George C. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
This portion of the prophecy is very “profitable for reproof, for doctrine, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work!” For it is indeed a part of the sacred Scripture, which is given by inspiration of God. The prophet Micah belongs to the holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Indeed, it is the more sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts (II Tim. 3:16, 17;II Pet. 1:19-21).
We do well to keep this in mind as our guiding star.
We must be as the scribe, who, instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is as a householder, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old (Matt. 13:52).
Our purpose in writing these exegetical studies is to avoid a lengthy series. These studies, which I prepare for publication, no longer appear in semimonthly installments so that they can be followed with any degree of reading continuity. Hence, our concerted effort to write short series of articles.
This series is composed of four installments.
Let us notice the verses 1 and 2 of Micah 6. We read, “Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD’S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.”
Let us also give heed to these words of Jehovah. These are words which are already echoed in Micah 1:2-5. Please read these verses from your own Bibles.
We should notice the following elements in these verses.
1. That the prophet speaks here about the LORD and his words as being the mouth-piece of God. He is truly a prophet. He is, as it were, the official in the court of God, summoning Israel to have their day in court with the Lord. And we should notice that Israel cannot fail to heed this summons with impunity. To do so will be accounted contempt of court, disobedience to the Most High God. We should observe that the arena of the Lord’s court is such that all creation is called to stand at attention and to witness. Yea, the very mountains and hills must take heed; they must hear the LORD’S controversy with his people, Israel!
2. We should also observe carefully that in “controversy” it is not Israel that pleads her cause and case in court, but that it is the LORD, who comes down from his place, who comes and treads the high places of the earth. This case in court really is the question: whether the LORD’S righteousness is based on Israel’s works of merit, or whether God’s righteousness is solely sovereign love and grace to Israel. This will become evident in the verses 3-5 of this Chapter.
We read here:
“O my people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee?” (verse 3).
What a challenging question we hear in this verse from the mouth of the LORD! However, it is also a very loving and endearing question, which is rooted in the fact that God loved Jacob. Do we not read inDeuteronomy 10:15, 16: “Only the LORD had delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff necked”.
What has the LORD done to Israel which was not purely saving and forgiving love? Come, now, Israel, for it is the golden opportunity to testify, that is, to marshal all your evidences against the LORD! Step forward, be very truthful, and mention just one deed of God in all of Israel’s history, which will indicate that God gives reason for us to be weary of his doings. Wherein has the LORD proved Himself unfaithful to His promises? Was the word of God ever such that he spoke and that he did not perform it? Is God a man that He should lie? Should we consider it unfair of God to thus confront Israel and/or us, too? Verily, here every mouth is stopped. All Israel stands guilty and speechless before a righteous and just God!
The LORD gives His bill of particulars. Listen to what he says in verse 4, “For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants: and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”
This is the first point in the LORD’S controversy. There are two kinds of people in Israel in all ages. There are those who tremble at God’s word, and there are those who harden their hearts. Those who tremble at God’s word, humble themselves before God and joyfully confess that He has never “wearied” them at all. They remember the Scriptures, which warn us as sons never to weary of the LORD’S fatherly chastisements (Prov. 3:11; Heb. 12:5-13). There is nothing in all of the thoughts of God’s heart which is not for our peace and for our eternal salvation.
Let us look at the record as God relates it.
Notice three things which God enumerates in his court.
First, God relates his great historic act of love to Israel. Israel possessed a great promise of God as recorded in Genesis 15:13, 14. This word of promise was that He would deliver Israel after four hundred years of bondage as strangers and pilgrims in the land of Egypt. It was emphatically in Egypt that God loved Israel with a great and redeeming love. He was rich in mercy when he heard the groaning of His people in the hot brick kiln. We read, “And God looked upon the children of Israel and had respect unto them.” Yes, He knew them in loving and faithful fatherly care. He remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God’s loving care stands up in court. Let all the hills and mountains give heed. Where are these accusers now who had the anxious question: hath God forgotten to be kind? To be sure, the unbelieving Israel never ceased to murmur, even from the day that God sent Moses to them as their deliverer and leader. But let God be true and every man a liar. The true Israel of God confess in their darkest hour withMalachi 3:6 “it is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed. Jeremiah sings in his deepest grief over Jerusalem “. . . great is thy faithfulness, the LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lam. 3:24).
Secondly, He points out in His controversy with His people His great work of salvation. We read in verse 4, “I redeemed thee out” of the house of servants.”
In this act of delivering Israel out of the house of servants, God proved Himself to be their Goel. It is true the verb here in verse 4 for “redeemer” is not the term Goel, yet it is a Hebrew term which also refers to the redemption of Israel by God’s gracious, powerful, and saving hand. We have but to read the Hebrew text in Psalms 25:22; Ps. 26:11; Ps. 31:5; Ps. 49:7and several other passages, that this redemption refers to the LORD’S bringing forth of Israel because He saw the blood of the slain sacrifice on the doorposts of Israel’s houses.
God never wants his people to forget this great salvation under the blood of the passover Lamb!
Without this great merciful salvation the Decalogue petrifies into a mere legal code. However, now the ten precepts of the law breathe redemptive mercy. Small wonder that, when the very essence of Israel’s relation to God is a question in court, God rehearses the truth of the great covenant of grace. Here we have the confession pressed from our hearts and lips, “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Israel, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Micah 7:20).
The book of Micah does not end with the solemn word “Amen”. However, in effect the prophet here swears by the God of Abraham and his seed! And this God is “Amen” in Jesus Christ.
Finally, we must not forget the important reminder in this controversy of God with his people, that He adds, “And I sent before thee Moses, Aaron and Miriam” (Verse 4b.)
This brief reminder shews that outstretched arms of the LORD over Israel in sending them these two brothers and their sister as ministers for joy and safety. Through the service of these earthen vessels, God shewed that the excellency of the power and salvation was only of the LORD. Not one Israelite could base his hope and trust on the arm of flesh, but only on God’s mighty outstretched arm over them, using weakest means to fulfill his purpose! Thus was the glory of the Lord enhanced.
First of all, a word about Moses, the man of God. Surely, he was no common prophet. Of him the sacred record has, in Deuteronomy 34:10-12 an epitaph on his unknown grave, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel, who the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all the mighty hand, and in the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.”
Indeed Moses is worthy of special mention in court.
Great also was Aaron, who served as Moses prophet. He later bore the breast-plate, and he entered into the most holy place once each year, not without blood. And his priesthood, called the priesthood after the order of Aaron, served till the high priest, the king-priest after the order of Melchizedek came in Jesus.
Two great servants in the annals of Israel, buried outside of the land of Canaan on mount Hor and Nebo respectively. These were not to be forgotten as God’s loving protectors of Israel, and who pronounced the blessing of God upon Israel “. . . the Lord make his face to shine upon thee and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
And then, never to be forgotten, Miriam. Yes, she sinned, she became a smitten leper. But she was cleansed. From her sanctified lips we hear the refrain. “The horse and his rider hath he cast, drowned in the sea.” Having died, she, too, yet speaks.
A worthy threefold servant of the Most High.
This is God’s faithfulness.