Micah prophesied at about the same time as the prophet Isaiah (8thcentury B.C.), and his message was very similar to Isaiah’s. Israel and Judah were both enjoying a period of relative prosperity, but the idolatrous northern kingdom of Israel was doomed to be conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Judah would be oppressed and made to pay tribute to the Assyrians, but would not be conquered by them. Micah’s prophetic writing alternates between warnings of judgement and destruction and messages of hope. His prophecy begins by pointing out Israel’s faithlessness, in abandoning the worship of the Almighty and turning instead to idols. Micah’s “picture” of the Lord’s people in chapter one shows them being shamed and humiliated because of idolatry.
Chapter 2 makes it plain that some who heard the prophet’s words didn’t like them (vv. 6-7), and they evidently scolded him for saying such harsh things about God’s people. Like so many people today, they wanted him to keep quiet about their sins. The message at the end of verse 7, however, makes it plain that truth “trumps” comfort and even Micah’s hard words were intended to do his people good rather than harm!
The third chapter presents a sharp contrast be-tween Micah and the false prophets who were leading his people into sin and disgrace. They are pictured as “declaring war” against God (vs. 5) by claiming to invoke His authority for their false prophecies. Because of their false assurances, the leaders of the people had become guilty of perverting justice in the land (vv. 2-3). Micah says that God will refuse to hear their cries because of their evil deeds (vs. 4). Note the contrast between Micah and the false prophets in verse 8 –the one truly filled with the Lord’s power is the one who does not hesitate to tell the truth about the sins and transgressions of Israel and Judah! About 100 years after Micah lived, the words of Micah 3:12 literally saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18): During the reign of evil king Jehoiakim, Jeremiah prophesied that God would cause Jerusalem and the temple (where he was standing at the time of his prophesy) to be destroyed if His people did not repent of their sins (Jeremiah 26:1-5). The priests and false prophets, along with some of the people, became so enraged by his message that they hauled him before the king and demanded his execution for daring to foretell such things (Jeremiah 26:11). The princes and the elders of the nation, however, remembered Micah’s words and pointed out that his message had moved king Hezekiah to repent, rather than kill the messenger; Jeremiah was thus spared because of the words of Micah.
Chapter four is a beautiful prophecy of the coming of the Christian age. The expression “last days” in verse one speaks of the same time period as in He-brews 1:2, and the description in Micah 4:2-3 pictures the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem through the entire world and the peace that blessed message would bring for all who would accept it.
Micah 5:2 is, for most bible students, the best-known passage in the entire book as it foretells that Bethlehem in Judea would be the place of the Savior’s birth. This is the passage king Herod’s advisors quoted to him in Matthew 2:5-6, when the wise men came seeking to learn where they could find the newborn Christ.
Micah 6:6-8 may be the plainest teaching in the whole bible about “how to please God:” The soliloquy here shows how many people look for some way to appease the Lord instead of listening to and following His instructions! Far too often we ignore what our God says and try to offer Him the “sacrifices” WE like instead of simply believing and obeying His words.
The last paragraph of the book (Micah 7:18-20) is a beautiful reflection on the kindness and mercy of our God, and His willingness to forgive the sins of His people. Micah’s rhetorical introduction of this theme (“Who is a God like unto thee…?”) highlights one of the major differences between the God of heaven and the “gods” imagined by foolish people; man-made “gods” never come close to the reality of THE God, when it comes to combining justice and mercy in one Person!