In the first instance in today’s reading, we are ushered into a court room (1, 2). God is ‘prosecuting’ His own people, and He has an unassailable case. They, for their part, do not have a leg to stand on. God calls the mountains to ”hear” His case because they have witnessed all of Israel’s sins. They have been around even longer than the nation. (See also Deut.32:1; Is.1:2).”And now, Mountains, hear GOD’s case; listen Jury Earth – For I am bringing charges against my people. I am building a case against Israel. ” The Message.
The truth is that the Lord has been only good to them all the time (3-5): ”Dear people, how have I done you wrong? Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer! I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt; I paid a good price to get you out of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you – and Aaron and Miriam to boot! Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull, and how Baalam son of Beor turned the tables on him. Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal. Keep all GOD’s salvation stories fresh and present.” The Message. God delivered them from Egypt, gave them great leaders, thwarted the schemes of enemies and led them across the Jordan and into the Promised Land (”…from Shittim to Gilgal.”) It was a story of sheer undeserved goodness from start to finish. It will do us all good to regularly review God’s dealings with us, and ask if our lives are in any way an appropriate response to His overflowing generosity.
In (6, 7) Israel responds as if it were a single person; perhaps a king or high priest speaking for the nation. The fact is that although God initiated the sacrificial system, He never wanted an elaborate religious set-up that entailed sacrificing animals without touching the life. ”Would GOD be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil?” The Message. In a book entitled ‘Worship the Lord’, Jock Anderson says that ”God is looking for worship that is living, and living that is worship.” It was ever thus. God has always wanted people to worship Him with their lives. Empty rituals just will not do. ”Judah kept the ritual and the religious side, but God was looking for more than that. The one thing that matters is how men stand with God, and the one test of that is how they stand with man. If you are in relationship with God, then you will find yourself acting justly and showing mercy, because that is exactly how he acts towards you.” J.David Pawson: Unlocking the Bible, p.531.
Verse 8 provides one of the classic summaries of what all God’s prophets were calling for. It is fair to say that the application of these words would have resolved every sin issue raised in Micah. In terms of the walking ”humbly with your God” , F. B. Meyer comments: ” We must exchange our monologue, in which we talk with ourselves, for dialogue, in which we talk as we walk with God.”