Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Micah, 1of2

~ The Man, The Message ~

Micah’s message in the Book of Micah is full of application for us. The book was written after Amos and before Isaiah, two books written in the same time period. In modern times Micah’s prophecy has been called “A Miniature Book of Isaiah.” Today the book of Micah is largely associated with Jesus’ birth, while the book of Isaiah is often associated closely with Jesus’ death.

Micah, the Man  ~  His name means “Who is like unto Jehovah?” His name is a basic reminder to us that God is incomparable! Micah was not from a distinguished family as his better known contemporary Isaiah seems to have been. On the contrary, he came from an undistinguished, small country village called Moresheth—which is why he was later called “Micah of Moresheth” by the Jerusalem elders. It was usually called Moresheth Gath (1:14). It was what we would term a suburb and was often identified by its proximity to the larger, well-known city of Gath. Micah was a rural person, a stranger to Jerusalem when he first went to the capital to give his prophecies. 

Micah has been described as “A Prophet Who Was Remembered.” The minor prophets largely conveyed a message of God’s judgment. This was true for the preceding prophets including Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah. However, with the sole exception of Jonah, their messages of judgment went unheeded. The pattern was: prophets appeared, their warnings were rejected, judgment came. This is a depressing picture.  But suddenly we come to Micah.

Micah, the Message  ~  The encouraging part is not that some other message had replaced judgment. It is rather that in Micah’s case the message of judgment was heeded, repentance followed, and the disaster was postponed for a century. Hosea and Amos were ignored. Jeremiah was imprisoned. But here was one prophet who was listened to and whose preaching therefore changed history. We should be encouraged to learn that one man can make a difference. 

In his book Micah reminds his hearers of Amos’ message. He announces that his prophecy concerns Samaria (that is Israel, the Northern Kingdom) and Jerusalem (that is Judah, the Southern Kingdom). In the first section (1:2-9) he deals with the Northern Kingdom. But after that his message is entirely for the kingdom of the south, where he was then living and prophesying. In other words, there was judgment for others, but his message was primarily for the people of Judah. If we are going our way and not God’s way, as the people of Jerusalem were doing, then we must do as they eventually did and turn back to God. It is the way we ourselves will escape God’s judgment. 

Key Verse  ~  “Where is there any god who can compare with You—wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most” (7:18). Note a couple of thing about this verse. First, it poses the great question of his writings (“Who is like unto the one true God?”). Second, it is a play on Micah’s name (“Who is like Yahweh?”).

Prophecies  ~  Six specific prophecies of Micah have become history…
  1. The Fall of Samaria in 277 b.c. (1:6-7)
  2. The Invasion of Judah in 702 b.c. (1:9-16)
  3. The Fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. (3:12, 7:13)
  4. The Captivity of Babylon in 568 b.c. (4:10)
  5. The Return from Captivity (4:1-8, 7:11,14-17)
  6. The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (5:2)
Quotations  ~  Micah is quoted three times in Scripture…
  1. The elders of Judah quoted Micah 3:12 in Jeremiah 26:18
  2. The Magi quoted Micah 5:2 in Matthew 2:5-6
  3. Jesus Christ quoted Micah 7:6 in Matthew 10:35-36
Lessons  ~  Micah’s message is relevant for today…
  1. One person can make a difference.
  2. Never give up.
  3. The leaders of Israel were supposed to know right from wrong (3:1). Today’s Christian leaders, at all levels, are accountable to God for clearly directing their followers with regard to right and wrong.
  4. Evil motives can so easily run the ministry of Christian leaders and workers today (3:11).
  5. Does the effectiveness of our prayers depend upon our believing that God hears our praying? (7:7)
In our next posting we will look at an unusual overview of Micah’s message.

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

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