Today, we begin the book of Micah. He was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom whose ministry spanned the reigns of Jotham, Azah, and Hezekiah (1:1). He was given prophecies about both Israel (Samaria) and Judah. However, he starts by calling the whole earth into judgment (v. 2). God from His holy Temple (the place of His presence, in this case, heaven) is a witness against the world. He is coming “from His place,” that is, from heaven to destroy the “high places” of the earth (v. 3). The high places are places of idol worship. And note the melting mountains in verses 4. Remember what we saw in Psalm 46 about the destruction of mountains. This is talking about Jesus coming from heaven at the final judgment.
And why will this happen? Because of the sins of God’s physical people (v. 5). In particular, their sin of false worship. Jerusalem – where the earthly Temple sits – is called a high place! Ouch!! So God will destroy Israel and her idols (vv. 6-7). This is about to happen with the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom. Then God says that He will lament and mourn (v. 8). Why? Because the idolatries of rejected Israel have reached to His chosen people of Judah (v. 9). We have seen that the high places of the cities that Judah took from southern Israel were not taken away (see 2 Chr 15:17) and that this affected Judah (see 2 Chr 16:7).
God then tells the Gentiles not to join Judah in her sin. Gath (v. 10) and Shaphir (v. 11) are Gentile cities. The other places God names (vv. 10-12) are not places at all. “Beth-el-aphrah” means “house of dust.” “Zaanan” means “place of the flock.” “Beth-ha-Ezel” means “house of the leader.” “Maroth” means “bitterness.” These are all Judah. In verse 13, God says that the start of the sin of His chosen people (Zion/Judah) was duplicating the sins of Israel. In verse 14, Moresheth is the hometown of Micah. The “parting gifts” is literally “dowry,” which a father would give his daughter when she departed from his home. It is a reference to the coming exile. The conqueror in verse 15 is Assyria. Verse 16 explicitly prophesies of the exile.
Chapter 2 begins with a pronouncement of woe of the wicked (2:1). The picture here is of someone who lays awake all night devising wickedness and then as soon as the sun comes up, they do it. In other words, they sin because like it. This is a woe on the powerful who oppress the weak (v. 2). This is why God is going to punish them (v. 3). The oppressors will be oppressed! In verse 4 we have that “in that day” which always carries with it overtones of the final judgment. The Assyrian captivity is a foreshadowing of exile in hell when the wicked will be separated from the “assembly of the Lord” (v. 5).
In verse 6, we see that Micah knows the false prophets preach a false message (similar to his contemporary Isaiah – see Isa 30:10). Micah tells Israel and Judah to judge which message is correct (v. 7). He is not prophesying against the righteous (v. 7), but the wicked oppressors (vv. 8-9). So God calls the wicked to leave their place of rest, a reference to exile from the Promised Land (v. 10). Verses 12-13 speak of a remnant of Israel that will be saved. They will be led like sheep are led by a shepherd. He will be King, and He is YHWH. This is the Messiah! The Shepherd King Who is God Himself!
Chapter 3 begins with a question. If anyone knows justice, shouldn’t it be God’s people (3:1)? And yet, they call evil good (v. 2). Their oppression is likened to cannibalisms by the prophet (vv. 2-3). Because they have not done justice, God has forsaken them (v. 4). God then condemns the false prophets (see 2:6). They prophesy of peace when there will be none (v. 5). As opposed to the Shepherd King (see 2:12-13), the prophets claim to be of God but lead the people astray. God will prove that they are false prophets (vv. 6-7), and that Micah is a true prophet (v. 8). He preaches justice, as opposed to the leaders of Israel and Judah that hate justice (v. 9).
The focus is now squarely on Judah. God dwells among them (Zion), His presence is in the Temple in Jerusalem. And yet the people choose to build themselves up with sin (v. 10). The leaders are crooked, the priests are greedy, and the prophets are false, and yet they think that because God is in their midst, they are impervious to judgment (v. 11). But God will level Zion (the place of His dwelling – the Temple in Jerusalem). The Temple Mount will become like a forest (v. 12). This is the same wilderness imagery we saw in Isaiah (see Isa 64:10). Jeremiah quotes Micah 3:12 (see Jer 26:18) in order to call the people of Judah to repentance right before the Babylonian captivity.