The Prophecy of Micah

Discovery for Teachers

The Prophecy of Micah

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Micah 1:1 through 7:20

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)

BACKGROUND

Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah (about 740 — 687 B.C.). He was a native of Moresheth near Gath, a village in southwest Judah located about twenty to twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah’s name means, “Who is like Jehovah?” He was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, with whose ministry and prophecies he had many points of contact. In contrast to Isaiah, who was a prophet of the court and came from a prominent family, Micah was a country prophet who came from a poor family.

Although stern in tone, Micah’s prophecy has a poetic style similar to Isaiah’s words. Some commentators refer to Micah as a “sister book” to Isaiah or “Isaiah in shorthand.”

Micah denounced Samaria and Jerusalem as centers of evil that infected the two kingdoms of which they were capitals. One could find in these wicked cities examples of all the evils of that time. Micah’s list included fraud, theft, greed, debauchery, oppression, hypocrisy, heresy, injustice, extortion, lying, murder, and other offenses.

In chapters 1 through 3, Micah prophesied against Samaria and Jerusalem. He first denounced Samaria and prophesied her overthrow. He saw with sorrow of heart the judgment that was about to sweep over Judah, and that his own people of southwest Judah would feel the weight of the invasion. Covetousness and robbery demand punishment, but a glimpse is given of God’s mercy to the remnant of Israel.

Chapter 3 gives one of the most stinging denunciations against selfish rulers and false prophets in the prophetic literature, closing with the prophecy that the Temple and Zion would be destroyed.

Chapters 4 and 5 are filled with promises. After Jerusalem’s destruction and restoration, it was to become the spiritual capital of the world, and to her, God would bring His exiles from Babylon, in spite of all opposition from the heathen nations. The most noted of Micah’s prophesies is chapter 5, verse 2, which predicted the location of Bethlehem Ephratah as our Lord’s birthplace.

The last two chapters outline God’s controversy with Israel. What fault could Israel find with Him? Israel responded by wanting to know God’s requirements, and received the answer that He demanded nothing but justice, mercy, and a humble fellowship with God. Israel’s sins were pictured in all their vileness, and the nation, through the prophet, confessed the truth of the indictment, placing itself entirely in the Lord’s hands for mercy and protection. The Book of Micah closes by prophesying of the return to the land of Israel, followed by an outburst of praise for a God that is forgiving and kind.

It is possible that Micah’s denunciations were a reflection of the wicked reign of King Ahaz, and that the closing prophesies of mercy and forgiveness represented the good reign of King Hezekiah. Jeremiah 26:17-19 indicates that Micah died in peace during King Hezekiah’s reign.

SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS

  1. When did the “word of the Lord” come to Micah? (Micah 1:1) How does the Lord’s word come to us today?

    The “word of the Lord” came during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The Lord’s word comes to us today through reading the Bible, hearing the Word preached, testimonies of those who have been born again, Gospel literature and music, and through prayer.

    Illustrate the different ways that God’s word comes to us by having your students recall the first time they can remember the Lord speaking to them, and asking them to share the circumstances.

  2. What was the cause of God’s judgment against Israel? Micah 1:5-7; 2:1-2

    The cause was sin. The people had sinned against God by practicing idolatry. Their lives were full of wicked covetousness, oppression, and violence. The point should be made that God will ultimately judge all sin.
  3. How was Micah’s message received? (Micah 2:6-11) How is God’s message received today?

    The people did not like Micah’s message. During his ministry, they only wanted prophets who would say what they wanted to hear. The prophets that Micah spoke against had encouraged people to become comfortable with their sins.

    The students should conclude that God’s message is received in the same manner today. Class discussion should bring out that only a desire for the truth will cause us to be affected by God’s message. Also bring out that truth will always be in harmony with the Bible.

  4. Use the following verses to identify at least ten charges of injustice that Micah made against his people. Micah 2:1, 2, 8-9; 3:2, 9, 10-11.

    These verses mention a total of thirteen charges:

    1. Plotting wickedness

    2. Fraud

    3. Threats

    4. Violence

    5. Stealing

    6. Dishonesty

    7. Mistreating widows

    8. Hating good

    9. Loving evil

    10. Hating justice

    11. Loving unfairness

    12. Murder

    13. Accepting bribes

    Ask your students if the people initially set out to commit such a long list of evils. The Word of God likens sin to leaven, which grows rapidly. Discussion should bring out that it may only start with a little sin, but soon it becomes a long list.

  5. Micah 5:2 speaks of the “ruler in Israel.” To whom is this verse referring? What is the significance of this verse?

    The “ruler in Israel” refers to Jesus Christ the Messiah. Micah prophesied of His birth about 700 years before it took place. He even named the city where Christ would be born, Bethlehem Ephratah. Micah could have just used the generic “Bethlehem” and increased his chances of being correct. However, he was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and identified the town of Bethlehem Ephratah located six miles southwest of Jerusalem rather than the other Bethlehem that was located six miles southeast of Mount Carmel.

    Class discussion of the second question should lead the students to understand that God’s Word is always true. As a visual example, bring a bag of beans or pennies. Mark one bean and ask a blindfolded student to pull out the marked bean. Explain that the chance of eight prophecies all being fulfilled in one person is equal to putting silver dollars two feet deep over the whole state of Texas, marking one silver dollar, and having a blindfolded man pick that one.(1)

  6. Why did the Lord call on the mountains to hear His controversy with His people? Micah 6:1-2

    The mountains were an excellent witness to the people’s idolatry. It was on these “high places” that the Children of Israel built pagan altars and made sacrifices to false gods.

    Ask your students if God only notices the outward sins. The discussion should bring out that no sin escapes God’s notice.

  7. According to the key verse, how do we please God?

    The key verse, Micah 6:8, mentions three things that God requires of us. First discuss with your students that God’s requirements cause movement in three dimensions: outward, inward, and upward.

    • Outward: “to do justly” requires us to deal righteously with our fellowman.

    • Inward: “to love mercy” requires a personal commitment to God’s plan, and manifests itself in a right relationship toward God and our fellowman.

    • Upward: “to walk humbly with thy God” requires a right attitude toward God and a determination to walk in continuous fellowship with Him.

    Class discussion should bring out that outward, inward, and upward areas of our service are each connected to the others.

  8. The Book of Micah closes with promises of mercy and restoration. Give an example of how God extends the same promises to individuals today.

    Your students may offer their personal testimonies, or a well-known testimony in response. Remind the students that mercy was extended to all, but only those who have been born again have received God’s promise of restoration.

CONCLUSION

God is still calling sinners today. May we be faithful like Micah to declare His Word, demonstrate His love and mercy, and walk humbly before both God and man.

1. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p.175.