Module 27: The Need for a Teacher - God's Authority
Module Guide: Isaiah - The Prophet of the Theocracy; and Micah - Authority, False and True
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Isaiah was a prophet of Judah. He exercised his ministry wholly within her borders, and with a view to her correction and comfort. His burdens of the nations were uttered concerning those which surrounded Judah and had harassed her. His outlook was world-wide, and inclusive of the whole purpose of God. Profoundly conscious of the intention of God that through His people all peoples should be blessed, he saw through all the processes of judgment the ultimate blessing of the whole earth.
The book as a whole sets forth the two facts of Judgment and Peace, and shows their inter-relation in the economy of God. Dealing first with Judgment, his messages show how it ever proceeds to Peace. Dealing finally with Peace, they show how it is always conditioned in Righteousness. Between these principal parts of the book is an historical section, the first part of which is related to the Judgment prophecies, and the second to those concerning Peace.
Isaiah's messages were delivered during a dark period in the history of the people. He lived and taught during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Contemporary with him, Hosea was prophesying to Israel, and Micah to Judah.
The unity of the teaching is conspicuous, and is the chief argument in favour of the unity of authorship.
The book naturally falls into three parts: Prophecies of Judgment (1-35); Historical Interlude (36-39); Prophecies of Peace (40-66).
Prophecies of Judgment
The prophecies of judgment move in three circles, the first of which deals with Judah and Jersualem, the second with the nations and the world, the third with the chosen and the world.
The prophecies dealing with the judgment of Judah and Jerusalem were delivered during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz. The first five chapters contain the messages delivered during the reign of Uzziah. The prophet first impeached the whole nation. Having summoned the heavens and the earth to attention, he uttered Jehovah's complaint that "Israel doth not know. My people doth not consider," and made his appeal to them to learn wisdom from their stricken condition. He then proceeded in the name of Jehovah to correct their false notions of religion, declaring that while they had been satisfied with things external, He had sought righteousness and judgment. After having uttered the call of Jehovah, which was full of grace and tenderness, Isaiah described the corruption of the city and the consequent judgment which was necessary for restoration, declaring at the same time that there is a judgment which is reprobation in the case of persistent sin.
After the impeachment, the prophet uttered a great appeal, in which he first described the latter days in which the Lord's house is to be established, the law is to proceed from Zion, and the issue is to be peace. Then, calling them to walk in the light of the Lord, he declared what that light revealed of existing corruption and consequent judgment, appealing to them to cease from man. Following this he described in detail the judgment of a corrupt society, which must fall upon the unjust rulers and the people who had submitted to their rule. With a keen understanding of the corruption of society and its reason, he declared the judgment of Jehovah must fall upon the women who were haughty, who had lived in luxury, and whose influence had been evil in the life of the nation. The great appeal ends with another vision of the latter day, which he described as to its material prosperity, its moral purity, and its mighty protection.
Finally he denounced the nation, first by singing to them the song of the vineyard, in which he showed how utterly they had failed to fulfil the Divine purpose. Therefore he pronounced woes against monopoly, dissipation, unbelief, moral confusion, conceit, and the perversion of justice. It was because of these things that the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the prophet foretold the coming of the scourge.
The second part of the first circle of prophecy contains the messages of Isaiah during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz. When Uzziah died, Isaiah was called to the exercise of a larger ministry, and was prepared for the same by the special vision granted to him. It was a vision of the glory and the grace of Jehovah. He was revealed as One Who was at once the centre of adoring worship, and Who heard the sigh of the sinner in his need, and stayed the song of the seraph in order that that cry of need might be answered.
Following the vision and the prophet's cleansing, he was commissioned to the ministry of judgment. Immediately following this new call, the prophet encountered Ahaz, and in consequence of his obstinacy, foretold the judgment which would fall upon Judah by the coming of the Assyrian hosts.
After this encounter the prophet turned from his more public ministry to devote himself to a small circle of believing souls. He was instructed to bind the testimony and seal the law, and his children were to be for signs and wonders to the people. Turning to the work of instructing this small group, the prophet described to them the false way of seeking familiar spirits and wizards, with the disastrous results of doing so; and then delivered to them the message of hope, which culminated in a glorious description of the coming Deliverer.
This is followed by a prophecy of judgment on Israel, which falls into four distinct parts, each ending with the words: "For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." Through all the methods of judgment the afflicted people manifested stubbornness of heart and persistence in wickedness, so that the anger of the Lord could not be turned away, but His afflicting hand continued to be outstretched.
The prophecy of judgment upon Assyria comes next in order. Assyria was the power which Jehovah was about to use for the punishment of His people, but because it failed to understand its true relation to God, it must in turn be judged. The prophet first indicated this contrast of intention. Jehovah's intention was that the Assyrian should be the rod in His hand. The Assyrian intention was to destroy the people of God. Therefore Assyria must also be judged. Nevertheless the purpose of God would be fulfilled, and the prophecy ends with a graphic description of the Assyrians' approach, and of the judgment which would fall upon the chosen people by their coming.
With judgment imminent, the prophet yet saw the ultimate issue of it all. He described the coming Deliverer, which description is followed by songs celebrating His victories.
The second circle of the first division contains Isaiah's prophecies concerning the nations of the world. He first described the doom of Babylon. Media was to be the instrument of the destruction, and the issue thereof was intended to be the restoration of Israel through the compassion of Jehovah. Anticipating the day of restoration, the prophet put into the mouth of Israel the parable or song which celebrates the downfall. This moves in five distinct strophes, the first of which describes the overthrow and the consequent rest of the whole earth. The second speaks of the consternation of the underworld at the fall of Babylon. The third declares the sin which culminates in such destruction. The completeness of destruction is the subject of the fourth. The final strophe announces the utter extermination of Babylon.
There follows a fragment concerning Assyria, in which the prophet reaffirmed Jehovah's intention to break its power.
That concerning Philistia is of the nature of a warning spoken to her. Although she oppressed the people of God, she was herself in peril. She was not to rejoice because the rod which smote her was broken, for there were other forces at the disposal of Jehovah, and they threatened her.
The prophecy concerning Moab commences by describing her desolation. A catastrophe would overtake her in a night, the result of which would be the mourning of her people, and their scattering far and wide. The prophet declared, moreover, that this visitation of Moab would be in fulfilment of an ancient prophecy, and that at last the time limit was actually set.
The burden of Damascus announces its doom. It is evident, however, that the prophet had in mind the alliance which had been entered into by Israel or Ephraim with Damascus. The doom of Damascus would mean the destruction of the fortress of Ephraim. The prophet then proceeded to describe the judgment of Ephraim which would issue from the destruction of Damascus, and he declared that the effect produced would be that of compelling men to look to Jehovah rather than to idols. The reason of this visitation was that Ephraim had forgotten God.
In the midst of these burdens of the nations we have a soliloquy of the prophet, which falls into two sections. The first reveals his consciousness of the opposing peoples, and of Jehovah as perfect defence. The second is of the nature of a proclamation to certain ambassadors, who were charged to return to their people, and to wait for Jehovah.
Immediately following this soliloquy we have the burden of Egypt. Jehovah's advent will result in the destruction of idols, in civil war, in failure in counsel, and in the government of the Egyptian people by a cruel lord and a false king. This day of visitation will be one of physical catastrophe. The waters of the Nile will fail, and consequently all industry - fishing, weaving, and building - will be paralyzed. Yet the prophet saw hope even for Egypt, and with the far-reaching vision of faith he saw both Egypt and Assyria joined in the worship of Jehovah, and ultimately a triple alliance of Israel, Egypt, and Assyria made a blessing in the midst of the earth.
Turning again to Babylon, the prophet described the whirlwind sweeping against it, and so terrible was the sight that he was filled with horror.
Very brief but very forceful is the burden of Dumah. The prophet had heard some inquiring voice demanding the hour of the night. In briefest words he answered that he saw morning and night, and invited further inquiry.
The burden of Arabia consists of a vision and an interpretation. The vision is that of a fugitive people. The interpretation announces the coming of judgment within a year upon the children of Kedar.
In the midst of the prophecies concerning the nations occurs one of protest against the indifference of Jerusalem to the things concerning which the prophet is speaking. He first described the joyous people as they stood in contrast to him with his sorrow and his broken heart. It was a day in which Jehovah had called to mourning, and they were full of merriment. This was an unpardonable sin, as it revealed their callousness. Immediately following this protest, the prophet uttered his denunciation of Shebna, declaring that he would be rejected from his office, and his place be taken by Eliakim.
The burden of Tyre is a graphic description of her desolation. Her harbours are closed. Her borders are desolate. The sea, which had been her highway, is abandoned, and Egypt her ally is affrighted at the report. This desolation is the act of Jehovah. After seventy years the prophet declared that she should be visited by Jehovah, and restored to a position of affluence. There is in the prophecy no hint of any turning to God on the part of Tyre. Her restoration was to be, in some way, of service to God's own people.
In the last chapters of the second circle the prophet takes a wider outlook, and the world is seen under the government of the throne of God. In consequence of widespread corruption, widespread desolation is determined upon. The earth is seen to mourn and fade away, devoured by a curse, while all mirth ceases. This prophecy of world-wide judgment ends with the declaration that it will be by the act of Jehovah, and will issue in perfect victory. There follows immediately a song of praise for judgment both in its procedure and in its results, which results are to be the spreading of a feast in the mountain of the Lord, and His illumination of the nations, followed by the ending of sorrow and the wiping away of tears. Naturally following this prophecy of praise is the great song which would be sung in the day of Jehovah's ultimate victory. The deep secret of the new condition will be that of the mind stayed on Jehovah. Remembering that he was still speaking in the midst of circumstances of judgment, and that its processes must proceed to consummation, the prophet uttered the final call to the people of God, urging them to quietness and patience until the indignation be overpassed. This circle ends with a message which describes the process toward ultimate restoration, and announces its certainty. The way is the way of judgment. The first issue of judgment would be the restoration of the chosen people, and to this he referred under the figure of the vineyard. The figure here stands in striking contrast to the way in which it appeared in chapter five.
The third and last circle consists of a series of prophecies concerning the chosen and the world. It opens with a graphic revelation of the difficulties with which Isaiah had to contend, and of his unswerving loyalty to the truth. In answer to his declaration that judgment was to fall upon Ephraim; priests and prophets, overcome by strong drink, taunted him with the slowness of his speech and its halting method. He answered them by declaring that there was another method of speech, and, moreover, that there was a purpose in the halting method which he had adopted. He then warned them of their folly, declaring that their false covenant with death should be disannulled, and urging them to cease their scorning.
A series of declamations follows this picture. The first sets forth the purpose of Jehovah in judgment. The prophet then denounced an alliance with Egypt, declaring the shame of it and its uselessness, and proceeded to foretell again the destruction of Assyria. A second time he denounced the alliance with Egypt, declaring it to be a false trust consequent upon the turning of their back upon Jehovah.
The prophet then described the reign of the coming King, which is to be characterized by the establishment of order, and the consequent creation of refuge and refreshment for all who are in distress. The beneficent effects of such a reign will be the restoration of sensibility, and of a tvve sense of values in which men will know violence and call it by its right name, recognizing true nobility. Evidently conscious of how different were the circumstances described, to those in the midst of which he was exercising his ministry, he made his appeal to the women. This recognition of the influence of women, for the second time in the course of this volume, is a revelation of the prophet's keen insight and accurate apprehension of one of the most prolific causes of national disaster. A degraded womanhood always creates a dissipated and enervated manhood.
After the great message the prophet celebrated a victory, and predicted the method of the final triumph. The presence of God is a fire filling the heart of the sinner with fear, while the righteous dwell in safety in the midst of its burning.
The last two chapters of the first division reveal the prophet's breadth of outlook. He saw, in the future, world-wide desolation. From this wide outlook he passed to a description of the judgment of God upon Edom, which illustrates the larger truth already declared. The final word stands in startling contrast. Following the picture of desolation, we have one of restoration. The whole earth was seen in the former as brought into confusion and emptiness. Now we observe the restoration of the natural order. Thus, at the close, as throughout the whole of this great division, God is seen moving through judgment toward peace.
This interlude has to do wholly with events transpiring in the reign of Hezekiah. The first was that of Sennacherib's invasion. The hosts of Assyria were assembled in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and Rabshakeh was sent as an ambassador of Sennacherib. With pride amounting to insolence he taunted the rulers who came out to confer with him. Full of fear, they requested him to speak in Aramaic, that the Jews might not understand. To this he responded by addressing himself directly to the people still in the Hebrew tongue, bidding them trust neither Hezekiah nor Jehovah. Instructed by Hezekiah, the people maintained a dignified silence.
In this hour of trial Hezekiah sent messages to Isaiah, who returned to him an answer full of hope. Rabshakeh having returned to his master, an insolent and blasphemous letter was sent to Hezekiah, which he spread out before Jehovah. While he thus waited upon Jehovah, Isaiah sent him a message declaring the coming judgment of God upon Sennacherib on account of his sin of blasphemy. By the direct act of Jehovah the Assyrian army was destroyed, and Sennacherib, returning to Nineveh, was slain by his own sons.
We next have an account of Hezekiah's sickness and of his prayer that his life might be spared, with the answer vouchsafed. In connection with this story there is preserved for us the psalm which Hezekiah wrote. The first part of it is descriptive of the days of darkness and anguish through which he had passed, while the latter celebrates his deliverance by Jehovah. This psalm makes it evident that he recognized his affliction, as well as his deliverance, as within the method of God's discipline, for in the course of it he exclaimed, "O Lord, by these things men live."
The last event chronicled in this historical interlude is that of Hezekiah's folly. Flattered by the letters and present sent to him from the king of Babylon, he exposed all his wealth to the messengers. Isaiah visited him, and evidently understanding the sinister motive of the king of Babylon, predicted the coming of a day in which Babylon should carry away all the things which the spies had seen.
Prophecies of Peace
The prophecies of peace move in three circles. The first deals with the purpose of peace; the second with the Prince of peace; the third with the programme of peace.
The prophecies dealing with the purpose of peace are introduced by a prologue, which declares their burden, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people." A voice calls for the preparation of a highway in the wilderness for the march of God, and the prophet is commissioned to announce the advent of Jehovah God.
Immediately following the prologue, the majesty of Jehovah is celebrated, first, in its essentials of might, of Avisdom, and of government; secondly, by the impossibility of comparison; thirdly, by the evidences in creation of the established government of the earth and of the heavens; and finally, by the grace which knows the way, and out of the inherent strength of Jehovah supplies the need of such as lack.
The great manifesto of Jehovah comes next in order. It declares the Divine choice of Cyrus as a servant of God. The presentation of the servant is preceded by an argument, in which Jehovah challenges all peoples as to the fact that He has made known beforehand things to come. In the midst of this argument Israel is addressed as the chosen servant of God, and Jehovah's purpose for them is declared to be that of peace, through which they will be able to fulfil their high and holy vocation. Yet the people are seen in such condition as to prove their inability to fulfil the Divine purpose in their own strength. There is neither man nor counsellor who is able to answer when God calls. Therefore all His highest purposes are to be realized in one Man in order that ultimately they may be realized in the nation. While the eyes of the prophet in the whole vision were fixed upon Cyrus, it is evident that he was looking far beyond him to Another. The description of the Servant of Jehovah is full of stately beauty. He is presented in Person, His manifestation is announced, His commission declared. His method described, and His might foretold. This Servant of God was to be called, held, and given by Jehovah, and that for the glory of His name. In view of His coming the whole earth is called upon to sing, as Jehovah declares His purpose of moving through passion to peace. The prophet appealed to the people to hear, look, and understand the meaning of the Divine method.
Following the manifesto we have certain messages of Jehovah. The first declares His perpetual purpose for His people. He created, formed, and called them for His glory. The next declares His present purpose of deliverance, affirming His intention to destroy their foes, making an appeal to the people, promising the outpouring of the Spirit in blessing upon Israel, with resultant blessing to others. He then compares Himself with idols, claiming to be the first and the last, alone knowing and declaring, and describing with fine scorn the vanity of idol makers and the unprofitableness of idols made. In startling contrast, and in words full of beauty. He speaks of His own might.
Next in order we have His charge to Cyrus, consisting of the making of a promise, the declaration of a purpose, the claiming of power, and a protest against objections. Following this He announces His purpose for Israel, that all the peoples shall submit to them. Finally, He declares His purpose for the ends of the earth, calling upon the nations to compare Him with idols, and to submit to Him in order to find salvation. All these messages of Jehovah are introduced by the prophet by the same formula, "Thus saith the Lord."
The fall of Babylon is the subject of the next message, which is delivered to the house of Jacob, to the remnant of Israel, and first declares that the fall of Babylon is determined upon. This declaration is the occasion of a striking contrast between the false gods and Jehovah. They are seen bowing down and stooping, while men have to carry them in an attempt to place them in safety. He is the One Who has carried His people, and will continue so to do. The fall of Babylon is then described as degradation from high position, as disgrace amid the nations, as desolation after luxury and boastfulness, and as destruction utter and complete.
The section dealing with the Purpose of Peace ends with a final appeal, in which Jehovah declares that His method is that of prophecy and performance. Because of their obstinacy He had declared from of old what He would do. For His name's sake He would defer His anger. An illustration of the method is that of the calling of Cyrus. He finally declares again that His purpose is their peace and their redemption. The last word of the section is, "There is no peace, saith Jehovah, unto the wicked."
In the next section the Prince of Peace is presented to our view. In a series of remarkable messages we see Him first sustained through suffering, and then singing in triumph. The Servant is Himself the speaker, and He tells the story of His call by Jehovah. Conscious of His own call, He yet complains that His labour has been in vain. To that complaint Jehovah replies by speaking again of His first purpose for Him, and declaring that the purpose is enlarged. The despised and exalted One is yet to be the messenger of deliverance to the oppressed people. In answer to this, Zion declares that Jehovah has forgotten her. The reply is that He cannot forget, and that deliverance is certain. Jehovah challenges the complaining people to produce proof that He has cast them off, and declares the reason of all their suffering to be their own sin. In all this it is evident Jehovah is calling His Servant to a triumph which can only be won through suffering. The Servant answers by consecrating Himself to the processes, while His eyes are set upon the issue. He yields Himself to the smiters and to all the suffering and shame. Out of this consecration comes courage. The ministry of suffering is then described. An appeal is made to those who sit in darkness to trust in God. Then the faithful remnant is charged to be courageous and to rest in the assurance of the comfort of God, and in His promise of succour. Messages follow to such as are afflicted, which tell of the coming end of suffering, and the beginning of strength, as the result of the return of Jehovah. An account of the completion of the suffering of the Servant follows these messages. The pathway of suffering is described in the plaintive and wonderful language with which all are familiar. It is a pathway of rejection, of vicarious suffering, of atoning death. Yet it is the pathway which leads to triumph, and the Servant of God is seen as He passes through pain to prosperity, through travail to triumph, through humbling to exaltation.
Immediately after this description of the suffering Servant of God there follows a section which contains the story of triumph. First there is a song of assurance, which tells of restoration, and of the end of all forsaking. The glory of that restoration is described in its material magnificence, in its moral rectitude, and in its mighty defence. Upon the basis of the suffering and triumph, and immediately following the song, is a message containing a great appeal. The thirsty and the dissatisfied are called back to Jehovah in order that they may enter into the peace and prosperity which are the portion of those who hear His word and obey it. The section ends with a description of the administration of the kingdom. In view of the promise of salvation, and of the fact that salvation is near, the man is pronounced blessed who submits himself. Moreover, the strangers and all who have suffered loss through loyalty to Him are to have an assured place in the restoration. Evil is to be judged, and the judgment must first fall upon the spiritual leaders because of their pollution and their neglect of the righteous. It is also to fall upon all the apostate people. Judgment is, however, as always in the economy of Jehovah, to be discriminative. The high and lofty One will dwell in fellowship with such as are of contrite and humble spirit. This section presenting the Prince of Peace ends with the same declaration as does the first - "There is no peace, saith Jehovah, unto the wicked."
The last section deals with the Programme of Peace, and declares, first, what are its conditions. The prophet condemns formalism which is punctilious in its observance of all external things, and yet complains that there has been no response on the part of God, declaring that the reason for this silence is that the fasting has been formal and not sincere. He then describes what true religion is, and declares what are its rewards. Recognizing the fact that God has not appeared on behalf of His people, the prophet breaks out into a great confession, in which he first describes the sin of the people, then their suffering, and finally confesses the sin. Having thus declared the moral requirement, and confessed moral failure, he proceeds to speak of the moral victory, which is assured. This is based upon Jehovah's knowledge, and will result from Jehovah's judgment being carried out by Jehovah's Redeemer.
In messages full of beauty, the prophet next describes the ultimate realization of peace, first as to its material prosperity. In the midst of darkness light shines, and the exiles are seen returning from far and near, bearing wealth with them, and followed by the peoples. The city of God is established, and at last there comes a day of perfect government, perfect glory, perfect gladness. Beneath the material realization there is spiritual realization, which the prophet then describes. This is brought about by the anointed Messenger, through Whose work the people are restored to their true place in the economy of God. Thus, issuing from the material and spiritual realizations, the vocational fulfilment is described. The old names "Forsaken" and "Desolate" are changed for new ones - "Hephzi-bah" and "Beulah."
The last messages of the book reaflfirm the Divine principle of discrimination. The glorious victories which have been described can only be won through processes of judgment. It would seem as though the prophet lifted his eyes and saw, in clear though distant outline, the last goings forth of God in judgment, with the things resulting therefrom. He saw the Warrior returning from the fight, stained with the conflict, but marching in the might and majesty of the victory won. The vision called forth his praise, his confession, and his prayer, which move in orderly sequence. He then described the sifting of the people. The rebellious are doomed, while such as are the servants of the Most High are led into the realization of all His high purpose of Peace. The great prophecy closes with the reaffirmation of the coming of Jehovah as a whirlwind, to plead by fire with men, and to bring in the new heavens and the new earth.
PART A: PROPHECIES OF JUDGEMENT - Isaiah 1:1-35:10
A.1. First Circle. Judah and Jerusalem - Isa. 1:1-12:6
- During the Reign of Uzziah - 1:1-5:30
- During the Reigns of Jotham and Ahaz - 6:1-12:6
A.2. Second Circle. The Nations and the World - Isa. 13:1-27:13
- Babylon - 13:1-14:23
- Assyria - 14:24-14:27
- Philistia - 14:28-14:32
- Moab - 15:1-16:14
- Damascus and Israel - 17:1-17:11
- (Interlude - Prophet's Solilquy) - 17:12-18:7
- Egypt - 19:1-20:6
- Babylon - 21:1-21:10
- Edom - 21:11-21:12
- Arabia - 21:13-21:17
- Jerusalem - 22:1-22:25
- Tyre - 23:1-23:18
- The World - 24:1-27:13
A.3. Third Circle. The Chosen and the World - Isa. 28:1-35:10
- The Chosen - 28:1-33:24
- The World - 34:1-35:10
Part B: HISTORICAL INTERLUDE - Isaiah 36:1-39:8
B.1. Hezekiah's Trouble - Isa. 36:1-36:22
B.2. Hezekiah's Prayer - Isa. 37:1-37:38
B.3. Hezekiah's Sickness - Isa. 38:1-38:22
B.4. Hezekiah's Folly - Isa. 39:1-39:8
Part C: PROPHECIES OF PEACE - Isaiah 40:1-66:24
C.1. The Purpose of Peace - Isa. 40:1-48:22
- (Prologue) - 40:1-40:11
- The Majesty of Jehovah - 40:12-40:31
- The Manifesto of Jehovah - 41:1-42:25
- The Messages of Jehovah - 43:1-45:25
- The Fall of Babylon - 46:1-47:15
- The Final Appeal - 48:1-48:22
C.2. The Prince of Peace - Isa. 49:1-57:21
- Sustained through Suffering - 49:1-53:12
- Jehovah's Call - 49:1-50:3
- His Servant's Answer - 50:4-53:12
- Singing in Triumph - 54:1-57:21
- The Song of Assurance - 54:1-54:17
- The Great Appeal - 55:1-55:13
- The Administration - 56:1-57:21
C.3. The Programme of Peace - Isa. 58:1-66:24
- The Declaration of Conditions - 58:1-59:21
- The Ultimate Realization - 60:1-62:12
- The Principle of Discrimination - 63:1-66:24
Micah prophesied in the early part of the reign of king Hezekiah. He was contemporary with Isaiah. He began his ministry after Uzziah's death, and it must have closed in the early part of Hezekiah's reign, for the idolatries which he rebuked were done away at Hezekiah's reformation. His message was peculiarly to the cities, as centres affecting the national thought and action. This he distinctly affirmed in his opening words. The prophecy is a declaration of a Divine programme, and consists of three addresses, each beginning with a call to hear. Micah declared to those in authority in the cities, which were centres of authority, the messages of the One Whose authority is supreme.
The book may thus be divided: A Message to the Nations concerning the Chosen (1-2); a Message to the Rulers concerning the Coming One (3-5); a Message to the Chosen concerning the Controversy (6-7).
To the Nations concerning the Chosen
This first message consists of a summons, a proclamation of Jehovah, and a prophetic message based upon the proclamation. This division ends with an account of the interruption of the false prophets, and finally the promise of ultimate deliverance.
In the summons the prophet had clearly in mind the attitude of Jehovah toward the whole earth. All peoples were called upon to attend. Israel was Jehovah's medium of teaching, if not in blessing, then in judgment. He witnessed among the nations by His dealings with Israel. The description of His coming forth from His place is full of poetic beauty. Under the figure of a great upheaval of nature the prophet described the advent of God.
The proclamation of Jehovah first declared the cause of judgment. It was "For the transgression of Jacob ... for the sins of the house of Israel." The reason of judgment was declared to be the apostasy of the whole nation as evidenced in the cities. He next described the course of judgment, commencing with the destruction of the city, and the destruction of false religion. The city wherein was gathered the wealth and wherein authority was exercised, was to be demolished, and the religion of apostasy swept out.
Upon the basis of this proclamation the prophet delivered his message. This opens with a personal lamentation expressive of his own grief concerning the incurable wounds of the people. This is followed by a wailing description of the judgment. The passage is a strange mixture of grief and satire. At the calamity he was grieved. Because of the sin he was angry. This merging of agony and anger flashes into satire. The connection or contrast is not easy to discover. A translation of the proper names appearing in this section may enable the reader to discover the remarkable play upon words which runs through it.
Following this, the prophet stated the cause of the imminent judgment. The sin consisted in the devising of evil at night, the practising of it in the morning, and the abuse of authority. Covetousness, expressing itself in oppression, was the peculiar sin of the rulers. Against this Jehovah proceeds in just retribution: "I devise an evil." The prophet then described the mockery of observers who would imitate their sorrow, and finally declared that they would be utterly dispossessed.
Micah was interrupted by the false prophets, who protested against his message, basing their objection upon the goodness of God. To them Jehovah's answer was that the changed and rebellious attitude of His people accounted for the change in His attitude toward them. Against the people misled by false prophets Micah indulged in indignant satire. The first message, delivered in the hearing of the nations, closes with words spoken to Jacob. It is an indefinite promise of deliverance yet to come.
To The Rulers concerning the Coming One
Addressing himself directly to the rulers of the people, in this second message the prophet described their peculiar sin, and announced the coming judgment. He then foretold the coming of the one true Ruler, and the consequent deliverance.
In dealing with the sins of the rulers, he first addressed the heads or princes, charging them with being corrupt. As to character, they hated the good, and as to conduct they spoiled the people.
Turning to the prophets he declared that their sin consisted in the fact that they made the people to err, exercising their sacred office for their own welfare. If they were fed they were prepared to cry peace; if they were not fed they made war. Judgment must overtake them in kind. Micah defended his own ministry by putting it into contrast with others.
He finally dealt with all the ruling classes, and his summary of their sin is forceful. The heads judge for reward; the priests teach for hire; the prophets divine for money. As a result of their sin, judgment must fall on Zion and Jerusalem.
From this scene of a corrupt people governed by corrupt rulers, the prophet lifted his eyes, and looking into the future, saw the day when, under true government, deliverance should be wrought and the Divine order established. In this look ahead he saw the mountain of Jehovah's house established, and the peoples flowing into it. Out of Zion the Lord would come forth, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The result of this establishment of Divine authority would be the cessation of war, and peaceful possession of the land with all its benefits. In the light of this future deliverance the prophet addressed himself to the present. In the midst of affliction there was assurance. Even while the cry of pain and travail was heard there was hope. He declared that there was to be yet further pain and suffering, but that the day of deliverance was certain.
Having thus described the coming deliverance, Micah uttered the wonderful prophecy concerning the Deliverer and the deliverance under His administration. The Person of the Deliverer is first described. He is One Whose goings forth are from of old, and when He comes it will be to Bethlehem Ephratah. His programme is next described. Its first movement will be that of abandoning the people, and the second that of gathering and feeding them. The central declaration of the whole prophecy is found in this connection: "This Man shall be peace." The local application of the foretelling is seen in the fact that Micah described the victory as one over Assyria. Its far-reaching value has become perfectly evident by the literal and local fulfilment. Concerning this coming deliverance the prophet then uttered the word of Jehovah which declared that in that day there will be the destruction of all the false confidence which had ruined the people through the period of their sin and unbelief.
To The Chosen concerning the Controversy
This closing section is dramatic and magnificent. The prophet summoned Israel to hear, and the mountains to the controversy of Jehovah with His people. The key-word is "Jehovah ... will plead." From there the address falls into dramatic form. It sets forth the controversy in which Jehovah, the prophet, and the people take part. Jehovah utters a plaintive appeal in which He asks His people what He has done to weary them. In answer to this the people inquire how they may appear before Him in view of the complaint made against them in His appeal. This inquiry of the people the prophet then answers, telling them what Jehovah requires of them. Immediately the voice of Jehovah is heard crying to the city and describing its sins, declaring them to be the reason of His visitation. This constitutes a terrible charge against them. Following it, the people break forth into a lamentation which is of the nature of a confession, submission to judgment, and hope. The prophet then breaks out into an answer of hope, which yet ends with the consciousness of the necessity for judgment. Following this the people offer prayer for the guidance of Jehovah; and Jehovah answers with a promise that He will guide them as of old. Then the prophet in faith repeats the promise Jehovah has made. The last movement is that of a great final doxology uttered by all the people, which celebrates the patience of God, and His certain restoration of His people.
PART A: TO THE NATIONS - CONCERNING THE CHOSEN - Micah 1:1-2:13
Title Page - 1:1
A.1. The Summons - Mic. 1:2-1:4
A2. The Proclamation of Jehovah - Mic. 1:5-1:7
A.3. The Prophetic Message - Mic. 1:8-2:5
- Lamentations of the Prophet - 1:8-1:10
- A wailing Description of the Judgment - 1:11-1:16
- The Cause Stated - 2:1-2:5
A.4. The False Prophets - Mic. 2:6-2:11
A.5. The Promise of Deliverance - Mic. 2:12-2:13
Part B: TO THE RULERS - CONCERNING THE COMING ONE - Micah 3:1-5:15
B.1. Sin and consequent Judgment - Mic. 3:1-3:12
- The Princes - 3:1-3:4
- The Prophets - 3:5-3:8
- All Ruling Classes - 3:9-3:12
B.2. Jehovah's Summons - Mic. 4:1-5:15
- The Vision of restored Order - 4:1-5:1
- The Deliverer and the Deliverance - 5:2-5:15
Part C: TO THE CHOSEN - CONCERNING THE CONTROVERSY - Micah 6:1-7:20
C.1. The Prophet - Mic. 6:1-6:2
- The Summons
C.2. Jehovah - Mic. 6:3-6:5
- A plaintive Appeal
C.3. The People - Mic. 6:6-6:7
- Questions of Conviction
C.4. The Prophet - Mic. 6:8-6:9
- The Answer
C.5. Jehovah - Mic. 6:10-6:16
- A terrible Charge
C.6. The People - Mic. 7:1-7:10
- Confession and Hope
C.7. The Prophet - Mic. 7:11-7:13
- The Answer of Hope
C.8. The People - Mic. 7:14
- At Prayer
C.9. Jehovah - Mic. 7:15
- The Answer of Peace
C.10. The Prophet - Mic. 7:16-7:17
- Faith expressing the Promise
C.11. The People - Mic. 7:18-7:20
- The Final Doxology
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.