In this chapter Micah derides and condemns the civil and religious leaders of the people. He begins with the civil rulers and rebukes them for their failure to implement justice on behalf of their subjects (vv. 1-4). Instead of defending the people, the rulers had oppressed them in a very cruel manner (likened to the preparation of an animal for cooking). Yet despite the cruel treatment of their subjects, the rulers liked to participate in religious activities. Micah assures them that their prayers will not be heard by God. The obvious lesson for us is that we should not be impressed by the religious words of governments. Some of them, perhaps far away geographically, do not defend their own people, but others of them, perhaps closer geographically, distort God's Word and attempt to use selections of it when implementing sinful laws.
Micah also rebukes the professional prophets. Despite their claims to visions, they could not see what the times were like. Their message of peace was obviously wrong, yet they persisted in preaching it to those who were suffering. Moreover they did it for financial reward (v. 11), perhaps from their grateful masters, the civil rulers. The consequence for the false prophets was the same as for the civil rulers - God would not answer their prayers (vv. 5-7). The lesson for us is that we should only listen to those who preach the truth that God has revealed. And we should always be alert to the dangers of financial influence.
Because of the cruelty of the civil rulers and the compliance of the religious leaders with that policy, the country would be depopulated when the people would go into exile, the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, and the temple mount would become a wood, all as a judgement from God (vv. 9-12).
In contrast to the false prophets, Micah describes his ministry as a true prophet (vv. 7-8). He is under the control of the Holy Spirit who gives the power to declare the truth. What will this look like? Such a preacher will point out to people their sins, not because he wishes to interfere with their lives, but because he has a love for righteousness. As with Micah, such a preacher is not preaching for financial gain, nor is he speaking according to the agenda of those who think they control society. So he points out the danger of religious deceptions as well as the wrongs of unjust rulers.
After all, the messenger is not meant to create the message; instead he passes on the message God has given him. As one commentator says, 'Fear does not immobilise Micah, and favouritism does not guide his thinking.' That is the kind of preacher we should listen to.