J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
The opening verse gives to Micah a period of activity under three Jewish kings, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. No direct information is given in the book to suggest which king was on the throne when the prophet set forth upon his career. He may quite easily have figured as a prophet in the three reigns.
Name. The book is named after the .man who wrote it. His name means “who is like Jehovah” and this characterises his life and message, 7. 18. There is none like Israel’s God for justice, mercy, truth and grace. This Micah seeks to make known. There seems little doubt that he was the author of this book: see Jer. 26. 17-19, which seems to confirm this fact, cf. Micah 3. 12. Little is known of the personality of the prophet. He was a man from the provinces, down near the Philistine border. He must have been a man of strong convictions to speak against the evils of his day, 3. 8.
Time. This is given in the opening verses; three kings, all of the Southern Kingdom. Their reigns cover a period of sixty years of social decay and political unrest. The reference to these kings gives the limits of time during which the prophet worked. He may only have served during the reign of Hezekiah. Amos and Hosea figured in the Northern Kingdom, Micah in the Southern. He belonged to the country in contrast to Isaiah, the man of aristocratic birth. If Micah ministered near the end of Jotham’s reign and lived to witness the apostasy of the government under Ahaz he may have witnessed its partial recovery under Hezekiah. “The date of writing could be be- tween 740 - 695 B.C.” (Scroggie). He was the only prophet who addressed his message to both Israel and Judah.
Style. The literary style is not uniform. Sometimes it is abrupt, at other times smooth and simple and full of poetic beauty like Isaiah. He indulges in dramatic interruptions and answers e.g. 2. 6-12; 3. 1; 4. 9; 6. 6-8 10-11; 7. 14.
Mission. His mission was to proclaim to Israel and Judah that judgment was at hand. He deals with the moral and social wrongs more than the things of state. No class was exempt from the prevailing corrupting influences; princes priests prophets and people were all involved in the moral decay 2.1-2 8 9 11; 3. 1-3 5 11. Early in his prophecy he mentions no less than ten towns and villages in the neighbourhood of his home warning them of the approaching calamities 1. 10-15. He pictures the callousness of the higher classes and the privations of the people. The poor were robbed of all that they held precious cast out of their homes deprived of the means of livelihood 3. 1-4. It is truly an evil picture that the prophet paints of his country in his own day. Micah was the prophet of justice and mercy the stern demands of morality and the free grace of the Gospel 6. 8. The leaders of the nation temporal and spiritual both in their own way are blind leaders of the blind. There is in them neither foresight nor insight thus the nation is on the high road to ruin.
He makes several clear and specific prophecies:
- Destruction of the kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians 1.6-7; 2 Kings 17. 3-6 and the advance of Sennacherib against Jerusalem 1.9-16.
- Destruction of Jerusalem and the temple 3. 12; 7. 13.
- Cessation of prophecy 3. 5-7.
- Deportation of Jews to Babylon 4. 10.
- Location of the birthplace of our Lord Jesus 5. 2.
- Indication of millennial glories universal peaceful and supreme 4. 15; see Isa. 2. 2-4.
- The re- gathering and deliverance of the remnant of Israel 2.12; 4.6-8; 5.8.
Micah 5. 2 is quoted by the chief priests and scribes regarding the birth of the Messiah Matt. 2.6; see also John 7.42. The Lord Jesus quotes Micah 7. 6 when sending His twelve disciples on their mission Matt. 10. 35-36.
- EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT FORETOLD 1. 1-16.
- Proclaimed to people 1-2; Portrayed in storm upon Israel 3-7; Lamentation of prophet, 8-9; Description of judgment upon Judah, 10-16.
- EXPOUNDING THE CAUSES OF JUDGMENT, 2.1-13, NATIONAL SINS.
- Sins of rich, 1-5; Sins of prophets, 6-11; Signs of salvation, 12-13.
- EXPOSING THE CONDUCT OF RULERS, 3. 1-11, SOCIAL SINS.
- Sins of the Princes, 1-4; prophets, 5-8; Sins of Princes, Priests and Prophets, 9-11; Coming judgment, 12.
- EXALTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 4. 1-13.
- The centre of worship, 1-2; The centre of peaceful rule, 3; The centre of righteous rule, 4-5; Captivity then conquest, 9-13-
- EXPECTATION OF MESSIAH, 5. 1-15.
- Affliction of Israel, 1; Advent of their Ruler, 2; Messiah’s attitude, 4; Authority and ability, 5-15.
- EXPOSTULATION OF JEHOVAH, 6. 1-16.
- Appeal of Jehovah, 1-5 ; Answer of people, 6-7; Answer of prophet, 8-9; Awful sin of people, 10-16.
- EXPRESSION OF THE PROPHET, 7. 1-20.
- Lamentation, 1-6; No righteousness, 1-4; No security, 5-6. Confession, 7-8; Submission, 9-13; Restoration, 14-20. Study the wonderful description of Jehovah’s character in chapter 7. 18-20.
This book shows the connection between moral declension and national disaster and is most applicable to our day and generation. Here is denunciation of the spiritual, social and moral evils of his day and our day. A summary of its spiritual message is given in the trite statement of chapter 6. 8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God”. These three things emphasize the supreme necessity of our outward actions corresponding with the in- ward motives; to “do justly” is to be righteous in our actions; to “love mercy” is to be righteous in all our thoughts, desires, motives and affections; “to walk humbly before God” is humility of heart and life before our God. The true nature of religion is an internal rather than an external matter, a matter of the heart and the inner life rather than offerings at the sacred courts. Inward sincerity and outward faithfulness are the things that God delights to find in His saints, e.g. Abel, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Job and Daniel.
Coming Judgment, 1. 1-5, the call - hear all ye people. Hearken, O earth - the trial of the Great Judge, the accused, the witnesses, v. 2, 5 . The centre of judgment, 3; divine, searching, solemn, righteous. The circumstances, 4; figuratively given, hills, valleys, etc. The cause of judgment, 5; transgression, idolatry, iniquity, 2. 1-3. The consequences of judgment, 1. 6-9; incurable wounds in Jerusalem.
- FALSE MINISTERS, 3. 5-7; Deceptive - “make my people err”; Derisive - “prepare war”; Destructive - “bite with their teeth”; Hypocritical - “Cry peace yet war comes”; Darkness - no vision; Defeat - “be ashamed”; Disgrace - “no answer”; see also 2. 11.
- TRUE MINISTER, 3. 8; 2. 7; Divine resources - spirit unrestrained, 2. 7. Divine revelation - words do good, powerful and productive; walk uprightly, human response. A ministry of power, fulness, light and courage, 3. 8.
Ministers of the Word, 2.7; 3.5-8.
- Expressed - He pardons, He passes over, He restrains anger, delights in mercy. Pardon, free, full, final, v. 18.
- Enjoyed - restoration, compassion, sanctification (subdue sins, abolition of sins into depths of sea), v. 19.
- Exulted in - the covenant and confidence, v. 20.
The Mercy of God, 7. 18-20.