Israel Before The Court Of Heaven
by Dr. Henderson Ward
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Let us set the scene for this contemplation by taking a quick look at the book of Micah where we note the following:
Micah was a prophet of God and a contemporary of Isaiah and his prophesy took place between 739 and 686 B.C.
He was a hill country farmer and knew from experience social injustice.
His prophecies were directed to both Israel (Samaria) and Judah (Jerusalem) but mostly to Judah.
His main theme was Social Justice and True Religion.
In major speeches he articulated the visions he saw concerning his people.
In his first speech:
He declared that Judgment was approaching the nation for its sins.
He gave details of the judgment, its reasons and the promise of deliverance (Micah 1:2-16).
In his second speech:
He proclaimed the doom of wealthy oppressors and false prophets and gave details of Israel's condemnation for their disregard of people's rights (Micah 3:1-9) and their love of bribery and corruption (Micah 3:10-11).
He highlighted Israel's devastation by her enemies (Micah 3:12) and her restoration (Micah 4:1-5:15)
In Micah's third speech he presents God's case against Israel and states His promise of forgiveness and restoration.
Micah presents the Lord's case as though he was taking Israel to court and with these thoughts in mind we now turn to:
THE LORD'S CASE AGAINST ISRAEL
Israel was called to present their case against God as He presents his case against them through Micah, "Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise... and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye...for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel" (Micah 6:1-2)
A couple compelling question were asked; how has the Lord burdened them? Please say, "O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me." (Micah 6:3)
Micah pressed God's case; did he not rescue you from Egyptian slavery with the aid of His servants Moses, Aaron and Miriam? "For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants." (Micah 6:4)
Micah kept pressing; remember how He acted in the case of Balaam and Balak, "O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted..." (Micah 6:5a)
Micah pressed even harder; remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, "what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD." (Micah 6:5b)
Micah then confronted them with God's requirements:
With what shall they come before the Lord, "Wherewith 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?" (Micah 6:6)
Will thousands of rams be acceptable? "Will 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?" (Micah 6:7). The answer is clearly no.
God required them to treat people right; to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly before him, "He 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? " (Micah 6:8).
These requirements have not changed and will remain so for all people in every class, tribe and nation until Jesus comes again.
To go away from God and towards idolatry and wickedness merits punishment; for they were full of deceit, dishonesty, lies and violence, "The 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. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth." (Micah 6:9-12)
This promised punishment is imminent in the form of ruin, derision and desolation, for they hold on to the evil practices of the abominable Ahab's house, "Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied...and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword...Thou 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. For 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." (Micah 6:13-16)
THE LORD'S PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION
Micah on Israel's behalf laments
Micah, just like Jeremiah, laments deeply on Israel's behalf for he is not just a messenger of God but an inhabitant also of the Holy Land.
He bewails his utter misery because of his situation, (Micah 7:1a)
He is distressed because the godly had been swept away, (Micah 7:2a)
He is in deep agony because the upright has vanished (Micah 7:2b)
The situation has deteriorated to such an extent family and neighbours cannot be trusted (Micah 7:5-6)
But he has not lost all hope and asserted that his only hope is in the Lord, (Micah 7:7)
Sins confessed, blessings to follow
Israel will rise despite her present situation for once sin is confessed and forsaken then God will do his part and blessings will follow. Therefore the enemy must not gloat for the Lord will be a light to Israel, (Micah 7:8) but meanwhile he who sin will bear the wrath of the Lord, (Micah 7:9a)
Micah has faith that God will exonerate him in due course and give him justice, (Micah 7:9b)
He anticipates a triumphant, restored Israel, (Micah 7: 10-13)
He predicts that Israel's enemies will be astounded by her restoration, (Micah 7:10a) and the downfall of those who asked "where is your God" (Micah 7: 10b)
Meanwhile Israel must endure its travails, (Micah 7: 10c)
THE LORD'S GRACE REQUESTED
He prayed for security and guidance
He prayed for God's defence and guidance for Israel, (Micah 7: 14a)
His trust was in God and not in the might of their army.
He prayed they will be directed to satisfying sustenance, (Micah 7: 14b)
Like all God's children he knew the value of prayer.
God responded graciously
Reminding Israel of miraculous escapes of the past, "According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt ..." (Micah 7: 15a)
As from Egypt and across the Red Sea and as from defeats against superior armies promising them a display of supernatural wonders, "...will I shew unto him marvellous things." (Micah 7: 15b) Reminding them that the victory always is the Lord's, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)
He praised God's graciousness
For removing the power from their enemies, (Micah 7: 16)
For humbling strong and powerful enemies, (Micah 7: 17)
For showing mercy and bestowing compassion on the repentant, (Micah 7: 18 -19)
For being faithful to Abraham's seed, (Micah 7: 20)
Micah ends this address, not by offering condemnation and punishment but by offering hope concerning the future for the people of Israel. These promises concerning a glorious future to a great extent were fulfilled by the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel following Babylonian captivity as well as the incarnation of our Lord. However the Kingdom of God that is present now (and still to come in all its fullness) gives full expression to the promises made to God's people. So what lessons can we learn from the foregoing. I humbly suggest the following:
God abhors sin in its various forms and sin will always result in punishment.
God have standards for us to live by and this is true for all mankind.
True confession brings compassion and forgiveness.
Micah was sent to the nation of Israel, but his message is relevant to us now, for we are experiencing similar wickedness in our world today and similar calamities will surely follow. The Bible warns us that, just as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be today and except we repent we shall all likewise perish for God requires us to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. Believers need to take heed to God's word and seek God's face and be in the centre of his will and so enjoy the blessings of his grace for we can be certain that, "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
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