The book of Micah

Apparently (quoted in Longman’s Introduction to the Old Testament) Martin Luther said, “the prophets have a queer way of talking, like people who instead of proceeding in a orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next so that you cannot make head or tail of them or see what they are getting at”. Micah is a culprit of this. The last few verses of Micah summarise its message: “he will tread our iniquities under foot, he does not retain his anger forever, he delights in steadfast love and will show faithfulness” (7:18-20). Micah teaches Judah that God hates sin. He hates it so much that when he cannot put up with its presence any longer he gets rid of it. He warns and warns that he hates sin, and then deals with it. God deals with Judah’s sin.

Micah is the prophet alive in Judah when Assyria sweeps in and levels Israel brutally. Micah has a message for Judah (chap. 1-2) – God is not asleep, he sees what is going on and is about to sort it out powerfully (1:2-16). He sees the sins of the people and proves it by naming even secret things (2:1-11). God is holding the leaders who are supposed to be keeping the nation for God responsible for sin they too are committing (chapter 3). The Lord immediately promises hope in the coming of the Messiah who will rule perfectly. And the people of Judah listen! The book closes out (6:6-7:20) telling them what they are to do in returning to the Lord and making things right. The answer is as simple as it is strong – this is how you return to the Lord: “Wait for the mercy of the Lord” (7); live rightly with people; walk with God (6:8) and trust in his faithfulness to restore you (7:18-20).

Pic: John Singer Sargent, “Micah, Haggai, Malacchi, and Zechariah” from The Triumph of Religion, Boston Public Library (Photo: Bill Kipp & BPL)

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