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Micah 6:9-16: From Luxury to Desolation Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 January 2007

The most dramatic moments of a trial usually come when the verdict is announced and the sentencing is given.  At that point, all of the arguments have been made and all that is left is the actual judgment.  If the accused is found to be not-guilty, then the moment is one of great relief for them.  Yet, if they are found to be guilty, then the moment carries with it a great weight.

As we have noted in the past two weeks, Micah 6 takes the setting of a court room scene.  In verses 1-2 the Lord gathers in the witnesses and calls the court to session.  Then, in verses 3-5 the Lord answers the peopleís accusation against Him by accusing Israel of forgetting His saving acts toward them.  The accused answer back and question the Lord about what He requires of them in verses 6-7, to which the Lord responds by telling them that they already know what He requires, namely that they would do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (v. 8).  All of this leads us to our passage this morning.  The Lord has made His accusation clear and what He requires clear.  Now, He will pronounce judgment for their continued refusal to be obedient to what He requires (again, see v. 8).  As we consider this text together this morning, I want to identify two lessons that we learn concerning Godís just judgment.

First, All sin will be judged eventually, or no sin will be overlooked (v. 9-12).

If you are at all familiar with the Prophets (and really the Bible in general), then this lesson will not be something new.  Apparently, the people of Judah thought that they were getting away with their rebellion and injustice.  They figured that since they were the chosen people of God that God would surely not judge them for their sins.  Yet, this is a gross error.  Listen to what the Lord says in verses 9-12.  The Lord has appointed a rod, or judgment, for their sins.  What particular sins are mentioned in this text?

The sins mentioned in this text are no different really that what Micah has already addressed.  He accuses them of storing up treasures that they have gained unjustly.  In that culture an important part of the economy was the measuring rod and the weights.  The problem was that there was no real standard for the weights.  In fact, as archaeologists have explored certain cites they have found weights with similar inscriptions but varying actual weights.  So, a merchant could use the heavier weights when it profited him or the lighter weights if it profited him.  The Lord is accusing Judah of practicing such.  Thus, the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer.  In keeping with the court language, it is almost as if the Lord gets a search warrant to bring out all the evidence against the people, namely ill-gotten treasures through unjust practices.  Needless to say, this in no way met the requirement of the Lord to do justice. 

In light of such injustice and deceit, the Lord tells the people that judgment will come.  He reminds them that as a just God, He cannot ignore their sin forever.  Whether the sin seems significant to us or not does not really matter.  Sin is sin.  Injustice is injustice.  Godís character demands that all sin be dealt with.  Thus, we can be assured that no sin will be overlooked.  If you are simply hoping that God will overlook your sin forever, then you need to reconsider.  The truth is that your sins must be paid for just as Judahís sins must be paid for.  Again, this is true because of the holiness and justice of God.  His character demands that all sin must be judged eventually.  It may not be today or tomorrow, but make no mistake about it, the judgment will come.  And when it comes, it will be severe, but just, which leads to the second lesson.

Second, Godís judgment will be severe and just (v. 13-15).

The Lord has stated the verdict: the people are guilty of sin.  In verse 13 He proceeds to the sentencing.  Look at verse 13 with me.  The language that the Lord uses here is severe: a grievous blow, making you desolate.  It is important for us to acknowledge that the judgment of the Lord is not to be taken lightly.  The judgment that is coming to Judah is grievous, it is far from Ďno big deal.í  This is not the Lord telling the people that He is going to give them Ďa time-outí for their sins.  No, the judgment is severe, the sentencing is serious.

Even in this we see the Lordís attitude toward sin.  I fear we miss the severity of Godís treatment of sin which leads us to complacency towards those who have not repented and indifference towards those who do claim to be believers (including ourselves).  We must fight this complacency and indifference with the truth of Godís Word about sin and judgment.  Thus, we must affirm according to our current passage that Godís judgment will be severe.

Yet, lest we accuse God of being a wicked tyrant, we must also affirm that Godís judgment will be just.  Look at verses 14-15.  As we saw in verse 10 and 12, the wicked people in Judah were living in great luxury due to their ill-gotten treasures.  They were getting rich off the plight of the poor.  Their sin was filling their pockets.  Yet, in verses 14-15 we see that the Lord will remove their luxury.

First, we see that they will no longer be satisfied with food.  They may eat, but even the food they eat will only lead them to more hunger and even sickness.  Second, the Lord speaks of their saving, or building, with no security.  The Hebrew is difficult to translate and could be referring to women giving birth, only to have them killed by the sword.  Either way, we again see Godís removal of their blessing and luxury.  Third, in verse 15 the Lord tells them that they will have no harvest in their sowing.  They will tread olives, but they will not enjoy the oil that is produced.  They will tread grapes, but they will not enjoy the wine that is produced.  We these judgments at least partially fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.  At that time, the Jews will build and have crops but they will be used and enjoyed by the Babylonians.  Even as the rich were profiting from the poor, so then the Babylonians will profit from the labor of the Jews.

We see in this the justice of Godís judgment against Judah.  They could not say that God was being unfair in their treatment of them, for their sins were ever apparent.  Again, Godís judgments are just precisely because Godís character is holy and just.  God is not arbitrary in His judgments, He is just.  Yes, His judgments are severe, but that only befits sinning against such a holy God.  With the Lord, the punishment always fits the crime, for His judgments are just.

In verse 16, the Lord summarizes what has been said to this point.  Look at that verse with me.  The first part of the verse speaks again of the sin of Judah.  Two Kings of Israel are mentioned here: Omri and his son, Ahab.  Both of these Kings of Israel were very wicked and led the people of Israel into sin as well.  In particular, if you remember the story, Ahab married Jezebel and along with her led the people into horrible idolatry.  Likewise, there is a particular story of Ahab and his wife taking a vineyard from Naboth in 1 Kings 21.  I mention it because it is very similar to what the Lord is accusing Judah of doing, namely abusing authority and taking land that did not belong to them.  Thus, we see the likeness between the sin of those wicked kings of Israel and the current sin in Judah.

In the second part of verse 16, the Lord again pronounces His just judgment.  Once again He tells them that their luxury will change into desolation.  In fact, they will become a hissing to the surrounding peoples, a term of great derision.  Even though the Lord calls them my people, He still makes it clear that they will face severe judgment for their sins.

Now you may be thinking to yourself at this point: ĎWhy keep talking about judgment?  I mean, hasnít Micah already covered all of this?  Why beat a dead horse right?í  Let me close with two reasons why this is so important.

First, talking about Godís judgment points to our clear need for Christ, our Redeemer.  Think of it this way: this text makes it clear that no sin will be overlooked and that all sin will be judged justly and severely.  So, where does that leave us?  I mean, are we not all sinners?  Have we not all sinned heinously against holy God?  Thus, we deserve judgment, severe and just judgment.  If God decided to judge every one of us by throwing us into eternal Hell, then He would be completely just.  That is what we deserve.  He does not owe any of us anything but severe judgment for our sins.  If you think that God owes you love or mercy, then you have misunderstood the Bibleís teaching on humanityís sin and Godís holiness.  No, God owes us just judgment for our sins and just judgment will be given. 

It is this that leads me on hands and knees before the glorious cross of Christ.  The just judgment that I deserved was taken up by Jesus at Calvary.  And He bore that awful load in my place.  Every grievous act of sin that I have ever committed was paid for at the cross.  Oh, the glory of that act.  Thus, when God pronounces me forgiven, He is not saying that He considers my sin no big deal.  No, He is saying that my sins are horribly wicked, but Christ has been judged in my place.  All praise and glory be to the God who justly forgives wicked men by pouring out their punishment on His Son.  If you are hear and have not repented of your sins and trusted in Christ, then I plead with you flee the coming judgment by running to the cross.  Repent of your sins and follow hard after Christ.  Know that if you do not, then you will bear the weight of Godís judgment for your sins, which will be both just and severe.  Oh sinner, flee the coming judgment by fleeing to Christ.

Second, talking about Godís judgment motivates us to fight against sin in our own lives and in the lives of others.  We cannot read this passage and take sin lightly.  If you are in sin this morning, then repent.  If you know a brother or sister who is in sin, then lovingly confront them and call for them to repent.  We must as individuals and as a community of believers stop taking sin so lightly.  We have committed to fight for one another in this regard and out of love we must be faithful to this task.  This is why we must make membership meaningful.  This is why we must be willing to practice discipline in situations that call for it.  Otherwise we are simply ignoring what the Lord says about sin and judgment in this passage.  Christ did not die so that we would take sin lightly.  Rather, He died to demonstrate to us just how horrible sin really is.  Thus, for the sake of His glory and our good, may we fight against sin in our own lives and in the life of our community.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 28 January 2007 )

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