The Lord’s Judgment on Judah
Rich Freeman, DMin
In Micah 6:9, the prophet announced to the city of Jerusalem, “The voice of the Lord will call to the city.” God would be declaring something significant to the inhabitants of Judah, and they would be wise to pay attention to what He had to say. Micah added, “And it is sound wisdom to fear Your name.” Micah then told Judah to heed the warnings of the Lord in his pronouncement: “Hear, O tribe. Who has appointed its time?” (Mic 6:9).
The Lord then asked through the prophet if there was still anyone in “the wicked house” of Judah who had “treasures of wickedness,” possessions they had accumulated through dishonest behavior (Mic 6:10–11). God also inquired whether any seller used a false measurement, which would misrepresent the amount and value of his merchandise. If so, this was evidence of cheating the people. Additionally, Micah described these “wicked scales” and “deceptive weights” as tools accursed by God. Micah’s contemporaries pushed the envelope to see what they could get away with, and God was now calling them on it.
Micah summarized God’s critique: “For the rich men of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth” (Mic 6:12). The wealthy and influential men of the city practiced lawlessness as they took what they wanted from the poor and weak, lied to one another, and practiced deception and dishonesty to obtain whatever they desired. Their conduct with the poor resulted from a lack of submission to God.
After presenting the charges, God pronounced His punishment on the people of Judah (Mic 6:13–16). Because of the sins cited in verses 10–12, and most likely others as well, God declared retribution: “So also I will make you sick, striking you down, desolating you because of your sins” (Mic 6:13). The prophet then stated their food would not satisfy them (Mic 6:14), an allusion to the punishment for disobedience described in Leviticus 26:26. In addition, their enemies would take what they store up.
Their planting would produce no harvest for them, which is a restatement of the curses from Deuteronomy 28. The people of Judah would sow seed, but they would not reap a harvest because the Lord would not bless the land with rain. After pressing their olive crops, they would not even be able to anoint themselves with oil. Similarly, their grape harvests would not adequately produce wine.
Micah compared the people of Judah to their ungodly brethren in Israel who followed the instructions of the wicked Israelite kings Omri and Ahab (Mic 6:16). These kings were among the worst in the history of the northern kingdom, primarily because of their idolatry and unjust oppression of the weak (1 Kings 16).
Micah’s proclamation of punishment on Judah harkens back to what God had stated through Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Because of this wickedness and the failure to obey God, He turned the residents of Jerusalem over to destruction. Even though they were His people, they would become objects of reproach and derision by the other nations for a time.
These consequences, while grave, did not mean God would never restore His people. Micah went on to reassure Judah, “[God] will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot” (Mic 7:19). We will discuss this comfort as we continue our study of Micah in the coming months.