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Bible Commentary

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Micah 6

Mic 6:1

Mic 6: "Yahweh pleads with His people, but will also administer chastisement. The prophet becomes the advocate of Yahweh in His controversy with the people. He presses the matter as in a court case with prosecution, witnesses and defence. Inanimate nature -- the symbols of divine power and permanency -- are called upon to testify to His righteousness and the spiritual decadence of Israel (cp Mic 1:2). So the Word reveals: [1] Yahweh's indictment of His people: vv 1-5. [2] The Defence: we have obeyed the law: vv 6,7. The people shelter behind the legalism of the Law and ask what more does Yahweh require! [3] The Prosecution: what is required: v 8. [4] Yahweh's indignant indictment: vv 9-12. The prosecution council tries to awaken the conscience of the people by a series of questions. [5] The Penalty: vv 13-15. The charges are proven, and the penalty is now pronounced. [6] The Summing-up: v 16. The first part of the verse corresponds to vv 10-12; the second part to vv 13-15. Notice the claim of Israel in v 7. Yahweh certainly does not want the offering of their children (Lev 18:21). The question illustrates Israel's lack of understanding of Yahweh's requirements. The people tried to purchase God's favor by external ceremony upon any terms other than sacrificing self and reforming their lives" (GEM).

Vv 1,2: Yahweh had a case ("plead your case", or lawsuit -- Heb "riv") to bring against His people. The Lord was summoning Israel to defend herself in a courtroom setting. He addressed the mountains, hills, and foundations of the earth as the jury in this case (cp Deu 32:1; Isa 1:2).

Mic 6:3

MY PEOPLE, WHAT HAVE I DONE TO YOU? HOW HAVE I BURDENED YOU?: Yahweh called the Israelites, His people, to testify how He had caused them to be so weary of Him that they ceased to obey Him. His rhetorical questions were unanswerable; He had not given them reason to become dissatisfied with Him (cp 1Sa 17:29; 20:1; 26:18; 29:8; Isa 5:4). His questions convey a sense of pathos; rather than simply criticizing them He asked how He had failed them. They had complained against Him often, but He had given them no occasion to do so.

Mic 6:4

I BROUGHT YOU UP OUT OF EGYPT AND REDEEMED YOU FROM THE LAND OF SLAVERY: Instead of wronging them He had done nothing but good for them. He had brought them from Egyptian bondage into the Promised Land of milk and honey. He had bought them out of the house of slavery, Egypt, which their Passover celebrated (cp Exo 12:3,7,12,13; Deu 7:8; 9:26; 13:5; 15:15; 24:18).

I SENT MOSES TO LEAD YOU, ALSO AARON AND MIRIAM: And He had given them capable leaders for their wilderness travels in Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Moses, the prophet, had given them their law (cp Deu 18:15-22). Aaron served them as their first high priest, and Miriam was a prophetess who led them in praising God for His goodness (Exo 15:20,21).

Mic 6:5

REMEMBER WHAT BALAK KING OF MOAB COUNSELED AND WHAT BALAAM SON OF BEOR ANSWERED: Yahweh charged the Israelites to remember that Balak, king of Moab, wanted God to curse His people, but Balaam revealed that God would never do that (Num 22 -- 24). God's intentions for His people had consistently been good.

REMEMBER YOUR JOURNEY FROM SHITTIM TO GILGAL, THAT YOU MAY KNOW THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS OF THE LORD: The events of their crossing the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land showed the same thing. Shittim was the Israelites' last camping place before they crossed the Jordan, and Gilgal was where they camped first after crossing (Josh 3:1; 4:18-19). God had always done what was consistent with His covenant obligations to His people, never burdening them but always protecting, defending, and enabling them. He had lovingly led them from slavery in a hostile foreign land to settlement in their own comfortable country (cp Josh 24; 1Sa 12).

Mic 6:6

WITH WHAT SHALL I COME BEFORE THE LORD AND BOW DOWN BEFORE THE EXALTED GOD?: Micah responded to God's goodness (described in vv 1-5) as the Israelites should have responded. His was the reasonable response in view of Yahweh's loyal love for His people (cp Rom 12:1,2). So what offering should he bring to the Yahweh that would be appropriate in view of His mercies to the Israelites throughout their history?

SHALL I COME BEFORE HIM WITH BURNT OFFERINGS, WITH CALVES A YEAR OLD?: Would burnt offerings of year-old calves be suitable, since they were the very best offerings and expressed the worshipper's total personal dedication to Yahweh (cp Lev 9:2,3; 22:27)?

Mic 6:7

WILL THE LORD BE PLEASED WITH THOUSANDS OF RAMS...?: Or would the Lord take pleasure if he offered Him thousands of rams and an extravagant amount of oil, like Solomon and other kings had done (cp Lev 2:1-16; 1Ki 3:4; 8:63; 2Ch 30:24; 35:7)? Neither the quality of a sacrifice nor its quantity was the important issue.

This reminds us of the words spoken by God through Samuel to Saul in 1Sa 15:22 -- when he disobeyed and then tried to cover his trail with a story about his intention to sacrifice to God. Cp with v 8: walking humbly is connected with a recognition of the need to worship correctly.


Mic 6:8

TO WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD: Cp 2Ch 30:11; 32:26; 33:12; Dan 4:37; Luke 18:13,14. Similar exhortations in Isa 57:15; 66:2; James 4:6-10.

"When we are not thinking of God, the flesh is in control. When we are thinking of God, the Spirit is in control. Our success is, and will be, measured by how much of the time we are thinking of God. His Word is the material of which spiritual thought is made. His law is our life-line. His commandments are a light to our feet. His love is the fire that lights our heart. Man is made to be part of God. There is no true life for man outside of God. Man is made in God's image: a glorious beginning, a glorious foreshadowing of what may be in the eternal beauty of its fulfillment. Blessed are they who get closer and closer, and are finally absorbed forever into God" (GVG).

What God does want, Micah now tells us. He does so in a verse justly regarded as one of the memorable and timeless expressions of OT ethical religion (cf Jam 1:27). It is the heart's response to God demonstrated in the basic elements of true religion. This was shown to Israel in the social concerns reflected in the Mosaic legislation.

God has told the people what is good. The Mosaic law differentiated between good and bad and reflected God's will in many areas of their religious and social lives. It indicated what God required of them. They were to act justly (lit, 'do justice', or mispat). The word 'justly' has here the sense of 'true religion', ie, the ethical response to God that has a manifestation in social concerns as well (cf Mic 3:8). 'To love mercy' is to freely and willingly show kindness to others. The expression 'to walk humbly with your God' means to live in conscious fellowship with God, exercising a spirit of humility before him. These great words recall similar words of our Lord in Mat 23:23.

The prophet was not indicating that sacrifice was completely ineffectual and that simply a proper heart attitude to God would suffice. In the preceding verse he painted a caricature, a purposefully exaggerated picture, of the sacrificial system to indicate that God has no interest in the multiplication of empty religious acts. Jer 7:22,23 is often appealed to as evidence that the prophets rejected the Levitical system; yet Jeremiah promised that the offerings would be acceptable if the people were obedient (Jer 17:24-26). A similar attitude toward sacrifice is expressed in Psa 51:16,17, but the succeeding verses show the author to be indicating that the Levitical sacrifices are acceptable to God only when accompanied by a proper heart attitude toward him (Psa 51:18,19).

The ethical requirements of v 8 here do not in and of themselves comprise the way of salvation. Forgiveness of sin was received through the sacrifices. The standards of this verse are for those who -- through sacrifice and faith -- are already members of God's family and demonstrate the ethical response that God wants to see in those who are under His covenant. These standards have not been lessened for Christians, for the NT affirms their continuing validity. We are still called to the exercise of true religion, to kindness, and to humility (1Co 13:4; 2Co 6:6; Col 3:12; Jam 1:27; 1Pe 1:2; 5:5). Believers are in a covenant relationship with God in which the law has been placed within their hearts (Jer 31:33; cf Heb 10:14-17); there it lives and guides their actions -- so that the family likeness to their Heavenly Father will be shown to all men.

"This verse contains one of the most succinct and powerful expressions of Yahweh's essential requirements in the Bible (cp Mat 23:23; 1Co 13:4; 2Co 6:6; Col 3:12; James 1:27; 1Pe 1:2; 5:5). It explains the essence of spiritual reality in contrast to mere ritual worship. Though the Lord asked His people to worship Him in formal ways, which the Mosaic Covenant spelled out, His primary desire was for a heart attitude marked by the characteristics Micah articulated (cp Psa 51:16,17; Jer 7:22-26)" (Const).

Mic 6:9

Vv 9-16: Yahweh's sentence of judgment: The LORD became specific about Israel's sins, as a prosecuting attorney, and then announced His verdict, as a judge.

THE LORD IS CALLING TO THE CITY: Micah announced that Yahweh would call to the city of Jerusalem; He would declare something important to the people of that town, Micah's audience of Judeans.

TO FEAR YOUR NAME IS WISDOM: They would be wise to hear Him and to fear Him because of who He is (cp v 1; Mic 3:1; Pro 1:7).

Mic 6:10

THE SHORT EPHAH: A measure that was less than what was called for -- evidence of injustice even "on a small scale" (v 8; cp Lev 19:35,36; Deu 25:13-16; Amos 8:5). The ephah was a basket that held about six gallons of dry produce. Using a slightly smaller basket robbed the buyer of some product that he was purchasing for the price of an ephah.

Mic 6:14

YOU WILL EAT BUT NOT BE SATISFIED; YOUR STOMACH WILL STILL BE EMPTY: They would continue to eat, but their food would not bring them satisfaction (cp Lev 26:26).

YOU WILL STORE UP BUT SAVE NOTHING, BECAUSE WHAT YOU SAVE I WILL GIVE TO THE SWORD: They would try to keep safe what they had bought, but they would not be able to do so, and what they did lock away would only become the property of invading soldiers eventually (cp Lev 26:16,17; Deu 28:30).

Mic 6:15

YOU WILL PLANT BUT NOT HARVEST: They would sow seed, but they would not reap a harvest because the Lord would not bless the land with rain and cause the crops to grow (cp Deu 28:30).

YOU WILL PRESS OLIVES BUT NOT USE THE OIL ON YOURSELVES, YOU WILL CRUSH GRAPES BUT NOT DRINK THE WINE: They would harvest and press their olive crops, but there would be so little product that they would have none even for their own use. Similarly their grape harvests would be so small that they would produce too little wine to drink (cp Deu 28:39,40; Amos 5:11).

Mic 6:16

OMRI... AHAB'S HOUSE: . This group of Israel's kings constituted some of the worst in the history of the Northern Kingdom largely because of their idolatry and unjust oppression of the weak (cp 1Ki 16:21 -- 22:40).

DERISION... SCORN: "Loss of reputation is ever the final indignity which rubs salt into the wounds of suffering" (Allen).

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