"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (1:1-2:13) INTRODUCTION 1. The eighth century (800-700 B.C.) was filled with prophetic activity... a. Starting with Jonah, who prophesied to the city of Nineveh (790 B.C.) b. Continuing with prophets sent primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel 1) Amos (755 B.C.) 2) Hosea (750-725 B.C.) c. The southern kingdom of Judah was also the recipient of God's prophets 1) Isaiah (740-700 B.C.) 2) Micah (735-700 B.C.) 2. In our study of "The Minor Prophets"... a. We have looked at the works of Jonah, Amos, and Hosea b. We now come to the works of Micah, the last prophet of the eighth century B.C. [Before we take a look at the messages of Micah as recorded in his book, it may be helpful to first look at some...] I. BACKGROUND MATERIAL A. MICAH - THE MAN... 1. His name means "Who is like Jehovah?" - cf. Mic 7:18 2. His home was Moresheth-Gath - Mic 1:1,14 a. In the lowlands of Judah, near Philistia b. About 20-25 miles southwest of Jerusalem 3. Nothing is known of his occupation prior to becoming God's prophet 4. Characterization a. "He was the prophet of the poor and downtrodden." (Homer Hailey) b. "He had Amos' passion for justice and Hosea's heart for love." (J.M.P. Smith) c. Comparing Micah to his contemporary Isaiah (as suggested by Hailey) 1) Micah was a man of the fields, Isaiah was of the city 2) Micah took little interest in politics, giving himself to the concern over spiritual and moral problems; Isaiah was in close contact with world affairs, the associate of kings and princes 3) Both Micah and Isaiah... a) Saw God as the infinite Ruler of nations and men b) Recognized the absolute holiness and majesty of God c) Stressed that violating principles of God's divine sovereignty and holiness would bring judgment and doom B. MICAH - THE BOOK... 1. The date: 735-700 B.C. a. During the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah - Mic 1:1 b. Just as the northern kingdom of Israel was falling under Assyria's attack 2. The message: "Present Judgment, Future Blessings" a. Judgment is coming because of Israel's unfaithfulness to God b. Blessings will come because of God's faithfulness to Israel 1) Cf. the promise God made to Abraham - Gen 22:18 2) God would fulfill in the person of Jesus Christ - cf. Ac 3:24-26 3. A brief outline: The book appears to contain three messages or oracles, all beginning with the word "Hear"; therefore the book can be divided as follows: a. The coming judgment, with a promise of restoration - Mic 1:1-2:13 b. God's condemnation of Israel, with a glimpse of the future hope - Mic 3:1-5:15 c. God's indictment of Israel, with a plea for repentance and promise of forgiveness - Mic 6:1-7:20 [In the remaining part of this lesson, let's take look at Micah's first message...] II. THE COMING JUDGMENT AND PROMISED RESTORATION (1:1-2:13) A. JUDGMENT PRONOUNCED ON ISRAEL AND JUDAH... 1. Micah's message is for both Samaria (Israel) and Jerusalem (Judah) - Mic 1:1 2. The Lord announces His coming judgment - Mic 1:2-5 3. The destruction of Samaria (representing the northern kingdom of Israel) - Mic 1:6-7 4. Micah's mourning - Mic 1:8-16 a. For the judgment has reached even Judah and Jerusalem b. His lament involves making a play on words involving the names of cities; for example... 1) "Tell it not in Gath" (Gath is similar to the Hebrew word for "tell") 2) "Weep not at all in Beth Aphrah, Roll yourself in the dust" (Beth Aphrah means "house of dust") 3) "Pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir" (Shaphir means "fair, beautiful, pleasant") 4) "The inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out" (Zaanan means "come out") 5) "Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you" (Beth Ezel can be paraphrased as "nearby house") c. As revealed in verse 16, their judgment will involve captivity B. REASONS FOR THE INEVITABLE JUDGMENT... 1. The arrogance and violence of the nobles - Mic 2:1-5 a. For coveting fields and taking them by violence b. So it will happen to them 2. For rejecting true prophets, and accepting false ones - Mic 2:6-11 a. They tell the prophets of God not to speak of God's words b. They abuse the people of God c. Destruction is coming, because they are defiled and accept false prophets C. RESTORATION PROMISED... 1. It will involve God assembling a remnant - Mic 2:12 2. God will lead them like a flock of sheep, with a king at their head - Mic 2:12-13 CONCLUSION 1. Later, Micah will tell us more about the ultimate fulfillment of that restoration, and from where that "king" shall arise who shall lead God's flock! - cf. Mic 5:2-5 2. But for now we have seen that Micah certainly follows the pattern of God's prophets at that time... a. Proclaiming the coming judgment, which would involve captivity b. Providing the basis for such judgment, describing the nature of their sins and departure from God c. Promising that God would one day restore the good fortunes of Israel, but requiring repentance and involving a "remnant" 3. How sad that many in Israel and Judah did not heed the words of such men like Micah, Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah... a. But are we heeding God's spokesmen for today? b. Such as His apostles Peter and Paul, and of course, His Son Jesus Christ? We would do well to remember the preaching of Micah as we read in the New Testament... "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. (He 2:1-4) Israel as a nation failed to heed the message sent to them; are we heeding the message for us today?