Have you read Micah lately? He’s a minor prophet whose writings are good reading during Advent, because he foretold the birthplace of Christ. When King Herod the Great wanted to know where the Messiah was expected to be born, the chief priests and teachers of the law inspected scripture and answered by quoting Micah 5:2, 4, which cited Bethlehem. But Micah is also good to read during Advent because his prophecy raised the same issues as Jesus raised in his preaching. Both spoke of neglecting God and his ways in favor of greed and false religion. Both called for repentance and a genuine religious experience.
Micah was a native of the southern portion of God’s chosen nation. He came from the town of Moresheth in Judah, but he spoke to the northern kingdom, Israel, as well as Judah. He preached against dishonesty, idolatry, coveting, greediness, witchcraft, and treachery. He saw the elite of the nation as leading the way to moral corruption, kings and their families, prophets and priests. He complained, “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us” (Mic. 3:11, NIV). Announcing the nation’s sense of false security, he revealed how it fell away from God, and Micah called for repentance and a change of heart as well as behavior.
Yet Micah forecast a reformation among the people and their leaders. He proclaimed hope for the future: “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness” (Mic. 7:8-9, NIV). Micah was a prophet who saw both disaster and deliverance.
His hope extended to the righteousness of the nation and its citizens. They’d become the center of teaching about the Lord, and the world would stream to Jerusalem seeking peace, beating their swords into plowshares. Micah announced God’s rule: “I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem” (Mic. 4:7-8, NIV). Christians see this prophecy fulfilled in the coming of Christ, partially when he first arrived, fully at his second coming.
From Micah, we learn what religion is all about: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8, NIV).
If you haven’t read Micah lately, now is an excellent time to study his wisdom and proclamation.