Political scandal is a daily affair. While many are prospering, there seems to be great inequality and heartache among the poor and disenfranchised. The darkness of sin seems rampant in our society, and for many, hope seems like a distant memory. Does this sound like what you may been reading, living or watching? It actually forms the backdrop to the Old Testament book of Micah. Several years ago, I had the joy of preaching this book to my congregation. What I found as I studied was that this prophet named Micah, who was so far removed from me personally, seemed to be so in tune with my world.
Above all, Micah is a book of hope. God shows himself to be a God kind enough to warn us, patient enough to plead with us, and gracious enough to redeem us. There are so many great reasons to preach this book to your congregation, but allow me to offer you three.
1. Micah encourages the normal and unknown pastor.
Micah begins: “The Word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth (1:1).” Two questions strike me instantly, “Who is Micah?” and “Where is Moresheth?” While Micah was a common name (there are 14 Micahs in Scripture), this man is virtually unknown, and Moresheth was essentially a fork in the road. The prophet is mentioned only twice in the Bible, and even then, only nominally. Later in Jeremiah, we learn about the outcome of his ministry (Jeremiah 26:18–19). Essentially, this means you’re reading the sermons from a nobody, who was from nowhere. How is that encouraging? It helps us to see that God uses all kinds of people for his glory.
If you look at the era in which Micah preached, you find that a more well-known prophet: Isaiah. His book is full of powerful quotes (Isaiah 53) and famous stories (Isaiah 6). Isaiah was, for all we know, well-to-do. He was a prophet in the King’s court. At some point in Isaiah’s story, along comes a country boy named Micah. He’s unheard of, probably not well educated, and his message is unpopular. Though Micah is smaller on every level than his contemporary Isaiah, we learn that God used this man to bring revival.
There’s a lesson here for us pastors: Be ourselves. Regardless of where we’re from, who we are or what role we play in the kingdom, if we proclaim God’s truth then we have all the credentials we need. Micah’s strength comes from the statement, “The Word of the Lord that came to Micah (1:1)”—and that should always be our strength as well.
Pastors, have you ever felt as if you were a nobody from nowhere? Do you see the so called “famous” or “well-known” pastors and long to be in their shoes—or maybe just in the bigger church down the street? Thankfully, Micah the prophet should encourage us.
God doesn’t always use the well-known servants. It may be that a “nobody” is exactly who is needed at certain times and certain places. Some commentators have proposed that Micah was so powerful precisely because he was a nobody. He wasn’t caught up in the wealth and glamour that was so prevalent in his day. Instead, his lowly status may have helped his ministry. Be who God has called you to be and serve where God has sovereignly placed you.
2. Micah covers issues of justice, which modern-day Christians think a lot about.
When I first began preaching, I tiptoed around Old Testament books such as Micah. I sinfully and secretly feared that those minor prophets may not have much relevance for my congregation. But in the last 20 years, I’ve learned that all Scripture is extremely relevant (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Some of Micah’s themes seem to be taken from our headlines. As your congregation wrestles with these issues, they’ll find encouragement and guidance.Subscribe to ChurchLeaders!
For example, justice is a huge issue for Micah. He denounces those who oppress the poor (2:1–2), abuse their positions (3:1–3) and rob from the needy (6:9–11). Women and children are cherished, and the exploitation of the innocent is denounced (1:8–9).
Repentance is also a major theme of Micah (3:8). He pronounces “woes” upon the people so that they might turn from their sin and return to God. In that kind of preaching, we find that God cares about how we live, and he cares about the damaging effects sin has on people. We’re told what God requires of us: “to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God” (6:8). But such repentance also carries the promise of forgiveness. Micah promises that God will pardon our iniquity and pass over transgression and have compassion on us (7:18–19). We end this book with hope that we serve a God who is like none other (7:18).
While life on earth will always have injustice and sin, Micah gives us hope that a day is coming when “the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths’” (4:1–2). That great day will not be accomplished politically or militarily, but rather through Christ: “He will stand and Shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD his God, and they shall dwell secure…and shall be their peace (5:4–5).”
Our congregations will find hope for all of life as we shepherd them through the book of Micah.
3. Micah’s fruitfulness grows our confidence in the power of God’s Word.
Unlike the book of Jonah, we will not read in Micah’s book about masses of people repenting. It’s tempting to think that this nobody had no impact. Such is not the case. We learn from another prophet, 100 years after Micah, that his preaching was greatly used by God.
The prophet Jeremiah mentions the preaching ministry of Micah. It’s in Jeremiah 26, where the people want to kill the weeping prophet. But Jeremiah’s life is saved because one elder remembers hearing of Micah’s preaching ministry (Jeremiah 26:18). Not only was the prophet’s life saved, but we learn that during Micah’s day, his preaching led King Hezekiah to revival. It states, “Did he (King Hezekiah) not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and did not the Lord relent of the disaster that he had pronounced against them” (Jeremiah 26:19)? In two verses, we learn that Micah’s preaching was used by God to bring both revival during Micah’s day and pardon during Jeremiah’s day. If we’re ever tempted to doubt the power of God’s Word, let’s remember this moment in biblical history.
We probably don’t assume our sermons will be used by God to bring a national revival—or to save a man’s life long after we’re dead. Maybe our sermons will never have that kind of impact, but one thing is for certain: God’s Word will! Just as sure as God used Micah’s words centuries ago, he promises to surely use them now. So you can’t go wrong preaching this book.
Philipps, Richard D. Jonah and Micah. (New Jersey: P&R), 2010. An excellent resource that helps the reader think about the man and his mission. I love this whole series: Reformed Expository Commentary. All the titles are great, but Phillips does a good job engaging the reader, and helping us to see the times that Micah lived.
Waltke, Bruce. Micah. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 2007. One of the best exegetical resources on the book of Micah. This commentary is referenced quite often in other resources, so going to this scholar will prove to be helpful to your preaching.
Prior, David. The Message of Joel, Micah, and Habakkuk (The Bible Speaks Today, 1999). This commentary series as a whole is a great tool for pastors. They help me think about the main point of the book, and see the book in light of the overarching narrative of Scripture.
This article originally appeared here.
Mark LivingstonMark Livingston is the senior pastor of Keltys First Baptist Church. He also serves as professor of Church Ministries at the Baptist Missionary Associational Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas.