The theme of Micah is judgment and forgiveness. The Lord, the Judge who scatters his people for their transgressions and sins, is also the Shepherd-King who in covenant faithfulness gathers, protects, and forgives them.
- The character of the sovereign Lord and the sins of his people demand judgment (Mic. 1:2–5; 2:3; 6:1–2, 9–11). The sentence of God’s “lawsuit” comes in the form of an oppressor (Mic. 1:15; 4:11; 5:1, 5–6) and by means of covenant curses (Mic. 6:13–15) rendered for covenant unfaithfulness (Mic. 6:16).
- A Shepherd-King gathers and delivers a remnant (Mic. 2:12–13; 4:6–8; 7:14, 18). This deliverer, functioning as a new David, will come from the very region under Assyrian control (Mic. 5:2–5a).
- Covenant faithfulness consists not merely in ritual but in the proper expression of the primary forms of love: justice, mercy, and faithfulness (6:8; cf. Matt. 23:23).
- The Lord is the focus of worship. The nations will no longer “flow” to false gods (cf. Jer. 51:44) but to Zion to learn of the true Lord and to live in peace (Mic. 4:1–5; 7:12; cf. Isa. 2:2–5).
- The liberating light of grace flowing from the Lord’s steadfast love (Mic. 7:18–20) overcomes the ominous sentence due to sin (Mic. 7:8–9). Forgiveness is grounded in God’s faithfulness to his promises (Mic. 7:20).
- God’s saving acts in the past (Mic. 6:4–5; 7:14–15) are interpretative analogies for his saving acts in the future (Mic. 7:19–20).
Micah writes in order to bring God’s “lawsuit” against his people (Mic. 3:8). He indicts Samaria and Jerusalem for their sins (Mic. 1:2–7), with both Assyria (Mic. 5:5–6) and Babylon (Mic. 4:10) looming as instruments of the divine sentence.
Free from Assyrian interference in the first half of the eighth century, the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel (782–753 B.C.) and the Judean kings Uzziah and Jotham (see Date) witnessed the emergence of a wealthy upper class. Yet this brought with it significant corruption. As Amos had condemned the economic and legal injustices prevalent in the northern kingdom in the first half of the eighth century (Amos 2:6–7; 5:10–12; 6:4–5), so Micah catalogs specific sins of both the northern and southern kingdoms. These sins included idolatry (Mic. 1:7; 5:12–14); the seizure of property (Mic. 2:2, 9); the failure of civil leadership (Mic. 3:1–3, 9–10; 7:3), religious leadership (Mic. 3:11), and prophetic leadership (Mic. 3:5–7, 11); the belief that personal sacrifice satisfies divine justice (Mic. 6:6–7); and corrupt business practices and violence (Mic. 6:10–12).
The reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, along with the increasing threat of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, provide the broad background for Micah. First, Ahaz stands out among the three Judean kings for his idolatry (2 Kings 16:1–4; Mic. 6:16) as well as for the help he sought from the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (745–727 B.C.) in the face of Syro-Ephraimite aggression against Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:5–9; 2 Chron. 28:16–21). Second, Samaria, the northern Israelite capital, experienced exile as it fell (2 Kings 17; Mic. 1:6–7) to the Assyrian Shalmaneser V (727–722 B.C.). Finally, Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.) captured numerous cities and villages of the Shephelah controlled by Hezekiah (1:10–16), but ultimately failed to capture Jerusalem in 701 (2 Kings 18:13–19:37).
History of Salvation Summary
In every age God wants his people to respond to his love by doing justice, practicing loving-kindness, and walking humbly with God (Mic. 6:8). This is genuine humanness, and by it Israel was called to commend God’s goodness to all mankind. Israel and Judah in Micah’s day were corrupted by their refusal to embrace God’s purpose, and thus would suffer judgment; but there would yet be a remnant who would experience God’s forgiveness and be part of his plan to bless the world through the Messiah’s rule.
Taken from the ESV® Study Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2008 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information on how to cite this material, see permissions information here.