Introduction to Micah
Author and Date
Micah prophesied during the reigns of the Judean kings Jotham (750–735 b.c.), Ahaz (735–715), and Hezekiah (715–687). This was about the same time as Hosea and Isaiah, though Micah may have served somewhat later. The length of Micah’s public activity may have been about 20 to 25 years.
The theme of Micah is judgment and forgiveness. The Lord, the Judge who scatters his people for their sins, is also the Shepherd-King who in covenant faithfulness gathers, protects, and forgives them.
Purpose and Background
Micah writes to bring God’s “lawsuit” against his people (3:8). He indicts Samaria and Jerusalem for their sins (1:2–7). Both Assyria (5:5–6) and Babylon (4:10) stand ready to carry out God’s judgment. The reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, along with the increasing threat of Assyria, provide the broad background for Micah.
Micah lists specific sins of both the northern and southern kingdoms. These sins include idolatry (1:7; 5:12–14); the seizure of property (2:2, 9); the failure of civil leadership (3:1–3, 9–10; 7:3), religious leadership (3:11), and prophetic leadership (3:5–7, 11); offering sacrifice without truly repenting (6:6–7); and corrupt business practices and violence (6:10–12).
- The Lord’s character and the people’s sins demand judgment (1:2–5; 2:3; 6:1–2, 9–11). God’s “sentence” upon his people comes in the form of an oppressor (1:15; 4:11; 5:1, 5–6) and by means of covenant curses (6:13–15) caused by covenant unfaithfulness (6:16).
- A Shepherd-King will gather and deliver a faithful remnant of people (2:12–13; 4:6–8; 7:14, 18). This deliverer, functioning as a new David, will come from the very region that was then under Assyrian control (5:2–5a).
- Practicing justice and mercy shows covenant faithfulness (6:8; compare Matt. 23:23).
- The Lord is the focus of worship. The nations will come to Zion to learn of the true Lord and to live in peace (Mic. 4:1–5; 7:12; compare Isa. 2:2–5).
- Grace flowing from the Lord’s steadfast love (Mic. 7:18–20) overcomes the penalty due to sin (7:8–9). Forgiveness is possible because of God’s faithfulness to his promises (7:20).
- God’s saving acts in the past (6:4–5; 7:14–15) provide hope for his saving acts in the future (7:19–20).
- Superscription (1:1)
- The Announcement of Judgment on Israel and Judah (1:2–2:13)
- The Present Injustice and the Future Prospect of Just Rule in Jerusalem (3:1–5:15)
- The Lord’s Indictment and Restoration of His People (6:1–7:20)