Holman Bible Dictionary
Micah, Book of
(mi' cuh) A prophetic book named after the eighth century B.C. prophet containing some of his messages. The prophet Micah's name means, “Who is like Yah?” People in the Ancient Near East commonly gave their children names that indicated devotion to their god, and Yahweh was the name by which the God of Israel and Judah was called. See Micah ; Micaiah ; Michaiah ; Micha .
Micah 1:1 gives the reader three pieces of information about the prophet. He came from Maresheth (NIV) which probably should be identified with Moresheth-gath. This village was located about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the tribe of Judah. Micah, however, may have lived in Jerusalem during his ministry. He worked in the reigns of Jotham (750-732 B.C.), Ahaz (735-715 B.C.), and Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.) who were kings of Judah. The identification of these kings does not mean that he was active from 750-686, but that his ministry spanned parts of each reign. Jeremiah 26:17-18 refers to Micah as prophesying during the time of Hezekiah. Determining exact dates, however, for each of the prophecies contained in the book is difficult. Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, Hosea, and possibly Amos.
Finally, His prophecies addressed Samaria and Jerusalem. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and Jerusalem, of the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Even though Micah ministered in Judah, some of his messages were directed toward Israel.
Historical Background In Micah's time, many political and national crises occurred. Micah addressed those issues.
The Assyrian Empire began to dominate the Ancient Near East about 740 B.C. Juhad and Israel became tribute-paying vassals of this new political power, and in 722 B.C. Israel felt the might of the Assyrian army. Shalmaneser V and Sargon II destroyed the Northern Kingdom and its capital, Samaria (2 Kings 16-17 ) because of an attempted rebellion. The records of Sargon II state that he “besieged and conquered Samaria, (and) led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it.” While Judah survived, they still were vassals. Micah 1:2-7 associates the imminent destruction of Samaria as God's judgment for the people's idolatry. Hezekiah, king of Judah, instituted many reforms that caused the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, to respond with force. Many cities of Judah were destroyed, and Jerusalem was unsuccessfully besieged ( 2 Kings 18-19 ). The annals of Sennacherib boast that he laid siege to 46 cities and countless small villages. He took 200,150 people as booty along with the livestock. As for Hezekiah, Sennacherib says, “Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.” Despite the failure to take Jerusalem, the citizens of the Southern Kingdom suffered greatly from the invasion.
The Prophet's Message The subjects of Micah's messages reveal much about the society of his day. He constantly renounced the oppression of the poor by the rich. He characterized the rich as devising ways in which to cheat the poor out of their land (Micah 2:1-5 ). People were evicted from their homes and had their possessions stolen. Those who committed such crimes were fellow Israelites (Micah 2:6-11 ). The marketplace was full of deception and injustice (Micah 6:9-16 ). The rulers of the country, who had the responsibility of upholding justice, did the opposite (Micah 3:1-4 ).
Micah also denounced the religious practices of the nation. He predicted the destruction of Judah as an act of God's judgment. Other prophets, however, led the people to believe that this could never happen because God was residing in the nation and would protect them. Micah contended that the other prophets' message was not from God. Instead, the message from God was the imminent devastation of Judah (Micah 3:5-12 ).
The people worshiped other gods. They did not quit believing in and worshiping the God of Judah, but they combined this worship with devotion to other details (Micah 5:10-15 ). The people believed all that religion required of them was to bring their sacrifices and offerings to the Temple. No relationship was acknowledged between their activity in the Temple and their activity in daily life. Micah attempted to correct this misconception by arguing that God is not just interested in the physical act of making a sacrifice but is supremely concerned with obedience that extends into daily life (Micah 6:6-8 ).
Micah warned of impending judgment on God's people for their disobedience. At the same time, he proclaimed messages of hope. Judgment would come, but afterwards, God would restore a remnant of the people devoted to Him (Micah 4:1-13 ; Micah 7:14-20 ). Unlike the unjust kings that the people were accustomed to, God would bring a ruler who would allow the people to live in peace (Micah 5:1-5 ). Ultimately, Judah was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians, but a remnant returned. Matthew saw in Micah's hope for a new ruler a description of Christ (Matthew 2:6 ). See Ahaz ; Assyria; Israel ; Hezekiah ; Jerusalem ; Prophet; Samaria.
I. God's Word Witnesses Against All People (Micah 1:1-2 ).
II. God Judges His People for Their Sins (Micah 1:3-3:12 ).
A. God judges religious infidelity (Micah 1:3-16 ).
B. God judges economic injustice (Micah 2:1-5 ).
C. God judges false preaching (Micah 2:6-11 ).
D. God's judgment looks to the remnant's restoration (Micah 2:12-13 ).
E. God judges unjust leaders (Micah 3:1-4 ).
F. God judges those who preach peace and prosperity for sinners (Micah 3:5-7 ).
G. God judges through His Spirit-filled messenger (Micah 3:8 ).
H. God judges corrupt, greedy officials (Micah 3:9-12 ).
III. God Promises a Day of International Peace and Worship (Micah 4:1-5:15 ).
A. God plans for His people to teach His way to the nations (Micah 4:1-5 ).
B. God plans to redeem and rule His weakened remnant (Micah 4:6-11 ).
C. God plans to show the world His universal rule (Micah 4:12-13 ).
D. God plans to raise up a Shepherd from Bethlehem to bring peace and victory to His beleagured flock (Micah 5:1-9 ).
E. God plans to destroy weapons and idolatry from His people (Micah 5:10-15 ).
IV. God Has a Case Against His People (Micah 6:1-7:6 ).
A. God has done His part, redeeming His people (Micah 6:1-5 ).
B. God's expectations are clear: justice, mercy, piety (Micah 6:6-8 ).
C. God's people have not met His expectations (Micah 6:9-12 ).
D. God's punishment is sure for a corrupt people (Micah 6:13-7:6 ).
V. God in Righteousness, Love, and Faithfulness Will Forgive and Renew His People (Micah 7:7-20 ).
A. God's people can trust Him for salvation (Micah 7:7 ).
B. God's repentant people can expect better days ahead (Micah 7:8-14 ).
C. God's enemies face shameful judgment (Micah 7:15-17 ).
D. The incomparable God of patience, mercy, compassion, and faithfulness will forgive and renew His people (Micah 7:18-20 ).
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