Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Injustice of the Lord’s Controversy

Micah 2

6.1 Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.
2 Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD’S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.

Welcome to our discussion of the little known and studied book of Micah. Last time we saw the theme of the book is that the Lord has a controversy with His people. In today's post we will clearly see the injustice of the Lord's controversy. I do not mean by that statement that God was unjust or unfair to Israel in having a controversy with them, but rather that Israel was unjust to God in causing Him to need to have a controversy with them.

Let me reach into my own life for an illustration of what I mean. Seventeen years ago Mandy took my hand and we entered life together as husband and wife. The truth is she loved me before I loved her. She gave up her name and her life, essentially, to take mine. She accepted my offer of marriage when I was living in the office at church, pastoring fifteen people, and driving a car that was four different colors. She has born me four children. The first five years we moved repeatedly with nary a word of complaint from her, including to the inner-city here thirteen years ago. For all these years she has washed my clothes, cleaned my house, cooked my meals, nursed me in sickness, and partnered with me in ministry. In short, she has been good to me. It would be a grave injustice for me to run off with the piano player. Well, she is the piano player, but you get my drift surely. I should give her no cause to have a great controversy with me. She has showered me with blessings, and consequently she ought to be immune from me causing her grief.

This is exactly God's thinking in relation to Israel.

6.3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

Has God done anything to cause Israel harm? Has He been unjust or cruel or even mean to them? Has He wronged them in any way? Of course He has not.

6.4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Micah preached in 800 BC, over three hundred years before Israel's deliverance from the Babylonian Captivity. This mention of deliverance is in reference to the events of the Exodus six centuries before. The fact of the Exodus and the method of it are eternal proofs of God's design to be good to His people. Not only that, but He gifted them with Moses et al, who was perhaps the greatest leader in all of human history.

6.5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

God through Micah is referencing the story of Balaam found in the Torah.

Numbers 22.4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.

Balaam was not a Jew but he was nevertheless a prophet of God. The king of Moab was concerned about all the immigration <ahem> into his area via an Israel escaping Egypt. Knowing Balaam's words had power he sought to persuade Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam asks God if he can go and God says no. (Numbers 22.12) Undeterred, the king of Moab raises his offer to Balaam and thus seduces God's prophet. Happily, God prevents Balaam from pronouncing curses on Israel and instead places words of blessing into Balaam's mouth. The king of Moab, sputtering with anger, responds, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether. (Numbers 23.11)

God's point here, via Micah, is that the interaction of Balak and Balaam proves His everlasting intention of pouring out on Israel numerous blessings. Like Mandy with me, God had a track record of blessing His people. Furthermore, He had promised them that He would continue to bless them. Why in the world, then, were they living contrary to Him like they were? It was unjust of them to put God in the position of needing to have a controversy with them. It was not fair. It was not just. It was not right.

What is the application for us today? Has not God been as good to you and I, as His people, as He was to Israel? Has He not promised us perpetual blessings, as His people, like He promised them? Then why in the world do we give Him cause for controversy with us? It is unjust. It is unfair. It is not right.

I think of this in relation to some preachers I have known. God blessed them richly. He let them be born in America. He drew them to Himself as Christians. He gifted them with lovely wives, precious families, and thriving ministries. And then they throw it all away in pride, in lust, or in greed. Now God has a controversy with them, and it is not fair.

I think of this in relation to some young people I have known. God blessed them richly. He let them be born in America. He drew them to Himself as Christians. He gifted them with a godly heritage, a loving church, and with all the health and strength and energy of youth. And then they spit in His face and walk away from all they have been given. Now God has a controversy with them, and it is not right.

I think of this in relation to some spouses I have known. God blessed them richly. He let them be born in America. He drew them to Himself as Christians. He gave them a good church, a measure of health, and a precious, unselfish, loving, caring, dedicated, faithful spouse. And they turn up their nose at God's gracious marital provision, abandon their family, and lose themselves in selfishness. Now God has a controversy with them, and it is not just.

I think of this in relation to some church members I have known. God blessed them richly. He let them be born in America or emigrate here. He drew them to Himself as Christians. He placed them in a good church, one with correct doctrine, the right spirit, affection for one another, and a culture of pursuing both God and sinners. Yet someone or something in the assembly gets in their craw and they walk out on God and on church for the rest of their life. Now God has a controversy with them, and it is not warranted.

The simple truth is God has been, is being, and will continue to be an incredibly good God to us, and this ought to drive us to Him in humble adoration rather than away from Him in stubborn self-will.

Eight centuries after Micah Paul expressed it this way:

Romans 2.3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

It was not fair of the Israel of Micah's day to cause God to have a controversy with her. After centuries of God's blessing, it was unjust for her to give Him cause for grief.

…and it is not fair of us either.

No comments:

Post a Comment