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Micah 6:1-5: God's Accusation Against Israel Print E-mail
Micah
Sunday, 07 January 2007

In thinking back on this past week, how many of you would admit to worrying about something or just doubting God is some area of your life?  If I am honest, I must admit that not even a week has past in 2007 and I am already guilty of worrying about how it will turn out.  We get so distracted by our circumstances and what is going wrong in our lives, that we often forget all that God has done for us in the past, all He is doing for us presently, and all that He has promised to do for us in the future.  We so easily accuse the Lord of forgetting us, when in reality we are the ones who are forgetting.  As the song says, we are prone to wander, prone to sin, prone to worry, prone to forget the God we love, who is faithful and good.

We are not the first to struggle with worry and doubt (and we will not be the last unless the Lord returns in our generation).  In fact, we are very similar to the people of Israel and Judah in Micahís day.  As we have pointed out, they let their worry over crops and rain lead them to fortune tellers and idolatry (see 5:12-14).  They, like us, have a tendency to quickly abandon their faith in God when things are not going their way or to keep things going their way.  Micah, speaking on behalf of the Lord, has already criticized them for their lack of trust in God.  They, too, are prone to wander.

The setting of our text this morning is a courtroom.  The Lord, who is the Plaintiff, is accusing Israel, the defendant, of forgetting all that He has done for them in the past.  Micah, the Lordís prophet, is speaking on His behalf as He calls in the mountains and hills to witness against Israel and Judah, whom the Lord calls my people (see verses 3 and 5).   As we walk through the text this morning, I want us to consider Godís case against Israel (which we will look at more next week).  We will spend the majority of our time looking at Godís accusation against His people, but I want to begin by considering the witnesses He calls.

The Mountains and Hills are called in as witnesses against Israel (v. 1-2).

The prophet begins this part of the book by once again affirming that he is speaking on behalf of God.  Look at verse 1a.  He follows this with Godís call to the mountains and hills to witness against Israel.  Look at verses 1b-2.  Why would the Lord call the mountains and the hills to be witnesses?  Micah gives us a hint in verse 2 where he describes them as the enduring foundations of the earth.  The mountains and hills have been there from the beginning.  They know the whole story.  They were there when God chose Abraham.  They were there when He rescued them out of Egypt.  They were there when the Lord established His covenant with Israel.  And they were there as Israel broke this covenant and forsook the Lord.  When you are guilty, your only hope is that no one saw the crime and no convincing evidence can be brought against you.  But Israel knew that this was not so in her case.  Her crime, her forsaking of the Lord, her rebellion was clear.  So clear that even the mountains and hills could bear witness to it.

Yet, what is the accusation that the Lord brings against Israel?  What is his indictment against them?

God accuses Israel of forgetting His saving acts toward them (v. 3-5).

The tone of this passage is somewhat different from what we have seen thus far concerning Israel in Micahís book, for as we have mentioned, the Lord addresses Israel as my people.  Look at how He continues in verse 3.  It seems as if the people were actually accusing God of forgetting and forsaking them.  They were accusing the Lord of being wearisome.  Does that not sound familiar to us?  How many times do we let our circumstances bully us into accusing God of forsaking us?  So, how does the Lord respond in such times?  He calls us to stop forgetting all that He has done.  Consider how He does this with Israel.

God reminds Israel of their salvation from Egypt.  Look at verse 4.  In the face of their accusation against Him, God reminds the people of the Exodus.  Israel was a slave to Pharaoh and they cried out for deliverance.  God raised up faithful leaders, namely Moses, Aaron and Miriam (in contrast to the present leaders in Judah), to lead the people out of Egypt.  He held back the waters of the Red Sea so that they could cross and destroyed Pharaohís pursuing army when they tried to do the same.  The Lord calls them to remember all that He did for them in the Exodus.  How could they accuse the One who rescued them from Egypt?

God, through Micah, also reminds them of their salvation through the wilderness and into Canaan.  Look at verse 5.  Not only did the Lord get them out of Egypt, but He also got them in to Canaan.  The Lord specifically reminds them of the threat of Balak, King of Moab (see Numbers 22-24).  Moab was one of the places that Israel had to pass through to get to the Promised Land.  Since the Lord was giving them victory over any who opposed them, Balak wanted to curse them.  He called in the prophet Balaam and told him to curse the people of Israel.  Yet, Balaam could only do what the Lord allowed and ended up blessing the people instead of cursing them (of course if you remember the story Balaam had his own difficulties with his donkey, who was only trying to protect him).  Thus, the Lord delivered Israel from the King of Moab through Balaam (and his donkey). 

The Lord also mentions two cities specifically: Shittim and Gilgal.  Why are they significant?  Shittim is where the Israelites left to cross the Jordan (see Joshua 3:1ff).  Gilgal is the name of the city where Israel first camped in the Promised Land, as we saw in the text we read to begin our service.  It is there that the Israelites set up the stones of remembrance to remind the coming generations of Godís power in drying up the Jordan.  It is also the first place that Israel observed the Passover in Canaan (see Joshua 5).  It is at Gilgal where the people paused to remember Godís deliverance from Egypt.  As you can see, when the Lord mentions these two cities through Micah, He is saying much about all that He has done for Israel.  Thus, how could Israel accuse the Lord of forgetting them?  How could they accuse the One who brought them into the Promised Land?

Through the prophet Micah, the Lord responds to Israelís accusation against Him by reminding them of what He has done for them in the past.  Apparently they had forgotten the saving acts of the Lord.  Yet, how could they bring any accusation against the Lord in light of all that He had done for them in the past?  The Lord is simply calling for them to remember.

As the first week of 2007 comes to a close, we too need to remember the saving acts of the Lord.  Maybe you are like me (and Israel) and have a difficult time remembering all that the Lord has done.  Maybe you are tempted to be distracted by all of your circumstances.  Maybe things are already not going like you would like in this new year.  Or maybe you are worried that things will not continue to go well.  Maybe you are filled with thoughts of doubt and worry.  Maybe these thoughts have even led you to accuse the Lord of forgetting about you. 

If this is you this morning, then let me simply say to you what the Lord is saying to His people through Micah: remember.  Remember the saving acts of the Lord.  Not just the Exodus, not just the crossing of the Red Sea or the crossing of the Jordan or the conquering of Canaan, not just Shittim or Gilgal.  No, as New Testament believers we are called and blessed to remember more than just Godís saving acts toward Israel.  We remember the cross.  We remember that the Word became flesh and spent His first night in a manger in Bethlehem.  We remember that He too was brought from Egypt by the Lordís direction.  We remember that He grew up in Nazareth and ministered around Galilee.  We remember that He wept for Jerusalem, the Holy city.  We remember His death at Calvary, His suffering in our place under the wrath of His Father.  We remember that the grave could not hold Him, but that the Father raised Him up and gave Him authority over all.  And we remember that He has promised to come again and gather as His own all those who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Him.  We remember the saving acts of our Lord.

Yet, if we are indeed prone to forget, then what can we do to make sure that we remember?  Let me just mention two things in closing:

First, we read, study, and memorize the text.  The Lord is reminding His people through the prophet Micah of things that are written in the Law.  All they had to do was read Exodus or Numbers.  They could simply read of Israelís crossing of the Jordan in Joshua, even as we read this morning.  The Lord is not telling them anything new.  He is simply reminding them what His Word clearly teaches.  We do not need a new word from the Lord as much as we need to heed the old Word.  If you want to be faithful in remembering the saving acts of the Lord, then take up His Word and read, they are all there.  Let the text amaze you and encourage you and drive your doubt and worry away.  We remember through the study of Godís Word.

Second, we remember the saving acts of the Lord by coming to the table this morning.  When the Lord instituted the ordinance of communion, He told us to do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).  The very purpose of the supper is to remember the saving acts of the Lord.  As we eat of the bread and drink of the cup this morning we are silently proclaiming to everyone present and to the Lord that we remember.  We remember Calvary.  We are much like the Israelites sitting on the edge of the Jordan in Gilgal celebrating their first Passover in Canaan.  They were remembering the saving act of the Lord that delivered them from Egypt and they were remembering Godís promise to deliver the Promised Land to them.  In the same way, we sit here this morning, remembering the saving act of Christ at Calvary, our Passover Lamb, and remembering His promise of future grace, that one Day we will enjoy this meal in His kingdom, the new heaven and the new earth.  Until that day, may we be faithful to remember.  Amen.

1 Bruce Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 193.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 January 2007 )

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