Micah prophesied to the people of Israel and Judah about the judgments that would come upon them because of their wickedness, lamenting their sins and eventual destruction. However, he also prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and taught that in the latter days the Lord would have compassion on Israel.
Display or draw a picture of the Wise Men. Remind students that after Jesus was born, the Wise Men came from the East to Jerusalem, seeking the Messiah. Invite a student to read Matthew 2:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify how the Wise Men knew that the Messiah had been born.
How did the Wise Men know that Jesus had been born? (They had “seen his star in the east” and followed it to the place where He was born. Point out that the phrase “seen his star in the east” implies that the Wise Men may have heard prophecies of the Messiah’s birth and had been watching for this sign.)
Invite a student to read Matthew 2:3–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the chief priests and scribes knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
How did the chief priests and scribes know where the Messiah would be born? (From the written prophecies.)
Invite a student to read Micah 5:2, 4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the details that Micah described about the coming of the Messiah. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.
Where specifically did Micah say the “ruler of Israel” (Jesus Christ) would be born?
According to verse 4, what would Jesus Christ come to earth to do? (Point out that verse 4, footnote a, indicates that He would “feed the flock” [see also Ezekiel 34:11–16]. You may also want to explain that Bethlehem means “house of bread,” adding to the symbolism of Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life [see Bible Dictionary, “Bethlehem”].)
Inform students that the prophecies of Micah are the only prophetic writings preserved in the Old Testament to name the birthplace of the Messiah. The chief priests and scribes quoted this prophecy more than 700 years later when Herod asked them where the Messiah would be born (see Matthew 2:3–6).
Explain that Micah was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah who ministered at the same time as Isaiah. (You may want to display the diagram “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” [see lesson 102] to show students when Micah ministered in relation to other prophets and the major events in the histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.)
Summarize Micah 1–4 by explaining that Micah prophesied that Samaria and Judah would be destroyed because of the wickedness of the people. He also chastised false prophets who taught the people false doctrines. Micah 4 records that the Lord gave Israel a message of hope that in the last days the Lord’s temple would be built again, Israel would conquer its enemies, and there would be peace for the Lord’s people in the Millennium. As recorded in Micah 5, Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and that in the last days the remnant of Jacob (Israel) would triumph over its oppressors.
Ask students to reflect on a time when someone did something kind for them. (For example, someone may have given them a special gift, performed an act of service, or spoken kind words.) Invite one or two students to share the experience they are thinking of and to describe how the other person’s goodness made them feel.
When we experience others’ goodness toward us, how do we generally want to respond?
Explain that through His prophet Micah, the Lord reminded the people of Judah of His goodness toward them so that they would serve Him and show gratitude and devotion to Him. Invite students to look for principles in Micah’s teachings that can help them show their devotion to the Lord in return for all He has done for them.
Invite a student to read Micah 6:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord reminded the people that He had done for them.
What did the Lord remind the people of?
Invite a student to read Micah 6:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Micah asked the people.
What is the first question Micah asked in verse 6? How would you rephrase this question in your own words? (Help students understand that Micah essentially asked, “How should I come before the Lord and worship Him?”)
Write the following incomplete principle on the board: If we desire to come unto the Lord and worship Him, then we must …
Invite a student to read Micah 6:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Micah answered his question.
How would you rephrase in your own words Micah’s question in verse 7? (“If my outward acts of worship are very great in number or value, will these be enough to please the Lord?”)
Point out in verse 8 that Micah taught that our outward acts of worship alone do not please God. He requires something else before our outward worship becomes meaningful and pleasing to Him.
According to verse 8, what does the Lord require of us in our worship of Him?
What does it mean to “do justly”? To “love mercy”? To “walk humbly with … God”? (see also D&C 11:12).
To help students better understand these verses and identify a principle Micah taught the children of Israel, invite students to turn to Deuteronomy 10:12–13. (You might suggest that students write this cross-reference in the margin next to Micah 6:7–8.) Explain that as recorded in this passage in Deuteronomy, the prophet Moses used similar language when He taught the people what the Lord required of them. Invite a student to read this passage aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moses said the Lord requires of those who worship and serve Him.
What does the Lord require of us as we worship and serve Him?
Refer to the incomplete principle written on the board. How would you complete this statement based on the words of Micah and Moses? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we desire to come unto the Lord and worship Him, then we must love and serve Him with all our hearts.)
What do you think it means to serve the Lord with all our hearts?
To help students better understand this principle, ask them to name ways that we worship or show love for the Lord. Reponses might include attending church, partaking of the sacrament, attending the temple, reading the scriptures, singing hymns, and praying. As students respond, list their ideas on the board and add to the list any forms of worship that students may not have mentioned.
How does the principle identified in Micah 6:6–8 help us understand what our motive should be as we participate in the activities listed on the board?
How might we perform these acts of worship with all our hearts?
What difference has it made in your life when you have offered the Lord your time, obedience, and worship out of love for Him?
Invite students to copy the list on the board in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Ask them to evaluate how well they are applying the principle they identified in Micah 6:6–8 to each of the forms of worship on their list. Invite students to set a specific goal about how they will begin to worship and serve the Lord with more of their heart in one of the areas on their list.
Summarize Micah 6:10–16 by explaining that the Lord said He could not justly excuse the children of Israel because they continued in their wickedness. He then pronounced consequences that would come to them because of their sins.
Summarize Micah 7:1–17 by explaining that Micah continued to lament the wickedness of the Israelites and the destructions that were coming because of their sins. However, Micah prophesied that Israel would turn to righteousness and rise again with the Lord’s help and that other nations would be amazed at what the Lord had done for Israel.
Invite a student to read Micah 7:18–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Micah’s description of the Lord. You may want to suggest that students mark words and phrases that describe the Lord in a way that is meaningful to them. Invite students to share a word or phrase that they chose and to explain why it is important to them.
According to verses 18–19, what did Micah say the Lord delights in? What will the Lord do with our iniquities because He delights in mercy?
What do we have to do to receive the Lord’s mercy when we have sinned?
What can we learn from these verses about what will happen as we repent of our sins? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: As we repent of our sins, we will be forgiven because the Lord delights in mercy.)
Why do you think we are extended mercy from the Lord even when we may have been rebellious?
As you help students understand this truth, warn them that sometimes people think that the Lord’s mercy is an excuse to sin now and repent later (see 2 Nephi 28:7–9). Caution students against this false belief.
Conclude with your testimony of the merciful nature of the Lord and the other principles taught in this lesson. Encourage students to act on the thoughts and impressions that have come to them as they have studied Micah’s teachings.