Introducing The Minor Prophet Micah
Micah Historical Setting
The period is approx 770-710 B.C . although it is generally thought that the book was written just before the fall and destruction of Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel) by the Assyrians in 721. During this time Judah is ruled in turn by a series of kings. Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
Read Ch1 v1
This is also confirmed in Jeremiah 26:17 “…..Micah of Moresheth prophesied during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah”
It is during this period that we see the rise of Assyria as a major world player under the kingship of Tiglath-Pileser 111 (745-727bc) one of the most successful military commanders in world history – and an impending threat to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Little is known about the personal life of Micah, though it is generally thought that he was a man of the soil, and closely connected to the common people – a farmer perhaps. We know that he was from Moresheth in the southern kingdom of Judah (about 25 miles from Jerusalem) and it’s worth noting that he was indeed a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea.
As is the way of most of the ‘minor’ prophets, Micah spoke out about the injustice he seen around him. This was a time when the wealthy landowners were growing richer by bribing corrupt judges to fix land deeds in their favour, thereby putting the smaller landowners out of business. The peasants and the landless of course suffered the most during this time.
This in turn led to an overcrowding in the cities as the small farmers looked for employment elsewhere.
Along with this practice there was a general move away from the worship of the true God and the corruption of the covenants he had set aside for them to follow.
The country was being led by corrupt leaders as is emphasised in Ch2:11 “If a man walking after wind and falsehood had told lies and said ‘I will speak out to you concerning wine and liquor’ He would be spokesman to this people”
The Lord was saying here- none to subtly- that they were being led by a bunch of lying, thieving drunkards !
The worship of Baal and other pagan deities added to the general backslidden state of the nation. It is in this light that we see the foretold destruction of Samaria-one of the leaders of the conspiracy- in Ch1:2-15.
Both Amos and Hosea had tackled the same questions in the Northern Kingdom. Their answer had been that the Northern Kingdom would not survive. By the time Micah began his ministry, Isaiah of Jerusalem had already been addressing the same questions for 20 years. The Northern Kingdom had already been destroyed, or would be in a matter of months. And as both prophets looked at the Southern Kingdom of Judah, they saw much the same conditions as had existed in the Northern Kingdom.
Judah’s future was not certain. But both Isaiah and Micah consistently proclaimed that a change, a return to faithfulness to God, was essential if the Southern Kingdom was to have any future.
This is a hope borne out by these passages referring to a coming saviour and redemption. Ch4:1-7 and Ch7:7-8 “But as for me I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 8. Do not rejoice over me O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness the Lord is a light for me.”
Applications for Today
Main lesson – The Lord God hates injustice, corruption, false dealing as much as he hates the worship of false idols and the manipulation of his statutes and laws to suit our own ends !
The leaders of Micah’s time were doing just that, they twisted the laws of the land to suit themselves, and no doubt called it piety !
Jesus condemned the same attitude in the Pharisees – the religious leaders of his time.
This is a classic example to us that all things must be taken not only on ‘face value’ but according to the context in which they are written.
I could start a new cult tomorrow – Jims apostles and latter day saints- and easily use the Bible to back it up!
How ? I simply decide what I would like out of my personal cult and then look up all the passages I can find to support my cause – ignoring along the way the context in which they are written and of course all the passages against it.
I might even get a reprint of the bible with some subtly altered passages, endorsed by a corrupt translator who is quite happy to lend his name to it for the parting of some cash !
Lets call it ‘The New World Truth Bible’
Throughout history, right up to modern times numerous cults, movements and sects have mis-quoted scripture in order to justify their particular actions. Che Guevara the Marxist revolutionary quoted scripture when it suited the cause; and Charismatic preachers like Jim Jones or David Koresh are just two examples of how the Scriptures can be corrupted to suit evil means. Both Mussolini and Adolph Hitler claimed at various times to be Christian; Hitler promoting his ‘positive christianity’ which was the Nazi ideal of a Christianity without Jews or any other undesirables, and which was infused with Nazi doctrines.
The Word of God must be ‘correctly divined’ as they used to say. We cannot quote Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. without reading the whole chapter which includes –
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. EPH 5
The leaders of Israel and Judah had grown complacent and corrupt. They had forgotten that they were dealing with a living God who sees all and who will demand recompense.
While we have of course a New Covenant and are Justified not by our own works but by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross we are nevertheless still called on to ‘do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly before our God’ Ch6:8
The inherent danger of any society in any age is that power drifts into the hands of corrupt people, who will use this power and influence not for the common good – but to line their own pockets.
The old adage that ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is as applicable now as it has been throughout the centuries from the beginning of time.
There is indeed – as the preacher says in the book of Ecclesiastes – nothing new under the sun, and corruption is as prevalent now as it ever was. It is also true that “all it needs for evil to succeed, is for good people to stand by and do nothing while it is happening.”
Micah spoke out against the corruption in high places that he witnessed in his time – what examples do you see before you in the times in which we live?
Unlocking the Old Testament Part 52 – Micah