What charges did the Lord bring against His people?
The setting of Micah 6 is a courtroom. God called upon the mountains, hills, and foundations of the earth to hear His case against His people (Micah 6:1-2). The latter part of verse 2, “even with Israel He will dispute,” should be understood, “and He will plead [reason] with Israel.” God’s case was not built upon anger but love. God asked His people how His treatment of them could have possibly led to their present attitude (Micah 6:3). He asked for an answer, but none was given.
God then proceeded to appeal to history. He reminded them of the things He had done to redeem them, not weary them. He delivered them from bondage in Egypt and provided leaders for them (Micah 6:4). He protected them in the wilderness when Balak sought to curse and destroy them (Micah 6:5a). He was with them in Shittim, the last encampment in the wilderness, and miraculously led them across Jordan to Gilgal, the first encampment on the west side of the Jordan. God did these acts in order that His people “might know the righteous acts of the Lord” (Micah 6:5b). These events should have caused the people to respond to God in gratitude and obedience.
Practical Consideration: God takes notice of our ingratitude and faithlessness.
God’s faithfulness and goodness to us should cause us to respond to Him in gratitude (see Psalm 103:1-5). God never gives us cause to respond to Him in disobedience and faithlessness. In fact, God’s goodness and faithfulness accentuates our ingratitude and faithlessness. How would we respond if God were to ask us, “My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.” (Micah 6:3).
How did the people respond to God’s charges?
An unidentified speaker interrupted Micah and asked what God required of them. Did God want them to bow before Him? Did He want more and better sacrifices? Would He be satisfied with thousands of rivers of oil? Should they go so far as to sacrifice a first-born son to please Him? (Micah 6:6-7). Micah’s religious audience claimed to be doing all of the right religious things. They were, outwardly, very pious. They did every religious thing they knew to be rightly related to God. They seemed to be very concerned about their vertical relationship. But something was wrong! The people were doing right things with a wrong heart. As one commentator noted, they had lost their religion in religiousness. Their piety was devoid of ethics and character.
Practical Consideration: Religion cannot make men right with God.
Micah’s audience was very religious. They outwardly did all of the right things and said all of the right words. They appeared to be very zealous in religious matters. Their piety however, was devoid of ethics and character. They went through the activity of worship one day and then abused their fellowman the next day. They offered all of the right sacrifices in the daytime and then plotted evil on their beds at nighttime. And yet they did not feel that they were wrong with God (see Micah 3:11b). Religious activity does not make men right with God.
What was Micah’s response to the people?
Micah responded to the people by reminding them that while they were concerned with their vertical relationship, they had neglected their horizontal relationships. They were interested in doing the religious things that they thought would make them right with God, but neglected doing the things that would make them right with their fellowman. Micah reminded his audience that God had already told them what was good (Micah 6:8a). They did not need a new revelation, they needed to obey the revelation they already had. Micah reminded the people of the missing dimension in their lives (Micah 6:8b).
[A] God requires His people “to do justice.” This means to set right what is wrong and to do what is right, fair, and honest between men.
[B] God requires His people “to love kindness” or to practice faithful love. God requires His people to love others even when there is nothing that merits that love. We are to love others as God has loved us.
[C] God requires His people “to walk humbly with your God.” A man who practices justice and faithful love can walk humbly with God. To “walk humbly” with God means to willingly submit to His will.
Practical Consideration: We should obey the truth that we have.
Micah reminded his audience that God had already told them what He required of them. Many believers today are also without excuse when it comes to knowing what God expects. We have the benefit of exposure to God’s Word through worship gatherings, Bible studies, and multi-media. The problem most believers have is not the need for more Bible study, but obeying what they already know from the Bible. Our need is not so much “to know” as it is “to do” what we already know.
What charges did God bring against the people of Judah and Jerusalem?
Once again, God brought charges against the city (Micah 6:9). The city of Jerusalem was a very influential city and its sins would not go unpunished. While God required His people “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8), the verses that follow show the corrupt state into which the nation had fallen.
[A] The people were guilty of deception and dishonesty. They used false weights and measures to their advantage (Micah 6:10-11). See also Amos 8:5.
[B] The wealthy used violence to advance their plans for gain (Micah 6:12a).
[C] The people in general were deceitful and wicked (Micah 6:12b).
[D] The people patterned their conduct after that of Omri and Ahab (Micah 6:16).
Practical Consideration: God notices how we treat one another.
The book of Micah illustrates the fact that God notices how we treat one another. Our horizontal relationships have an impact upon our vertical relationship. Jesus had much to say about this subject (see Matthew 5:23-24 and 6:14-15). The New Testament is filled with “one another” passages that accentuate the importance of how to properly interact with others.
How would the people be judged for their sinfulness?
Micah (6:13-16) declared that God would judge His people “because of your sins” (Micah 6:13b). They were marked for destruction, derision, and humiliation (Micah 6:16b). Notice that the people would experience frustration and futility (see also Amos 5:11b):
[A] They would eat but not be satisfied (Micah 6:14).
[B] They would try to save their earnings/possessions but not preserve anything (Micah 6:14).
[C] They would sow but not reap (Micah 6:15).
[D] They would tread olives and grapes but not enjoy the benefits of that labor (Micah 6:15).