[7] alluding to her being given over to the Assyrians (much like a bride is given over to the authority of her new husband).[8]  Achzib (v. 14) is a play on the word “lie” or “deception” (achzab).  Mareshah (v. 15) sounds like the word “possession” (hayyoresh). 

Verse 16 is addressed to Jerusalem or Zion.[9]  Ultimately, the fate of these Judean towns was intended as a warning for Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah.  As Micah prophesies (see 1:12), the Assyrian calamity would extend to the gate of Jerusalem (see Isaiah 8:8), but through God’s sovereign intervention on behalf of the godly King Hezekiah, Sennacherib’s conquest of Jerusalem would fail.

B.       Elaboration of the crimes of God’s people (2:1-11)

 

1.       The sins of the oppressors (2:1-5)

Like Amos, Micah’s focus is the social sin of His people.  Their ill-treatment of their fellow man was the cause of the coming judgment. 

Micah 2:3-4 exemplifies the lex talionis judgment that characterizes Micah.  God plans a calamity or disaster against those who plan evil on their beds (vv. 1, 3).  Those who stole the fields and houses of others will have their fields apportioned (“divided,” KJV) and taken from them (vv. 2, 4).  

2.       The oppressors and their false prophets (2:6-11)

Very difficult to translate, Micah 2:6 evidently speaks of the desire of the people (or the false prophets) to silence Micah.  They did not want to hear his words of judgment.  Why were prophecies of judgment coming to them from the Spirit of the Lord (Mic. 2:7)?  Surely God’s Words to Judah, the home of His sacred people, would be peace.  God’s words, however, are only good tidings to those who walk uprightly (2:7), not to those who unjustly oppress others (2:8-10).  Micah closes by sardonically describing the kind of prophet that these people desire to hear (v. 11).  They do not want sound doctrine; they want teachers who will scratch their “itching ears” (II Tim. 4:3-4).

C.      The remnant regathered behind their Conqueror (2:12-13)

Micah closes his first sermon with a reference to future restoration.  Typical of the prophets, Micah’s prophecies of judgment and restoration lie in close juxtaposition.  Verse 12 prophesies the future regathering of both Israel and Judah to its land.[10]  This concept of the “remnant” is one to which Micah will return.  “Micah’s doctrine of the remnant is unique among the Prophets and is perhaps his most significant contribution to the prophetic theology of hope” (McComiskey, 399). 

This future regathering will occur in connection with Messiah, described as The Breaker (2:13).  The day will come when regathered Israel shall march united behind its Messianic Conqueror.

II.    Two Kingdoms—The Unjust and the Messianic (chs. 3-5)

A.       The Present Kingdom of Injustice (3:1-12)

The recurring theme of chapter three is justice (mishpat, vv. 1, 8, 9; “judgment,” KJV)—or really, the lack of justice (3:10). 

1.       Indictment of the unjust political leaders (3:1-4)

Micah vividly portrays the gross injustice and cruel oppression of the political leaders (vv. 2-3).

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard (Prov. 21:13).

2.       A word to the false prophets (3:5-8)

The actions of the false prophets mirrored those of the political leaders.  These prophets preached for profit.[11]  If they had something to bite with their teeth (i.e., someone gave them a gift), then they prophesied peace.  To those who gave them no reward, they declared war.  These were prophets who taught things that they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake (Tit. 1:11; cf. Rom. 16:18; Phil. 3:19).  Even a true prophet of God must guard against adjusting his message to please those who pay his salary.

Their punishment befits their crime.  Since they refused to declare the words of the Lord, they will have no words to speak.  Prophetically, it would be night for them—no vision and no divination.

Micah stands in contrast to these false prophets.  Unlike them, he is filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  Unlike them, he preaches a message of justice.  Unlike them, he addresses the sins of His people.

3.       Rebuke of Zion’s leaders—the cause of Jerusalem’s coming destruction (3:9-12)

Once again, social injustice comes to the forefront.  Zion’s leaders—religious and political—by their injustice were leading Jerusalem to destruction.  Yet despite their evil ways, they still thought themselves safe from the Lord’s wrath,[12] like those that Jeremiah addresses in his temple sermon (Jeremiah 7).  Micah 3:12 is the verse quoted by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 26:18.

B.       The Coming Kingdom of Messiah (chs. 4-5)

1.       Jerusalem as the center of Yahweh’s kingdom (4:1-8)

Chapter three ended with a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction.  Chapter four opens with a reversal of that dismal prediction.  In Micah 4:1-8, Micah prophesies of the day when Jerusalem will be the religious and political capital of Yahweh’s kingdom.  Jerusalem’s former dominion will return (v. 8).

| !!!!! LAYOUT OF 4:8-5:2

 4:8  hT'a;w>  [The Kingdom]       4:9  hT'[; [Babylonian Exile]       4:11 hT'[;w> [Battle of Armageddon]       5:1  hT'[; [End of Judean Monarchy] 5:2 hT'a;w>  [The King] |

2.       Events prior to the kingdom (BKC, 1476) (4:9-5:1)

Several events will take place before the Messianic Kingdom will begin.

a.       Babylonian exile (4:9-10)

b.       Battle of Armageddon (4:11-13)

Hundreds of years pass between Micah 4:10 and Micah 4:11.  Micah 4:11-13 pictures the future Battle of Armageddon, when the nations shall gather to destroy Jerusalem but shall instead meet their own destruction.

c.        End of Judean Monarchy (5:1)

The “judge of Israel” mentioned in 5:1 probably refers to Zedekiah, the final king of Judah.  By mentioning Zedekiah in 5:1 and the Messiah in 5:2, Micah juxtaposes the last king of Judah (Zedekiah) and the next descendant of David to sit upon the throne of Israel (Messiah).

3.       The coming Davidic Shepherd (5:2-6)

This prophecy of the future Messianic David begins with his birthplace.  Micah 5:2 provides at least five details about the Messiah:  (1) He will be born in Bethlehem; (2) He shall be a ruler (king); (3) He shall be a ruler for Yahweh (as opposed to the wicked kings at the end of Judah’s history); (4) He has made repeated appearances in history;[13] and (5) These previous goings forth were since time immemorial.[14] 

4.       The future remnant of Jacob (5:7-15)

III.  A Day in Court and a Word from Micah (chs. 6-7)

A.       The condemnation and wickedness of the nation (6:1-7:6)

1.       A Day in Court (6:1-16)

Chapter six of Micah opens with God taking His people to court.  The root word rib occurs three times in Micah 6:1-2.  This word often has a legal connotation of taking someone to court.  God has a lawsuit (“controversy,” KJV) with His people.

a.       The accusation (6:1-5):  “What have I done?”

b.       The neglected requirement (6:6-8)

Perhaps the most famous passage in Micah, these verses remind us of the truth so often stated in the prophets:  God desires obedience not sacrifice.  God wants the surrender of the heart, not the sacrifice of a heifer.  The three requirements of verse eight summarize the essence of true religion.

c.        The sentence (6:9-16) (McComiskey, 401)

Micah 6:9 calls out in warning to “the city” (Jerusalem).  True wisdom would hearken to the “rod” of God.  (Cf. Jeremiah 26:18-19.)  Micah 6:10-12 describes the corrupt business practices of Judah.  Since God cannot justify (or overlook) such corrupted business ethics, His sentence is judgment (6:13-16).

2.       Micah’s lament over the hopeless wickedness of his nation (7:1-6)

B.       The confident hope of the remnant (7:7-20)  [How to Respond in Times of Despair]

1.       A faith decision (7:7-13)

2.       A prayer request (7:14)

3.       A heart-warming answer (7:15-17)

4.       A burst of praise (7:18-20)

Summary
of the Message of Micah

 

 

I.                   What was True for Samaria is also True for Judah and Jerusalem.

Micah opens his prophecy with a reference to Samaria, but his primary burden is for Judah.  Micah presents sinful Samaria’s destruction as a warning for Judah and Jerusalem.  The God of Jacob is no respecter of kingdoms—contrary to what some in Judah may have thought (2:7; 3:11).

II.                God Condemns Social Inequities as Sin.

A.     God condemns every kind of social injustice. 

1.       Taking property that does not belong to you (2:2)

2.       Unfair treatment of strangers merely passing by (2:8)

3.       Mistreatment of women and children (2:9)

4.       Unethical business practices (6:11-12)

5.       Bribery (7:3)

6.       Dishonoring of family relationships (7:6)

B.     God condemns social injustice on every level.

1.       On the political level—The heavy-handed oppression of those who selfishly exploit their subjects for their own purposes (3:1-4)

2.       On the religious level—The deceitful ministry of those (both prophet and priest) who preach for money and popularity (2:11, 3:5-7)

C.     God condemns social injustice as blatant disregard for His obvious requirements (6:6-8).

 

1.       To do justly

2.       To love mercy

3.       To walk humbly before God

III.             God Will Punish Social Injustice.

A.     God, not Babylon or Assyria, is punishing Judah (and Samaria).

B.     Token allegiance to Yahweh will spare no one (2:7; 3:11).

C.      God will judge according to the principle of lex talionis.

 

1.       Israel coveted and seized other people’s fields and robbed other people’s inheritances; God will then judge them by giving over their land to others (2:2, 4-5).

2.       The heavy-handed rulers will not hearken to the groans of their oppressed people; God will not hear them in their time of calamity (3:1-4)

3.       Zion is built up with bloodshed and violent injustice—therefore it will be plowed as a field and become a heap of ruins (3:10, 12).

4.       The prophets speak their own words; therefore, no word from the Lord will come (3:5-7).

5.       The people use trickery and deceit to get gain; therefore, they will be unsatisfied with what they eat and that which they try to preserve will be destroyed.  What they sow they will not reap.  And what they tread out they will not enjoy (6:10-12, 14-15).

IV.             | Juxtaposition in
the Sermons of Micah                                     |   | Judgment | Restoration  |

Sermon 1  1:1-2:11 2:12-13
Sermon 2 3:1-12 4:1-5:15 
Sermon 3 6:1-7:6 7:7-20 

The Hand that Smites is the Hand that Heals.

Micah consists of three sermons.  Each sermon juxtaposes judgment and restoration.

A.     The God who Scatters Regathers (2:12-13)

1.       Into One Fold

2.       Under One Leader [The Breaker]

B.     The God who Breaks down Rebuilds (4:1-5:15)

 

1.       A New Kingdom at Jerusalem (4:1-5:1)

2.       A New King at Jerusalem, who will lead His people to victory and purity (5:2-15)

C.     The God who Condemns Pardons (7:18-20)

V.                The Healing Hand is for the Righteous Remnant.

A.     They will be regathered under their Messianic Conqueror (2:12-13).

 

B.     They will be the privileged recipients of the Messianic Kingdom (5:7-8).

 

C.     They must wait confidently upon God to pardon and deliver (7:7-20).

Waiting upon God for the fulfillment of His promises:

1.       A Faith Decision (vv. 7-13)

2.       A Prayer Request (v. 14)

3.       An Answer (vv. 15-17)

4.       A Burst of Praise (vv. 18-20)

Who is a God Like Unto Thee, That Pardoneth Iniquity, and Passeth by the Transgression of the Remnant of His Heritage?

                       

            Great God of Wonders, All Thy Ways

            Are Matchless, Godlike, and Divine.

            But the Fair Glories of Thy Grace,

            More Godlike and Unrivalled Shine;

            More Godlike and Unrivalled Shine.

            Who is a Pardoning God Like Thee?

            Or Who Has Grace So Rich and Free?                        [Samuel Davies]


----

[1] “The book exhibits an internal coherence in its basic structure.  Three distinct sections may be discerned (1:1-2:13; 3:1-5:15; 6:1-7:20).  Each begins with a summons to hear, followed by an oracle of doom, and ends with a statement of hope.”  Thomas McComiskey, “Micah,” in vol. 7 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 397.

[2] See Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah (NICOT), 261.

[3] Note also the repetition of similar-sounding letters (paronomasia):  begat ’al-taggidu (“tell it not in Gath”).

[4] This is Moffatt’s translation of Shaphir.  Allen, 280.

[5] Compare Moresheth (tv,r,Am) with “betrothed” (hf'r'aom.).  See Allen, 281; and McComiskey, 408.

[6] A Ugaritic cognate word means “dowry.”  This is the word used in I Kings 9:16 to refer to Pharaoh’s present of the city of Gezer, to his daughter upon her marriage to Solomon. 

[7] Micah 1:14a in the KJV reads:  “Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath.”  This could also be translated as “Therefore shalt thou give a parting gift for Moreshethgath.” 

[8] “The prophet thinks of a girl leaving her family and coming under the new authority of her husband” (Allen, 281).

[9] Bruce K. Waltke, “Micah,” p. 156, in Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Tyndale) by Desmond Alexander, David W. Baker, and Bruce Waltke; and Allen, 283.

[10] The term Jacob is often used in Micah to refer to the entire nation.  Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1477-78.

[11] Waltke, 162.

[12] “But they had lost sight of the ethical requirements of the covenant and, maintaining a mere shell of true worship of Yahweh, felt that their historical relationship to the Lord would prevent the onslaught of misfortune.”  McComiskey, 420.

[13] The idea expressed in this word goings forth is seen in Num. 33:2; II Sam. 3:25; Psa. 19:6; Dan. 9:25; Hos. 6:3.

[14] Is Micah 5:2 teaching the eternality of the Messiah?  The words, ~l'A[ ymeymi (miymey ‘olam), translated “from everlasting” (KJV) are always used elsewhere in Scripture to describe “former days” within history (Deut. 32:7; Ps. 77:5; Isa. 51:9; 63:9, 11; Amos 9:11; Mic. 7:14; Mal. 3:4).  See BKC, 1486; and Allen, 343-44, fn. 29.  God’s past eternality is usually expressed in the term me‘olam (I Chron. 29:10; Psa. 93:2; 103:17; Isa. 63:16).  On the other hand, qedem (“from of old,” KJV), when predicated of God, depicts His eternality (Deut. 33:27; Psa. 55:19; Hab. 1:12).  See McComiskey on Micah in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 7:427.  Perhaps, the best idea is that His goings forth have been from time immemorial (leaving the beginning point undefined).  The fact that He will come in the future to Bethlehem (from Micah’s standpoint) but was active in the world since time began suggests implicitly that this is an eternal, divine Being. 

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