Micah 1; 4: A New Sense of Destiny
Micah prophesied "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." He was thus a contemporary of Isaiah. The first chapter was evidently written before the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. And the words in chapter 3:12 were uttered in the days of Hezekiah. (See Jer. 26:16-19.) This is a singular instance of one prophet referring to another prophet's work, and its salutary effect. Jeremiah was on his trial for threatening Judah with punishment for its sins, but was acquitted through the princes and people calling attention to the work of Micah.
Micah is called a Morasthite. This doubtless means that he was a native of Moresheth, which is generally identified with Moresheth-gath (Micah 1:14), a country village in the lowlands of Judah, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah proves himself to be at home in that district, for all the identified towns mentioned by him in chapter 1:10-15 belong to it. The little town lies about a thousand feet above the sea level and has a commanding view of the plains of Philistia and the Mediterranean. Close by are the towns of Gath, Lachish, Shaphir, Achzib, Mareshah, and Addullam, all mentioned in chapter 1. The prophet was therefore brought up in the country. And his sympathies are strong for his oppressed fellow countrymen who till the soil. He exposes and condemns the shameless methods of the prosperous, who covet fields and take them by violence, and houses and seize them (Micah 2:1-2). His denunciation of the leaders of the people is indeed scathing. They ought to know what is right: but instead they hate the good, and love the evil. "They eat the flesh of My people, and flay their skin from off them: they break their bones, and chop them in pieces as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron." (Micah 3:1-3) It pictures how the fortunate abused their privileges as rulers to extract the last penny from their less fortunate neighbors. The wealthy were bent on increasing their substance even at the cost of human life. The conditions in which we now live are not very different. Further, "the heads of the house of Jacob judge for rewards, the priests teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money" (Micah 3:11). They who crush the poor of the land have corrupt servants who aid and abet their wickedness. For such evil, judgment must surely come upon the land. The evil is concentrated in the two great cities, Samaria and Jerusalem (Micah 1:5). They must be judged. "I will make Samaria as an heap of the field…and Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps." (Micah 1:9; 3:12)
In the first chapter, the prophet regards the judgment falling upon Samaria, and there pictures the enemy who has destroyed Samaria marching upon Jerusalem (Micah 1:9). Isaiah depicted the approach of the enemy from the north. (Isa. 10:22-28: see The Sower III:28.) But Micah selects the great war path by the plains of Philistia, and the valley road from Lachish past Moresheth, and through Beit-Jibrim to Jerusalem. A mournful cry rises from all the villages round Moresheth for the judgment come upon Israel. "Make thee bald and poll thee for thy delicate children enlarge thy baldness as the eagle: for they are gone into captivity from thee." Baldness is a sign of mourning. Well might they lament! Captivity was the fate that awaited those vanquished by the Assyrians. Other enemies raided, burned, or slew, but Assyria carried off whole populations into exile.
The judgment was inevitable, but "in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it." Nothing could be brighter than this picture of the restoration (Micah 4); all the brighter by reason of its sharp contrast with the deep shadow surrounding the judgment.
The name Micah means "who is like Jehovah." This prophecy shows the greatness of the Lord in bringing good out of evil. This is clear from the last verses of the prophecy. (Micah 7:18-20) "Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity," etc. They are beautiful words. At the outset, we have the dark side of life vividly presented to view. It is the judgment overhanging Samaria and Judah. The Lord visits His people: He descends to judge (Micah 1:1-4; A. 1311) The evil and falsity to be judged are examined at their core in Samaria and Jerusalem. (Verse 5; see A. 9156.) All false worship must be destroyed (verse 6). All false inventions of the heart and all the knowledges that have been applied in support of evils and falsities must be exposed and condemned. (Verse 7; E. 141, 695) Then will there be great grief and mourning (verse 8), for it touches the very heart of the evil - the affection for those old evil habits (verse 9). The towns in the following verses so far as they can be identified are on the borders of Judah. Their mourning suggests grief caused by suffering on account of evil penetrating to the walls of the heart. "Evil came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem" (verse 12). Great is the pain produced by the revelation of wrong not only in thought, but in the intentions. Extreme mourning is pictured in verse 16. The delicate children or sons of delight there spoken of signify genuine truths from the Lord which are held captive by evils and falsities. (R. 47, 543) The evils which will destroy the whole church (Micah 3:12) are then analyzed in chapters 2 and 3. But "in the last days," when evil has reached its greatest depth, the Lord's work of salvation shall be recognized. A new church shall be established among the Gentiles or nations. The Gentile state in a person is one of simplicity and humility. Evils always produce pride and self-confidence. But a state of childlike innocence (H. 278), which is the Gentile state, or good signified by "the nations," is the means of restoring all that has been lost, all that has been injured. (Matt. 18:3-4)
The fourth chapter furnishes a remarkably clear picture of the future glory of the church of the Lord. All people will consider the good of others as much as their own, and love to the Lord shall be the supreme motive. (Micah 4:1) All who desire the welfare of others as much as their own shall readily learn in humility the will of the Lord from His Word (verse 2). They will take rebuke without resentment, and sacrifice, without contest, personal advantage, for the public weal (verse 3). Thus, they will enjoy in peace the fruits of a good spiritual and natural life (verse 4). Others may follow selfish ideals; we will be faithful to the Lord (verse 5). There all misdeeds committed in ignorance of the law (the halt) will be corrected, and the misdirected energy turned to greater use in good deeds (verses 6, 7). This correction will cause pain and suffering but will result in a fuller knowledge of the Lord’s truth (verses 8-10). It will also disperse all attacking falsities, and increase the blessedness of life (verses 11-13). "I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." (See P. P.)
These visions of the future are a remarkable feature of prophecy. Every prophet furnishes one or more pictures of the restoration of the house of Israel. Views of judgment and redemption stand side by side throughout these latter books of the Old Testament. And the same two themes form the chief subject of the last book of prophecy, the Apocalypse. They are so placed in the Word by the Lord Himself. We cannot do without them. We cannot become too familiar with them. The restoration of the race can only be accomplished through the judgment of evil. Surely, when we behold the dreadful state of society today, and the persistent manner in which evil clings to ourselves in particular, we should have little courage to labor to destroy the power of evil were it not for the constant renewal of the vision of the future which is promised by the Lord. We trust in Him, do the little that lies before us today as faithfully as we can, and accept our daily portion of bread. It is sufficient to prepare us for the morrow's labor. Beyond that we cannot reach. But every least resistance of evil loosens its power in the aggregate and paves the way for the establishment of a more heavenly life on earth.