Micah means ‘who is like Yahweh? He lives up to his name. In his book he presents the LORD – Hebrew Yahweh – as the righteous Judge and the faithful Shepherd of Israel. He shows that God hates sin, lawlessness, idolatry and religious formalism. Because of these iniquities, God must judge His people as the righteous Judge. But God is also the God who cannot be compared to anyone. Who is like Him (Mic 7:18)? As a God of forgiveness, He is willing to give His people a glorious time of peace under the rule of the Messiah.
We learn from the book of Micah that God values faith that is actually practiced and lived out. Anyone who takes before God the place that suits him as a creature will come to know God as a wonderful God of forgiveness.
As said, the name Micah means ‘who is like Yahweh?’ When Micah’s mother called her little boy by his name to enter, a loud testimony shouted through the streets of Moresheth that the LORD – our translation of the word Yahweh – cannot be compared to anyone.
If this testimony sounded that way through the city, it may have reminded the pious Israelite of the song that Moses and the Israelites sang after their redemption from Egypt. The same testimony sounds in that song (Exo 15:11). Unfortunately, this memory will only have been present in a few people. The masses of the people no longer think of the LORD, of His redemption and His purpose with it. They live for themselves and do injustice to their neighbors.
That is why more is needed than the testimony of his name when his mother called him or when he later introduced himself as ‘Micah’. His name will gain substance through a powerful preaching to break with sin and do what the LORD asks (Mic 6:8). He concludes that preaching with a powerful testimony of the meaning of his name: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity?” (Mic 7:18a).
The Micah of this Bible Book can be found only in Jeremiah 26 (Jer 26:18). There, as here (Mic 1:1), he is called “Micah from Moresheth. This clearly distinguishes him from all the other Micah’s (or: Micaiah) mentioned in the Bible, of whom we often read no more than the name of their father. There are two namesakes of whom we read more.
One is “Micaiah, the son of Imlah” (1Kgs 22:8-22). In this son of Imlah, Micah of Moresheth has an inspiring forerunner. The son of Imlah brought fearless God’s Word to kings and prophets who did not take God into account. This man was not impressed by the splendor of the kings and the threatening language of the false prophets. Indeed, beyond these high-ranking persons he has seen the majesty of the LORD, in which all earthly glory fades and loses its threat. Micah from Moresheth will prove to be a worthy namesake, because he brings his message equally fearlessly.
The other Micah stands in stark contrast to both of these faithful, devoted Micah’s. We meet him in Judges 17-18. This man has had his very own idea of how he wanted to serve God. His idolatry has led a whole tribe to follow him in his idolatry (Jdg 17:1-13; 18:1-6,27,30-31).
Moresheth, the town where the Micah of this Bible Book comes from, is a small town southwest of Jerusalem that borders directly on the Philistine region. The addition ‘Gath’ further on in Micah 1 indicates this (Mic 1:14). It is an ordinary rural town in the province. Just like Amos, who lived a few decades before him, he is someone from the countryside. That is not to say that he lived in isolation to whom all the world news passes by. He lived on the road that runs from the Philistines to the Judean mountains. That road is an access road to the country. Micah lived in a place where he was informed about everything by the passers-by. He is no stranger to the world in which he lives and is therefore able to give an appropriate testimony.
As far as his origins are concerned, there is similarity with Amos. As far as the content of his message is concerned, there is clear similarity with Isaiah, of whom he is a contemporary. They have both spoken a lot about the Messiah. Micah is also sometimes called ‘the little Isaiah’. That there is similarity with Isaiah is also shown by the number of similar passages of both prophets:
Mic 1:9-16 – Isa 10:28-32
Mic 2:1-2 – Isa 5:8
Mic 2:6,11 – Isa 30:10-11
Mic 2:12 – Isa 10:20-23
Mic 3:5-7 – Isa 29:9-12
Mic 3:12 – Isa 32:14
Mic 4:1 – Isa 2:2
Mic 4:4 – Isa 1:19
Mic 4:7 – Isa 9:7
Mic 4:10 – Isa 39:6
Mic 5:2-4 – Isa 7:14
Mic 5:6 – Isa 14:25
Mic 6:6-8 – Isa 43:6-7
Mic 7:7 – Isa 8:17
Mic 7:12 – Isa 11:11
The fact that there is clear similarity between Micah and Isaiah does not mean that Micah is a copy of Isaiah. He is not a copycat of Isaiah. What he says, he does not ‘borrow’ from Isaiah, but is ordered by the LORD. The people who hear Isaiah hear the same things from Micah. One prophet therefore underscores what the other has said. Thus the testimony which the LORD has given is confirmed. By the way, God never lets contradictory sounds be heard. His messengers are always in harmony with one another, because His Spirit guides them. Each messenger’s own style is always preserved.
Compared to Isaiah, Micah is a little prophet. We regularly see Isaiah at the king’s court, while Micah is more the man of the people. Such a position can mean a special exercise of faith. After all, it is not easy to stand in the shadow of a great prophet. Yet Micah did not think: ‘Isaiah does the work. I don’t have to do anything.’ He knows himself personally called to his task by the LORD and therefore fulfills it with devotion.
The application to today, for the church, is easy to make. Every gift is important, even the in our eyes ‘small’ gift. Every ‘small’ gift should not think: ‘The great gifts will do it.’ This is also an often used argument in the church today not to be engaged in God’s kingdom. Not that it is always said out loud, but practice proves it.
Paul shows that such a view in fact stems from jealousy. For this he uses the picture of a human body: “If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body” (1Cor 12:15). Here we see that dissatisfaction with one’s own place in the church, seen as a body, stems from jealousy at someone else’s place. This attitude leads to the foolish notion of not belonging to it, of not having a task.
In any case, Micah does not use the excuse: ‘Because I am not Isaiah, I am not a prophet.’ It does not bother him to carry out his ‘small’ task too. Again, God has assigned a task to each of His children. If each of the many so-called small gifts becomes more aware of this, there will be much more fruit for God in the church and much less struggle and division.
Like the prophecies of Hosea and Amos, the prophecy of Micah deals with the spiritual state of the people of the Jews, the two tribes. He also clearly denounces the social wrongs. Samaria is also mentioned, the ten tribes, so it is about the whole of Israel. He prophesied about ten years before the fall of Samaria, caused by the Assyrians in 722 BC, an event about which he also prophesied (Mic 1:6-7).
Because of all the wrongs in the relations that have arisen in Israel, the people have become ripe for the sickle of the Assyrians. These wrongs are summarized in 2 Kings 17 (2Kgs 17:6-23). The judgment that Micah had to announce was not given by him with dry eyes. It was close to his heart (Mic 1:8-9).
It has already been pointed out that in Jeremiah 26 (Jer 26:18) what Micah announced is quoted in Micah 3 (Mic 3:12). In the days of Jeremiah one remembers his words. That is more than a century later, after he spoke them. The priests and prophets want to kill Jeremiah because he proclaims the judgment to them if they remain disobedient. But the princes quote the prophecy of Micah and how Hezekiah reacted to it.
For Jeremiah, this reminder means that the threat of killing him is removed. There is a great deal of reverence for Hezekiah. After all, this God-fearing king did not let Micah kill for his words. If they did kill Jeremiah for his words, it would be tantamount to condemning the God-fearing Hezekiah, as if he had let Micah live unjustly.
It is also interesting to see that Micah is quoted several times in the Bible.
1. The first quotation, which has already been mentioned before (Jer 26:11-19), takes place one hundred years after his performance.
2. After that there is a reference to Micah in the time of the Lord Jesus. Thus an appeal is made to Micah to bring the sages from the East to the place of the birth of the Messiah (Mic 5:1 – Mt 2:5-6).
3. The Lord Jesus Himself uses Micah when He sends out the seventy. On that occasion, He tells His messengers that the prophecy of Micah will be fulfilled in their preaching (Mic 7:6 – Mt 10:21,35-36).
4. When Christ presents Himself as the good Shepherd, this is also something we find in Micah (Mic 2:12-13 – Jn 10:9,11,14).
Division of the book
The book can be divided into three parts, with each part starting with ‘hear’:
1. Admonition of sin (Micah 1-2)
2. Announcement of the verdict (Micah 3-5)
3. Promise of blessing by the Messiah (Micah 6-7)