All sin is bad before God, but premeditated sin is worse – Saturday, 15th Week in ordinary time – Micah 2:1-5

Between the years 787 BC and 750 BC, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom have two great prophets each. In the North, Hosea and Amos prophecy to Israel with its capital in Samaria and in the South, Isaiah and Micah prophecy to Judah with its capital in Jerusalem.

Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. His name is an abbreviated form of the name Mikayahu which means, “Who is like the Lord?” The book’s superscription (1:1) places his prophetic activity during the reigns of three kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. It identifies him as a resident of Moresheth. This village in the Judean foothills was about 40 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem on the border lands between Judah and the Philistines.

Unlike Isaiah, who was a native of the holy city, Micah was an outsider from the countryside. The prophet Micah was thus like the prophet Amos, a man from the country sent to the cities to bring the word of the LORD and this must have made him quite a controversial figure. He would have been unpopular with the leaders whom he condemned (3:1–4) and the wealthy whom he criticized (2:1–5). He was quick to separate himself from priests and other prophets, whom he considered to be corrupt (3:5–8).

He ministered during a time of change in the politics of Israel and Judah. Assyria was threatening the borders of Israel and Syria, so those two countries bullied Judah to make an alliance with them against Assyria. But instead, Ahaz, king of Judah, made a pact with Tiglath-Pilesar, king of Assyria (2 Kings 16). Thus, Assyria overran Israel in 722 and dragged the people into exile but left Judah untouched. Later however, Assyria nearly conquered the whole of Judah, but was miraculously thwarted by the Lord (2 Kings 19).

It was also a time of religious confusion. While Jotham was a good king, he permitted some idolatry to continue under his leadership. Yet his successor Ahaz launched a full-blown project of idolatrous worship in his effort to win the trust of the Assyrians and firm up his alliance with Tiglath-Pilesar (2 Kings 16). During this time, the northern kingdom of Israel was in a continuous pattern of idolatry.

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