Why do I keep putting off writing this Micah review? I’ve been busy lately, but that’s nothing new. Hey that rhymed. It was an accident. I ain’t tryna make a poem out of this. Anyway as I’m sitting here forcing myself to start writing it, I’m realizing the problem – Micah is like the prophet book equivalent of vanilla ice cream. Take the most generic, stripped-down and standardized “prophet book” outline and then write only that, and you’ve got Micah. No frills and nothing novel or interesting to jazz it up. No major hook.
No hot gingers
No whoore wives
No Samuel L. Jackson reading (or sorta reading) its verses in a classic movie
No bears eating children
Just another prophet blabbing about God’s plans to inflict violent punishment on his people. Yaaawwwn. OH WAIT – I actually did just remember one thing: This is apparently one of those Old Testament books that the New Testament later references as a supposed prophecy about the coming of Christ. So, I guess it does have one thing going for it, but unfortunately there’s not much I can even say about that until I get to the part of the New Testament that references it. I need context. Well o.k., I’ll do what I can for now.
Micah lived and prophesied during the 8th century B.C., during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (per usual see my handy chart of kings for reference). That puts him in the same general timeframe as Isaiah, overlapping Hosea as well. The book starts off the way all the books of the prophets do, with God making Micah a prophet and telling him to tell the people of Judah and/or Israel (in this case it seems to be mostly Judah and Samaria) that they are disobedient jerks and God is going to punish them harshly.
1:6 “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations. 1:7 All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes, as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.”
As you can see, God starts with Samaria. His anger then moves onto Judah, and trust me, they don’t fare much better. The sins of the people as listed in Micah are the following:
- “2:2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance.” Well hey, that’s not nice.
- Acting as false prophets for $$
- General abuse of power
- Being unjust, judges taking bribes
So as always, God will punish the people with … violence. Natch. This basically comprises the first 3 chapters, and then chapter 4 moves into the phase where God says he’s going to eventually restore Jerusalem and his people as a nation. “Pleeasse baby baby please I’m sorry I had to hurt you but it was for your own good … now I got you some flowers!!”
4:10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies. 4:11 But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” 4:12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. 4:13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.
So there you have it. We already know about Jerusalem being re-established from Nehemiah and Ezra, along with nearly all the books of prophets which have also referenced it. So far, so predictable. But then we come to chapter 5, and that’s when it gets a little … weird. Prophetic? Baby Jesus? Is that you?
5:1 Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 5:3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 5:4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
Hmmmm? A ruler from Bethlehem … when she who is in labor bears a son … he will shepherd his flock and his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth? Sounds awfully similar to a certain only begotten son who isn’t supposed to show up until the New Testament …
5:5 And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, 5:6 who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders.
Err … oh. Of course I haven’t gotten to the New Testament yet, but I don’t think it’s going to involve Jesus defeating the Assyrians. I don’t think that’s actually something he did. Or that he would have needed to do, I mean wasn’t the Assyrian Empire mostly brought down like 600 years before Jesus’ birth? And there’s also the small matter of “Bethlehem Ephratah” as referred to here, vs. the actual town of Bethlehem. Are they the same thing? Micah seems to be referring to a clan of Judah rather than the town – Bethlehem was a grandson of Caleb and his second wife, Ephrathah, as told by 1st Chronicles. But even there, it’s told in such a ridiculously confusing way that it’s extremely unclear whether Bethlehem is a person or a town of people. Soo … yeah. Who the eff knows what Micah chapter 5 is talking about and what kind of drugs Micah was on when he prophesied all this, but I believe the book of Matthew is where this all pops up again, so I will certain keep my eyes peeled for it. We’ll check back on this prophecy when we get there.
O.k. uhhh so what happens next? Two more chapters that are much lamer than chapter 5, that’s what. Let’s see …… oh right. Back to the same old crap again: God makes his case against Israel (err – again mainly Judah, I think), including some specific sins they have committed, God tells them how he’s gonna punish them, God says he’s going to help Israel (Judah) rise back up again after he destroys them. The End.
7:18 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. 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 7:20 You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
OMGosh aawwww God is so cool and sweet!! Yay.
There has been a very clear trend in these books in which I agree with several of the things that God considers as sins, but I vehemently disagree with the way he chooses to punish the people for said sins. As mentioned earlier, I certainly agree with Micah and God that seizing fields, defrauding people of their homes, and robbing people of their inheritance is extremely bad and is not behavior that should be tolerated. General injustice and abuse of power are bad. But aren’t there better ways to deal with such things than war & violence & destruction?
The good news is that once Zion is reestablished, and Jerusalem rebuilt, everything’s gonna be awesome and suuuper chill.
4:2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4:3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4:4 Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
Chapter 6 also mentions that God wants his people to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [their] God.” Sweet!! All this sounds amazing! But is that really what happens to humanity after God reestablishes Zion? Uhhh … because a lot of people in today’s world certainly aren’t following those rules.
I think I pretty much mentioned all the bad stuff already. It’s the same bad stuff as always. God claims to be compassionate and merciful and yet we see him causing war and destruction over and over again. Like a broken record.
I guess the 1 point is for the possible callback that we’ll see in Matthew, which is kinda interesting, and for the couple/few verses in here that are somewhat decent. Maybe it’s more than I should give, but I’m tired and don’t want to think about it anymore. Next book up is Nahum. 3 chapters, woot!