Micah 6:1-16

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015



We have seen Micah's first message in chapters 1-2 in which he declared that Judgment Will Come. We have also seen his second message in chapters 3-5, in which he declared that Blessing Will Follow Judgment. We move on to his third and final message in chapters 6-7 in which He indicts Israel for sin but promises a future blessing which will come as a result of God's goodness.

Once again we see that God's intent in this message is to motivate His people to change their lives and to live for Him.

III. Micah's Third Message: An Indictment of Sin and a Promise of Blessing - 6:1 - 7:17

In verses 1-5 God, like a prosecutor in a courtroom (vv. 1-2), states His case against Israel: (1) He rescued Israel from Egypt; (2) He gave leaders to Israel like Moses, Aaron, and Miriam; (3) He reversed the intended curse of Balaam (Numbers 23-24 ); and (4) He brought His people into the Promised Land (Shittim was the last encampment on the east side of the Jordan River, and Gilgal was the first encampment on the west side of the Jordan River.).

We see -

A. An indictment by the Lord - 6:1-5

Micah 6:1 - Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou [i.e. Israel, stand up and plead (or argue) your case] before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice [Of course, the mountains and hills could not hear Israel's voice, but the people living on the mountains and hills could. The mountains and the hills represent people everywhere.].

The three major sections of the book are introduced with the word hear in 1:2, in 3:1, and in 6:1).

In verse 1, contend is a verb used as a command. The same Hebrew word is used as a noun in verse 2 where it is translated controversy.

Micah 6:2 - Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy [i.e. Hear the LORD's indictment, Hear the LORD's complaint, Hear the LORD's accusation, Hear the LORD's lawsuit, Hear the LORD's litigation against Israel], and ye strong foundations of the earth [Once again, the mountains and foundations of the earth represent people who are called upon to listen.]: for the LORD hath a controversy [i.e. the LORD has a complaint, the LORD has a case] with his people [i.e. with Israel], and he [i.e. the LORD] will plead with Israel [i.e. the LORD will contend with Israel, the LORD will bring charges against Israel].

Micah 6:3 - O my people [i.e. O Israel], what have I [i.e. the LORD] done unto thee? [Of course, the LORD has done nothing wrong to Israel.] and wherein [i.e. how] have I [i.e. the LORD] wearied thee [i.e. how have I burdened you]? testify against me [i.e. answer me as if you were testifying in a courtroom. Testify regarding what wrong I have done to you or how I have burdened you.].

The LORD had never done anything wrong to Israel. He always treated them well. They had no basis for any complaining against Him. Likewise, the LORD has always treated us well; and we have no basis for any complaint against Him. He has treated us much better than we deserve.

In verse 4 God begins to state His case against Israel -

Micah 6:4 - For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants [i.e. I redeemed you out of bondage (or slavery) in Egypt]; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

The deliverance of Israel from their slavery in Egypt and His providing them with leadership during their years in the wilderness was an example of God's goodness to Israel.

In verse 5 God continues to state His case against Israel -

Micah 6:5 - O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted [i.e. remember what Balak king of Moab counseled], and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim [i.e. Acacia Grove] unto Gilgal [Shittim was the last encampment on the east side of the Jordan River and Gilgal was the first encampment on the west bank]; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse Israel; but every time Balaam opened his mouth to curse Israel, he blessed Israel instead of cursing them. This was another example of God's goodness to them.

The LORD miraculously enabled the Israelites to cross the Jordan River at flood stage from Shittim to Gilgal by blocking up the water coming from upstream so that they could cross the river on dry ground. It was yet another example of the LORD's goodness to Israel.

Next, after the indictment by the LORD in verses 1-5, we see -

B. The response of Micah for the nation - 6:6-8

In replying to God in verses 6-8, Israel proposes to make up for her sin by offering sacrifices. But God replies that He had previously told them (in Deuteronomy 10:12 ) that He prefers obedient, spiritual people (v. 8).

Deuteronomy 10:12 - And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

It's also what the LORD expects from us, isn't it?

Micah 6:6 - Wherewith [i.e. with what] shall I [i.e. shall I Micah, speaking on behalf of the nation] come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I [i.e. shall I Micah] come before him [i.e. come before the Lord] with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old [i.e. with calves to be sacrificed]?

Micah was a faithful prophet. He believed in the sacrificial system the LORD had established, which provided atonement for the people's sins. These sacrifices were intended to be outward expressions of inner trust and dependence on God for His grace and mercy, but the people were just going through the motions of worshiping the LORD with no real or genuine heart commitment to the LORD. Thus, their sacrifices were worthless.

We can see that it is also easy for believers to fall into the trap of going through the motions as Christians. We can dutifully attend church fairly regularly and do all the right things without giving our hearts to the Lord. Even in our personal lives we can say all the right things and do all the right things out of a sense of duty but not because of love. As spouses, we can do all the right things because we are supposed to but not give ourselves on behalf of each other.

Let's always be genuine. Let's always put our hearts into what we are doing. Let's never be just going through the motions in our service for the Lord or in our interpersonal relationships.

Micah 6:7 - Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I [i.e. I Micah] give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah knew that all the sacrifices in the world would not appease God's wrath which was directed against Israel's sin. He was also not condoning the practice of child sacrifice which was practiced among the pagans.

Micah was asking these questions to suggest to Israel that nothing - not even the most extreme sacrifices - could atone for what Israel had done. Instead, God wanted them to change their ways and to live for Him.

Micah 6:8 - He hath shewed thee [i.e. The LORD has shown you], O man [a reference to every individual Israelite], what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly [i.e. to do justice, to do right], and to love mercy, and to walk humbly [rather than proudly or arrogantly] with thy God?

Finally, in addition to seeing the indictment by the LORD in verses 1-5 and Micah's response for the nation in verses 6:6-8, we see -

C. The Lord's judgment because of sin - 6:9-16

Israel failed to meet God's righteous requirements listed in verse 8. Therefore, He would have to punish the nation so that they might learn to do what He wanted. Does this not suggest a reason for the Lord's correction of believers as well as a parent's correction of his children: so that they would learn to do what is right?

In verses 9-12 God lists some of Israel's sins and in verses 13-16 the punishments for them.

We see -

1. The sins - 6:9-12

Micah 6:9 - The LORD'S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom [i.e. wisdom] shall see thy name [i.e. wisdom will see the LORD's name - wisdom will understand the LORD's involvement in the correction of His people.]: [the people of the city are commanded] hear ye the rod [i.e. heed (or pay attention to) God's instrument of correction], and who hath appointed it [and (hear the LORD) Who has appointed the rod to correct you].

II Timothy 3:16-17 - 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction [Do we listen to the correction found in the Word of God any better than the Israelites listened to God's correction?], for instruction in righteousness [Are we learning to live righteous lives?]: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Micah 6:10 - Are there yet the treasures of wickedness [i.e. ill-gotten treasures] in the house of the wicked, and the scant [i.e. the short] measure that is abominable [i.e. abomination]?

People were gaining wealth through dishonest means. According to verse 10 they were using a scant measure to measure grain. A scant measure is a short ephah. The idea is that it was smaller than it was supposed to be. It was a dishonest measure and was intended to cheat people. An ephah was a dry measure of about 6 gallons. Maybe it only contained 5 or 5 1/2 gallons. As a result, the people were not getting as much as they were paying for. Merchants were cheating their customers.

Micah 6:11 - Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances [i.e. shall I count pure those with the wicked scales], and with the bag of deceitful weights [i.e. a bag of deceptive (or false) weights]?

When weighing things for purchase, people had scales which were not accurate because the weights did not weigh what they were supposed to weigh. As a result, the customer might be paying for 5 pounds of something but only be getting 4 1/2 pounds of it. This cheated the customer.

Micah 6:12 - For the rich men thereof [i.e. for the rich men of the city] are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof [i.e. the residents of the city] have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth [i.e. their tongues speak deceitfully - an example of Hebrew parallelism, saying the same thing in two different ways].

Violence by the rich men in the city and lying business practices were all too common.

For these sins we have seen in verses 9-12, we see -

2. The punishment - 6:13-16

Micah 6:13 - Therefore [i.e. because of the merchants' deceptive business practices and the violence and lies of the rich people] also will I [i.e. will I the LORD] make thee sick in smiting thee [i.e. I will make you sick, Israel, by striking you], in making thee desolate [i.e. by bringing ruin on you] because of thy sins.

Micah 6:14 - Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied [i.e. your food will not satisfy you]; and thy casting down [casting down probably means "emptiness" (in their stomachs)] shall be in the midst of thee [i.e. hunger will still be in your midst]; and thou shalt take hold [i.e. you will attempt to store some things up], but shalt not deliver [i.e. but you will not be able to save anything] [i.e. you may carry some away but you will not save them]; and that which thou deliverest [i.e. what you do rescue (or save)] will I give up [i.e. will I give over] to the sword [i.e. I will give it over to your enemies. Whatever you set aside for safekeeping, your enemies will take it away from you.].

Micah 6:15 - Thou shalt sow [i.e. you will plant], but thou shalt not reap [i.e. but you will not harvest]; thou shalt tread the olives [i.e. you will squeeze the oil out of the olives], but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil [but you will not get to use the olive oil you have squeezed out of the olives.]; and [i.e. you will make] sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. [You will not get to drink the wine you produce. You will be in captivity and unable to enjoy the fruit of your labor because of your sin.]

According to verse 16, the people had degenerated to the low level that characterized the days of Omri and Ahab, a period that had become a byword for apostasy. Omri and Ahab were two of the worst kings in the northern kingdom of Israel. In the days of their rule, there was great apostasy including Baal worship. Jezebel was the wife of Ahab. True prophets of the Lord were murdered during their reigns.

Micah 6:16 - For the statutes of Omri are kept [i.e. observed], and all the works [or practices] of the house of Ahab [are done], and ye [i.e. you people of Judah] walk in their counsels [i.e. in their traditions]; that I should make thee a desolation [i.e. give you over to ruin], and the inhabitants thereof an hissing [i.e. that I should make the inhabitants of Judah a derision]: therefore ye shall bear the reproach [i.e. you will bear the scorn or ridicule] of my people.

The people of Judah will go into captivity as a result of her sins, her idolatrous practices, and violence. They have followed the same practices as the people in the northern kingdom of Israel.

The notes on Micah 6 found in the Bible Knowledge Commentary were especially helpful in preparing this lesson.


This sermon is the 7th part of the series, Study of Micah. Other sermons in this series are: