I don’t know about you, but after a long string of bad news, both scripturally and personally, I am ready for some good news; but that is not the case in Micah.
Our high point came when Micah spoke of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. When we covered that section, I tried to show you how the priesthood, at the time of Jesus birth, had trained shepherds that cared for the sheep born in that specific region because these sheep were to be the sacrificial sheep and could have no spot or blemish. Jesus, who was to become the lamb that would be slain for the sins of the world, could not have any spot or blemish. In God’s ironic and humorous world, his lamb was born here. Those specially trained shepherds were also taught the Torah and Tanakh and knew the signs that would signify the birth of the Messiah. Perhaps this is why they came with haste, as they understood the significance of their skill sets and presence.
When Herod, almost two years after the birth of Jesus Christ, saw the Wise men coming, with their entourage, panicked and called the chief priests and elders for an explanation. They knew exactly why these men had come, and yet denied that this child born in Bethlehem was their king. Herod ignored their unbelief, and after the wise men left he had the male children two and under murdered, to eliminate anyone competing with him for power.
What do we learn from this? Predominantly, the religious leadership denied the Messiah and taught others to reject Him as well. This concept can help with your understanding of what God is now saying to Israel.
Micah 6:1-5 NASB Hear now what the LORD is saying, “Arise, plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice. (2) “Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the LORD, And you enduring foundations of the earth, Because the LORD has a case against His people; Even with Israel He will dispute. (3) “My people, what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? Answer Me. (4) “Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam. (5) “My people, remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled And what Balaam son of Beor answered him, And from Shittim to Gilgal, So that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
How do I understand verse 1?
- “Arise, plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice.”
If it seems odd that God is speaking to the mountains, perhaps this passage in Deuteronomy will demonstrate how common it is for God to do this.
Deuteronomy 30:19 NASB “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
God called heaven and earth to witness against the persons who decided not to follow God’s law. Are you telling me that these things we see as inanimate objects bear witness to what we say and do? Apparently, our perceptions of what God created are wrong, for Jesus told the Pharisees, if the disciples stopped crying out in praise for Him, the rocks would immediately cry out in their place. You can look this up in Luke 19:39-40 NASB.
Verse two shows God addressing the mountains.
- “Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the LORD, And you enduring foundations of the earth, Because the LORD has a case against His people; Even with Israel He will dispute.”
So the mountains sit in witness against us. Look at what Isaiah has to say.
Isaiah 1:2-4 NASB Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. (3) “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” (4) Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.
- “ Sons I have reared and brought up,”
- “have revolted against Me.”
He compares us to oxen and donkeys (Donkeys are a polite way of saying Jackasses.)
- “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know,”
He calls Israel a-
- “ People weighed down with iniquity,”
The direct, politically incorrect, speech continues, as God tells them straight, how He feels and understands their actions.
- Offspring of evildoers,
- Sons who act corruptly!
- They have abandoned the LORD,
- They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
- They have turned away from Him.
The words seem so harsh, but are they? Yes, but how do I know this? It is like studying a great painting. As the student, you have read the criticisms and admiration’s bestowed upon this particular painting, and as you stand there taking it all in slowly, you become aware of every brush stroke, and, in some cases, the motivation behind the work; such is the case with God’s word.
Verse three of Micah chapter six says this:
“My people, what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.”
God answers his own question in verse 4.
- “Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam,”
The logical response, in my mind, would be to understand freedom as a good thing. There is, however, an event that takes place in the hearts and minds of captives – that would be all of us, and it is called the Stockholm syndrome. A simplistic definition is this: “Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.” It seems that this was the case with God’s people. Their immediate reactions were to revert to the known ways of Egypt; based on this information I claim they were effectively Egyptians, for, by the time they were escorted out of Egypt, they were nothing more than abused slaves.
How or why would they have feelings of affections for Egypt? We all do it, we fall into a comfort zone, even though it includes pain and bondage. Welcome to the world of bondage and addictions.
The last thing we read in this section of scripture is this:
- “.. remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled And what Balaam son of Beor answered him, And from Shittim to Gilgal, So that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
First, I want you to see a context here. God had just finished saying, “I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery.” But, this event with Balaam and Balak has no good associated with it that I can see, such as their rescue from Egypt. Let me show you.
So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel. Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. (Numbers 22:3,4 NASB)
“So he (Balak) sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor (a “prophet” for hire), at Pethor, which is near the River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me. “Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.” (Numbers 22:5,6 NASB)
So here we have the motivation behind Balak’s request/demand. There is nothing noble in the scenario; however, the verse opened with, “My people, remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled And what Balaam son of Beor answered him.” I do not think that the admonition itself is a positive one, but one that causes you to remember what happened as a result of Balaam’s response to Balak.
(Numbers 22:7 NASB) So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and repeated Balak’s words to him.
God intervened for Israel (this was not their title as yet,) and withstood Balaam through speech and actions on multiple occasions. Even though they brought money, Balaam refused. Do not think for a second that this man is to be thought of highly.
(Numbers 22:14-15 NASB) The leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.” Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the former.
The third time, God used Balaam donkey to speak to the man. (For the sake of drama and color, I will add, that God used the man’s jackass to address him. Apparently, mule speak was the man’s language.) Oh yes, there was also an angel of immense proportions waving a sword in front of Balaam, and God let him see that. The passages are rather lengthy, and I will let you look them up for yourself. (Numbers 22:22-34 NASB)
In a strange turn of events, God gave Balaam the green to light to speak to Balak, or so it seems, and Balak continued to push Balaam. In the middle of this Balaam said the most amazing piece of truth, and it goes like this:
Numbers 23:19 NASB “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
These words from Numbers 23:19 are some of the greatest validations that we have for God’s character and nature.
Balaam continued to speak.
“Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it. (21) “He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; The LORD his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them. (22) “God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox. (23) “For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time, it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done! (24) “Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It will not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain.” Numbers 23:20-24 NASB
They sound invincible, don’t they, and yet, they were not. Balaam continued to pour out blessing upon Jacob and God’s people. Balak, of course, was infuriated. Do not cut Balaam any slack for there is this:
Revelation 2:14 NASB ‘But I have a few things against you because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
Strangely, we don’t see this teaching portrayed in the story about Balaam that the book of Numbers conveys to us, and yet, there it is.
2 Peter 2:15 says this:
“forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”
Balaam’s words spoke of end times events and how one would come forth, things which stand as monuments in biblical prophecy, but look at how Numbers chapter 25 opens.
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3 NASB)
What is my take away from Micah 6:1-5 –
God’s question, “what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? And His response to that question, remember.
These words remind me of a worship song from a few years ago, that says, “I remind myself of all that you’ve done.” Burdened by the, often, fiery trials that come along, it is easy to forget that God brought us out, and what He brought us out of. In our forgetting, our immaturity often kicks in, and we go back to the comfortable but deadly stuff, like alcohol or rage simply because it numbs the mind, and we don’t have to think anymore.
God never told you to shut your brain down. He says come to me, and I will give you rest. I find no shame in telling you that I picture a large glowing man with no face, sitting on His throne, and holding out his arms to me, as He beckons me to come rest on His chest. When I do that, I find peace and words of comfort; there, He tells me that I am loved, wanted, and cared for. Words like this are the things I have longed to hear all my life. He is love, and I have come to know and love this nature and character I have found in him.