Written Word


Micah, like the other prophets of his time, warned Israel about the judgement that was coming because they had turned away from God. Their idolatrous practices had earned them “the wages of prostitutes”. (Micah 1:7) Their unfaithfulness incites the emotions of God: he feels betrayed, like a husband whose wife has become involved in an illicit affair. And the effects of Israel’s sin are graphically described: “Her wound,” God says, “is incurable.” (Micah 1:9) There is nothing that can be done for her. And the reason Israel ended up in this pitiful state was that she refused to listen to God’s prophets. However, Micah caustically remarks, “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people.” (Micah 2:11) Israel would learn that there are consequences for continually rejecting God; he will not always be available. “They will cry out to the Lord,” Micah says, ” but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.” (Micah 3:4) The depth of their self-deceit is evident in their remark, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” (Micah 3:11) But God summons them to the bar of justice. “Stand up,” God says, “plead your case… for the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.” (Micah 6:1-2)

What God Has Always Wanted

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, 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.” (Micah 6:6-8) From this scripture we learn that God doesn’t want elaborate, sacrificial offerings coming from a heart that does not love him. What he wants is the daily practice of justice, the extension of mercy to those in need coupled with humility.

Who Is Like Our God?

Israel had grown familiar with the pagan gods they adopted: gods that could not talk or see, gods that could not hear or respond to their cries, gods that needed to be carried. (Isaiah 46:1-6, Jeremiah 10:1-10) They had turned from the true and living God, who was always willing to show mercy and to forgive. As the prophet says, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19) God’s mercy and forgiveness is best appreciated when seen against the background of Israel’s sinfulness, their prostitution with other gods, their betrayal of the one true God, their ingratitude for all they had received from his bountiful hand. All who repent will receive mercy and, to emphasise the extent of God’s forgiveness, the prophet says that God will tread their sins underfoot and hurl their sins into the depths of the sea where they will never be found. Who, indeed, is like our God?

What the Prophet Teaches Us About God

What does the prophet Micah teach us about God?

  1. Sin is not a minor offence but a betrayal of an intimate relationship with God
  2. Mistreating people, especially the poor, does not go unnoticed by God
  3. God will not be found by those who repeatedly refuse to listen to him
  4. God desires a holy lifestyle from his people
  5. God will never forget his ancient promises
  6. God is gracious and forgiving to the penitent