Micah 6 - Outline of Micah (Book Notes menu page)
Micah's third message occupies chapters 6 - 7.
In the first section of this message (6:1- 7:6), the LORD brings a legal court case against the nation of Israel, and challenges them to defend themselves.
1. Hear ye now what the LORD saith;
Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.
2 Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth:
for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.
In v.1, Israel is instructed to hear the LORD's controversy {ie., indictment, legal prosecution} against them, and to 'arise and contend' (stand to defend themselves).
     The case will be argued before 'the mountains and hills,' which refer, figuratively, to the kingdoms and nations of the gentile world, and also before the 'foundations of the earth' (ie., the whole creation).
...He will plead {HB=yackach, ie., 'convict,' 'prove' His case} with Israel.
3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee?
testify against me.
4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,
and redeemed thee out of the house of servants;
and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal;
that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.
O my people, what have I done unto thee?
The LORD tenderly calls them 'My people' (though He is about to bring charges against them), and graciously offers them an opportunity to present a reason to disqualify the case. Had He wearied {grieved, offended} them in some way?
     They make no answer.
The LORD procedes with His case...
  • He reminds them of His kindnesses toward them.
    • He brought them up {ie., caused them to ascend} out of bondage in Egypt.
    • He redeemed them out of the house of servants {ie., 'slavery'}.-
      They had been 'bought out' of slavery by the blood of the Passover lamb, and 'brought out' by the power of God.
    • He provided Moses, Aaron and Miriam...-
      God had provided godly leadership to shepherd them on their journey.
    • He protected them from the devices of an unseen enemy, turning his curses into blessings.
      Balak, king of Moab, hired a prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel from several locations overlooking their encampment in Shittim, prior to their crossing over the Jordan River. Balaam could not curse the people, because God had blessed them. However, Balaam did teach Balak how to cause Israel to stumble morally, through enticing Israel's men with pagan women and their ungodly ways. The LORD also intervened in this, and then miraculously provided them with safe passage across the Jordan to Gilgal, where 'the reproach of Egypt was rolled away.' Numbers ch. 22-25; Josh 3:1; 4:18-19; 5:2-10
  • The LORD reminded Israel of their history, so that they would perceive that He had dealt with them in righteousness.
Confronted with God's righteousness, the people ask what they must do, to please Him.
Speaking on their behalf, Micah voices four questions...
6. Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, [and] bow myself before the high God?
shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, [or] with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, the fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul?
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD...?
In essence, the question is: 'What must I do to be saved?'
     The assumption in each of these questions is that there must be some good work that I can do, to make myself acceptable before God... and that I am able to accomplish that good work (Ex 19:8; Rom 10:2,3; Joh 6:28,29; Rom 3:19-26).
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings...?
Is there some religious ritual that I need to perform?
     The OT sacrificial system was prescribed by God as a means of atonement for sin. But God really did not desire sacrifices. He desires hearts that are fully yielded to Him (1Sam 15:22; Psa 40:6-8). There is no ritual that can remove the guilt of sin and purify the sinful heart.
     Because men are unable to do all that the Law requires, all men are under the penalty of death (Eze 18:4). But no man can pay that penalty and live. In mercy, the LORD provided atonement for sin through the means of blood sacrifice. The life of the flesh is in the blood. When the blood is shed, the flesh is dead. Animal sacrifices illustrated the problem, and anticipated (but could not the provide) its solution. The sinner, being dead in trespasses and sins, can do nothing except trust in the LORD's provision of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. (Lev 17:11; Heb 10:4-18)
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams...?
Is there something more that I can give? Have I been generous enough in my contributions to the church?
     But we forget, that the LORD owns everything. Our gifts do not enrich Him, and they cannot buy salvation (Psa 50:9-15; Isa 1:11-15; Psa 49:6-9). It is true that the Lord Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor. But He was not advising him to purchase favor with God, but rather to rid himself of an idol (the love of money) which occupied the place of God in his heart (Luk 18:18-25).
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression... for the sin of my soul?
What greater sacrifice can I offer than my own child, my own flesh and blood?
     God had emphatically forbidden the practice of human sacrifice, which was involved in the worship of the false gods, Molech and Baal. Several of Israel's kings, thinking to buy divine favor, had offered their children. Many of the people followed their example. In doing so, they corrupted themselves and their land with the sins for which the LORD had cast out the previous occupants. For this and other sins, Israel was cast out of the land which the LORD had given them. Lev 18:21; 20:2-5; Jer 32:35
     Furthermore, Israel's firstborn children already belonged to God. Their parents were supposed to sanctify {set apart, dedicate} them unto the LORD (not to any false god). Like unclean beasts, children were not suitable as sacrifices, for they also were unclean. They first had to be redeemed (by a price paid by another), before they could be sanctified. Ex 13:2; Num 18:15
The Answer (in v.8), to these questions, is that the LORD does not require any of these things!
8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good;
and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
...O man...-
This requirement is upon every individual, whether Jew or Gentile. You and I cannot hide behind the goodness (or lack of goodness) of our nation, church or political and religious leaders. The responsibility is mine...
...to do justly... to love mercy... to walk humbly with thy God...-
That seems plain enough. This answer echoes several other scriptural passages (eg., Deu 10:12,13; Eccl 12:13,14).
     Since this is 'all that God requires,' some use such passages to preach a religion of works. "This do and thou shalt live" (Luk 10:25-28). But the problem is that we cannot do it, because none is 'good' except God (Mat 19:16-17).
...do justly... - ie., Your Conduct, of personal affairs and business dealings,
must be with true justice and righteousness. Isa 1:16-19
But "there is none righteous, no not one" (Rom 3:10; Psa 14:1).
...love mercy {HB=checed}...- ie., Your heart Desire, above all desires,
must be to demonstrate merciful kindness and faithful love to others. Hos 6:6
But we naturally seek our own things. We look out for ourselves first. Rom 3:12; Psa 14:3,4
...walk humbly with thy God... - ie., Your way of Life
must be in meek submission and obedience to Him and His Word. Isa 57:15; 66:2
But "there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom 3:11,12; Psa 14:2,3)
     Surely, Israel's religious leaders, who were steeped in the knowledge of the scriptures, would be examples of righteousness before the nation. But they, like we common folk, fell short on these points (Mat 5:19,20; 23:23; Luk 11:42).
No one can fulfill these simple requirements. By nature, we all fall short of the perfections of God.
We need a new nature with a righteousness that comes from God (Rom 3:23-26). When we confess our sin and claim, by faith, His provision of righteousness in Christ, the LORD puts His Spirit within us. Only then, can we begin to walk with God. Rom 8:5-9; Titus 2:11-14; Gal 5:22-26
In the next few verses, the LORD gives examples to demonstrate that we fall short of His requirements.
9. The LORD'S voice crieth unto the city,
and [the man of] wisdom shall see thy name:
hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.
10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked,
and the scant measure [that is] abominable?
11 Shall I count [them] pure with the wicked balances,
and with the bag of deceitful weights?
12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence,
and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies,
and their tongue [is] deceitful in their mouth.
...the man of wisdom shall see thy name... hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.-
The wise man, upon hearing God's indictment of his sin, will 'see' {ie., perceive} that to be true to His Name {ie., His character and reputation}, God must exercise His rod of judgment upon sinners, for He is the righteous Judge. A failure to heed His warning would be very unwise, because, of necessity, His judgment must be severe. Psa 2:9
...Are there yet...- ie., In spite of God's warnings, do you persist in your wicked ways? Such as...
  • the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked...-
    ie., Are you storing up ill gotten gain? Mic 2:1,2; Jer 5:26,27; Jam 5:1-4
  • the scant measure... wicked balances... deceitful weights...-
    ie., Are you cheating your customers with dishonest weights and measures? Lev 19:35,36; Deu 25:13-16
  • the rich men... are full of violence... the inhabitants...have spoken lies... deceit...-
    The inhabitants 'thereof' {ie., of Jerusalem}, wealthy and average men alike, were guilty of cruel injustice {'violence'} and treachery {'deceit'} toward one another. Mic 2:1-2; 3:1-3,9-11; 7:2-6; Rom 3:13
'Shall I count them pure...?' - Although these points are posed as questions,
the LORD knew the truth of the matter, and He would hold each one accountable.
13 Therefore also will I make [thee] sick in smiting thee,
in making [thee] desolate because of thy sins.
14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied;
and thy casting down [shall be] in the midst of thee;
and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver;
and [that] which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.
15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap;
thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil;
and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.
Therefore also... - ie., Because they demonstrably persisted in falling short of His requirements (v.8).
I will make thee sick... making thee desolate because of thy sins.
Their judgment would be progressive: First, He would strike them with sickness {ie., weakness, grief} (Lev 26:16; cf. 1Cor 11:30). Then, He would make them desolate {appalled, stunned, awestruck, astonished} (Lev 26:32; Mic 3:12).
thou shalt...- (Each of these points were foretold, in the Law of Moses, as judgment upon Israel's sin.)
  • ...eat... not be satisfied... Lev 26:26
  • ...take hold... not deliver...- or, carry away, but not make secure...-
    They would not be able to provide security for the treasures which they clutched to themselves. Lev 26:16-17; Deu 28:33; Isa 5:29
  • ...sow... not reap... Deu 28:30
  • ...tread olives... not anoint with oil...
  • ...tread the vintage... not drink wine. Deu 28:39,40
thy casting down is in the midst of thee.-
ie., The cause for the fall of Jerusalem was not the external military forces outside the walls, but rather, the sin within.
16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab,
and ye walk in their counsels;
that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing:
therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.
Omri and Ahab were kings of the northern kingdom. 1Kin 16:21-34 (see also 1Kings ch.17-22)
King Omri built the city of Samaria. His son, king Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, built a temple and altar to Baal in that city. Of both men, it is written that he "did evil in the sight of the LORD, above all that were before him."
     As Micah delivered his third message, the LORD had already judged Samaria and the northern kingdom, for their wickedness, by means of the Assyrian captivity.
the statutes...are kept... ye walk in their counsels...
The southern kingdom was following the same course. Several of the kings in Jerusalem adopted the idolatrous practices of their northern counterparts, and led their people away from the LORD. (eg., Ahaz, 2Kin 16:2-4; Manasseh, 21:1-7; Isa 9:16)
that I should make thee a desolation...
Because of their sin, the judgment of the city and its people was unavoidable (2Chr 34:24,25).
...and... an hissing... the reproach of my people. Jer 18:15,16; Deu 28:37; Psa 44:13

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