A Reflection: Book of Micah

The prophet Micah was from the small town of Moresheth Gath (1:14), a productive agricultural area located in the southern part of Judah. Bible commentators believe that he was a farmer and that he came from a family of humble standing. While Isaiah, Micah’s contemporary in Jerusalem, addressed the king and international situations, Micah condemned Judah’s corrupt rulers, bribed judges, ungodly priests, false prophets and dishonest merchants.

The book opens with Micah delivering strong indictment addressed to Israel and Judah’s respective capital cities, Samaria and Jerusalem for specific sins including idolatry, immorality, oppression of the poor, covetousness and greed, bribery among leaders, and empty religion. After almost three millennia, nothing has changed much, and we still struggle with the same sins Micah preached against during his time.

As I survey the book, I observed that the book is divided into two part-message: the indictment of Israel (Samaria) and Judah (Jerusalem) for their sins with the warning of God’s judgment against them, and the Messianic hope and promise that God will deliver and restore Israel and Judah (hereafter referred to as Israel) into one nation. I have written this paper to reflect on the sins of Micah’s day as they would pertain to the sins of the present day and on the implications of Micah’s prophecy then and now.

The Sins of Micah’s Time

One of the sins mentioned in Micah is the sin of idolatry. Being mentioned in the Ten Commandments, idolatry is clearly an abomination to the Lord. And in spite of the Lord’s goodness to Israel, time and time again would tell us that the nation has prostituted herself from false worship and pagan religion. Because of this, a judgment was pronounced against Israel. Micah prophesied that Israel will be destroyed (1:6), and its destruction will also lead to the destruction of the pagan idols and images (1:7). This prophecy was said to be fulfilled in 722 B.C. when the Assyrians completely destroyed the city. This tells us how great of sin idolatry is to God that He would destroy the city just to deal with it. As I read Micah, I begin to ponder if all that is happening in the world today is God’s response to idolatry. In the Philippines, where idolatry is very rampant, I can name several calamities and incidents that happened right after a feast is offered to pagan idols. The Bible teaches us that God is a jealous God (Exo. 20:5) and I believe that God’s judgment for this sin is severe.

Another sin that is prevalent in Micah’s time is immorality (1:7). I find it interesting that idolatry and immorality were discussed by Micah using the same passage. I believe Micah was making a point here. It is not just because idolatry and immorality were the prevailing sins that time but their effects on humanity are just as equally destroying. Nowadays, pornography and fornication were already embraced as normal by the society. Sadly, they are also being practiced in many people in the church. Many pastors are falling for infidelity. Just as Israel was destroyed for this (1:6), the Bible warns us of great and awful punishment for these sins even for the present time (Gal. 5:19-21).

Covetousness, greed and oppression of the poor are also rampant in Micah’s day (2:1-2). Land barons that time steal farm from poor peasants and rents them out for a high price. Having devoted their hearts to greed, they did not care about the suffering this would inflict on others. Micah prophesied that they will reap what they sow (2:3-5). The prophecy was fulfilled when Assyria took their land away from them and carried them into captivity. These kinds of sins continue even to this day. Rich people become richer because of bad business practices and in the process, poor people become poorer than ever. The majority of the people right now only think about how they can accumulate more than what they already have. And as I study the book of Micah, I saw that God has a way of evening the playing field. Right now, the whole world is facing maybe the most devastating pandemic the world has ever known. Rich and poor alike are equally hit. Even countries with the strongest economy were badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. I was employed and then terminated by a company that engages in corrupt business practices. Now, the same company is suffering huge losses.

Micah also preached against false prophets in his time (2:6-7). Judah’s false prophets were condemning Micah for delivering a message of judgment. These false prophets say that shame and disgrace would not occur to people because God is a God of love and mercy. Because of these false teachings about God, people in that time continued in their sinful lifestyle. Micah delivered a strong message against these false prophets for leading God’s people astray (3:5-7). This is not far from what is happening today. Many churches have succumbed to church-consumerism resulting in a distorted view of God in the eyes of the parishioners. Many pastors would deliver feel-good messages telling that God is a God of love, mercy and blessings. They do not tackle God’s wrath, holiness, sin and repentance. This resulted in entitlement syndrome amongst churchgoers today. I have observed that many people now are easily offended and if they are offended, they would just leave the church for another congregation. I believe that the Lord will judge teachers more strictly (James 3:1) and we will all face God one day and will give an accounting of what we have done to His church.

Micah also preached against corrupt leaders and bribed leaders (3:1-4, 9-12). Micah describes these people to be hating good and loving evil. These are the nation’s leaders who abandoned God’s standard of leadership in their pursuit of material gain. Micah declared that because of their cruelty, God would not answer their prayers and that God’s presence would forsake them (3:4). In the present times, many nations are being led by corrupt leaders. The Philippines for example is considered top-notch when it comes to graft and corruption. I believe in what Psalms 33:12 declares, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” And I also believe that there will be a time where God will demand accountability and reckoning from the leaders of the land.

The Messianic Hope

Micah prophesies that a ruler would come out of Bethlehem who would fulfill God’s promise to His people (5:2). This prophecy refers to Jesus (Mat. 2:1,3-6). Micah prophesies that the Messiah will stand and shepherd His flock and will bring everlasting peace to Israel (5:5). He will also deliver them from the hands of Assyria who opposed them and brought them into captivity (5:5). The Messiah will also purge Israel of her military power (5:10-11) and witchcraft and idolatry (5:12-14). All then who are not loyal to God and His would be destroyed.

Though the major emphasis of Jesus’ first coming is that He came to seek and save the nation of Israel, the effects of His death and resurrection are also efficacious to the Gentiles (Rom. 3:29). This led to the birth of the Church. Jesus is said to be coming back again and ruling over Israel, the Church and the world with long-lasting peace (5:4).

Jesus Christ is the Lord of all and the judge of all (6:9-16). He will judge all our sins and disobedience. Micah then gives us a threefold definition of what our commitment to Him should involve. God’s standard of goodness teaches us that we should 1) act justly – that we should be fair and honest in our dealings with others, 2) we must love mercy – that we should show compassion and kindness to people who are in need, and 3) we must walk humbly before our God – that we should humble ourselves daily before Him in godly fear and reverence of His will (6:8). I love this passage as this is a practical way of how we can honor our God.

In Micah’s time, sin, disobedience and social injustice were very rampant and the prophet preached against those things strongly. In our time, the Church should carry the same message. The Church should not be confined within the four corners of the public gathering place but should be a strong movement who will fight poverty, racism, social injustice, immorality and the other sins of the world.

Micah concludes his book by giving a wordplay of his name: “Who is a God like You…”. Micah tells us that there is no one like our God who is loving, merciful, kind and who forgives us from our sins. He is also the God who remembers and fulfills His promises to Israel and to the Church. This book is a very short book, but it has blessed my life. It shows how loving our God is, and further, it gave me a better understanding of the Lordship and reign of Christ in Israel, the Church and in my life.

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