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6. The Lord's Case Against Israel

Hear ye now what the Lord saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. 2Hear 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. 3O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. 4For 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. 5O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.

6Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or 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? 8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 9The Lord’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

10Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? 11Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? 12For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. 14Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. 15Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

16For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Hear, ye mountains, the controversy of Jehovah, 161161     Henry says, “Sin begets a controversy between God and man. The righteous God has an action against every sinner, an action of debt, an action of trespass, an action of slander.” how? and ye strong foundations of the earth, he says. He speaks here no more of hills, but summons the whole world; as though he said, “There is not one of the elements which is not to bear witness respecting the obstinacy of this people; for the voice of God will penetrate to the farthest roots of the earth, it will reach the lowest depths: these men will at the same time continue deaf.” And he says not, the Lord threatens you, or denounces judgment on you; but Jehovah has a contention with his people. We now then see that there is no metaphor in these words; but that the Prophet merely shows how monstrous was the stupor of the people, who profited nothing by the celestial doctrine delivered to them, so that the very mountains and the whole machinery of earth and heaven, though destitute of reason, had more understanding than these men. And it is not unusual with the Prophets, we know, to turn their discourse to mute elements, when there remains no hope of success from men. But our Prophet does not abruptly address mountains and hills as Isaiah does, (Isaiah 1:2,) and as also Moses had done,

‘Hear, ye heavens, what I shall say, let the earth hear the words of my mouth,’ (Deuteronomy 32:1,)

but he prefaces his discourse by saying, that it had been specially commanded to him to summon the mountains and hills to God’s judgment. By saying then, “Hear ye what Jehovah saith,” he prepares as I have said, the Jews to hear, that they might know that something uncommon and altogether unusual was to be announced, — that the Lord, in order more fully to convict them of extreme impiety, intended to plead his cause before the mountains.

Arise, then, and plead before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. What sort of voice was this? They who think that the judges are here figuratively pointed out may be easily refuted; for Micah in the next verse mentions the substance of this pleading, namely that the Lord expostulated with his people. We hence see that God had no contention with the mountains, but that, on the contrary, the mountains were summoned, that they might understand God’s pleading, not against them, but against the people. Hear then, ye mountains, Jehovah’s controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth, that is, the very rocks. There is nothing so hard in the world, he says, that shall not be inane to hear; for this pleading shall reach the lowest depths. Jehovah then has a controversy with his people, and he will plead, or contend, with Israel It follows —


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