Micah was a contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah-Hosea in the northern kingdom and Isaiah in the court of Jerusalem.
Micah’s hometown of Moresheth-gath (1:14) was located about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem on the border of Judah and Philistia. Like Amos, he was from the country. He was also called to be a prophet and to deliver a stern message of judgment to the people of Jerusalem.
He prophesied during a period of intense social injustice in Judah. False prophets preached for riches. Princes thrived on cruelty, violence, and corruption. Priests ministered more for greed than for God. Landlords stole from the poor and evicted widows. Judges lusted after bribes. Businessmen used deceitful scales and weights. Sin had influenced every segment of society, and a word from God was very appropriate.
All of the things above led to an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. The poor were oppressed with no recourse to the courts because of corrupt judges, so Micah took up their cause. He drew a sharp contrast between this “pop religion” and true faith, which involves justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God (6:8).
These prophecies were given during the reigns of Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1). After the prosperous reign of Uzziah in Judah, his son Jothan came to power and followed his father’s policies. He was basically a good king, although he failed to remove the idolatrous high places. Under the wicked king Ahaz, Judah was threatened by the forces of Assyria and Syria. Hezekiah opposed the Assyrians and successfully withstood their invasion with the help of God. He was an unusually good king who guided the people back to a relationship with God.
About one-third of the book exposes the sins of Micah’s countrymen, another third predicts the judgment that will come as a result of those sins, and the final third holds out the hope of restoration once the discipline has ended.
The book closes on a note of hope. The same God who executes judgment also delights in giving mercy. He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy (7:18).
A suggested outline for the book is:
Prediction of judgment: Punishment (chapters 1-3).
Prediction of restoration: Promise (chapters 4-5).