Sermon on Micah 6:1-8
Text: Listen to what the LORD says:
“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.
2 “Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. 5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? 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 thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
You have seen the scene played out many times on a courtroom drama on televison. You have the accused on the stand. He is sitting there smugly, because he thinks that there is no way that he will ever be convicted of the crime he is accused of committing. Then, the lawyer starts into him with his line of questioning. At first, the defendant is able to deflect all of the questions. Then, the lawyer introduces a piece of evidence that was totally unexpected. The defendant is in shock. Then, he confesses that he is guilty. In our text for this morning, we have a similar situation. There is a courtroom. There are witnesses. The defendant is someone that we know very well. It is you. It is me. At the end of it all, to borrow the first line of a hymn, we end up saying “LORD, TO YOU I MAKE CONFESSION.” 1. “I Have Sinned And Gone Astray.” Then, we also say, 2. “Lord, On You I Cast My Burden.”
Our text for this morning comes to us from the prophet Micah. Micah was called to the nation of Judah during a time of prosperity. Unfortunately, as so often happens, this wealth led to a moral decline in the nation. The rich were using their wealth to victimize the poor. Religion became just an outward observance of the customs, without the heart really being in it. Bribes were common for government officials and judges. This was a nation in desperate need of a wake up call. This is the task that God called Micah to undertake.
To help get this message across, God uses a picture of a courtroom. We read in verses 1&2, “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. “Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.” The mountains and hills form the jury in this courtroom. They, also, are to serve as judge and witnesses. What stories they could tell of God’s faithfulness to Israel and Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. Mount Zion was the place where the Lord’s name and glory dwelt. God came to them as he had with no other nation. How many of the hills throughout Palestine had witnessed Israel’s shameful and abominable worship of false gods, such as Baal. They could well testify that God had been faithful to the people and the people had often turned their back on God.
The Lord continues the courtroom drama by asking a very revealing question. He says, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.” (Verse 3) He asks what he had nikotinentzug – so überwinden sie die symptome | ohnerezeptfreikauf ever done to deserve the treatment that they had given him. In what way had he ever injured them? What had he done that made their lives so miserable? Then, he gives evidence of his love for them, “I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.” (Verse 4) He reminds the people of his faithful and loving care. He had rescued them from bitter slavery in Egypt, beginning with the Passover. When they were in the wilderness, God did not leave them without a leader. He sent them Moses as his representative, Aaron and Moses’ spokesman, and Miriam as a prophetess. God reminds the people that he was with them every step of the way as they traveled to the Promised Land.
He continues in verse 5, “My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” As the people came near to the border of the Promised Land, Balak was afraid of the people. Balak wanted to prevent Israel’s entrance. He saw that other armies were not able to defeat the Israelites. So, he hired Balaam to put a curse on them. However, at God’s direction, Balaam ended up blessing the people, instead. God protected them against this evil king. Then, God’s calls to their mind Shittim. This was the last camping place before Israel would cross the Jordan River. The people committed sexual sins with the Moabites and joined in their idolatry. Though God did punish the people for this, he did not reject them. He brought then across the Jordan to Gilgal, which was their first encampment in the Promised Land. God was faithful in every one of his promises to the people. It is here that the Lord rests his case.
Now, let’s join Israel on the stand. We may not have hills and mountains as witnesses in the case, but we have all heard the expression, “If only the walls could talk.” What would the walls of the church say? They would say that God has been faithful in proclaiming his Word to us. He has told us everything that he has done for us, including sending his Son to be our Savior. The walls would point out God’s love for us every time that the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were used. What about the walls of our houses? What would they say? They would speak of God’s love for us in providing us with so many material blessings. We have food enough to eat. We have clothes. We have a roof over our heads. Yet, they could also witness to the sins that we have committed there. There are the unkind words that we have spoken to each other. They are the times when we have been selfish and insisted that it must be our way.
The Lord could also ask us, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.” How has God burdened us? Our sinful nature has answer right away. Our lives are not always pleasant. We have tough times that we have to go through. Besides that, our sinful natures continue, God’s laws are a burden. They don’t let us do what we want to do. However, to that God, would ask, how has it ever been better for you when you disobeyed my laws? When has it ever gone well with you when you lied? Has it ever been better for you when you took something that didn’t belong to you? When did you ever have peace when you were discontent with what I have given you? The Lord rests his case against us, as well.
The accused now respond. They see that they are convicted by the Lord’s charges against them. Rather than being sorry for what they have done, they ask, “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Verses 6&7) Remember that the people had gotten used to the idea that they could bribe judges. So, they think they can bribe God. ‘What will it take, Lord, to satisfy justice and make you happy with us again?’ Perhaps, God would be satisfied with a year old calf, which was used in the most important sacrifice. This would be a valuable payment. If quality wasn’t sufficient, perhaps quantity would pay off the Lord. So, they speak of thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil. They acknowledged their sins, but they tried to make up for them with self-righteous acts. They placed their hopes on what they could do.
It’s easy to see ourselves here, as well, isn’t it? We feel our sins, so we think of ways that we can make it up to God. We give a larger offering to try and quiet the conscience. We volunteer to do things for others. We try to be extra nice to people. All of these things are good and fine, but they don’t make up for one sin that we have committed. We cannot buy off God with our works.
What was missing in Israel’s case, and what is missing in our cases, when we feel this way is true sorrow and repentance over our sins. David tells us what is the appropriate sacrifice when we sin. He wrote in Psalm 51:5, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, O God, will not despise.” In other words, we need to see our sins for what they are. They are those things that are completely against God’s holy will. There are no excuses for any of them. Because of them, we rightly deserve God’s wrath for all eternity. In spite of God’s continued faithfulness to us, we must admit that we have been unfaithful to him. This is not a pleasant thing to do, because it reminds us of how sinful we are. It is not a popular thing to do in our world today, when everything is all about building up our self-esteem. The law demands that we take a good, hard look at ourselves and confess with the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)
How we thank God that he has had mercy on us. He sent his Son to rescue us from the mess that we have made out of our lives. Where you and I were unfaithful to God, Jesus was faithful throughout his entire life to his Father’s will. Every word that he said, every thought that he had, every action that he did, was perfect. Then, we see the mercy of God in having his Son go to the cross to pay for all of our sins. He suffered the punishment of hell so that we would never have to. This was the only sacrifice that could ever make satisfaction for all of our sins. When Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished,” he told you and me that God is no longer angry with us because of our sins. This was confirmed the day that he rose from the dead. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God can declare us “Not guilty!” Case closed!
Now Micah addresses us, who have been declared “Not guilty” in verse 8. He says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” First of all, he reminds us that God has shown us what is good, namely, the fact that he sent his Son to be our Savior. Then, he encourages us, in light of this, to show our thankfulness for all that he has done for us. We are encouraged to “act justly.” This means that we conduct our lives according to the law of God, motivated by love that he has shown to us. It means that are to worship the Lord alone. We are to “love mercy.” This involves showing a loving, forgiving, compassionate love to others in the same way that the Lord loves them. Micah also mentions, that we are to “walk humbly.” True humility starts by the action of God’s law convicting us and our absolute poverty before God. This is something that we need to do every day. We then take those sins to God and know that Jesus has paid for every one of them. Yes, we confess that we have sinned and gone astray, but we also cast our burden of sin on Jesus and know that, for his sake, we have been forgiven.
There is an old saying that tells us “Confession is good for the soul.” However, that is far easier to say than to do. We don’t like to confess our sins to God, because it reminds us that we are not perfect. It reminds us that we deserve God’s punishment. Yet, it is an absolute necessity for us to do every day because we sin every day. How thankful we are that God has had mercy on us and forgiven us. How our spirit soars to hear him say to us, ‘Son, daughter, I have forgiven your sins.’ May this then motivate us to live our lives in thankfulness. In reality, confession truly is good for the soul. Amen.
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