Introduction to Micah

By James M. Rochford

Authorship

Micah’s name means “Who is like Yahweh?”[1] He was born in Judah (the Southern Kingdom) about 20 miles west of Jerusalem (in Gath). This is why he only spends one chapter on the Northern Kingdom (ch.6). He was contemporaneous with Isaiah, and this is why Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 are identical. In fact, McComiskey notes that Micah grew up close to Isaiah (did they know each other as kids?), which he speculates “may explain certain similarities between the prophecies of both men.”[2]

Micah grew up in Moresheth-Gath (1:14) in Shepelah of Judah. This is right in the middle of the frontier-zone between Judah and Philistia. It may have been a rough area to grow up, and it would have made him starkly aware of Israel’s enemies.

Date

Micah must have been written before 722 BC. Otherwise, his statements about the Northern Kingdom escaping judgment would make no sense (see Micah 1:6). Archer believes that “the conditions of corruption and immorality in Judah as Micah depicts them correspond well with what is known of the reign of Ahaz (742–728), or else possibly of the earliest years of Hezekiah’s reign as co-regent with Ahaz (728–725).”[3] Since Micah 1:1 states that he began his ministry in the reign of Jotham (751-736), then this must place him even earlier.

Micah played a major role on King Hezekiah’s faithful reign as a king. Jeremiah writes, “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus the Lord of hosts has said, ‘Zion will be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem will become ruins, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and the Lord changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves’” (Jer. 26:18-19).

For a well done overview of the book of Micah, see “The Bible Project: Micah.”

Teaching Rotation

This can be taught in one night. Emphasize the Abrahamic Covenant and the fact that it will not be broken (7:20). Make sure to unpack the messianic prophecy of Micah 5:2.

Micah 1

This is a vision against Jerusalem and Samaria (v.1). He calls Jerusalem Judah’s “high place” (v.6)! How offensive! This was supposed to be the holy city. He calls for city wide repentance.

Micah 2

The people were angry with Micah, and told him not to prophesy (v.6). They’d rather have the prophets who were promising alcohol (v.11).

Micah 3

He calls the people cannibals (vv.2-3). The false prophets will be predicting peace (v.11).

Micah 4

This chapter seems to be about the millennium, because of the world-wide peace described. He predicts the regathering of Israel at this time (v.6). It will be a permanent regathering (v.7).

Micah 5

Christ will return and protect Israel from the nations. This will be a day of judgment for the people.

Micah 6

God brings a legal case against Israel. He wants the people to repent of their evil (v.8). This follows the rib (pronounced REEVE) pattern of judgment. The word rib means “to bring a charge” or “to bring a lawsuit.” It’s similar to a landlord posting a “30 day notice to vacate.” It’s a final warning. When an Assyrian captured someone, the Assyrian king would send a notice or rib. This entire chapter is similar to this: an eviction notice. Here, God is the one sending the notice. The pattern of a rib went like this:

  1. Appeal to the vassal to pay attention and a summons to treaty witnesses (Micah 6:1-2 = earth and sky; Deut. 31:28; 32:1).
  2. Series of questions which carry an implied accusation (Micah 6:3).
  3. Recollection of past benefits bestowed on the vassal with some statement of the offenses by which he had broken the treaty.
  4. Quoting redemption.
  5. Declaration of culpability and a threat of judgment (Micah 6:8-16; Deut. 10:12-13)

What is interesting about this rib is the fact that it ends with a message of hope (7:8-20)!

Micah 7

The judgment will be so chaotic that the people cannot even trust each other (v.5). Micah trusts that God will acquit him of his own sin (v.9). But the nations will be ashamed and destroyed (v.16). He makes an allusion to the nations being judged like Satan in Genesis 3 (v.17). (Is this an allusion to the fact that Satan will be behind the nations?) God will eventually have compassion (vv.18-19), because of the Abrahamic covenant (v.20).

[1] Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 399.

[2] McComiskey, T. E. Micah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 397.

[3] Archer, Gleason. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.). Chicago: Moody Press. 1994. 361.