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Micah 1-4

Here is Boadt’s introduction to Micah….

If Isaiah seemed to be totally concerned with the behavior and life of Jerusalem the capital city, and with the presence of the holy God that dwelled in its midst, Micah seems nearly the opposite. Except for the long poem on Zion that fills chapter 4 of his book and which many scholars doubt is original to Micah, hardly a mention of Jerusalem or the temple occurs anywhere. Instead, he talks of the villages and small towns, the tribal territories and the border cities of the Philistines to the west. The label that heads the book in Micah 1:1 tells us that he preached his message at the same time as did Isaiah, but the two prophets must have been very different types of people. Micah’s town of Moresheth-gath was probably quite small and more concerned with the agricultural year and the weather than with the affairs of state. Where Isaiah might cry out against injustice in urban vocabulary, “How the faithful city has become a prostitute, who used to be full of justice; righteousness lived in her, but now murderers!” (Is 1:21), Micah would rather choose to say, “We are utterly ruined; he takes away the inheritance of my people and removes it from me; among our captors he divides our fields” (Mi 2:4).

But Micah looked out at the same nation as Isaiah and saw the same injustices and evil everywhere. His charges are leveled above all against the landlords who take advantage of the poor, and he foresees the same divine judgment coming against the people and their leaders as Isaiah did. Indeed, the two prophets stand so close in their understanding of what was happening in Judah that we can hardly doubt that each one was reporting very accurately what was going on. Micah’s message was powerful and uncompromising. He declares that even if the whole nation should become corrupt and turn from Yahweh, he will wait and trust only in the Lord (Mi 7:7). Even a hundred years later, the Book of Jeremiah remembers the power of Micah’s message that encouraged King Hezekiah to begin his reform movement (Jer 26:18-19).

The Book of Micah can be divided conveniently into four parts which alternate between judgment and hope:

1-3  Oracles of judgment against both Samaria and Judah
4-5  Oracles of hope and restoration
6:1-7:7   A legal trial against Israel for its sins
7:8-20    A vision of God’s victory over Israel’s enemies

Chapters 1-3 open with a condemnation of the leaders of Judah for their sins. Micah lists a whole series of cities and towns and announces their day of judgment. In many ways he sounds much like an angry resident of a small town expressing his grievances against large cities when he asserts that the two chief sins of both the northern kingdom and of Judah are their two capital cities, Samaria and Jerusalem (Mi 1:5). People in power use their position to take the inheritances belonging to the weak and powerless. People are forced from their homes and family farms because of the greed of civic officials, priests, diviners and even other prophets! This shocking series of oracles ends in a final climactic vison in 3:12 that sees the total destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the temple. In this he goes further than Isaiah usually did, although Isaiah himself often hinted that God’s punishment might affect the whole land.

If you live in the country, do you tend to think that most if not all of the problems of the world arise in the big cities? If you live in the city, do you tend to think that the only important stuff in the world happens where you are, or in big cities like yours? What do you think of this statement? ...

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Alexander Solzhenitsyn 

Do you think that Micah and Isaiah would have agreed with Solzhenitsyn?


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