Book-by-Book Bible Studies: Micah


Title: Book-by-Book Bible Studies: Micah

  1. Background1
    1. Author
      1. Name means “Who is like YHWH?”
      2. Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, and of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, lived during the 8th century BC.
        1. While Isaiah personally knew those in power and interacted directly with them, Micah apparently observed from a distance and had no direct contact.2
      3. From a small town 20 miles from Jerusalem called Moresheth near the border between Judah and Philistia.
      4. Wrote to an audience which included both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
    2. Historical setting
      1. Kings of Judah during Micah’s ministry
        1. Jotham: A good king, who nevertheless didn’t get rid of the high places.

          “Jotham was one of the few good kings of Judah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done (2Ki 15:34). However, he did not remove the high places and his people continued to offer sacrifices to the idols.”3

        2. Ahaz: Evil king who walked in the ways of the Kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son. He greatly increased the level of Judah’s iniquity, which continued until the Babylonian captivity.

          “Ahaz, son of Jotham, was 25 years old when he became king of Judah and he ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years. He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire (2Ki 16:3). During his reign, the northern kingdom of Israel made an alliance with Syria and invaded Judah. When Rezin king of Aram (Syria) and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to Jerusalem and besieged the city, King Ahaz was scared and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Through his servant Isaiah, God told him to keep calm and stand firm in his faith. God told Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign.” Ahaz said in his arrogance, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” Still, God had mercy on his people and promised to give a sign. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). What did Ahaz do? He turned to Assyria for help. He sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria to say, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria (2Ki 16:7-8). The king of Assyria was only happy to comply because he had the ambition of conquering Syria on the way of invading Israel and even Judah itself.

          “Ahaz did not stop with his political alliance with the pagan king. In fact, his spiritual idolatry had much more devastating impact on his people than his political blunder. When he went to Damascus to meet the king of Assyria, he saw a pagan altar there and told his priest to make a detailed sketch of it for construction. He had an altar built in Jerusalem, and offered up his offerings on it (2Ki 16:13). This idolatry by the king brought a corruption of the chosen people of God that only the furnace of the Babylonian exile would begin to cure.”4

        3. Hezekiah: Good king who removed the high places and tried his best to lead Judah to follow God. He tore up his father’s alliance with Assyria. During Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria invaded Israel and deported them, ending the Northern Kingdom.
      2. Micah apparently prophesied before the fall of the Northern Kingdom, since he mentions the decrees of Omri and the works of the dynasty of Ahab.5
      3. Outside forces
        1. Assyria was a powerful force throughout Micah’s ministry and presented an existential threat to Judah
        2. During part of Micah’s ministry Syria was also a threat, although Micah didn’t pay it as much mind.
        3. Though he foretold the Babylonian captivity, during his time Babylon was a part of the Assyrian Empire, and was not yet powerful.
      4. Internal issues
        1. Despite the external problems many people saw, the biggest problems Micah saw were internal: idolatry, injustice, corruption (spiritual, moral, and financial)
        2. The cause of these issues was neglect of God’s word.
    3. Themes/Notable content
      1. Divided roughly into two halves
        1. The people’s sins
          1. The sins of the people then are very much relevant today
        2. The solution to their sins
      2. Echoed by Revelation
      3. Messianic prophecies
      4. Among the first prophets to foretell Babylonian captivity, in a time when the Assyrians, not the Babylonians, were the greatest threat (despite Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria)
      5. Succinct summary of God’s requirements for people