is a book about
TRUE AND FALSE AUTHORITY
in which God is
The God of Micah
Micah’s book opens by describing a terrible theophany. But this God is not an unconcerned Sovereign; he is Israel’s Leader (2:13), Judge (4:3), Ruler (4:7, 5:2) and Shepherd (7:14, cf. 2:12). He is the sender of true leaders and prophets (6:4-5, Jeremiah 26:5). False leadership is condemned throughout Micah’s prophecy, but the final death-knell on oppression awaits the coming of the true Ruler (ch. 4-5).
Sin in High Places (ch. 1-2)
Micah came from the village of Moresheth (1:1). He prophesied against numerous cities in Israel, calling them by name. He mocks them using numerous puns and wordplays in 1:10-15.
Captivity is no coincidence, but a result of sin and idolatry (1:16). The people are called upon to interpret current events through the character of God. The subjugation of Israel by pagan nations was no coincidence, but was promised in Leviticus for breaking God’s covenant of obedience (Lev. 26:17, 33, 38-39). The prophet Jeremiah cites Micah as preceding him and possibly saving his life (Jer. 26).
Throughout Micah, the places of false leadership and influence are condemned (3:9). Joseph Parker comments that Jesus Christ “differs from all modern teachers in that he finds the wickedness of society in its high places.”1 Rather than associating crime with poverty, the Bible tends to do the opposite: over and over God casts his judgment over the rich, the educated, the religious, and the affluent.
Abuse of Authority (ch. 3)
What does Micah mean that they “build with blood” (3:10)? He is talking about money made through hidden crimes. Prostitution was used to fund pagan temples in Micah’s day (1:7). Micah condemns bribery among officials, and simony among spiritual leaders (3:11, 7:3). Named after Simon the sorcerer in Acts, the sin of simony means performing acts of ministry in exchange for money. In the Middle Ages, corruption of priests was rampant; John Wycliffe of England and John Hus of Bohemia were martyred in part for speaking against it. The prophet Micah likewise risked much by speaking against those who were propping up such a corrupt system.
G. Campbell Morgan writes: “The message of Micah centered on the subject of authority. The prophet arraigns and condemns the authority of those who had departed from the true standards of government, whether the princes, prophets, or priests; and foretold the coming of the true Ruler, under whom all false confidences would be destroyed and the true order restored.”2
Deliverance and the Deliverer (ch. 4-5)
Micah 4 and 5 concern “the last days” (4:1). In Morgan’s notes on Micah, he says that chapter 4 concerns the deliverance to come, but chapter 5 concerns the Deliverer.3 Micah 4 presents a vision of “the mountain of the house of the LORD.” War will be ended on Earth (5:4).
The final deliverance of Israel will not be easily brought about. Micah prophesies that it will involve labor pains (4:9, 5:3), a metaphor that Jesus continues to use to describe the end times. False leadership always uses kind words, but has a mean end in mind (2:6); the God of the Bible forewarns us of coming trouble, but he always has good in mind (4:7, 7:20).
The Deliverer is described in Micah 5. Like Micah, he will come from a little-known village. Final justice means an end to all false worship. Jesus “shall be great to the ends of the earth” (5:4).
What Does God Require? (ch. 6)
Micah reminds Israel of God’s past actions: he had redeemed them from Egypt (6:4); he had sent righteous leadership (6:4); he had refused to repudiate them despite Balak’s efforts (6:5). “From Shittim to Gilgal” (6:5) is especially significant: Shittim was a place where Israel joined in idolatry (Num. 25:1), and Gilgal was where God renewed his covenant with them by circumcision (Joshua 5). This points to the renewal that God would bring Israel if they would repent.
Micah 6 is the crux of the book and perhaps the best explanation of idolatry in the Old Testament. Idolatry involves not only an incorrect view of God, but an ineffective way of approaching him. The God of the Bible is the only god that cannot be bought. No sacrifice is enough to secure his favor (6:6-7).
Instead, God asks for the repentance and faith. “He has shown us what is good: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). God does not ask what is easy: to bring material goods or sacrifices. He asks what is hard: the surrender of self. “The surrendered life is the foundation of surrendered possessions. Ourselves first, then our offerings.”4
Conclusion (ch. 7)
Micah concludes as it began, with a vision of God: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?” (7:18) This vision of God’s character is Micah’s reason for believing in the forgiveness of sin as well as the deliverance from captivity that will come.
There is no higher conclusion than this simple appeal to who God is. A right vision of God will bring right worship of God, and a right approach to God. He has not only told us what is good; he has shown us what is good, and we should imitate the open and generous ways of our King and Shepherd.
1 Joseph Parker. The Minor Prophets (vol. 21 of The People’s Bible). Kindle edition. Locations 3915-3916.
2 G. Campbell Morgan. Exposition of the Whole Bible. Accessed on studylight.org, Oct. 12, 2015. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/view.cgi?bk=32&ch=5
4 Herbert Lockyer, The Christ of Christmas. Kindle edition. Location 604.