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Life Lessons From The Book Of Micah

The Book of Micah is the inspirational story of what it takes for a small group of people to determine who they are and how they want to shape their world.

Do you struggle to find personal growth and direction in life? Maybe you’re looking for new ideas on how you can make your life more fulfilling. Do you feel stuck, passive and unmotivated? Are you ready to take your life by the reins and start living it according to God’s plan? If so, then The Book of Micah by Carole Crumpton is written specifically for you.

What Can We Learn From The Book of Micah

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Dwelling in a largely agricultural part of the country, Micah lived outside the governmental centers of power in his nation, leading to his strong concern for the lowly and less fortunate of society—the lame, the outcasts, and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Therefore, Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

Where are we?
As a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, Micah prophesied during the momentous years surrounding the tragic fall of Israel to the Assyrian Empire (722 BC), an event he also predicted (Micah 1:6). Micah stated in his introduction to the book that he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah, failing to mention the simultaneous string of dishonorable kings that closed out the northern kingdom of Israel.

During this period, while Israel was imploding from the effects of evil and unfaithful leadership, Judah seemed on a roller-coaster ride—ascending to the heights of its destiny in one generation, only to fall into the doldrums in another. In Judah at this time, good kings and evil kings alternated with each other, a pattern seen in the reigns of Jotham (good, 2 Kings 15:32–34); Ahaz (evil, 2 Kings 16:1–4); and Hezekiah (good, 2 Kings 18:1–7).

Why is Micah so important?
The book of Micah provides one of the most significant prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth in all the Old Testament, pointing some seven hundred years before Christ’s birth to His birthplace of Bethlehem and to His eternal nature (Micah 5:2).

Surrounding Micah’s prophecy of Jesus’s birth is one of the most lucid pictures of the world’s future under the reign of the Prince of Peace (5:5). This future kingdom, which scholars call the millennial kingdom, will be characterized by the presence of many nations living with one another in peace and security (4:3–4) and coming to Jerusalem to worship the reigning king, that is, Jesus Himself (4:2). Because these events have not yet occurred, we look forward to the millennial kingdom at some undetermined time in the future.

What’s the big idea?
Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15). Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves. But rather than leave God’s people with the fear and sting of judgment, the book of Micah concludes with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

How do I apply this?
Much of Micah’s indictment against Israel and Judah involves these nations’ injustice toward the lowly—unjust business dealings, robbery, mistreatment of women and children, and a government that lived in luxury off the hard work of its nation’s people.

Where does the injustice dwell in your own life? Who are the lowly in your life? Do you need a call toward repentance, like the people of Israel and Judah did?

Micah’s impassioned plea for God’s chosen people to repent will cut many of us to the quick. Most of us don’t decide daily to cut people down or find ways to carry out injustice. Instead, we do it out of habit. Let’s allow the words of Micah to break us out of our apathy about extending justice and kindness to others and press on toward a world that better resembles the harmonious millennial kingdom to come. Let’s determine to live as God desires—“to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

What is The Main Message of The Book of Micah

After the reign of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was split into two separate kingdoms. The northern kingdom is usually called ‘Israel’ and the southern kingdom is named ‘Judah’ (after its largest tribe). The prophet Micah lived in the kingdom of Judah. He worked roughly at the same time as the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, probably for about 25 years (click here for the timeline). His messages are collected in a Bible book named after him.

The Israelites had rebelled against the Lord for over 500 years. Over and over again, God had warned them by his prophets. But the people didn’t repent, or only for a short time. Now Micah announced that God would send the Assyrians and later the Babylonians as a judgment on the people’s idolatry and sin. These armies would bring destruction and take many people captive. But after these judgments, there would be a new future, and Micah alternates his announcements of judgment with glimmers of hope.

The problems that Micah addressed

  1. Idolatry
    The Israelites worshiped carved images and idols, and they practiced sorcery and fortune-telling, which God had forbidden (see Micah 1:7 and 5:12-14).
  2. Violence and exploitation of the poor and vulnerable
    Although God’s laws clearly forbade exploiting the poor, this is exactly what Judah’s leaders did.

“They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance”
(Micah 2:2).

“There is no one upright among mankind;
they all lie in wait for blood,
and each hunts the other with a net.
Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well”
(Micah 7:2-3).

  1. Corrupt political and religious leadership
    Prophets should transmit God’s messages to the people and remind them of His will. But people tried to silence the real prophets (Micah 2:6) and followed false prophets who just told them what they wanted to hear (Micah 2:11). The political leaders weren’t any better. They “detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity” (Micah 3:9-10).
  2. Hypocritical religious rituals
    The people tended to think that God would accept their sacrifices and forgive them, no matter how they lived. They asked themselves:

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
(Micah 6:6-7).

No, God says clearly. He won’t accept such hypocrisy! They know very well what they should do:

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
(Micah 6:8).

And that is exactly what they had not done.

God’s coming judgments
The prophet Micah announces the destruction of both the northern and the southern kingdom:

“Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country,
a place for planting vineyards,
and I will pour down her stones into the valley
and uncover her foundations.
All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces,
all her wages shall be burned with fire,
and all her idols I will lay waste”
(Micah 1:6-7).

This destruction will be accompanied by the captivity of the people:

“Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair,
for the children of your delight;
make yourselves as bald as the eagle,
for they shall go from you into exile”
(Micah 1:16).

The corrupt leaders and prophets will face specific judgments. God will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done (Micah 3:4). “The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them” (Micah 3:6).

Hope for the future
And yet, there is abundant hope for the future. God will not leave his people forever, but bring restoration. Micah describes His future in vivid imagery. God will gather the remnant of the exiled Israelites as a shepherd gathers his flock. And God Himself will be their King. Under his reign, the people will live in justice and peace. Other nations will come too and seek the Lord (read e.g. Micah 4:1-4).

In another chapter, Micah explains further that Israel’s Ruler will be born in Bethlehem, and will conquer Israel’s enemies. These verses are quoted in Matthew 2:6 where they are applied to Jesus Christ. So, centuries before Jesus was actually born, God already revealed some details about his birth as a glimmer of hope amidst severe judgments. Some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, others are still awaiting their fulfillment.

The foundation for Micah’s hope
The reason for this hope is not found in the people’s behavior. It rests solely in God’s character and covenant promises:

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of His inheritance?
He does not retain His anger forever,
because He delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as You have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old”
(Micah 7:18-20).

Some lessons for us
Although Micah’s prophecies were spoken to the people of Israel in the 8th century BC, they contain lessons for us nowadays:

God condemns violence and exploitation of the poor and vulnerable. That was already clear by the laws and prescriptions He gave to Israel at Mount Sinai, and it is stressed all the more by God’s severe judgments on people who violate these laws. This theme is certainly still relevant today, both on an individual and on a global scale.
God hates hypocrisy. If we don’t follow his basic ‘rules’ (do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God), He is not interested in our religious rituals. He wants our hearts, not just our outward devotion.
God judges sin. And yet, He remains gracious. If we repent and turn back to Him, He is willing to forgive us and to welcome us into His glorious future.