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Preaching on Micah

An overview of the historical background and theology of Micah to help you develop your sermon series and apply it to your hearers.
Preaching on Micah
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Historical Background

The first verse of this book establishes that Micah is the author. Little is known about the prophet Micah beyond what can be learned from the book itself. Micah was from the town of Moresheth (1:1, 14) in southern Judah approximately 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Along with one other reference (1:1; Jer. 26:18), the book tells us that Micah ministered in the days of Jotham (750-731 BC), Ahaz (731-715 BC), and Hezekiah (715-686 BC), all kings of Judah. Most commentators think his references to the imminent fall of Samaria (1:6) puts him as writing this book just prior to 722 BC. His name is the shortened version of “Micaiah” which means “who is like the Lord?” (cf. 7:18).

The prophecy attests to Micah’s deep sensitivity to the social ills of his day, addressed in particular are Samaria and Jerusalem (1:1). The economic prosperity and peace that marked the days of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) were coming to a rapid close. Soon Assyria would overthrow Syria and Israel, and would besiege and threaten Jerusalem in 701 BC, until the Lord intervened for Hezekiah and his people (2 Chr. 32:1-26).

Similarly, as Amos did for Israel, Micah speaks predominantly to Judah and challenges them in relation to their disintegration in person and social moral values. Full of the power of the Spirit of God (3:8) indicts social injustice and religious corruption, much like his contemporary prophets such as Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. In essence, Micah reminds the people that it is folly to ignore the law of God as they are called to live in covenant with him (cf. 5:10-15). Micah’s seeming austere messages of judgment and justice rest on the lofty ethical laws of God’s covenant at Sinai (cf. 6:1-8), an ethic that is intrinsically found in a perfectly holy God.

Yet there is hope proclaimed, as Micah notes that the Lord will gather and protect his elect as their king (2:12-13), the Lord will exalt Jerusalem and reassemble the remnant (4:1-8), he will send his Messiah (5:1-14), and the elect remnant will be forgiven and saved by God (7:1-20). It is encouraging to recall that God used Micah’s preaching to bring about revival in king Hezekiah’s life, and therefore Israel’s (Jer. 26:18-19).

Sermon Series

The Book of Micah is made up of three cycles, and thus any preaching outline should be aware of that overarching structure.

First Cycle (1:1-2:13)
  • 1:1 - The setting and author of the book
  • 1:2-7 - God pronounces coming judgment on Israel for their continual, unrepentant sin.
  • 1:8-16 - Micah mourns and calls for mourning over the coming judgment on Israel and Judah.
  • 2:1-5 - Micah pronounces a woe on those who devise iniquity and oppress their fellow man.
  • 2:6-13 - Micah denounces false prophets who lead the people astray and announces that God will regather the remnant as their great Shepherd-King.
Second Cycle (3:1-5:15)
  • 3:1-12 - Micah condemns rulers who forsake justice, hate good, and love evil, prophets who speak falsehoods for greedy gain, and the people for their transgressions.
  • 4:1-5 - The Day of the Lord will come and the nations will come and worship and live in peace.
  • 4:6-13 - God will restore his remnant; those who have suffered defeat and humiliation will experience victory.
  • 5:1-5a - A call to look to the coming Messiah, the coming ruler from Bethlehem.
  • 5:5b-15 - God will glorify himself amongst all nations by judging his enemies and delivering his people.
Third Cycle (6:1-7:20)
  • 6:1-8 - God makes a divine covenant lawsuit against his people, condemning their lack of justice, humility, and integrity.
  • 6:9-16 - God renders judgment, striking his people with desolation.
  • 7:1-7 - Micah laments over the spiritual condition of his people, but ultimately puts his trust in the God of his salvation.
  • 7:8-13 - A confession of sin and an expression of trust in God.
  • 7:14-20 - God will respond by defeating his enemies and he will have compassion on his people and restore and forgive them in mercy.
Big Ideas

The big ideas for the Book of Micah should be understood within the context of the three cycles that comprise the book, each detailing sin, confession, and restoration. While more than three messages can certainly be preached on this book, that overarching context must be kept in mind.

First Cycle (1:2-2:13)
  • Exegetical Details - Israel is threatened with judgment on account of their sin. This is on the cusp of the Assyrian defeat of the northern kingdom of Israel, where they will be taken into exile (2 Kings 17:7-41). God will not tolerate those who commit ongoing unrepentant evil, nor lying prophets, examples of those who continually break his covenant. However, God will show grace to a believing remnant and guide them as their king.
  • Big Idea - God sees all and will judge evildoers and save and shepherd the humble remnant.
Second Cycle (3:1-5:15)
  • Exegetical Details - God looks upon wicked rulers and prophets and priests who take advantage of and mislead his people into sin and declares that the nation would be destroyed. But in the latter days God will reign and nations will stream to his house to learn his ways. God will bring healing to the land and its people, he will defeat the enemies of Israel, and he will do so through the messianic ruler born in Bethlehem (cf. Matt. 2:6), who will be great to the end of the earth and bring about peace.
  • Big Idea - God holds leaders to a high standard and will judge the wicked and save and reign over his people through the Messiah.
Third Cycle (6:1-7:20)
  • Exegetical Details - Covenantal lawsuit language is used by God to indict the nation of Israel because they have practiced idolatry and injustice when they were called to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (6:8). However, an elect remnant exemplifies repentance as they recognize their sin, acknowledge the consequences they will face, but ultimately express confidence in God’s deliverance and forgiveness. God will defeat evildoers and will pardon iniquity and pass over the transgression of this remnant, showing justice and compassion.
  • Big Idea - God justly calls us to account and will punish injustice and forgive those who turn to him in repentance.


  • God sees and knows all things, we live before his face, and must recognize that he is everywhere-present.
  • God will judge sin, understand there are wages to be paid for wrongdoing.
  • It is good to weep and mourn over sin because godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to life. This is a crucial point to hear as we are often concerned with looking sophisticated and appropriate in all scenarios, but God has called us to recognize sin and tangibly turn from it.
  • Recognize that, as the wicked have taken from the vulnerable and marginalized, God sees and will take vengeance and repay evil for evil.
  • Test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and recognize the lies of false prophets and do not allow them to teach in your churches.
  • Commit yourself as a teacher of God’s Word to teach that which accords with the truth of Scripture and to not wander from that truth.
  • Hope in God, the one who will bring about restoration.
  • Those who operate in leadership roles should act in justice, particularly toward those who are marginalized and oppressed.
  • We must be willing to rebuke and refute false teaching and unjust living and point people toward godly living and faithful doctrine.
  • Hope in the promise of God’s future kingdom fully established on earth where he will rule and reign.
  • Recognize that the consummated kingdom of God will be made up of nations, and be ready to seek to minister now to all tribes, tongues, nations, and languages.
  • God cares for those who are “outsiders,” those who have no privilege or position in society, and in the church we should recognize, regardless of our social status, that we are equal before God and should love each other.
  • In this life we will suffer and be persecuted, but we trust in the fact that God will come and judge all of his enemies and save his people.
  • Look to Messiah for salvation, he has come fulfilling every prophecy.
  • Submit to Messiah as king, he is the one to whom we look and serve trusting that he will bring about ultimate peace.
  • Trust that God will keep his promises, his enemies will be cut off, and God will execute righteous vengeance.
  • Heed the Word of the Lord and respond to what he is calling you to do, he gives grace and demands our obedience.
  • Recognize that God calls you to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before him.
  • The Lord disciplines those whom he loves; embrace this and allow it to yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness in your life.
  • Mourn over sin, allow godly sorrow to lead you to repentance.
  • God disciplines, confess and repent and wait for the Lord’s timing in all that he will accomplish.
  • Acknowledge that God forgives sin and take joy in the God of our salvation.
  • Have confidence before your enemies and the adversary, the devil, because God will raise up his humble, repentant people.
  • Enjoy the forgiveness of God, especially as outlined in our new covenant context, and share it with others.
  • Praise God, acknowledging that no one is like him, he is merciful and gracious and will have compassion on us.

Theological Themes

God wants his people to hear and heed the word that he has spoken to us (1:2; 3:1; 6:1).

Each of the three cycles move in a similar pattern: first, God denounces the sin of his people; second, God will judge his enemies; third, God will save his people who are humble, repentant, and looking to him for mercy. As such, this book contains a great deal regarding the doctrine of sin and salvation.

The doctrine of God is also spoken of powerfully. It is clearly seen that God will glorify himself in judgment and salvation. God is faithful to his covenant promises, both to judge for disobedience and to bless for grace-empowered obedience. He is the Sovereign of the universe who is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love, but who will by no means clear the guilty.

Micah 7:7-10 offers some of the most beautiful language there is about repentance, confession of sin, and not listening to the insults of God’s enemies but trusting in God’s kind provision of forgiveness and restoration. It would do us well to go to this text more often to highlight what repentance looks like and how God works in and through us.

My Encounter with Micah

The series I did on this book I entitled “Who Is a God Like You?” which is based on the meaning of Micah’s name and captures the fact that this book is about the character of God. Every commentator I read broke the book down by means of the three cycles as detailed above. Each of these cycles has a similar pattern of indictment for sin, a call to repentance, judgment of God’s enemies, and healing and restoration for those who humble themselves and repent. While somewhat redundant it gives our people the opportunity to focus on the key doctrines of sin and repentance, as well as see God’s character and covenant faithfulness.

It seems that the Minor Prophets are a neglected portion of our preaching from Scripture. They can feel dismal and distant, speaking much about judgment and sin and rebellion. However, these books are an amazing pathway to speak of the gospel and everyone’s need to repent and place faith in Jesus the Messiah. My hope is that this book would awaken people to God’s holiness and call them to repentance, reminding them of God’s kindness and his promises to restore and save. It is also a reminder of how God can use the preached Word to bring about change and revival and to continue to proclaim it faithfully.


T. Desmond Alexander, T. Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, TOTC (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009).

Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, and Micah, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976).

Bruce Waltke, A Commentary on Micah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).

Jeremy Kimble is Assistant Professor of Theology at Cedarville University and the author of '40 Questions About Church Membership and Discipline' (Kregel, 2017).

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