“Introduction to the Book of Micah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Micah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Micah’s writings address the themes of judgment and hope. For example, Micah taught that the sins of the leaders of Israel would result in the destruction of Jerusalem (see Micah 3:5–12). However, Micah also eloquently stated that Heavenly Father hears the prayers of His children and that Jesus Christ is an advocate for and a light unto all (see Micah 7:7–9). Micah further praised God, saying that Jehovah “pardoneth iniquity” and “retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18). Through this contrast of themes, students can learn about both the Lord’s disdain for evil and His mercy for those who return to righteousness.
Although we do not know who wrote this book, the book contains the prophecies of the prophet Micah. Micah was from Moresheth-gath, a small rural town in the kingdom of Judah (see Micah 1:1, 14).
We do not know when the book of Micah was written or compiled in its current form. According to Micah 1:1, Micah prophesied during the reigns of the kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, who ruled from about 740 to 697 B.C. Therefore, he was likely a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Isaiah. Micah addressed his words to the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
Micah ministered during a time when the people of Israel were thriving economically but suffering spiritually (see Thomas E. McComiskey, “Micah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 12 vols. [1976–1992], 7:395). This environment allowed for the upper class to place increasing burdens upon the lower class. Micah was particularly concerned with the oppression of the poor by the wealthy, and he counted this injustice among Judah and Israel’s greatest sins.
Micah’s origins from a small town may have given him special sensitivity to the concerns of the poor rural people of the land. Micah is the only book in the Old Testament to name Bethlehem—a town “little among the thousands of Judah” (Micah 5:2)—as the place where the Messiah would be born.
Like the teachings of the prophet Isaiah, many of Micah’s teachings are written in the style of Hebrew poetry. Micah’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction was remembered many years later during the time of Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 26:18).
Micah 1–3 Micah prophesies of judgment and ruin upon the Israelites, including those living in Samaria and Jerusalem. Micah identifies the sins of idolatry and the oppression of the poor by the upper classes as the reasons for the Israelites’ imminent destruction. He also condemns corrupt religious teachers who teach for money.
Micah 4–5 Micah prophesies of the restoration of Israel. He also prophesies that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.
Micah 6–7 Micah describes some of the ways in which Jehovah has blessed the Israelites. Micah teaches his people that living justly, loving mercy, and following the Lord are more important than sacrifices and offerings. Micah testifies that Jehovah is compassionate and forgives the sins of those who repent.