Today and tomorrow, Micah refocuses the challenge. God is making a case against Israel, entire. Let the mountains, creation listen. What did Yahweh do wrong? Nothing! What a recital of good things done for Israel! Even the role model of Balaam responding to Balak form Numbers (look it up today!)
Big picture, this sounds just like Amos, Hosea, First Isaiah – the 8th century prophets crying at the greedy infidelity of Israel, and God’s righteous offence taken. In this context of the affluent and rich elites proposing religious rituals of atonement, the moral outrage of Micah is dismissive, giving us the next of our favorite cherry-picked nuggets of ‘what does the Lord require of you’.
No wonder we so rarely keep reading from 6:9. Your affluent city should cringe before the just God who knows our weights and measures are commercial sharp practice. The guy who is caught red-handed with crooked scales is busted. Rich people are violent, if only in covert violence of callous disregard of those violated by the way things are. All the people participate in the lies.
The curse is unforgettable: eat without being satisfied, store up but save nothing, plant but not harvest, not get the product anymore. Can you imagine a people who can’t satisfy their appetites, no matter how much they consume, or save, no matter how much they grab? Sure you can!
Does it matter when we’re talking about somebody else’s community, rather than our own, in diagnosis or prognosis? The shape of things never changes.
Micah 6 (NRSV)
1 Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel.
3 ‘O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.’
6 ‘With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
9 The voice of the LORD cries to the city (it is sound wisdom to fear your name): Hear, O tribe and assembly of the city!*
10 Can I forget* the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?
11 Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights?
12 Your* wealthy are full of violence; your* inhabitants speak lies, with tongues of deceit in their mouths.
13 Therefore I have begun* to strike you down, making you desolate because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be a gnawing hunger within you; you shall put away, but not save, and what you save, I will hand over to the sword.
15 You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
16 For you have kept the statutes of Omri* and all the works of the house of Ahab, and you have followed their counsels. Therefore I will make you a desolation, and your* inhabitants an object of hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people.