Book of Micah


The Book of Micah is a very interesting one - it is a book that displays a very clear vision for what God wants to do with His people.

To understand a book in the Bible, our first instinct is to dive right into the book at hand. This is good, but the wiser thing to do is to step back and see how the book fits into the bigger narrative. So, let's start there.

Following the Book of Daniel, the Old Testament has a collection of twelve relatively short books, which the Jewish people calls "The Twelve". This points to the Twelve prophets that are shorter in length compared to the longer prophetic books, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.

The prophets' job was to be the watchdogs of the covenant. If that doesn't clear things up for you, here's a quick crash course: God rescued a whole race of people from slavery in Egypt - they were the Israelites. God promised them a home in the land of Israel. On their journey there, God gives them a "contract" of sorts, showing them how to live in this new land, since surrounding nations will be looking to them to see how God wants the world to behave. This contract is the covenant. As the years went on, the nation of Israel began to disobey and ignore this covenant. Prophets are people from within Israel who are God's mouthpiece in telling them to return to the covenant.

Prophets had a target audience. Some were specifically called to speak to the people outside of Israel (like Jonah, Obadiah, second half of Joel, etc.), and some were called to speak to the people of Israel. Micah fits into this category. Micah specifically focuses in on social justice, so this book calls out on the rich people of his country.

Now, let's dive in to the Book of Micah.

The book has three main sections. Each of those sections starts with the word "Hear" (in the Hebrew, shema), which means "Listen and respond." In each of these sections, you will find an oracle (prophecy). These oracles consists of 1) a judgment, 2) the reason for that judgment, and 3) a word about the future.

Oracle #1 (1:2-2:13)
In 1:2-7, Micah the prophet speaks on behalf of God to let Israel know of the coming judgement. 2:1-11, he outlines the reason - the wealthy made their money through sinful means. Finally, in 2:12-12, God tells them that He will gather them like sheep in a den, then release them into the open; but this time, they won't misuse their freedom - they will all follow God's example.

Oracle #2 (ch. 3-5)
In chapter 3, Micah lays out the corruption. First, he points his finger to the civil leaders (vv.1-4), then to the religious leaders (vv.5-8). The judgment and reason for judgment are interwoven in this chapter. He concludes ch. 3 by saying that every system in the land is so corrupt, that God's going to destroy their city (Jerusalem) and turn it into a farmland. In the NIV version of this passage (v.12), they use the word plain, which is not a bad thing. It means that God is going to give them a do-over.

Chapters 4-5 is the vision of the future when they get to restart. There is a beautiful description of what we can expect. He says that Zion (the hill that Jerusalem sits on) will become the ideal place for people to find peace. He uses imageries of people coming to Jerusalem to trade their weapons for farm tools. This is a call back to Eden, where Adam's original job description consisted of caring for God's creation. God is describing a world where things can be like paradise once again.

One of the best parts of this entire book is in chapter 5. As a part of God's solution for the corruption of Israel (and the world), He drops a hint at a new type of king, who will come from Bethlehem, who will rule like a shepherd, who is not a pretender, etc. We, as Christians, obviously know who this is pointing to... :-)

Oracle #3 (ch. 6-7:13)
In 6:1-5, it is revealed that if Israel was in a court case, they would be found guilty. The interesting thing about this imagery is that it is not God who is the judge. The mountains surrounding Zion are the judges, and God and Israel are bringing the case to them. They, of course, side with God's testimony.

Right when you think God is the prosecutor trying to attack Israel, God blurts out, "What have I done that made you go so stray?" Then He begins to list all the ways He has blessed and rescued Israel.

After this sentimental moment, God sentences Israel's judgement (vv.9-16). The first part of this section (vv.9-12), He lists their sins. In the remaining part (vv.13-16), he lists their punishment.

In 7:1-13, Micah weeps. He's sad because he knows his people deserve this ruling. At the end of his monologue, he realizes that his God does not judge without a happy ending. He decides to stick around to see how God will turn this judgment into something beautiful.

He tells the enemies to not feel sorry for them. He's knows God, and is confident that He will not let Israel stay in ruins. He almost brags to his enemies about how better they are going to be in the future.

Conclusion (7:14-20)
Micah ends with a prayer. He asks God to deliver them (vv.14-17), then thanks Him for being a forgiving God (vv.18-20).

Left on our own, we eventually create societies that only favor ourselves. In the days of Micah, the rich were accumulating their wealth through taking advantage of the widows, orphans, and foreigners. The religious leaders were taking advantage of people's need to seek God. This is reason for all people (who are pour in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek and hungry, etc... - does this list sound familiar to you?) to be extremely sad.

Yet, God reveals to Micah that He sees all the injustice, and He is going to fix it. This book is about how God desires to make all things new. At first glance, it may seem that God is all about destruction. But at the very end, Micah finds comfort in knowing that God's character won't let Him keep a place in ruins - because God loves to create good things.

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Kats Omine

Kats Omine