The Book Of Micah:
The book of Micah – the Old Testament Prophets are often thought of as providing not much more than “doom and gloom” prediction. But the book of Micah presents an impassioned and artistic interplay between oracles of impending judgment and promises of the future blessing on Israel and Judah. The people both nations have broken covenant with their Lord. Through His messenger Micah, He confronted His people, but He also promised to bring future blessing through the one who will be coming. This One will be true Shepherd of God’s flock.
The Book Of Micah Author And Date:
Little is known about the prophet Micah beyond his name. The only thing known is his place of origin, and the personal tone of his book. Micah was born in rural village of Moresheth Gath in the low land of Judah. This village was close to the region of Philistia. This set him apart from his more illustrious contemporary Isaiah, who was from Jerusalem.
The book of Micah has numerous points of similarity with the much longer book of Isaiah. In fact, virtually the same passage is available in booth books (compare 4:1-3 with Isaiah 2:2-4). Some attribute this unusual phenomenon to one prophet borrowing from the other. But it is difficult to argue from the priority of either Micah or Isaiah from the texts. More likely both prophets make use of the same source, perhaps a psalm of confidence.
It’s often asserted that the book of Micah is written by his disciples and followers many years after his ministry. However, the tone of Micah’s prophecies against Jerusalem indicates that there are not yet come to pass. It appears that Micah prophesied that Assyrians will destroy Jerusalem in the way they had already destroyed the city of Samaria (compare 1:6 with 3:12). Assyrians under Sennacherib did siege against Jerusalem in the campaign of 701 BC, they did not finally destroy the city. Jerusalem was not destroyed until over a century later by the Babylonians 586BC.
It is almost inconceivable that the disciples of Micah would collect record and promote his prophecies long after him. The fact remains that those prophecies have not come pass as anticipated. It is far more likely that the prophecies of Micah were compiled by the prophet as an anthology of his lengthy preaching career.
Historical Setting Of The Book Of Micah:
The career of Micah extended over the last third of the18th century BC. That is during the reign of Jotham (752 – 736 BC). Ahaz (736 – 720 BC) and Hezekiah (729 – 699 BC). The book of Micah centers on the threat of the Assyrians invasion that occupied throughout this period. Beginning around 730BC, against Israel and culminating in 701BC against Judah. Much of Micah’s preaching warned Judah about an impending national disaster. Yet the religious leaders of Jerusalem were falsely confident that no evil would come to them. This was because of the inviolable presence of the holy temple in their midst. Micah sternly confronted their arrogance and their mistaken notions of God. He made it known to them that even the temple on mount Zion would be spared the onslaught of God’s wrath (3:12).
The length delay in Micah’s prophecies against Jerusalem may be attributed to several causes. First, God may have decided to spare the city, even though it was He who had condemned it (see Jeremiah 26:16-19; compare God’s judgment on Nineveh in the book of Jonah). The significant delay in judgment against Jerusalem may have a link to the mercy of the Lord much as the delay of judgment against Nineveh is to His mercy by the prophet Jonah (see Jonah 4:1-3). Second, although the judgment of Jerusalem was postponed, it was finally realized by the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 586BC.
The Theme Of The Book:
The interplay of wrath and mercy in the book of Micah mirrors the character of God. For even in His wrath remembers mercy. In the darkest days of impending judgment of the nations of Israel and Judah, it is in the character of God to spare remnants. Although the Lord was determined to maintain His holiness, He was equally intend on fulfilling His loving promises to Abraham (see Genesis 12:15 – 22). He balanced His judgment with mercy. Consequently Micah also balances His oracles of judgment with oracles of promises.
In so doing, Micah points back to the covenant and also forward to the coming one. The book begins with the language of a court. Micah calls peoples of earth to come and hear the Lord’s case against Israel for the nation has broken the covenant (3:1; 6:1-3). The language recalls the language of the covenant or contract the Lord established with His people. The Lord was judging according to the terms of the covenant. But in the middle of the oracles of judgment, Micah reveals the Lord’s wonderful promises of a glorious future.
There will be a time when the coming King will gather His people together (2:12 -13). When He would establish peace (4:3), and would bring justice to the earth (4:2 – 3). Remarkably, Micah prophesied that this coming Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem gives us confidence that the prophecies of Jesus’ glorious future will also come to pass (see Matthew 2:1).
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