The book of Micah contains prophecies and messages from God given through the prophet Micah concerning the sins and impending judgment of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah prophesied sometime between 750-686 BC, during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Chapter 6 of Micah contains a powerful call from God for His people to return to Him and walk in obedience. This chapter can be outlined as follows:
- God Calls Israel to Court for Their Sins (vv. 1-2)
- God Reminds Israel of What He Has Done for Them (vv. 3-5)
- God Asks How Israel Can Repay Him (vv. 6-8)
- God Threatens Judgment for Israel’s Sins (vv. 9-16)
Key Takeaways from Micah Chapter 6
- God takes sin seriously and calls His people to account
- God has done so much for us, providing salvation, guidance, and abundant blessings
- True religion is not outward sacrifices but inward obedience and justice
- God desires us to walk humbly, justly, and obediently with Him
- Persisting in greed, violence, deceit, and idolatry brings God’s judgment
- We must remove sin from our lives and return wholeheartedly to the Lord
In the commentary below, we will explore this powerful passage and how its message applies to us today. The Scripture quotes are from the New King James Version (NKJV).
God Calls Israel to Court for Their Sins (vv. 1-2)
“Hear now what the Lord says: “Arise, plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s complaint, And you strong foundations of the earth; For the Lord has a complaint against His people, And He will contend with Israel.” (vv. 1-2)
God summons the mountains and hills of Israel as witnesses and jury for the legal proceedings He is bringing against His people. This is a dramatic scene, as God is so frustrated with Israel’s persistent sin and rebellion that He is bringing a lawsuit against them.
Though this lawsuit is directed at ancient Israel, God still detests sin among those who claim to be His people. Hebrews 12:5-6 reminds us that “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” When we sin, we should remember that God disciplines those He loves (Revelation 3:19). This should lead us to repentance.
God Reminds Israel of What He Has Done for Them (vv. 3-5)
“O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O My people, remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled, And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, From Acacia Grove to Gilgal, That you may know the righteousness of the Lord.” (vv. 3-5)
God, through the prophet Micah, reminds Israel of how He has blessed them. He delivered them from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and brought them into the Promised Land. Throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, He protected them from enemies like Balak king of Moab.
As believers today, we have also received abundant blessings from God. He has delivered us from slavery to sin through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:17-18). He leads and guides us by His Spirit. He has given us victory over sin and death by raising Jesus from the grave. As 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We are not our own – we have been purchased by God at tremendous cost and owe Him wholehearted allegiance.
God Asks How Israel Can Repay Him (vv. 6-8)
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (vv. 6-8)
Since God has done so much for Israel, what can they possibly do to repay Him or win His favor? God says He is not impressed with outward religious rituals and sacrifices. These things reflect a legalistic mindset – as if we can put God in our debt through good works or religious observances.
What God truly wants is not religious activity, but inward obedience, justice, mercy, and humility. As believers under the New Covenant, we know we cannot earn favor with God. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our obedience flows from love and gratitude, not an attempt to win God’s approval. God looks at the attitude of our hearts more than our outward works (1 Samuel 16:7).
God Threatens Judgment for Israel’s Sins (vv. 9-16)
The Lord’s voice cries to the city— Wisdom shall see Your name: “Hear the rod! Who has appointed it? Are there yet the treasures of wickedness In the house of the wicked, And the short measure that is an abomination? Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, And with the bag of deceitful weights? For her rich men are full of violence, Her inhabitants have spoken lies, And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. “Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you,
By making you desolate because of your sins. You shall eat, but not be satisfied; Hunger shall be in your midst. You may carry some away, but shall not save them; And what you do rescue I will give over to the sword. “You shall sow, but not reap; You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; And make sweet wine, but not drink wine. For the statutes of Omri are kept; All the works of Ahab’s house are done; And you walk in their counsels, That I may make you a desolation, And your inhabitants a hissing. Therefore you shall bear the reproach of My people.” (vv. 9-16)
Because of Israel’s greed, violence, deceit, and idolatry, God’s judgment is coming upon them. He will strike them with famine, poverty, and military defeat. Their false religion provides no protection. Only repentance and returning to the Lord can turn away impeding judgment.
This serves as a warning for us today. Those who claim to follow God but persist in known sin should not expect to escape discipline and consequences. Deuteronomy 8:19 warns, “Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.” Our holy God cannot tolerate sin indefinitely. If we refuse to repent, we can expect to reap what we have sown (Galatians 6:7-8).
Micah Chapter 6 contains a powerful message that still rings true today. God calls us to account for our sins and rebellion. He has blessed us abundantly through Jesus Christ. He wants our obedient hearts more than outward religious observances. And persisting in sin eventually brings discipline and judgment. As James 4:8 exhorts us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” God is gracious and ready to forgive if we return to Him. May we echo the response of the prodigal son: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (Luke 15:18).