As I continue to introduce books of the Bible that you may not be familiar with, I’m reminded each time that I also have something to learn and by no mean have these books figured out.
This week we are going to look at the book of Micah. Little is known about Micah other than what we get from his book and on passage in Jeremiah. He was from a small town call Moresheth Gath, which was in Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). He prophesied and did his work sometime between 750 – 686 BC. That means he was around the same time as Isaiah and Hosea.
Micah has a deep sensitivity to the social ills of his day, especially as they related to small towns and villages. This is probably because he came from such a small town. He (like Amos last week) was not very politically or religiously connected. He was somewhat of a ‘normal’ person.
Micah predicts the fall of Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel), and also foretold of the inevitable destruction of Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). Several significant events occurred during his time.
734 – 732 BC: Assyria led a military war campaign against Syria, Philistia, and parts of Israel and Judah. Some were defeated and others (like Judah, the southern kingdom) paid tribute to the Assyrian king. However Israel (northern kingdom) did not fare as well. According to Second Kings the northern kingdom lost most of its territory, including all of Gilead and much of Galilee (the area where Jesus would eventually launch his ministry). Damascus fell in 732 BC and was annexed to the Assyrian empire.
722 – 721 BC: Samaria fell, and the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria.
701: Judah (southern kingdom) joined a revolt against Assyria and was overrun by the Assyrian army, though Jerusalem was spared.
Micah’s message goes back and forth between doom and hope. In other terms it goes back and forth between God’s ‘sternness’ and his ‘kindness’. The theme is divine judgment and deliverance. Micah lists things that God hates (idolatry, injustice, rebellion, and empty ritualism), but also things he delights in. He ends by saying that Zion will have greater glory in the future than ever before.
The word ‘Zion’ appears a lot in the Bible. It most often refers to one of three things: the hill where the most ancient areas of Jerusalem stood, the city of Jerusalem itself, or the dwelling place of God. Although Micah was more than likely referring to multiple of these options, I want to focus on the third; the dwelling place of God. In essence he is saying the dwelling place of God will have greater glory in the future than ever before.
It’s a nice, short, seven chapter book in the Old Testament. So, here come the question “why does it matter to me, what can I learn from it?”
I want to point out again that Micah’s message goes back and forth a lot between doom and hope. Doom and hope are probably things we are thinking about a lot right now. How much ‘doom’ will this pandemic cause? How long will this ‘doom’ last? Is there any hope for a cure? Is there hope for what comes after all of this?
Doom and hope often go together unfortunately. In the midst of doom we look for hope. When hopes are realized, we often think about what doom would cause the hope to go away. Right now we are all getting a lot of messages of doom. What about hope? This week I want you to push the ‘doom’ away and think about hope. You won’t find it a lot on the news, you won’t find it a lot online, but there is hope. Micah spells it out for us. He says that the dwelling place of the Lord will have greater glory in the future than ever before. Through the Holy Spirit, we are the dwelling places of God. We can be hopeful for the future. We can be someone else’s hope by the way that we treat them during this time. Doom and hope go hand and hand. I hope that through the Holy Spirit we can be places of hope amidst the doom.
Questions for discussion or contemplation: