One of the key themes of Micah is that of land. When Micah (~ 740-690 BCE) was delivering his prophetic messages to the ruling elite of Jerusalem one of the things he railed against was the fact that the inherited land of the common people was being taken from them with impunity. He says that these things were done in the morning light, so degraded was the leadership of the time. Each family considered that God had personally give their land to them. Without the family land, life for these people was very difficult, since the land signified not only their economic provision but also their membership into the covenant with Yahweh.
In addition to the this prophets were delivering ‘God’s words’ to the those who would pay for them, and the priests were going through the motions. The leaders have fallen far from what they were called to be. There is clearly much more going on here as well, but the upshot is that God would bring the Assyrians against Israel.
Chapter 1 describes God coming down from his Holy Place and how the earth reacts to the presence of the Other One. Micah describes himself as wailing and lamenting like the Ostrich and the Jackal as Israel has become incurable and the Assyrian army is at the gates of Jerusalem. There is disinheritance, injustice and false religion. By Chapter 5 Micah is looking forward again to the Assyrian army laying siege to Jerusalem, with all the horrors that entailed. Suddenly, Micah seems to jump and we read:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (5:2)
In the midst of the bluster and evil and despotic failure of the King, prophets, priests – in other words the ruling classes – Micah fast forwards, and turns his attention to a tiny, insignificant village from which an eternal one would spring. The human government, where justice and divine revelation was for sale, and where the elites performed land-grabs from the middle classes of the day, was likely loud and brash and full of pride. Into this Micah thrusts front and centre the insignificant, the quiet and the humble.