Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, preached in Judah during the reigns of Jotham (2 Kgs 15:32-38), Ahaz (2 Kgs 16:1-20), and Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18-20). During Micah’s ministry, Assyria had come against Israel and it had been taken captive. In the people of Judah, Micah saw unfaithfulness to the covenant, pervasive greed, and relentless oppression. Like their northern counterparts, Judah had been unfaithful to the Lord. Nonetheless, Micah proclaimed the Lord’s faithfulness to preserve a remnant of His people and be glorified through them.
Micah’s prophecy shapes the storyline of Scripture by foretelling the birthplace of the Messiah and the divisive nature of His ministry.
(1) In Matt 2:6, the scribes identified Mic 5:2 as the source of the expectation that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Although the Lord sent Israel into exile even during Micah’s ministry—and Judah would be threatened with the same—the prophet announced the day when the Lord’s justice would be seen as He restored His people to their former greatness (Mic 4:9-13). Even from Bethlehem, “small among the clans of Judah” (Mic 5:2), One would come to rule over Israel for God. Micah was so confident that the Lord would deliver His people that he predicted a ruler would arise from even tiny Bethlehem and lead Israel in triumph. When King Herod heard from the Magi that within his jurisdiction a king had been born for the Jews, Herod assembled the chief priests and the scribes to inquire as to the possible whereabouts of such an event. The scribes answered by citing Micah’s prophecy, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matt 2:6). Herod took the word of the Lord seriously and massacred all boys in Bethlehem two years and younger (Matt 2:16-17).
(2) In Matt 10:21, 35-36//Lk 12:53, Jesus said that His ministry would cause family members to oppose one another, reflecting the family divisions Micah described in Mic 7:6. God wanted His people to act justly, love faithfulness, and walk humbly before Him (Mic 6:8). But when Micah surveyed the moral landscape of Judah, he saw the opposite. “The wealthy of the city are full of violence, and its residents speak lies; the tongues in their mouths are deceitful” (Mic 6:12), the prophet said. The people of Judah even turned against their own relatives. “A son considers his father a fool, a daughter opposes her mother,” Micah observed, “and a daughter-in-law is against her mother-in-law; a person’s enemies are the people in his own home” (Mic 7:6). Divisions arose in the families of Judah because the people were selfish and greedy; no one was in the right. Jesus proclaimed that family members would oppose each other as some accepted His kingdom message and others did not. Jesus stated that His kingdom demanded singular allegiance. If a person’s family rejected them because of their identification with Jesus, then division in the family demonstrated that participation in Jesus’ kingdom exceeded the value of peace in the family.