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Micah Chapter Six, The Divine Court

In our study of Micah chapter six, we see a scene from the courtroom of heaven as the Israel of Micah's day goes on trial.

Micah 6:1 & 2

Listen to what the Lord says: 'Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, you mountains, the Lord's accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.'

This opening passage is much like a judge calling a courtroom to order but this is a divine court. The Lord is like the state's attorney in our modern judicial system and is prepared to state the case against the people of Israel during the prophet's time. So, what does God mean by stating the case to the mountains and the hills? In Jewish tradition, a mountain and a hill were a way to get close to God and His teaching. This would come to represent the teaching of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the people of Israel. This is like what we see in Revelation 20 as thrones were given to people to judge during the Millennial Reign.

Micah 6:3 & 4

'My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.'

Usually a court case begins with a reading of the law that was supposed to have been broken and, here, God is talking about the covenant that He made between Himself and the people of Israel. We see this in Leviticus 26 where God lays out the terms of the covenant (contract). Here, God is basically asking the question of: Did I not live up to my end of the deal? He had promised to lead them and to provide for them and, in return, Israel was to acknowledge God as the only true God and to follow Him only. This covenant was promised to the people while they were slaves in Egypt and was accepted by the people when they were in the desert.

Micah 6:5

'My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.'

God continues to testify concerning the fact that He lived up to His part of the contract as He gives two examples here. The first example is where God refused to curse His people when Balaam was hired to do so while the second example speaks of their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River to enter the promised land.

Micah 6:6 & 7a

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?

Now, Micah questions the people of Israel and it is the age old question of: How do I approach God? He uses the example of the offerings that were prescribed by God. They were required under the Law of Moses but the purpose of the Law was to show them that they could not keep it and so they needed a Savior. With his questions, Micah is showing the people that even the most extreme giving of wealth (thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil) is not enough to fulfill their responsibilities under the contract.

Micah 6:7b & 8

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah goes on to explain that even the most extreme gift (the life of a child) is not sufficient to keep up their end of the deal. He sums it up with three things that were required for them and they even apply to us today. The first is to "act justly" and this speaks of the fact that we must be righteous which is accomplished when we accept the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. The second thing is "to love mercy" and this speaks of a love and remembrance of the fact that our salvation is a gift from God and nothing that we could earn or deserve. The third thing is "to walk humbly" and this speaks of the fact that it is a relationship that is happening on a daily basis. Together, these things represent a turning from religion (man's efforts) to grace (God's efforts on mankind's behalf).

Micah 6:9

Listen! The Lord is calling to the city - and to fear your name is wisdom - 'Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.'

Micah continues by telling the people that God is still offering them mercy and that the smart will listen and understand. If they will understand that God is trying to correct them much as a shepherd will guide a lost sheep back to the flock, they can yet be saved. In many courts, a judge will call a recess to give the parties a chance to work out a compromise before proceeding. This is usually the case when the outcome is pretty clear to everyone. In this divine court, this verse is like that but instead of a compromise it is a plea for the people to come to their senses.

Micah 6:10 & 11

'Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?'

The people were corrupt in their business dealings and this was a symptom of their turning away from God. God asks them these questions to get them to see that He cannot and will not ignore sin. They were doing their religious duties but living a corrupt life and hoping that God would not see.

Micah 6:12

'Your rich people are violent; your inhabitants are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully.'

The list of the sins of the people continues with the fact that they were liars. The rich were basically taking advantage of the poor. The fact that they are called liars speaks of more than just telling things that were not true. It also refers to the fact that they were claiming to be a part of God's people through their religious rituals but were not following His ways. The best way to compare this to the Christian life would be to think of those that will attend a place of worship once a week but the rest of the time there is no consideration given to the things of God. They may profess to be Christians but they may be deceiving themselves with religion instead of accepting God's grace and mercy.

Micah 6:13-15

'Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.'

This passage shows the verdict from this divine court and, as we see, the punishment is gradual. This reminds us of the fact that God was willing to pardon them at any point if they would simply keep their part of the contract. This gradual judgment begins with God removing His hand of provision from the people and ends with them being delivered over to their enemies.

Micah 6:16

'You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab's house; you have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.'

The summary of the trial is that the people of Israel continued in their idolatry and so would be ruined and they would be ridiculed by the surrounding nations. The "statutes of Omri" speaks of the man who built the city of Samaria which was the center of their idol worship. The "practices of Ahab's house" speaks of the fact that Jezebel (Ahab's Sidonian wife) introduced Baal worship.

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