One story

Micah’s predictions were linked with those of Isaiah and Jeremiah by statements that made the three messages a single story of what would happen to Israel over the course of hundreds of years. Each of the three prophets looked at things from a different perspective, but remained consistent in the facts of what they foretold. Essentially, there were three chapters in their story: return from captivity, birth of the Messiah, and last days or the end of time.

The different perspectives of Micah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah’s messages may be attributed to the timing and focus of their writings. Isaiah lived during the glory days of king Uzziah’s reign and was familiar with activities in the royal palace. Micah lived among the people and watched the kingdom unravel as Israel was taken into captivity by Assyria. Jeremiah lived approximately 100 years after Micah, when Israel had already been destroyed and Judah was on its way to being captured by king Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon.

Micah’s prediction that Jerusalem would be destroyed was quoted by Jeremiah’s captors as evidence that the downfall of Judah had been put off because of Micah’s preaching (Jeremiah 26:18). Talking about Judah’s leadership problem, Micah said, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us” (Micah 3:11).

Micah’s straightforward message of condemnation no doubt had a big impact on those who heard it. Micah used vivid language and clear depictions to make his point that Israel was beyond hope. He also gave details that made it possible to verify his predictions. Referring to Judah’s captivity, Micah said, “For now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies” (Micah 4:10).

The exile Micah spoke of occurred in 586 B.C. and Judah’s deliverance began in 538 B.C., almost 200 years after Micah predicted it. Some of the most specific details of the Messiah’s birth and death also came from Micah. He said, “They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:1-2).

An extremely important aspect of Micah’s prophecy that was overlooked or perhaps ignored before Jesus was alive on the earth was the timeline for the Messiah’s reign. After stating that the coming ruler would be someone who had existed before the beginning of time (Micah 5:2), Micah said, “Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth. Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel…for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:3-4).

Clearly, Micah was saying the Messiah would be born, then the remnant would return unto the children of Israel, and afterwards the Messiah’s reign would begin. The confusion about the timing of the remnants return is understandable since the Babylonian captivity ended in 538 B.C., but if you look at Micah’s prophecy in light of Isaiah’s reference to the Lord recovering the remnant of his people a second time (Isaiah 11:11), it makes perfect sense that the Messiah’s reign would begin after the gathering of God’s people from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:12).

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