Praise Our Incomparable God

Explore the Bible Series

May 28, 2006

 

Background Passage: Micah 1:1-7:20

Lesson Passage: Micah 7:8-20

 

Introduction: The prophet Micah preached during the same time as Isaiah (Eighth Century B.C.), and he addressed, generally speaking, the same audience as his more prominent contemporary.Micah came from Moresheth, near the ancient Philistine city of Gath.Therefore, Micah, unlike Isaiah, came from a rural area, and his prophecy bears the marks of this rustic upbringing. This book finds its historic setting during the reign of three kings of Judah.

 

Jotham (750-735 B.C.): This man ruled Judah during the years of his fatherís illness and assumed the throne, in his own right, at age twenty-five.He governed wisely in Jerusalem for sixteen years (See II Chronicles 27:1-9).

 

Ahaz (735-715 B.C.): Jothamís son did not follow in his fatherís path.His sixteen-year rule of Judah marked a dismal return to idolatry; indeed, the king himself commissioned the worship of the Baals, sacrificed to the pagan gods, defaced the Temple, and offered his children as burnt sacrifices.His miserable leadership of Judah is described in II Kings 16:1-20 and II Chronicles 28:1-4.

 

Hezekiah (715-686): Thankfully, Hezekiah, during a twenty-nine year reign, broke the sinful patterns of his father Ahaz. He cleansed and restored the Temple from the abominations of Ahaz, and he tore down the high places of pagan devotion.Despite sad moments of weakness, Hezekiah served God faithfully throughout a long and prosperous reign (See II Chronicles 29-32).

 

The Prophecy of Micah falls into three main divisions, each marked by a call for Godís people to hear the voice of the Lord (See 1:2; 3:1; 6:1).Each section contains indictments against Judah and Samaria, warnings of impending judgment, and offers of mercy to those who will repent.At first reading, the prophecy seems somewhat unorganized and random, jumping from one topic to another.This feature of the work has contributed to a common liberal view that the book came from the pens of several authors and does not have a common theme. E.J. Young, in his excellent Introduction to the Old Testament, makes a solid case for the unity of Micah (See pp. 266-268).

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                   Micahís First Address (1:1-2:13): Note the call for the people to hear the words of the prophet (1:2)

A.    Introduction and historical setting (1:1)

B.     Godís impending judgment on Samaria (1:2-7): Though Micah addressed Judah, he gives particular attention to the sins of Samaria.By the Eighth Century, Samaria had become the most prominent city of the Northern Kingdom; thus, it stands, in this book, as the epitome of Israelite culture. Israel had played the harlot by abandoning Jehovah and turning to pagan gods.

C.     A lament for Judah (1:8-16): Micah raised a dirge for the imminent destruction of Judah.He predicted military conquest, defeat, and exile for Jerusalem. The men of Judah, the prophet observed, should shave their heads in shame and mourning for the grief that loomed on the horizon.

D.    Condemnation of the oppressive elite (2:1-5): The wealthy landowners devised ways to oppress the poor, and God promised that he would oppress the oppressors.

E.     Condemnation of the corrupt religious leaders (2:6-11): False teachers told the people what they wanted to hear, and they sought to silence Godís true prophet, Micah.Wicked men often seek to silence the voice of the Lordís anointed.

F.      Godís promise to gather a remnant of his people (2:12-13): God kept this pledge by protecting a remnant in Jerusalem during the siege of Sennacherib (See II Kings 18 and 19), but this passage has its ultimate fulfillment in the work of the Great Shepherd (See John 10:1-18).

 

II.                Micahís Second Address (3:1-5:15): Again, note the call to hear the words of the prophet (3:1). This address sounds the same general themes as the first.In particular, Micah focused on the cruelty of the oppressive elite class and the false teachings of the ďprophets of Judah and Israel.

A.    Oppression compared to cannibalism (3:1-4): Like cannibals, the rich and powerful devoured the poor and helpless.They flayed their skin from the bone, boiled their flesh, and consumed them.God will not answer the prayers of such cruel people (See v. 4).

B.     False religious leaders censured (3:5-8): These greedy prophets preached for their own financial advantage.They led the people astray and brought spiritual darkness on the land.Verse Eight reminds us that Micah was not one of these unscrupulous men.

C.     Political and religious leaders accused of greed (3:9-12): All of these leaders accepted bribes.They were all for sale, and God promised to level Zion because of the sin of the leaders.

D.    The re-establishment of Zion (4:1-13): This passage foreshadows the coming Messianic Age that began with the Incarnation. The prophet promised many blessings for the Lordís remnant.

1.      Many nations will turn to Zion for instruction in the law and ways of Jehovah (vv. 1-5).

2.      Jehovah will reign over the lame, afflicted, and helpless (vv. 6-7).

3.      The present distress of Judah will give way to the Lordís blessing and help (vv. 8-13).God planned to redeem Judah from the hands of her enemies, and, in time, she would trample her oppressors like a horse with bronze hooves.

E.     The future hope and salvation of the remnant (5:1-15)

1.      A Son of Bethlehem will arise to vindicate the Lordís people (vv. 1-6).He shall be their shepherd, security, and peace. Eventually, the whole earth will see the Shepherdís glory, and he shall govern all the nations.

2.      The ultimate victory of the remnant (vv. 7-15): This triumph will be attended by true repentance, a forsaking of the sorceries and idolatry that plagued Israel for centuries.

 

III.             Micahís Third Address (6:1-7:20)

A.    Godís contention with Israel and Judah (6:1-8): Like the Judge in a great court of law, God leveled indictments against a guilty people.They have, he pointed out, sinned against his redemptive kindness.He brought them out of Egypt, but they rebelled against him.Though they followed a form of external worship, they did not obey God from the heart; that is, they did not practice justice, love God, or walk humbly before Jehovah.

B.     God promised to chasten his guilty people.They cheated at business and practiced violence; therefore, God would curse them with unfruitfulness (See vv. 14-16).

C.     The evidences of a corrupt society (7:1-6): Godly men become scarce in times like this.Micah could not find a righteous man (vv. 1-2); instead, he saw only corrupt and covetous men.Neighbors and friends treacherously betrayed their warmest relations (vv. 3-5), and the family disintegrated before Micahís eyes (v. 6).

D.    Micahís great hope in the merciful forgiveness of the Lord (7:7-20):All other sources of encouragement and comfort failed Micah, but he found help in the Lord (See v. 7).The prophet warned his enemies not to exalt over him too quickly.He would, by Godís grace, still rise to victory and vindication.He knew that his ultimate victory did not rest on his own strength or merit; rather, his help would come from the forgiving mercies of God (See vv. 18-20).The prophet marveled at the grace and faithfulness of God.

 

Discussion Questions for the Lesson Passage:

1.      Discuss the Christian concept of hope.How does the Bible use this word differently than the world?What evidence do you find of Micahís hope?

2.      Micah lived at the threshold of very difficult days.Assyria loomed on Israelís horizon, and sinful, violent men ruled Godís people.It seemed as if the powerful and cruel leaders could do anything to the poor and helpless without fear of retribution or justice.How did Micah address the problem of unjust suffering?

3.      Discuss the nature of Godís forgiveness, as reflected in 7:18-20.What comfort do these verses bring to those who may struggle with the magnitude of their sins?