The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2019
Study 11: Micah 6:9-16
Micah came as God’s prophet to bring serious charges against Israel. God’s people had been foolish and disobedient. When confronted with their selfish and sinful lives they bragged on their willingness to bring great sacrifices. But sacrifices were never a way to earn forgiveness. The sacrifices were given to show three basic things:
1. the horrible death lawbreakers deserve
2. the way Messiah would one day come as the Lamb of God and die in their place
3. the trust the people had in God’s promises and instructions
Just the blood of animals didn’t impress God. Nor did the willingness of sinners to give up something valuable. It was the humble heart repenting from self-trust and sin, and trusting with sincere faith in the promises of their Creator that showed God’s grace at work in them. That’s what made the difference.
A heart changed by God and given faith, was also good. While even their good behavior didn’t earn forgiveness, it was evidence that they had been forgiven by God’s love and made able to perform their good works for God’s glory.
Micah 6:8 tells us what the truly forgiven are like:
– They will sincerely want to live justly.
– They love God’s mercy, and desired to show true kindness to others.
– They walk humbly with their God.
But Israel had not been good. She was guilty as charged.
It was time for God to pronounce his sentence on Israel
Micah 6:9, “The voice of the LORD cries to the city– and it is sound wisdom to fear your name: ‘Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it!’ “
Micah delivered God’s final word of warning “to the city” Jerusalem, the capitol of Judah which then represented God’s whole covenant nation.
He reminded them that it’s wise to fear, respect, the name of God. The Bible without apology classifies a person who doesn’t recognize the awesome might and holiness of the Creator a “fool”.
When someone courageously rescues a victim from a burning building we call him brave. While going about his duty of mercy, he has great respect for the power that surrounds him. But when someone wanders around in a burning building just for excitement he is certainly a fool. In contrast, the wise don’t ignore great power and authority. They treat it with respect and caution.
Israel hadn’t acted wisely toward God. She had acted like a fool. She had toyed with forbidden things without heeding the warnings. She had neglected her duties without concern. She ignored the inevitable consequences. Sin had grown to a place where it permeated all of her society. Micah was calling her to wisdom.
A rod of judgment was poised to fall on the rebellious nation. There’s a difference in some translations here. The ESV says, “… Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it!” The NASB says, “Hear, O tribe. Who has appointed its time?” The Hebrew word translated as “rod” or “tribe” is “metah” (מטּה). It’s basic meaning is, “branch, twig, rod, staff, or stick”. Some take this to mean “tribe” because a tribe is a branch family of a nation. When used with the word “appoint” in the context of judgment it means a rod of punishment, probably not tribe. Micah is saying “Listen, the rod! and who has appointed it?” God’s rod of correction and judgment was coming just as he had warned. They asked for it by their foolish disobedience and apathy. Now listen up — here it comes!
Just as it happens in a court of law …
The judge recounted the charges
and the findings of the court.
Had Israel been good? Remember the context back in verse 8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Had Israel done justice, loved kindness, and walked humbly with their God?
They had not done justice.
Micah 6:10, Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?
11. Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights?
They had been warned many times to keep evil out of the family of God. God warns us today to avoid gossip, to ban greed and lust from our lives, and to keep harsh and crude language out of our mouths. Yet somehow, even in the church of Christ, it keeps showing up. He is saying, “How did these get in here? Is there someone still bringing in the treasures of wickedness? Are you still using dishonest standards?”
Business men were measuring by a short ruler, using scales and a bag of stone weights that cheated their customers. Can a person be just when doing these kinds of things?
What about the church today? Is there dishonesty there too? Do its people use creative bookkeeping when calculating God’s tithe and the use of their time and skills? Do they demand service by one standard from those waiting on them in restaurants, repair shops, or at the supermarket, while they measure their own service to the Lord and to their families and on their jobs by a different standard?
Injustice had taken its toll in Israel. Now she must pay. How long can a community go on living unjustly, and expecting that it will never catch up with them? Micah warned; There are consequences for sin, and they are coming!
They had shown no love of kindness.
Micah 6:12, Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
Micah asked, “How about you who are rich and able to help the needy?” He’s speaking to those able to help others in the city of God, and to the other residents. When you have something to offer, do you help? Or are you full of cruelty and violence when you can forgive a debt and help the struggling? Do you wisely manage what God has entrusted to you? or do you demand payment from the widows and sick?
When you know the truth about a situation and can set the matter rightly? Do you care about the truth or do you conceal it for personal gain? Do you tell lies or mislead others, when you could be helping them? The commentator Hitzig calls Israel “a population of liars and cheats”
They not only were unjust, but underneath it there was no kindness. They didn’t care about the situation of others.
Lack of lovingkindness had taken its toll in Israel. Now she must pay. How long can a community go on without kindness? Their selfishness won’t get them what they greedily want. Sooner or later it will catch up with them. Micah warned: there are consequences for sin — and they are coming!
They had walked proudly in the ways of the heathen.
Micah 6:16a. For you have kept the statutes of Omri, and all the works of the house of Ahab; and you have walked in their counsels, …”
Omri was one of the most wicked kings of Israel. 1 Kings 16:25-26 says, “Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. ” His sons formed a wicked dynasty who led the people in an evil period.
Ahab was the son and successor of Omri. It says about him in 1 Kings 16:30, “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.”
Micah lived long after the death of the Omrid’s, but the lesson was clear. Far from walking humbly in the ways of the LORD, they were walking foolishly in the ways of Omri and Ahab.
Walking proudly in her own wicked ways had taken its toll in Israel. Now she must pay. How long can a community go on walking in wickedness and pride? Micah warned: there are consequences for sin, and they are coming!
It’s as if the Prophet was asking: Is this a people who do justice? who love kindness? who humbly walk with God? But Israel, just like so many Christians today, swore they were good. Is the believer’s life visibly indistinguishable from unbelievers? It’s not talking about your style of clothing or music, your weekly schedule, or your brand of entertainment and diet. It’s asking about how faithfully do you do justice, show a love of kindness, and humbly walk in the ways of God.
The sentence was announced.
There will be judgment, the withholding of covenant blessing. God’s punishments fit the crimes committed.
They would now be sentenced for breaking of the second table of the law
Jesus quoting from Moses divided the law into two basic categories in Matthew 22:37-40. The second of the greatest commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). This summarizes the second table of law, commandments 5-10. We should honor our parents. We should not murder, commit sexual impurity, steal, bear a false witness against someone, or covet what God has given others
However, they had been unloving to their neighbors. They had not done justice or loved kindness. When men violate their human relationships and duties they will suffer losses related to their sinful greed.
Micah 6:13. Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins.
14. You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be hunger within you; you shall put away, but not preserve, and what you preserve I will give to the sword.
15. You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
Micah warns them: God will take away your health. You will become incurably sick. God will withhold reward for your hard work. You will eat and not feel satisfied. You will hide things away, but it will be lost to you. You will plant, but not reap. You will tread the olives, but have no oil for anointing. You will tread the grapes, but have no wine to drink.
This is reminiscent of the warnings Moses had given long before in Deuteronomy 28:38-40, “You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off.”
Because of their selfish lives, they will now lose what they greedily sought. Micah warned; There are consequences for sin, and they are coming!
They would now be sentenced for breaking of the first table of the law
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God above all else (Deuteronomy 6:5). This summarizes the first four commandments. We are to worship the one true God only, make no physical image representing God, never use God’s name carelessly, and always keep the Sabbath day holy as God commanded it.
They had not been walking humbly with their God. Therefore they will now suffer as those who are not the people of God.
Micah 6:16b, “… that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people.”
Moses had warned in Deutronomy 28:37, “And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away.”
They would become an object of derision and shame before the heathen. Because they walked proudly in ways that offended God they will now lose their reputation as God’s people. Micah warned that there are consequences for sin — and they are coming!
There are always serious consequences when we are not good.
Godless communities and families will pay dearly when they neglect justice, kindness, and a humble walk with God. Sadly, even the godly will suffer when their society falls into sin. These are principles built into creation as certainly as the physical laws. If a child of God punctures his skin it will hurt and may get infected. Spiritually, when God’s children neglect justice, and withhold kindness the benefits of justice and kindness disappear from his community.
If a child of God behaves according to his own ways, and neglects his walk in the ways of God, it will not appear that he is a child of God. He will become a mockery of his claim to being a Christian.
Considering these warnings, what should we do?
– We should not let sin deteriorate to such a pervasive level as it did in Israel. We should stop accumulating the wages of sin, and consider what it will bring.
– We should be witnesses to God’s call to holiness and warnings showing Christ-likeness in our lives. We should behave justly and fairly, applying God’s principles consistently. We should appreciate and demonstrate God’s lovingkindness and mercy.
– We should be searching for and showing God’s glory in all things, even in the midst of judgment. This means we should admit that we deserve his displeasure. We should appreciate the grace that sent the Messiah to die in our place.
When we neglect to change the oil in our car the dry parts invisibly grind away the insides of your engine until it stops. When we neglect the ways of God in our lives, when we let sin and selfishness grow, the consequences grind away the moral foundation of our lives.
We are to uphold justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. If we don’t care, we should be ready to face the results. They will surely come.
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
Index to the Studies in Micah