Micah 6:1-5 (NIV) 1 Listen to what the LORD says: “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2 Hear, O 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. 3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 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. 5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember [your journey] from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
On verses 1-5: Micah sees a vision of the Lord. In this vision, like an attorney in a courtroom speaking to a jury, the Lord speaks to the mountains about his case against Israel (v1-2). The Lord then addresses Israel directly, asking what it is that God has done to burden them (v3) and recalling His goodness to them:
how He brought them out of slavery in Egypt (v4);
how three times He kept the seer Balaam from cursing Israel and used him to bless Israel instead (v5);
how He led them from Shittim, which was the Israelites’ last campsite before crossing the Jordan River, to Gilgal, the Israelites’ first campsite after crossing the Jordan River (v5)
God did all of this so that His people would know the righteous acts and faithfulness of the Lord.
What can we learn from this? When you are tempted to focus on all that is wrong with your life, remember all the ways in the past that God has been undeservedly good to you. Notice that in each case God showed His love not just with words but with action.
Micah 6:6-8 (NIV) 6 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? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, 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.
On verses 6-8: Just as God showed His love to Israel not just with His words but with His actions (v1-5), God wants us to love Him not just with our words but with our actions too. God wants from us not a token offering or a ritualistic sacrifice, but rather a life where we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him (v8). God doesn’t want a lavish show of sacrifice as much as He wants a heart that is truly committed to pleasing Him.
Micah 6:9 (NIV) 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.
On verse 9: From this one verse are numerous truths to learn:
“Listen!”: The question is not, “Is God speaking?” but “Are we listening?”
“The Lord is calling to the city”: God has a heart not just for individuals but for cities.
“to fear your name is wisdom”: Repeatedly the Bible tells us that “the fear of the Lord” (that is, to trust, honour and revere God) “is the beginning of wisdom” (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Isaiah 33:6)
“Heed the rod and the One who appointed it”: David once wrote about God His Shepherd, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) The rod represents God’s discipline. The staff represents God’s leadership and protection. The staff tends to be a lot more comfortable than the rod, but we need both. While verses 1 to 5 tell us to remember the staff of God’s goodness, verse 9 tells us to heed the rod of God’s discipline too. How? By having a teachable attitude. Whenever you go through tough times, with an open heart ask the Lord, “What are you teaching me through this?”
Micah 6:10-16 (NIV) 10 Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? 11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? 12 Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. 13 Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. 14 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. 15 You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. 16 You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house, and 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.”
On verses 10-16: These verses help us understand better why the Lord warned His people in verses 6-8 to focus on acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly instead of giving lavish shows of material sacrifice. It’s because the Israelites had been fooled into thinking that they could play the worship game – where you look and sound spiritual by the way you sacrifice at the temple, but the rest of the week you do business dishonestly and live deceitfully (v10-13).
Verses 13-16 show what happens when we reduce our worship to a weekend ritual and don’t live every day for God’s glory: we will not be satisfied (v14), we will work hard but feel we have very little (v14-15), and we become both a laughingstock and a stumbling block to an unbelieving world (v16).
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me that You desire not just a token sacrifice, but a heart that is close to You and that wants to honour You in everything I do. Thank You for all Your goodness to me, for not just Your staff but for Your rod as well. Thank You for teaching me that when I live for myself I will come up empty and unsatisfied, but when I live for You I am as blessed as can be. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!