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by Editor - Joseph S. Exell
The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
ON THE BOOKS OF THE
By the REV. JAMES WOLFENDALE
Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Chronicles
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
THE PROPHET. Micah is an abbreviated form of Micaiah, mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18. He was a native of Moresheth-Gath, prophesied in Judæa, and must be distinguished from Micaiah, son of Imlah, in 1 Kings 22:8. Of his life we know nothing but what may be gathered from his book. The Prophet himself seems to allude to his name (ch. Micah 7:18); tradition has many stories about him, but we can only affirm that he belongs to the critical time in the latter half of the 8th century B. C.
THE PERIOD in which Micah lived may be gathered from the superscription. The reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah are given, i.e. 727–698 B. C. “At that time the Assyrian kingdom, just prior to its fall, recovered its power, under Salmanassar, and with irresistible might carried the profound commotions of God’s judgments, predicted by Amos (chs. 1 and 2), over the peoples of Western Asia and even to Africa” [Lange]. “The Prophet’s lively rebukes, together with the corresponding picture of Isaiah and other writers, give a description of the sins of the age. He lingers in his prophecy among the towns of the maritime plain (the Shephçlah), where his birth-place lay. Among the few places of that neighbourhood, which he selects for warning and for example of the universal captivity, is his native village, ‘the home he loved.’ But the chief scene of his ministry was Jerusalem. He names it in the beginning of his prophecy as the place where the idolatries, and with the idolatries all the other sins of Judah, were concentrated. The two capitals, Samaria and Jerusalem, were the chief objects of the Word of God to him, because the corruption of each kingdom streamed forth from them. The sins which he rebukes are chiefly those of the capital. Extreme oppression, violence among the rich, bribing among judges, priests, prophets; building up the capital even by cost of life, or actual bloodshed; spoliation, expulsion of the powerless women and children from their homes; covetousness, cheating in dealings, pride. These, of course, may be manifoldly repeated in lesser places of resort and of judgment. But it is Zion and Jerusalem which are so built up with blood, and must be ploughed as a field. Especially they are the heads and princes of the people whom he upbraids for the perversion of justice, and for oppression. Even the good kings of Judah seem to have been powerless to restrain the general oppression” [Pusey].
THE BOOK. Isaiah sweeps over all history, and sheds the light of prophecy over all nations; but Micah fixes on his own people, and prophesies against Israel (Samaria) and against Judah (Jerusalem). God will temper judgment with mercy. He will chasten Zion, but the Redeemer will come to Zion as a man “from Bethlehem of Judah,” and as a Mighty Conqueror to subdue his enemies, and “Jerusalem will be the Mother Church of Christendom.” The temple will be destroyed, but a nobler building shall rise out of its ruins, and the law shall be fulfilled in the gospel. Its analysis. It is divided into three parts, all beginning with Hear ye. (1st) Chs. 1 and 2 (2nd) Chs. 3; 4; 5 (3rd) Chs. 6;
7. “In the first the threatening of judgment predominates; in the second the announcement of the Messianic salvation; in the third there follows the parænesis or admonition to repentance and humiliation under the chastening hand of the Lord, in order to participate in the promised salvation. As this admonition rests upon the threat of judgment and promise of salvation in the two previous addresses, so does the allusion to the judgment contained in the words, “Then will they cry to Jehovah,” &c. (ch. Micah 3:4), presuppose the announcement in chap. 1 of the judgment about to burst upon the land, without which it would be perfectly unintelligible. Consequently there can be no doubt whatever that Micah has simply concentrated the quintessence of his oral discourses into the addresses contained in his book. This quintessence, moreover, shows clearly enough that our Prophet was not at all behind his contemporary Isaiah, either in the clearness and distinctness of his Messianic announcements, or in the power and energy with which he combated the sins and vices of the nation” [Keil]. Its style. “He stands next to Isaiah in force and freshness, continuity of expression, and in the plastic choice of words. In the arrangement of his thoughts, however, abrupt and fond of sharp contrasts, he reminds us more of his older contemporary, Hosea. The beautiful plan of his discourse is admirable” [Lange]. The diction is rigorous and clear, varied in rich figures, and derived from pastoral and rural life. The changes are sudden, frequently hidden by our version, for the simple connective (vav) is often rendered by some logical term as “therefore” (Micah 1:6), “then” (Micah 3:7), “but” (Micah 4:1), &c. Intercourse with northern nations had not debased his language. “An undertone of deep earnestness pervades the book; everywhere are discerned the workings of an intensely honourable and patriotic soul. Micah is successful in the use of the dialogue, and his prophecies are penetrated by the purest spirit of morality and piety.” “His prophecy sank so deep, that above a century afterwards, just when it was about to have its fulfilment, it was the prophecy which was remembered. But the sufferings of time disappeared in the light of eternal truth. Above seven centuries rolled by, and Micah reappears as the herald, not of sorrow, but of salvation. Wise men from afar, in the nobility of their simple belief, asked, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ The answer was given unhesitatingly, as a well-known truth of God, in the words of Micah. When he was born, he was pointed out as the object of worship to the first converts from the heathen on the authority of God, through Micah” [Pusey].
the Fifth Week after Epiphany