Micah was a prophet in the 8th century BC. But he was not the only one. Amos and Hosea were prophets in the Northern Kingdom. (This was called Israel.) Micah and Isaiah were in the same period. But they were prophets in the Southern Kingdom. (This was called Judah.) Micah was born in a country area. And he worked there too. This was the same as Amos. But he was not a desert shepherd like Amos was.

Micah came from a place called Moresheth (1:1). The land was green and things grew easily. Fields of good corn surrounded it. There were plenty of olive trees too. (People eat olives. They also use them for making oil.)

Micah declared God's judgement. God would judge the rich people. These rich people had become richer. And they had made poor people become poorer. Micah said that all life belongs to God. God does not care just about religious matters. He cares about all things.

Jerusalem was the capital city. And Micah was very sad about it. There was much luxury. People's lives were very wicked. And Micah realized who was paying for it all. He and other poor people were paying for it. J. B. Phillips was a famous author. He wrote about Micah. He talked about what it could be like in another age. Micah could be leading a revolution. But Micah was not thinking about political things. He cared about people being fair to each other. He cared about a right attitude to God too. Judgement was coming soon to Israel. Enemies would arrive. They would suddenly enter the land of Judah. And they would ruin its rich green land (1:5-7,8-16).

It is not easy to divide the book of Micah. H. L. Ellison was a writer. He spoke about how the ideas in the book change. He said that the change is often sudden. It is like an explosion. It may seem that sections have no connection with each other. Then, later, Micah puts the same ideas next to each other. When that happens, there will be a spiritual connection.

We can divide the book into two main sections:

Judah's State of Moral Evil (Chapters 1-3)

There are two main subjects in these three chapters:

From Outside: The enemy would ruin everything (1:1-16). This was about ‘the march of God’ (1:3-7). God seemed to march across the land of Israel. He came with judgement. And that judgement reached Judah (1:9).

Micah then used word pictures. They were unusual. But there was a reason for them. The people were careless. Spiritual things meant nothing to them. And Micah wanted them to listen to him carefully. He told them what would happen. Enemy armies would suddenly march south. They would defeat Judah. They would defeat Shephelah. This was a green land. Things grew easily there. Micah knew the area well. And his use of words was clever. It was as if he shot the words from a gun. Then they exploded in front of the people.

Look at an example in 1:10. The name Gath means ‘tell’. Micah said, ‘Do not tell it in Gath’. The name Acco means ‘cry’. He said, ‘Do not cry in Acco’. Beth Ophrah means ‘house of dust’. He said, ‘Roll yourself in the dust at Beth Ophrah’.

From Inside: The people had become more evil (2:1-3:12). Micah had been warning them about God's judgement. And these chapters give the reason for that judgement. It was the leaders who were so sinful. The leaders were evil in:

  • Business matters. People who owned land wanted more fields. So they took them from poor people (2:1-5).
  • Religious life. False prophets said only pleasant things. ‘Nothing bad will happen to us’, they said (2:6,7; 3:5-7). So, rich people felt safe. It was like this later, in Jeremiah's time. (Compare Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11-12.)
  • Legal matters. The judges were the same as the false prophets. They wanted importance. They wanted good things for themselves. They were greedy for money.

Jerusalem city was the centre for all this evil. So, an enemy would destroy it (3:9-12).

Yahweh's Sympathy and Mercy (Chapters 4-7)

[Note: Yahweh is the Hebrew name for Jehovah God.]

God decides their fate (4-5). Micah had been showing the terrible evil of Judah's people. Now he spoke about the world. Some people of Judah followed God. And Micah reminded them about a better future time (4:1-5).

There are three clear subjects in these two chapters:

  • The kingdom (4:1-5)
  • The people who remained (4:16-5:1, 7-9)
  • The Messiah (5:2-6).

Micah was thinking about the future. He knew that the enemy would overcome his nation. They would force his people to go to a foreign land. But there was hope for the future too. ‘The Lord will go there and rescue you. He will take you away from your enemies’ (4:10-11).

God desires their love (6-7). Micah had been speaking about the future. Now he returned to the awful present situation. The first chapters spoke against the sins of the people. Now God appealed to them. He wanted them to repent. God complained about his people (6:2). He wanted them to remember:

  • His former goodness (6:3-5). God had been active. He had been working in their history. He had been saving them.
  • His present demands (6:6-8). This was a familiar subject for a prophet. God does not want sacrifices if the people do not love him. (Compare Isaiah 1:11-16; Jeremiah 14:12; Amos 5:21-27.)
    Notice a reference in 6:7b. It is about child sacrifice. This may show the length of Micah's service as a prophet. Maybe he continued into the time when Manasseh was king. He was good king Hezekiah's son. But he was a very evil king. Compare 2 Kings 21:6 and Jeremiah 7:31.
    God did not want that sort of sacrifice. Micah told God's people what God desired from them (6:8). He said, ‘Be fair to other people. Love kindness and mercy. Live in a humble way with your God’. Mercy is ‘hesed’. We noticed this Hebrew language word especially in the book of Hosea. Hands that steal might bring big sacrifices. But those sacrifices would be useless (6:10-11). Lips that tell lies might pray wonderful prayers. But those prayers would be useless (6:12-13). God demands sincere gifts and sincere prayers.
  • His future plans (7). Micah showed Judah's fate in a very strong, clear way. It seemed as if it had happened already. This was a favourite method of the prophets. (Read Jeremiah 6:1-5; 14:1-6.) Other nations did not know God. They did not love God. And the prophets feared the laughter of these people (7:8-10. Compare Obadiah 12).

God's people had terrible experiences while they were in exile. But God had a purpose in it. He wanted to make them holy. He wanted to make them better people. And they kept their belief in him as:

  • The God who answered his people's prayers (7:7)
  • The God who made his people's darkness seem light (7:8-9)
  • The God who directed his people's lives (7:14-15)
  • The God who pardoned his people's sins (7:18-19)

Our idea of God should be as great as this. These ideas are important when things are against us. He should never be a God only for the good times in our lives.