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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Micah 1

 

 

Verse 1

THE PROPHET MICAH

‘Micah the Morasthite.’

Micah 1:1

When the ministry of the courtly and cultured Isaiah was about half over, there appeared in Judah another prophet of a very different type, Micah by name. Isaiah was the associate of kings, being himself, according to Jewish tradition, of royal birth; but Micah came from the little country village of Moreshah (Micah 1:1), in Western Palestine, and in dress, gestures, and expressions, if we may judge from chap. Micah 1:8, reminds one of the prophet Elijah.

I. Though differing widely in personality, Isaiah and Micah were in close sympathy and harmony, as is shown by their messages; and it is very likely they often met and talked and prayed together. They both condemned unsparingly the evils of the times; both predicted judgment as the result of the nation’s sin; and both prophesied of Christ’s Advent and of His glorious reign. See how almost identical are the words of Micah 4:1-3 with the passage found in Isaiah 2:2-4, causing one to think that one prophet quoted the other. There is a strong resemblance between the two Books in several respects. The peculiarity of Micah’s prophecy is that it is concerning both the northern and the southern kingdoms (see chap. Micah 1:1; Micah 1:5), although the burden of his message seems to be intended for Judah.

II. One thing which distinguishes Micah is the result of his ministry.—There is no hint of this in his Book, but from Jeremiah’s one reference to him we gather that Micah was instrumental in the conversion of King Hezekiah. You will recall that Jeremiah, living about one hundred years after Micah, was arrested in the Temple one day, by the priests, prophets, and people, for prophesying the destruction of the Temple and city, and was in danger of being put to death when the princes of Judah interfered. The disturbance was quelled, and the tide of public sentiment against Jeremiah was turned by the elders calling attention to the similarity of Micah’s teaching and its results (see Jeremiah 26:18-19).

We know, from the record in Kings, that this attitude of submission to God on the part of King Hezekiah brought upon himself and his kingdom such blessing that his was the most glorious reign of all the kings of Judah since Solomon. So Micah, by his faithful preaching, served well his sovereign, his country, and his God.

Micah seems to have made a deep impression upon the minds and hearts of the Jewish people. He is often referred to, and his utterances quoted by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah. St. Matthew and St. John also quote him. It is Micah who pointed out the birthplace of the Messiah, thus enabling the scribes and Pharisees to direct the wise men to Bethlehem, where they should find the Christ-child.

III. In style, Micah is rather dramatic, given to the use of imagery and figures of speech.—Notice the picture with which the prophecy opens. It represents God as rising in indignation at the sins of His people, and coming forth in wrath from His place on high like a great consuming fire, before which the mountains melt, and the valleys are broken. Samaria is the first to feel the heat of God’s indignation, but the tide of judgment comes rolling down even to the gate of Jerusalem, and still onward, until Micah sees in vision one after the other of the towns in the neighbourhood of his own home-town given over to destruction.

Illustration

‘Micah came from the neighbourhood of Gath, in the Philistine plain, with its luxuriant vineyards, orchards, and cornfields, its busy towns and its glimpses of the great sea. He exerted a strong influence over Hezekiah and his times. Though of humble birth, he came to stand in the front rank of the prophetic band. The 8th verse tells us that he perambulated the streets and public places of Jerusalem, mingling his prophetic appeals and warnings with loud wails, like the deep hollow roar of the ostrich or the piteous howl of the jackal. Such an apparition, proclaiming day after day the national sins and threatening impending doom, struck the hearts of king and people with awe. In days long after the elders of the city recalled him, and ascribed to his preaching the great revival which inaugurated Hezekiah’s reign.’


Verse 3-4

THE LORD’S ADVENT

‘The Lord cometh forth out of His place … and the mountains shall be molten under Him.’

Micah 1:3-4

God, said the prophet, would come down in judgment. He loved His people too well to give them over to their sins. God’s one purpose is to set us free from the dominion of evil, for He knows that we can never be really blessed until our bonds are broken and our uncleanness removed. How shall we ever be thankful enough that Jesus Christ has come forth out of His place in the glory to deliver us; and whatever mountains may oppose Him in His great redemptive work, surely they shall flow down at His presence!

I. There must be suffering.—The suffering of chastisement. As it was with Israel, so it must be with us. We must learn that it is an evil and bitter thing to indulge in known sin. The strokes will fall quick and fast, although the rod is held by a Father’s hand. Where conscience is not quick enough to admonish us, outward discipline must be called in to supplement her.

II. We must claim the shelter of Christ’s Cross and grave.—Israel knew nought of these as we know them. But how great our privilege and power to retreat to the cleft of the rock and hide there whilst storms of temptation sweep past! Satan cannot reach the soul that is sheltering there. This is being truly ‘dead unto sin.’

III. We must look up for the indwelling energy of the ascended Christ.—The Ascension means even more than the Resurrection. From the glorious height of His Ascension, the Lord Jesus comes to indwell us, and to melt down the strong mountains of our rebellious will, substituting His own.

Illustrations

(1) ‘The sublime imagery of the opening paragraph was probably supplied by the traditions of the great earthquake which took place in the reign of Uzziah. The Almighty God is depicted as coming down to judgment, and nature trembles before His advent. He judges Samaria first, and pronounces the dread sentence of its approaching overthrow by Assyria.’

(2) ‘Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. Jeremiah quotes Micah 3:12 (Jeremiah 26:18); and there are several correspondences between his words and Isaiah. He denounces the idolatries perpetrated in Samaria, so soon to fall, and Jerusalem. God’s coming to judge his guilty people is attended by earthquake and storm. Samaria would be made desolate, and all the wealth which Israel boasted of having received from her idols, as her reward or hire for worshipping them, would return to them again when she was carried into captivity. The prophet describes his own anguish, as he sees the approaching calamity, which should involve, not Samaria only, but Jerusalem.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Micah 1:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/micah-1.html. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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