Reflections on the prophet Micah 1

In April, May and June I posted some thoughts on what I had been reading in the first 13 chapters of the major prophet, Jeremiah1.

Towards the end of May and into early June I read my way through one of the minor prophets, Micah2, reading a chapter (more or less) every day or two.

As I read, I journal. This journalling may take the form of observations or comments about the text. It may be questions that the text raises for me, or ideas or concepts that I don’t grasp (either fully, or at all). My journalling can also be prayers that form as I read. I will also ask questions of the Lord by writing them down and then journalling what drops into my mind after that. Most of my journalling is in narrative form, but it occasionally comes as dot points (particularly if I am noting some comments or observations about a number of verses in succession).

Anyway, as I was reading/journalling/praying my way through Micah I made a separate note of particular verses or passages that struck me with a mind to eventually writing this particular post.

Micah chapter 1 opens with, “The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:1 from the NASBĀ®)3

The naming of these kings during which Micah prophesied gives us a date range of between 750 and 700BC for the full reigns of these kings, or from 736 to 715BC as a minimum for the last year of Jotham’s reign to the first year of Hezekiah’s reign. The prophesy is also addressed to both Samaria and Jerusalem. Samaria was exiled by the Assyrians in 722BC so we get a reasonable date range for Micah.

From verses 2 through 7 Micah warns that the Lord is about to bring judgement upon both Israel and Judah: “For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.” (Micah 1:3)

Verse 5 is interesting for it apportions blame between Samaria/Israel and Judah/Jacob:

All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (Micah 1:5)

The Lord blames the northern kingdom of Samaria for its part in the rebellion of the southern kingdom of Jacob. This was due to the influence of the north over the south towards idolatry. But in the second half of the verse the Lord asks who is responsible for the high places4 in Judah - and the answer is Jerusalem.

Even in these few verses we see why an understanding of the history, geography and nomenclature of these times and people is important. The northern kingdom is also known as Israel or Samaria and basically comprised the ten tribes of Israel (excluding the tribes of Judah and Benjamin). These two other tribes formed the southern kingdom and were also known as Judah or Jerusalem. The northern kingdom was exiled by the Assyrians in 722BC. The southern kingdom kicked on for another 140-odd years until being exiled to Babylon in several waves around 590-580BC.

But back to Micah chapter 1. In verses 8 and 9 we see Micah’s modus operandi:

Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable, For it has come to Judah; It has reached the gate of my people, Even to Jerusalem.

Micah will lament and wail. He will be barefoot and naked5. He will dress and behave as someone who is being taken into exile. He will make an example of his life as a warning to both kingdoms of what is coming unless they repent.

Seeing someone walking down the street in their undies, barefoot, wailing like a jackal and screeching like an ostrich would certainly garner attention!

  1. The major prophets were/are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. They are called ‘major’ not because what they wrote was necessarily more important, but because they wrote more than the otherwise labelled ‘minor prophets’. ↩︎

  2. In contrast to the major prophets, the minor prophets wrote less that is recorded in the Bible. There are twelve minor prophets namely Hosea, Amos, Zechariah, Zephaniah, Micah, Jonah, Obadiah, Haggai, Habakkuk, Joel, Nahum, and Malachi. ↩︎

  3. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation. ↩︎

  4. where altars to other gods were placed. ↩︎

  5. not totally naked, but stripped of his outer garments. ↩︎