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The Lord’s Controversy
We now enter upon the third division of the book. It is no longer the future that the prophet is especially looking forward to, either of joy or of sorrow; but he directs the attention of the people to their ways, and presses home upon the conscience moral truth of great moment. In other words, this final message is the practical application of what has gone before, and is, in large measure, of the same character as the major part of the prophecy of Jeremiah and much of Hosea.
The mountains and the hills (an oft-used simile for chief cities and their tributary villages) are called upon to give ear to the searching words of “the Lord’s controversy.” We are told, “The Lord hath a controversy with His people, and He will plead with Israel” (vers. 1, 2).
God always has a controversy with those who walk in disobedience. There can be no fellowship or communion while His Word is not bowed to. He desires truth in the inward parts: nothing else will satisfy “Him that is holy, Him that is true.” The moment the conscience is reached, and the heart bows before Him in true self-judgment, controversy ceases, and communion is reestablished.
Let the reader note: it is not of union we write, but of something which flows from it, and which should ever be maintained with it-communion.
Union implies being partakers of the common life of all God’s children. “He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” (Hebrews 2:11). All such are eternally united to Him from whom they derived that new life. This is a link that can never be broken. Otherwise the life communicated would be forfeitable, and not eternal.
But communion is the normal state of one who has thus been made a child of God. It is the practical manifestation of that life in abiding fellowship with the Father and the Son. For the saints of Micah’s day it was, according to the revelation then made, enjoyment of Jehovah’s favor. This Israel had forfeited by disobedience; and it could only be regained by self-judgment. The principle abides. Only when that which is known to be contrary to the Word of the Lord is unsparingly condemned in my own life and walk, will I enjoy communion with God.
That Israel might be stirred up to desire this, He takes them back over their early days, reminding them of His patient grace with them from the day when He first brought them out of the house of bondage (vers. 3-5). He had led them like a flock through the wilderness, permitting none to curse them, but, in His holy discipline, dealing with them Himself when they sinned, that they “might know the righteousness of the Lord.”
All His chastening was with a view to their blessing. Therefore the humbled soul might well ask, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” Did He demand sacrifices and offerings? Was it these that were lacking? Would He be pleased with thousands of rams and myriads of rivers of oil? Even though one gave upon the altar his dearest and best, his first-born, would that avail for the sin of the soul? Was it by means such as these the interrupted communion was to be restored? (vers. 6, 7).
No! It was righteousness that was lacking. Righteousness, then, must be maintained. “He hath showed thee, 0 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?” (ver. 8). Only when they bowed before Him, to own the sin of the past, and sought strength to walk as here outlined, could there be that happy sense of the Lord’s favor which lifts the soul above all circumstances, and enables it to joy in God Himself.
But that this might indeed be, “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!” (ver. 9). This is the beginning of blessing. When the soul bows before God and owns the righteousness of His disciplinary dealings, then he is in the place where restoring grace can meet him. As long as he kicks against the goads, so long must he go on under chastisement. But when he “hears the rod,” confessing his need of it, he has reached the point where restoration begins.
The next three verses itemize the sins to which general reference had been made; that the people may the more readily pass judgment upon them selves and all that is unholy in their ways. Covetousness, extortion, unrighteousness in business dealings, violence, deceit-all these evil things are the evidence of their wrong state of soul (vers. 10-12). Therefore governmental wrath must fall if there be no sign of repentance: they would be made desolate because of their sins. In vain should they seek satisfaction while the will was insubject and the walk opposed to holiness. They might sow, but they should not reap; in fact, all their labor should be for naught. The work of their hands would fail to meet the needs of the body till they came to themselves, like the prodigal, and owned their guilt (vers. 14, 15; see also Deuteronomy 28:38-40 and Haggai 1:6).
The chapter closes with the record of the melancholy fact that Jehovah’s law was despised; but “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 a hissing; therefore ye shall bear the reproach of My people” (ver. 16). Solemnly and tenderly had the Lord pleaded, and set forth the grounds of His controversy with them; but the words fell on deaf ears and calloused consciences. They seemed bent upon their own destruction-and these things are written for our admonition. May we have ears to hear and hearts to understand!
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Micah 6". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18