The book can be divided into three parts, each beginning with an imperative to hear or listen. Each section contains words of condemnation but ends with an expression of hope.
I. Coming Disaster and a Glimmer of Hope (Micah 1-2)
A. The Lord's Case against Israel (Micah 1:1-7)
After the editorial heading (v. 1), Micah gives reasons for the terrible fate soon to come to Israel and its capital, Samaria.
B. A Call to Lament (Micah 1:8-16)
Doom is soon to come to Judah also, and the appropriate response for both the prophet and the people is lamentation.
C. God's Judgment Will Fit the Crime (Micah 2:1-5)
God's judgment is not arbitrary or unjust. People have brought on themselves the exact judgment they deserve. Those who have taken other's property will have their own inheritance taken away.
D. Micah Confronts Preachers of False Assurance (Micah 2:6-11)
Preachers of false hope are at least partially responsible for Judah's fate because of their refusal to speak the truth. Instead of warning the people of impending danger, they have brought deceptive words of comfort.
E. A Word of Hope (Micah 2:12-13)
A word of hope seems out of place after all the terrible pronouncements of doom in these first two chapters. These words were probably added later to bring relief from all the condemnation and hope to a later generation.
II. Condemnation, Judgment, and Promise (Micah 3-5)
A. A Series of Oracles against Leaders (Micah 3)
Rulers, prophets, seers, and priests are singled out as major offenders and the ones responsible for God's judgment against Judah. Even the holy city of Jerusalem will be destroyed (v. 12).
B. Mostly Words of Hope (Micah 4-5)
This section contains two of the best-known passages from Micah--the hope for a time when all nations will destroy their weapons and dwell in peace (4:1-4) and the promise of the new ruler from Bethlehem (5:2-5a).
III. From Judgment to Hope (Micah 6-7)
A. Introduction to God's Lawsuit against Israel (Micah 6:1-5)
God again makes the case that Israel fully deserves the punishment it will receive (similar to the beginning in 1:2-7). God is just--God has not broken the covenant; the people have.
B. What Does God Expect from Covenant Partners? (Micah 6:6-8)
In this often quoted passage, the people are reminded that they already know what God wants from them--not sacrifice, but justice, love, kindness, and a humble walk with God.
C. God Has No Choice but to Punish (Micah 6:9-16)
The Lord is a God of justice and cannot ignore the sins of the people. Therefore, judgment is inevitable.
D. Lament over the Terrible State of Society (Micah 7:1-7)
The prophet speaks a painful lament about how bad society has become. No one, not even friends and family, can be trusted. Such a nation cannot expect to survive.
E. A Closing Liturgy (Micah 7:8-20)
Scholars generally agree that this is a liturgy (with responses designed for public worship) and that it assumes an exilic or postexilic context. It is meant to help the people process the disastrous past and renew hope for the future.
AUTHOR: Daniel Simundson, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament