Micah's name means "Who is like Yahweh (the Lord)?" We learn in the first verses of chapter 1 that Micah is from Moresheth-gath which was located in the hilly region between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea called the Shephelah. It was a rural area populated by poor people who struggled to make their living off the land in an area that was often overrun by powers who desired to take control of the north/south trade route that ran through it. Although located in Judah, Micah's prophecies are closely connected with the Northern Kingdom's capitol Samaria and the impending fall of that city (722 B. C.) due to the lack of repentance and their flagrant sins which were an affront to God. Micah's prophetic ministry took place during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (735-710 B. C.) making him a contemporary with Isaiah who also shared similar concerns in his prophecies to those of Micah.
The book of Micah can be divided into three sections, each beginning with the word "sheh-mah" or "hear" (Mic. 1:2; 3:1; 6:1) and brings to remembrance Israel's greatest command to hear (Dt. 6:4-9). In the first section (Mic. 1:1-2:13) both Israel and Judah are alerted to the coming punishment for their failure to listen and obey God's commands (1:1-16). Micah emphasizes that this punishment is due to their sin (2:1-13). The second section looks forward to the Messianic Kingdom (Mic. 3:1-5:15). Wicked leaders will be punished (3:1-12), the Messianic Kingdom will be glorious (4:1-13), and the section ends with a description of the Messianic King and His work (5:1-15). The final section returns its focus to the punishment of the people but ends with words of mercy (Mic. 6:1-7:20). The details of God's case against the people are outlined in the first part of this section (6:1-16) but the second part ends with words of promise (7:1-20). It is interesting to note that as a contemporary of Isaiah, the Holy Spirit often inspired both prophets to convey similar or the same messages to their audience (for example compare Mic. 4:1-3 with Is. 2:2-4). The impact of Micah's ministry was far-reaching as he is mentioned a hundred years later in the writings of Jeremiah (Jer. 26:18), a rare thing for prophets to do.
While Israel was in a vassal-state relationship with Assyria, the reprieve from oppression would be short-lived. Micah's prophecy was fulfilled in 722 B. C. when Assyria took Samaria and carried off the inhabitants. Micah warns the people of Judah that unless they repent, their outcome will be the same. Sadly, history shows that the same fate befell Jerusalem in 586 B. C. We see in Micah's writings that he took no pleasure in delivering this message (Mic. 7:1-6) but the Lord gave His faithful servant a glimmer of hope in the closing verses of the book (Mic. 7:7-19).
Three great promises emerge in Micah's final words: 1) the Lord will pardon His people's iniquities (Mic. 7:18); 2) the Lord will show compassion by casting His people's sins into the deepest part of the ocean (Mic. 7:19); and 3) the Lord will give his truth and love to His people and they will receive it (Mic. 7:20). Micah is determined to wait and watch expectantly for these promises to be fulfilled (7:7) in spite of the adversity he will endure while he waits (7:8-9). There is a distinct and noticeable parallel here in the way believers today await the Savior's return (Ac. 1:10-11; Phil. 3:20).
I don't know about you, but I am not always the most patient person when I have to wait! But the Bible is full of scriptures which encourage me to wait as eagerly as Micah did (Ps. 25:5, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 34; Prov. 20:22; Is. 8:17, 40:31, 64:4; Lam. 3:25-26; Hos. 12:6; Zeph. 3:8; Lk. 12:36-37; Ac. 1:4; Rom. 8:19-25; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20; Js. 5:7; Jd. 1:21). The conditions today appear to be as unsettled and evil as the ones that Micah lived in so his message to wait seems all the more applicable and challenging to me. If I believe God's truth is as unchanging as He is (Mic. 7:20) and recognize that Micah's name stands as a testimony to God's ability to fulfill His promises, then I will do my best to wait in spite of how horrid the world appears to become. Who is like the Lord? No one! If He says He will return, then He will (Mt. 25:1-3)! So here I am, waiting with Micah.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 7/5/2015