Micah: Who is Like God?
Key Text: Chapter 7:18-19
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
The Prophet’s Name
To the Jew, the Hebrew language was more than a mere language. It was the living oracle which God employed to reveal his wisdom to men. There was a spirituality in the language, which we in our modern mind set cannot begin to appreciate. Names of places and especially of men, were powerfully significant. A study of the names of the men of God in Scripture reveal to us, ever so much about their testimony and the God who called them. This is certainly so of Micah the Morasthite. He is styled as “the Morasthite” to differentiate him from a notable predecessor who bore the same name. In 2nd Chronicles 18 we read of Micaiah (the full and proper name of the shortened version, Micah) whom Ahab imprisoned because he only related evil words and not good. The truth was Micaiah was only interested in truth, however unpalatable that was. He was a man who stood alone in a hostile court before two kings and boldly pronounced God’s word and was incarcerated for so doing, Therefore the very name Micah is a reminder of a faithful witness in a dark day. The name becomes increasingly significant as we consider the Hebrew meaning, “Who is like God?” Micah along with the other prophets testified to a singular God, one who ruled and governed alone, one who would not tolerate sin, who honoured his promises. When it seemed that so many were seeking after new religions and other gods Micah stood out from the crowd to defend the God who was unique, the one and only true God. This was his calling.
His Time and Place
Micah was principally a citizen of Judah, the southern kingdom among the Jews. Therefore the reigns of the Kings are set forth whom he served under; “Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah”. Micah’s words, however, were directed to both nations. Therefore he addresses his messages to the twin capitals, “Samaria and Jerusalem.” Micah was therefore a contemporary of Isaiah, who was a resident in Jerusalem, although it would have been shorter than the one called the Evangelical Prophet. Micah’s words were well known and highly regarded through Jewish history because Jeremiah at a later time quoted from this prophet (Jeremiah 26:18, Micah 3:12).
Judgements and Promises
These two facets of God’s nature are particularly apparent in the preaching of Micah. The book is divided into three discourses. Each one begins with sin and judgement and concludes with promise. As the book progresses the promises become more wonderful with the conclusion providing a lovely climax:
- Chapters 1-2
- Chapters 3-5
- Chapter 6-7
Each section begins with the words “hear ye”, emphasising that these were sermons later recorded for reading. The first judgement is directed towards the whole world (1:2) and this section ends with the prophecy of the “breaker” who shall deliver his people and deal with the enemy (2:13). The second judgement is directed towards the leaders of the people (3:1) and concludes with the promise that God will exercise judgement and fury upon the heathen (3:15). The final judgement is directed to all Israel (6:1) and concludes with the promise that that God will forgive his people their sin and cast those sins into the depths of the sea (7:18-19). This promise is the greatest of all and contains the name Micah in the form of the question “Who is a God like unto thee?” This is particularly important theologically. Our God is principally one of mercy and love. This is the leading characteristic of his nature. All that he does in relation to the world, to his church, to us as individuals will always be tainted with mercy. He is controlled and motivated by the desire to be kind and gracious. When Moses asked God for a revelation of glory this was the very message received as he was sheltered in the cleft of the rock (Exodus 33:19). Although Micah’s message was one of judgement, which is necessary, God was ever reminding Israel that there will still be mercy and the covenant promises would not be forgotten.
The Sins of the People
Micah’s prophecy majored on sins which related to materialism and a general lack of proper justice in the land of which the following are examples:
- Oppression (3:2-3)
- Violence by the rich (2:2, 6:12)
- Bribery and Corruption (3:11, 7:3)
- Taking innocent life (7:2)
- Expelling women and children from their homes (2:9)
Appreciating all of this corruption and vice makes the advice of 6:8 all the more relevant. These are words which identify the very meaning of genuine Christianity in this New Testament age:
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
There are cameos in this book which tell us a little about the life and ministry of this man, Micah.
Chapter 3:5-12 – Here is a man standing alone with a solemn message which contradicts the false preaching of prophets who are more interested in wealth and position than truth. What set Micah apart?
“…I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD…”
Chapter 7:5-10 – It would appear that Micah had learned by bitter experience not even to rely upon those in his own family. Rather than trusting people his eyes were in another direction, “..I will look unto the LORD…”. This adds a certain colour to the description of the woman who was his enemy, who rose up against him. While she would suffer and be ashamed Micah knew that Jehovah would be a light unto him. Who was this enemy? The scene is unclear but it is apparent it was a friend, one from his own house; his wife?
Micah contains two notable Messianic Promises who anticipates the New Testament age.
Chapter 4:1-5 – This is a passage which is a repetition of Isaiah 2:2-4. As these two men were contemporaries it appears that they conferred. Some scholars believe that Micah wrote his words first and Isaiah being prompted by God repeated them in his great work. The picture of all nations flocking to the Lord’s House for worship, laying down their weapons, as the earth is brought to a hitherto unrealised period of peace, is beautiful beyond all thoughts.
Are we living in this period now? I think not judging by the state of the world. Will this period be a literal millennial reign of Christ, in Jerusalem, when all nations will flock to Israel for wisdom. I find this difficult because this tends to the view that the Jew will be a special element within Christ’s Church and that the temple will be restored in Jerusalem. The view I take from this passage is that the temple is the Church, according to general New Testament interpretation. The temple today is growing and developing. But before the end of the world a new period of blessing will visit the church as Christianity makes its greatest impact upon the world of men. This will be a period of revival which will usher in a halcyon time for the world.
Chapter 5:2 – This is the prophecy which the advisers of Herod brought to the King’s attention as he was wondering where the new King could possibly be born (Matthew 2:5-6). It not only identifies where Jesus Christ would be born but who he would be and always was:
“ruler in Israel…whose goings forth have been of everlasting.”