Micah :: Catholic News Agency

Author: Micah of Moresheth

Date Written: 750-686 BC


Micah was from a village southwest of Jerusalem called Moresheth-Gath.  His name is an abbreviated form of the name Mikayahu which means, "Who is like the Lord?"  He prophesied sometime during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (750-686 BC).  His prophecies may have been compiled in this book after his death.  Micah is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18.


He ministered during a time of change in the politics of Israel and Judah.  Assyria was threatening the borders of Israel and Syria, so those two countries bullied Judah to make an alliance with them against Assyria.  But instead Ahaz, king of Judah, made a pact with Tiglath-Pilesar, king of Assyria (2 Kgs 16).  Thus Assyria overran Israel in 722 and dragged the people into exile and assimilation, but left Judah untouched.  Later however, Assyria nearly conquered the whole of Judah, but was miraculously thwarted by the Lord (2 Kgs 19).


It was also a time of religious confusion. While Jotham was a good king, he permitted some idolatry to continue under his leadership.  Yet his successor Ahaz launched a full-blown project of idolatrous worship in his effort to win the trust of the Assyrians and firm up his alliance with Tiglath-Pilesar (2 Kgs 16).  During this time, the northern kingdom of Israel was in a continuous pattern of idolatry.


The book of Micah follows a simple structure of judgment and salvation.  Three times, the prophet announces impending doom followed by a word of hope for the future.  The Lord will punish the people for their sins, but then the Lord will re-gather the "remnant of Jacob" in the land (5:8) and re-establish the kingdom with a new David-like king born in Bethlehem (5:2).  Matthew 2:6 cites Micah 5:2 to show that the birth of Jesus brings this prophecy to fulfillment.


The Lord's message to his people through Micah is an indictment.  The people have forsaken the Lord and sought other gods.  Their idolatrous worship has led them to indulge in all sorts of immoral practices like prostitution (1:7), bribe-taking (3:11), oppression of the poor (2:2), false prophecy (3:5), sorcery (5:12) and fraud (6:11).  The Lord places especially heavy responsibility on the leaders for the errors and sins of the whole people (3:1, 11).  Their judgment consists in being conquered, in experiencing the disaster of the sword (6:14).  The destruction is to be shattering (5:14).  Yet there is hope.  Micah announces the re-gathering of the remnant (2:12), the worship of the nations at the mountain of the Lord (4:1), the new ruler from Bethlehem (5:2), and the forgiveness of sins (7:18-19).


Micah's message comes to us as a confrontation of our patterns of sin, a call to repentance.  It shows the evil nature of sin, how one kind of idolatry leads to another.  But Micah's message includes a promise of salvation, inviting us to repent while expecting the Lord's forgiveness.  Repentance is how we re-enter our broken love relationship with God.


By Mark Giszczak

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