Q&A: Overview of the Book of Micah

Overview of the Book of Micah

Question

Overview of the Book of Micah

Answer

Overview of the Book of Micah

Author: The prophet Micah.

Purpose:

To call Judah to repentance and hope during the Assyrian crisis and to prepare Judah for the Babylonian exile by announcing God's judgments against sin and his promises of restoration.

Date: 742-686 B.C.

Key Truths:

  • God threatened to judge Samaria and Judah for their flagrant violations of the covenant.
  • God called his people to repent of their sins in order to avert or delay judgment.
  • God affirmed his promises to restore his people from defeat and exile.
  • God promised to bless his restored people with victory, expansion, and peace.

Author:

Micah is identified by his hometown of Moresheth (Micah 1:1, 14), implying that he was an outsider to Jerusalem. As a prophet who ministered alongside Isaiah, Micah had an influential ministry during a critical time in Judah's history.

Time and Place of Writing:

Micah preached during the reigns of Jotham (742-735 B.C.), Ahaz (735-715 B.C.), and Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.). During this time a shocking contrast developed between the extremely rich and the oppressed poor due to the exploitation of Israel's middle class (Micah 2:8-9) by greedy landowners (Micah 2:1-5) who were supported by Israel's corrupt political and religious leaders (Micah 3:1-12). Because of this failed leadership, the whole nation became morally corrupt (Micah 6:9-16; 7:1-7).

God raised up Assyria as his rod of judgment against his sinful people (Isa. 10:5-11). As Micah had predicted (Micah 1:2-7), the Assyrians destroyed Samaria in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:1-6). Judah felt the full force of God's judgment when the Assyrian king Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) marched through Judah's western foothills and up to the gate of Jerusalem, as Micah had also foretold (Micah 1:8-16). When the city was under siege, Hezekiah finally repented, and the Lord turned back the army of Assyria (Jer. 26:18-19).

Purpose and Distinctives:

Micah arranged his 19 prophecies into three cycles (Micah 1-2; 3-5; 6-7). Each cycle begins with prophecies of judgment and ends with a prophecy (or prophecies) of salvation, and each opens with the same Hebrew word rendered "hear" (Micah 1:2) or "listen" (Micah 3:1; 6:1). The middle cycle includes three oracles of judgment (Micah 3) and seven oracles of salvation (Micah 4-5). Micah used clever puns and quoted his opponents, who tried to silence him (Micah 2:6-7).

In his oracles of salvation Micah foresaw that Jerusalem's salvation during the Sennacherib invasion (B.C. 701) would depend solely upon the Lord's mercy toward a remnant (Micah 2:13). He also foresaw that God would later deliver his people from Babylonian captivity (Micah 4:9-10). As a result the covenant people were to walk in the name of the Lord (Micah 4:5) and depend on God's sovereign grace (Micah 5:9), not the works of their hands (Micah 5:10-15). Throughout these trials, as well as in the future, a forgiven remnant would endure through the mercy of God because God had pledged on oath to be true to the patriarchs (Micah 7:18-20).

Christ in Micah:

The book of Micah reveals Christ in at least two ways. First, Micah made many predictions of judgment and deliverance that spoke directly to the judgment of the Assyrian king Sennacherib's devastating attack on Judah and the salvation of Jerusalem. He also predicted that the Babylonians would conquer Judah. As major acts of divine judgment and salvation, these predictions and their fulfillments are shadows or types anticipating the final judgment and salvation that comes in Christ.

Second, predictions of the judgments and the blessings that would take place at the restoration of God's people after the Babylonian captivity speak more directly of Christ. According to the New Testament, Jesus inaugurated these events in his earthly ministry, continues them today and will bring them to completion at his return. Micah spoke of these events as "the last days" (Micah 4:1) and "that day" (Micah 2:4; 4:6; 5:10; 7:12); i.e., "the day of the LORD," which the New Testament connects to the work of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Perhaps the most direct prediction of Christ in Micah is found in Micah 5:1-6 (see Matt. 2:6), where God promised that the house of David would rise up after exile, defeat Judah's enemies, rule over the entire earth and bring peace to God's people.

Notes from the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Dr. Richard Pratt, ed. (Zondervan, 2003).

Introduction Material:

Introduction to the Prophetic Books

Copyright:

Copyright, Authors, and Theological Editors of the SORSB

Answer by Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.

Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr. is Co-Founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries who served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and has authored numerous books.