God is Our Judge

Micah 6
In the first verse of Micah 6, we encounter "courtroom language."

Hear what the Lord says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel.

The people of Israel were summoned to God's courtroom. While He has a rock-solid case against them, He still loved them and claimed them as His own.

Verse 3 begins with these three words: "O my people."

And then the Lord went on to ask, "What have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me!"

God was addressing His people as parents do when they must discipline their children. He was challenging them to see things from His perspective in a way they could understand.

Can you see what the main reason was for God's case against His people? They'd grown weary of Him. They were tired of obeying His rules, His precepts, His ways. So, they rebelled. They'd given themselves over to idol worship.

In verses 4-5, God reminded them of what He had done for them.

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (v. 4).

Verse 5 says, "O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him."

Balak was the king of the Moabite people and they paid Balaam, a false prophet, to pronounce curses on Israel, so when Moab fought Israel they'd win. Yet, every time Balaam pronounced curses, the Lord blessed Israel. He gave the nation victory over the Moabites.

God reminded His people, through the prophet Micah, that even when people tried to speak curses against them, He intervened for their good.

Verse 5 goes on to say, "And what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord."

The Lord had stopped the River Jordan so Joshua and God's people could cross into the Promised Land. God was giving evidence of His goodness, bringing greater weight to His claim that His people have committed adultery against Him.

God was saying, "The coming judgment is on you. I don't want this for you. I want good for you. But you worship idols. Because you've done this, you've brought judgment upon yourselves."

The same happens to this day. God still disciplines His people when they worship idols. When we take something and elevate it higher than the Lord, we've made an idol out of it. God says, if we don't change our ways, the judgment that comes is our own doing.

God brought His people out of "the house of slavery." He redeemed them. God wanted them to remember what they had been up against. The strongest military in the world refused to let them go. The Lord sent plagues on Egypt and Pharaoh let God's people go.

But after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after them. And what did God do? After He parted the Red Sea and all His people crossed on dry land, God destroyed the Egyptian army by closing the sea around them.

All appeared lost in Egypt. Yet, God brought His people out. All appeared lost when Pharaoh's army approached them at the Red Sea. Yet, God brought them safely across. All appeared lost when Pharaoh's army was crossing the Red Sea after them. Yet, God destroyed the army.

God was telling those of Micah's day, those facing the Assyrian invasion and exile, to remember His redemption. He was saying, "Remember who I am. Remember how I redeemed you in the past. I will redeem you again."

God's plan of redemption for His people can still be seen today. There is forgiveness for the sinner who comes to Christ. There is also forgiveness for God's child who has gone astray into idol worship. There is forgiveness and restoration available to them.

The mighty work of redemption we see in the Old Testament foreshadowed God's redemptive work on the cross. Today, God is telling all His people to remember their redemption. Even though we still fall into sin, forgiveness is available. It doesn't matter how far we fall, how long we sin, how far we stray, or how high we elevate idols; forgiveness is available to us. Now that's grace!

When we're tempted to sin, to pursue anything other than God Himself, we must remember what He has done for us. We must remember that He has redeemed us.

Let's consider verses 9-12 of Micah 6: 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! Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

Here is the evidence God had against them. In their heart, they had rejected the Lord and turned to wickedness. Their heart had become filled with violence, lies, and deception. They had become like those around them. That has always been the opposite of what God intended for His people.

Micah told the people they were to kill their idols, to purify themselves, and to strive for holiness. They were to become distinct from the world, as we are. This is the only way we can effectively proclaim the gospel to the world. We must purge ourselves of sin—in particular, idol worship.

We serve what we love, what we cherish, what we worship.

In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

In verses 23-24, He goes on to say, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."

But we're a fallen people; we have a sin nature we're constantly battling against; we're living in a fallen world. How can we possibly keep His commands? That's why God sent the Holy Spirit. He knew we couldn't do it on our own. That's why the Holy Spirit resides in all God's people, to give them the ability to gain victory over sin. If we love Jesus, we have a heart that wants to please Him. And we do so by obeying His commands.

What happens when the object of our love isn't Jesus? What happens when we focus on money, status, and material possessions? These things soon become our master. Eventually, our new master convinces our conscience that sin isn't sin. Our morals, standards, and principles come into alignment with our new master and our hearts become as wicked as the world around us.

In today's text, God brought powerful charges against His people. The object of their love was no longer the Lord. Instead, it had become the things of the world. The longer they were in this rebellious state, the more their hearts moved away from God. They rebelled against Him.

It's as if they were saying, "We're no longer satisfied with you. We're no longer satisfied with your goodness. We're no longer satisfied with your grace." They turned their hearts from God to another master, committing spiritual adultery.

If we were in God's courtroom, and God brought a case against us, I wonder how we'd do. Too often we turn from the Lord, toward the lustful allure of the world. We are all as guilty as the Israelite's of Micah's day.

The defendants, God's people, had been read the charges against them. They had seen all the evidence.

In verse 6, they responded in this way: With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Their leaders were corrupt. They took advantage of the weak and vulnerable. If the leaders were in trouble, they bought their way out of it. They used their wealth and status to get whatever they wanted. They heard the charges and the evidence against them. They knew they were guilty. They knew they deserved destruction. So, what did they do? Did they remember God's redemption and cling to Him in repentance? No. They tried to bribe God, even though they knew what God required.

First Samuel 15:22 says, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams."

God requires our repentance when we sin. Not bargaining. Not sacrifice. While the people of Micah's day offered to do anything, to give anything, to avoid God's judgment, the one thing He required was the one thing they didn't offer.

God wanted them to repent. He wanted them to have a changed heart. God wanted them to love Him, but God's people weren't willing. Ultimately, they wanted to live how they wanted, worship how they wanted, and be who they wanted.

We're not all that different. Instead of asking for forgiveness and repenting when we become aware of our sin, we often consider what we can do to make things right, to alleviate our guilty conscience. But this is not true repentance. There is nothing we can do to earn forgiveness. God wants our heart, nothing less.

When we feel the sting of His holiness, God doesn't want us to do more, to work more, or to give more. He wants His people to change their hearts. That is true repentance.

Micah 6:8 says, "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?"

It's as if Micah interrupted to tell God's people, "God wants you to do what is just, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God—not sacrifice more burnt offerings."

We must cast ourselves on the Lord, depend on Him, and trust Him. We must walk humbly with Him every day. God looks at our heart. He wants us to love and obey Him as a result of that love.

In verses 13-16 of Micah 6, God sentenced His people. These judgments were nothing new to the people of Israel. He had told them in Deuteronomy what would happen if they strayed from Him.

In verse 13, He said He would strike them with a grievous blow. In verse 14, He declared a famine would affect every one of them. And in verse 15, He said their sword (human strength) and crops would fail.

God could have destroyed their enemies. He wanted His people to repent. Not with words or actions. He wanted a repentant heart. A repentant heart acknowledges three things: 1) a need for mercy and grace; 2) the fact that we're sinners, guilty of walking away from the Lord, deserving of His wrath; and 3) the fact that the only way to avoid judgment is to cast ourselves on Christ and trust what He has done for us. We must cry out for mercy, confess our sins, and cast ourselves on Jesus. We must have a repentant heart.

Ironically, the people of Micah's day offered to sacrifice their firstborn to God to appease His wrath. But it was the sacrifice of God's Firstborn Son that secured our forgiveness.

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ."

Because of His unfathomable love for us, God sacrificed His Son on the cross. That sacrifice, that payment, paid the debt of sin in full. Anyone who puts their faith, hope, and trust in Christ is redeemed. The verdict: not guilty!