April 10, 2011

Minor Prophets LXIII: I AM the Law- εγω ειμι ο νομος

Yahweh...He is The Judge, He is The Jury, He is The Executioner

Micah 6: When this entire chapter is laid open it gives superfluous evidences of an ancient courtroom. We see judicial aspects everywhere in this chapter. We see a defendant. We see a Judge. We see a Prosecuting Attorney. We see charges leveled...we see a sentence...we see a verdict and it is not in favor of the defendant.

In Micah’s third Oracle we see the indictment immediately from the Lord (prosecuting attorney). Israel is called to heed what the Lord says. He challenges Israel (the defendant) to stand up before the mountains and hills and give their testimony. God calls the creation and to everyone to bear witness to Israel’s evils and improprieties. He calls witnesses to confirm that He has always been just and righteous in His dealings with His people (measure of the Law). Having done this the Lord levels his charge against His people. He again calls the mountains to hear His accusation (witnesses). The Lord addresses them as “My people” and then addresses them with a rhetorical question to convict them of their guilt in what almost appears to be a cross-examination, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you?” He then commands, “Answer me” Trapped like a disobedient criminal.

The Lord continues to build His case of righteous unmerited behavior towards a chosen people, people on which he has heaped sovereign grace. “(v.4): I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery….(v.5) …remember what Balak king of Moab…remember….remember…The statements of the Lord echo a refrain of His mercy and grace. God had delivered them from the dominate powers of their world at many different times in their history. God’s mention of Moses was a reminder of the Law and their obligation to the covenant they themselves agreed to…and violated. The prosecution builds their case and it is damning.

Micah then responds in lieu of Israel as the defendant’s voice. He speaks as a righteous man that is aware of Israel’s horrible guilt. Micah asks (v.6) “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?” Micah understands that the sacrifices that he mentions were symbols of atonement or symbols of a repentant heart. “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?” In hyperbole Micah asks if thousands of rams, 10,000 rivers of oil be proper atonement? Will burnt carcasses, firstborns suffice to supplant the guilt of their transgression? The real issue here though is their hearts. God doesn’t want smoking animal bodies and pointless sacrifice that has no conviction and no contrite heart behind it. He wants only for His people to (v.8) “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God [Him].

Israel fails to meet the demands and requirements of the contract they have made with God. They have violated their contract/covenant. As such they are subject to judgment/punishment. A sentence must be passed by the only Judge righteous and just enough to pass the judgment…Yahweh. He just happens to be the other side of the contract/covenant also.

Israel is again called to task by Micah and told to listen and heed the “rod” which is the instrument of God’s punishment…the “One who has appointed it.” Israel is further charged and her guilt becomes obvious, brazenly so. Can a just God overlook ill-gotten treasures? Overlook purposefully deceptive behavior in “the short ephah”, should God “acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?” Can a just God turn a blind eye to (v.12) rich people who are violent and liars?

Of course He cannot, “therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins.” Israel’s judgment is already upon them. God being just and omniscient the whole time has already passed judgment and this “courtroom” is an exercise in the obvious. Like an angry Judge that has lost his patience with the defendants you can almost hear God's wrath. God is slamming His Divine gavel right on top of their heads. “You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty!”, “You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword!”, “You will plant but not harvest…and the litany of destruction to come for Israel is nearly unbearable to hear. Bang, bang, bang, bang…guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!!!! The Rule of God prevails no matter what. Israel is judged and ultimately The Kingdom of God triumphs.

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