Israel’s first act of idolatry occurred shortly after they had been brought out of Egypt. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving God’s commandments, his brother Aaron made a golden calf for the people to worship. As they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded the Israelites of their mistake and said, “You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you” (Deuteronomy 9:24). Then Moses defined God’s great requirement of his people, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
The Hebrew word translated rebellious in Deuteronomy 9:24 is marah, which means to be bitter. “Marah signifies an opposition to someone motivated by pride” (4784). In the context of a relationship with God, marah primarily means to disobey. Therefore, the Israelites were guilty of sin even before they entered the Promised Land. In fact, Micah knew there had never been a period of time in their history when Israel had fully obeyed God’s commands. In an attempt to make the people realize they had a problem that would never go away, like Moses, Micah articulated the requirement for a relationship with God.
He hath shewed thee, O 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? (Micah 6:8).
Something Micah tried to make clear was that the only way God’s people could meet his requirement was through an act of salvation. Micah stated, “The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among man…Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:2,7). Micah eluded to a day of judgment in which those who had been held captive by sin, would be declared innocent. Speaking on behalf of the people of God’s kingdom, Micah said, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me” (Micah 7:9).
The key to God’s plan of salvation was an undertaking of the responsibilities for sins of others by substitution. Micah declared, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He will turn again, he will have compassion on us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depth of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19. Like Isaiah (Isaiah 1:18), Micah identified a way for God’s people to be completely free from the effects of sin. Sacrifices would no longer be necessary and God’s people would be able to overcome their problem with sin.