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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.”—Micah 1:1–2 (NIV)
As we get ready to start a study of Micah, we thought it would be a good idea to provide you with some context for this often-overlooked Old Testament book. Why did Micah write it? Who is he writing to? What are some of the key themes in this book? These are all questions we’ll address here to help you get a full picture of this powerful book. So, let’s dive right in!
The Book of Micah was written by the prophet Micah between 740 and 710 BC, about 200 years after the kingdom of Israel split into two nations, the northern kingdom of Israel—whose capital was Samaria—and the southern kingdom of Judah—whose capital was Jerusalem.
The background of this book is the same as some sections of the Book of Isaiah. Several significant historical events took place for Israel and Judah during this time:
Old Testament Passages
Honestly, we really don’t know anything about Micah’s back story, his family, or even his call to be a prophet. But what we do know is that he had a strong sense and passion for his calling as a prophet—Micah 3:8 makes this very clear!
So, what do we know about him? First, Micah was from a city about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem near the border between Judah and the land of the Philistines. Second, he served as a prophet sometime between 740 (which was the start of Jotham’s reign) and 686 BC (the end of Hezekiah’s reign). Considering that King Hezekiah was one of the “good” kings, one who brought reform to the kingdom of Judah, it seems likely the sin Micah was confronting in this book took place before Hezekiah’s reign.
Micah’s message was primarily aimed toward the southern kingdom of Judah, but he also addressed the northern kingdom of Israel and predicted the fall of Samaria (Micah 1:6), which took place in 722 BC. His message was aimed in particular at addressing two key areas of extreme sinfulness and wickedness:
Micah basically tells the people to mourn deeply and intensely “because [their] children will be forced to live in a foreign land,” (Micah 1:16 ICB) or put another way, “Your precious children will be dragged off to a foreign country” (Micah 1:16 CEV).
This shows us so clearly that actions have consequences beyond us. Our sins have weight that others often end up carrying. For the people of God in Micah, it was exile, oppression, and subjugation for their children. It was generations of people who didn’t truly know God or worship Him. It was a legacy of sin and idolatry.
Be aware of the alternating oracles of doom and hope in this prophetic book—the emphasis on His justice and mercy, His faithfulness in spite of the people’s faithlessness and wickedness, His faithfulness to His promises despite the people breaking their covenant with Him. Consider that both God’s judgement and His mercy flow out of His love for us. His discipline and restoration as well as His wrath and grace are all interwoven and emblematic of His loving kindness toward us.
Micah was a prophet in a wicked time. He was called to preach the truth of the injustice and wickedness around him, but to also offer the hope and promise of redemption. Just like Micah, we’re called to do the same in our world, culture, cities, and within the Church! We’re commissioned by Jesus to deliver the bad news of sin and death, but provide the great hope of the gospel! May we approach our call and commission with the same passion and zeal as Micah.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.