Summary: A sermon given at the London School of Theology. When things go wrong in our lives God is the first to get blamed! Here, God challenges the Jews to remember (his past goodness) and recognise (that THEY are in fact the ones who have grieved Him)
Micah 6:1-8. LBC (London School of Theology). Monday 10th Jan 94
Walking home from work one lunchtime this week I passed one of the guys I know in the street (because his son’s a christian...) sweeping snow off his car. Seeing me he said "thank you God" (kind of Eyore style) as he swept a load of snow off. "And thank you God for yesterday!"
When I asked him what happened yesterday he said "yeah- your God sent all that rain... and the electrics of my car just drink it in... yeah, and thanks God for that great big puddle that when I hit it just washed out my electrics... and then your God sent all this disgusting snow"
Actually.. he’s quite a good bloke... at least you know where you stand with him (and I do think he’ll eventually get ’zapped’).
"It’s funny how God gets the blame...rather than your car... or your driving", I said. "I’ve heard with these cars the problem is with the NUT holding the wheel"... sort of thing.
We went on to discuss other things from there.
It’s funny how God gets the blame for things... and of course in a way everything IS His fault.. but especially when we’re ’far from Him’ He gets the blame for things that are our own making. Or we doubt His loving hand because we can’t understand His working in our circumstances.
This is the situation here.
"My people, what have I done to you" (V3)
Israel thought they had a claim.. or a charge.. against God for the things happening to them- "I mean, why do you put these burdens on us, God?! Why do you reject the sacrifices we offer? How can you allow these Assyrians to threaten and assail us... we don’t deserve this kind of thing!"
The situation is that Samaria .. and even Jerusalem.. are in moral decline. Amos, a generation earlier, tells us of the rot setting in in SAmaria.. and inside information given us by Isaiah and Micah tell us just how bad things are. The gap between rich and poor had broadened to the point where landowners were now dependent on the elite rich. Dishonesty ruled as even the judges were corrupt. The religious leaders weren’t much better.
Things LOOKED good, religiously, as the gifts made to the temple were pretty lavish- but there was little evidence that some loved God.. or their neighbour. Ahab’s false religion had permeated the whole nation in just over a century. As an accomanying sign of this spiritual decline the power of Assyria overshadows the book and the fate of (particularly) Israel..
They think it’s God whose let them down. But God protests His innocence: "What have I done to you?" "HOW have I burdened you?... TESTIFY AGAINST ME!"
In reality they had wronged God... and what we have here in chapter 6, really, is a courtroom scene.
God tells Micah (V1) to state his case before witnesses.. before the mountains (which have been around long enough to have seen the whole thing..)
Micah speaks to Judah and particularly Israel in V2 saying "the LORD is lodging a charge against Israel"
and in V3
God tells it like it is
His aim is to rebuke Israel, and to woo them back. He LOVES them and He fires straight at their heart. He calls them "MY people" twice. He calls them to look back and reflect on what He’s done for them in the past. To "count their blessings"- then they’ll see just how much God has been with them.
I don’t know how you feel... entering another term.. you might be excited.. you might be exhausted, already (Gosh, I need another holiday)... you might be wondering where God is in all of this (yes, I’m sure people do that.. even working at a BIBLE college)... or a whole load of feelings that accompany the ’post-christmas slump’- varying from expectancy and the deisre to get ’stuck in’ through ’endurance & comitment’ to sheer spiritual weariness and dispondency.
But here, in their dispondency and sin God calls them to reflect on His deeds of the past. To remember His faithfulness as revealed over centuries rather than in the ups and downs of days and months.
REMEMBER your redemption from slavery, Pharoah and Egypt
REMEMBER the great leaders I sent you
REMEMBER how Moab’s attempted curse of Israel was turned to a blessing because GOD WAS FOR THEM. Pharoah and his magicians didn’t stop them. Neither did Balak’s.
God’s aim in asking them to reflect is twofold: firstly, they’ll see God does love them, is with them... and can do it again
Secondly, they’ll realise that the way things are with them are a pointer to the fact that THEY are the ones who need to change their approach, not God.