A. The LORD’s complaint against His people.
1. (1-2) In court with the LORD.
Hear now what the LORD says:
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
And let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, O you mountains, the LORD’s complaint,
And you strong foundations of the earth;
For the LORD has a complaint against His people,
And He will contend with Israel.
a. Arise, plead your case: Micah pictured a court of law, with Israel on trial before the LORD. In the presence of unshakable witnesses (the mountains and the hills and the strong foundations of the earth), the court comes to order.
b. The LORD has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel: In His court, God will bring His case – His complaint against Israel.
2. (3-5) The LORD’s complaint against His people.
“O My people, what have I done to you?
And how have I wearied you?
Testify against Me.
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
I redeemed you from the house of bondage;
And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
O My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled
And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of the LORD.”
a. Testify against Me: As Israel stepped to the witness stand, God asked them, “What have I done to you?” He had done nothing but good to Israel and had been repaid with rejection and rebellion.
b. I redeemed you from the house of bondage: Not only did God not do evil to Israel, He also did them an enormous amount of good. He redeemed them and gave them godly leaders. God’s case against Israel was strong and Israel was guilty in the prophet’s court.
c. Remember now what Balak king of Moab counseled: Numbers 22-24 tells the story of Balak and Balaam. After meeting with King Balak of Moab, Balaam prophesied over Israel four times. As he spoke God’s word, he did not curse Israel – but he blessed them each time. When he was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, Balaam answered Balak on how to bring Israel under a curse. Instead of trying to have a prophet curse them, the Moabites would lead them into fornication and idolatry, and thus God would curse idolatrous and disobedient Israel. Balak did just that, sending his young women into the camp of Israel to lead Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. Because of their sin, God did curse Israel – He brought a plague of judgment upon Israel that killed 24,000.
i. In light of this, Israel must remember that God could never be persuaded to curse Israel, except if they brought curses on themselves through their own idolatry and disobedience. In the prophet’s courtroom God showed Israel that if they felt cursed in any way, it was entirely their responsibility.
3. (6-7) The answer of His people: “What can I do?”
With what shall I come before the LORD,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
a. With what shall I come before the LORD: This was a question asked out of bitterness and resentment. In Micah’s imagined courtroom, Israel called out to God from the witness stand, and said: “Just what do You want from me?”
b. Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? We can almost hear Israel shouting at God from the witness stand. “You ask too much, God. Nothing will satisfy You. If we brought thousands of rams or rivers of oil or even our own firstborn it would not be enough to please You. You are unreasonable.”
i. “Blinded to God’s goodness and character, he reasons within his own depraved frame of reference. He need not change; God must change.… His willingness to raise the price does not reflect his generosity but veils a complaint that God demands too much.” (Waltke)
4. (8) The reply of the LORD: “He has shown you.”
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
a. He has shown you: In Micah the prophet’s imagined courtroom God stopped the shouting of the angry defendant from the witness box. God essentially said, “You act as if what I require of you is some mystery. In fact, it is no mystery at all. I have shown you clearly what is good and what I require of you.”
b. To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God: The LORD answered the contentious witness in open court. “What I require of you isn’t complicated. Simply do three things.”
· Do justly: “Act in a just, fair way towards others. Treat them as you would want to be treated.”
· Love mercy: “Don’t just show mercy, but love to show it. Give others the same measure of mercy you want to receive from Me.”
· Walk humbly with your God: “Remember who I am – your God. If you keep that in mind, you will walk humbly before Me.”
i. “I would not advise any of you to try to be humble, but to be humble. As to acting humbly, when a man forces himself to it, that is poor stuff. When a man talks a great deal about his humility, when he is very humble to everybody, he is generally a canting hypocrite. Humility must be in the heart, and then it will come out spontaneously as the outflow of life in every act that a man performs.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Spurgeon’s sermon Micah’s Message for Today applied the idea of how to walk humbly with your God:
· Walk humbly when you are spiritually strong.
· Walk humbly when you have much work to do.
· Walk humbly in all your motives.
· Walk humbly when studying God’s word.
· Walk humbly when under trials.
· Walk humbly in your devotions.
· Walk humbly with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
· Walk humbly when dealing with sinners.
iii. “True humility is thinking rightly of thyself, not meanly. When you have found out what you really are, you will be humble, for you are nothing to boast of. To be humble will make you safe. To be humble will make you happy. To be humble will make music in your heart when you go to bed. To be humble here will make you wake up in the likeness of your Master by-and-by.” (Spurgeon)
c. He has shown you: In Micah the prophet’s imagined courtroom God has proven His case before the court. Israel was afflicted, but it was not because of the neglect or disregard of God. Their own sin brought their affliction upon them. In addition, what God required of them was not mysterious or too difficult – they simply did not do it.
B. The voice of the LORD cries out in the city.
1. (9-12) God sees the injustice and deceit of Israel.
The LORD’s voice cries to the city–
Wisdom shall see Your name:
“Hear the Rod!
Who has appointed it?
Are there yet the treasures of wickedness
In the house of the wicked,
And the short measure that is an abomination?
Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales,
And with the bag of deceitful weights?
For her rich men are full of violence,
Her inhabitants have spoken lies,
And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.”
a. Hear the Rod! Who has appointed it? Israel felt the rod of God, but they did not hear it. God tells them to hear the Rod, both in the sense of the rod as a picture of the corrective discipline of God, and in the sense that the Rod can be personified as the voice of God Himself.
i. “We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
b. The short measure that is an abomination.… wicked scales…deceitful weights: God was angry with Israel for cheating in their business dealings. They lied and stole and cheated one another, all for the sake of making some money from each other.
c. Her rich men are full of violence: The sin of Israel went further than just cheating others in business and commerce; they also made themselves rich through plain violence. They could expect the judgment of God for such sin.
i. “No society is ever entirely upright or godly; there are always evil people in it. But in a well-functioning society the evil are suppressed and those of good character are prominent and rule the land. In times of moral breakdown this is inverted.” (Boice)
2. (13-16) God’s judgment on greedy and wicked Israel.
“Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you,
By making you desolate because of your sins.
You shall eat, but not be satisfied;
Hunger shall be in your midst.
You may carry some away, but shall not save them;
And what you do rescue I will give over to the sword.
You shall sow, but not reap;
You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;
And make sweet wine, but not drink wine.
For the statutes of Omri are kept;
All the works of Ahab’s house are done;
And you walk in their counsels,
That I may make you a desolation,
And your inhabitants a hissing.
Therefore you shall bear the reproach of My people.”
a. You shall eat, but not be satisfied.… what you do rescue I will give over to the sword: God promised a tragic end for their ill-gotten gains. He would allow them no satisfaction or blessing in what they possessed.
b. All the works of Ahab’s house are done; and you walk in their counsels: Instead of walking in the ways of the LORD, they walked in the sinful example of wicked kings before them, and in the counsels of the ungodly.
i. “Omri, king of Israel, the father of Ahab, was one of the worst kings the Israelites ever had; and Ahab followed in his wicked father’s steps. The statutes of those kings were the very grossest idolatry.” (Clarke)