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God Challenges Israel

 6

Hear what the Lord says:

Rise, plead your case before the mountains,

and let the hills hear your voice.

2

Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,

and you enduring foundations of the earth;

for the Lord has a controversy with his people,

and he will contend with Israel.

 

3

“O my people, what have I done to you?

In what have I wearied you? Answer me!

4

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

and redeemed you from the house of slavery;

and I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.

5

O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,

what Balaam son of Beor answered him,

and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

 

What God Requires

6

“With what shall I come before the Lord,

and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?

7

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

 


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Mic 6:1-16. Appeal before All Creation to the Israelites to Testify, if They Can, if Jehovah Ever Did Aught but Acts of Kindness to Them from the Earliest Period: God Requires of Them Not So Much Sacrifices, as Real Piety and Justice: Their Impieties and Coming Punishment.

1. contend thou—Israel is called by Jehovah to plead with Him in controversy. Mic 5:11-13 suggested the transition from those happy times described in the fourth and fifth chapters, to the prophet's own degenerate times and people.

before the mountains—in their presence; personified as if witnesses (compare Mic 1:2; De 32:1; Isa 1:2). Not as the Margin, "with"; as God's controversy is with Israel, not with them.

2. Lord's controversy—How great is Jehovah's condescension, who, though the supreme Lord of all, yet wishes to prove to worms of the earth the equity of His dealings (Isa 5:3; 43:26).

3. my people—the greatest aggravation of their sin, that God always treated them, and still treats them, as His people.

what have I done unto thee?—save kindness, that thou revoltest from Me (Jer 2:5, 31).

wherein have I wearied thee?—What commandments have I enjoined that should have wearied thee as irksome (1Jo 5:3)?

4. ForOn the contrary, so far from doing anything harsh, I did thee every kindness from the earliest years of thy nationality.

Miriam—mentioned, as being the prophetess who led the female chorus who sang the song of Moses (Ex 15:20). God sent Moses to give the best laws; Aaron to pray for the people; Miriam as an example to the women of Israel.

5. what Balak … consulted—how Balak plotted to destroy thee by getting Balaam to curse thee (Nu 22:5).

what Balaam … answered—how the avaricious prophet was constrained against his own will, to bless Israel whom he had desired to curse for the sake of Balak's reward (Nu 24:9-11) [Maurer]. Grotius explains it, "how Balaam answered, that the only way to injure thee was by tempting thee to idolatry and whoredom" (Nu 31:16). The mention of "Shittim" agrees with this: as it was the scene of Israel's sin (Nu 25:1-5; 2Pe 2:15; Re 2:14).

from Shittim unto Gilgal—not that Balaam accompanied Israel from Shittim to Gilgal: for he was slain in Midian (Nu 31:8). But the clause, "from Shittim," alone applies to Balaam. "Remember" God's kindnesses "from Shittim," the scene of Balaam's wicked counsel taking effect in Israel's sin, whereby Israel merited utter destruction but for God's sparing mercy, "to Gilgal," the place of Israel's first encampment in the promised land between Jericho and Jordan, where God renewed the covenant with Israel by circumcision (Jos 5:2-11).

know the righteousness—Recognize that, so far from God having treated thee harshly (Mic 6:3), His dealings have been kindness itself (so "righteous acts" for gracious, Jud 5:11; Ps 24:5, 112:9).

6. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?—The people, convicted by the previous appeal of Jehovah to them, ask as if they knew not (compare Mic 6:8) what Jehovah requires of them to appease Him, adding that they are ready to offer an immense heap of sacrifices, and those the most costly, even to the fruit of their own body.

burnt offerings—(Le 1:1-17).

calves of a year old—which used to be offered for a priest (Le 9:2, 3).

7. rivers of oil—used in sacrifices (Le 2:1, 15). Will God be appeased by my offering so much oil that it shall flow in myriads of torrents?

my first-born—(2Ki 3:27). As the king of Moab did.

fruit of my bodymy children, as an atonement (Ps 132:11). The Jews offered human sacrifices in the valley of Hinnom (Jer 19:5; 32:35; Eze 23:27).

8. He—Jehovah.

hath showed thee—long ago, so that thou needest not ask the question as if thou hadst never heard (Mic 6:6; compare De 10:12; 30:11-14).

what is good—"the good things to come" under Messiah, of which "the law had the shadow." The Mosaic sacrifices were but suggestive foreshadowings of His better sacrifice (Heb 9:23; 10:1). To have this "good" first "showed," or revealed by the Spirit, is the only basis for the superstructure of the moral requirements which follow. Thus the way was prepared for the Gospel. The banishment of the Jews from Palestine is designed to preclude the possibility of their looking to the Mosaic rites for redemption, and shuts them up to Messiah.

justly … mercy—preferred by God to sacrifices. For the latter being positive ordinances, are only means designed with a view to the former, which being moral duties are the ends, and of everlasting obligation (1Sa 15:22; Ho 6:6; 12:6; Am 5:22, 24). Two duties towards man are specified—justice, or strict equity; and mercy, or a kindly abatement of what we might justly demand, and a hearty desire to do good to others.

to walk humbly with thy God—passive and active obedience towards God. The three moral duties here are summed up by our Lord (Mt 23:23), "judgment, mercy, and faith" (in Lu 11:42, "the love of God"). Compare Jas 1:27. To walk with God implies constant prayer and watchfulness, familiar yet "humble" converse with God (Ge 5:24; 17:1).




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