“My people, remember what King Balak of Moab proposed, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from the Acacia Grove to Gilgal so that you may acknowledge the Lord’s righteous acts.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been so angry or perhaps so hurt that you stopped making sense while you were trying to express it? I suspect you have. We all get there from time to time because that’s just how life goes. People we love do things that hurt us, sometimes badly (and, if we’re being honest, we do the same things to them). When we find ourselves in such a place as this it can be difficult to make a single, direct argument that expresses our feelings. It’s easy to jump from idea to idea because our minds are reeling and moving quickly from hurt to hurt. God doesn’t ever lose His mind like that because He’s God and such a loss of control isn’t in His nature. But if there was ever a place in the Scriptures where He seems to come close, this is one of them.
Think for a minute about when you were in that place where you were so angry or hurt or both that you lost your mind a bit. Who was the reason you were like that? Was it some stranger off the street? Maybe…but probably not. More likely the object of your ire was someone you loved. And ironically, the greater your love for them, the more fully you lost your mind with anger.
Why is that? Because in order to be angry you have to care. Now, I’m not talking about the generic anger that seems to keep much of our culture in its grip lately. This is the irrational anger often stirred up intentionally by politicians usually by mischaracterizing a common frustration and blaming the other side for it. That kind of anger is good for getting votes and bad for just about everything else. It is a problem in and of itself.
I’m talking about the kind of anger that stems from a real wound you’ve have been dealt. This is a righteous anger which, while potentially destructive, is not inherently a problem itself. Rather, it is a symptom of the real problem. The thing about this kind of anger and the hurt that causes it is that it requires love in order to be experienced. That is, it is a risk that comes with the territory. The deeper you love someone, the deeper these wounds can be because the more fully you let someone in, the fuller access they have to your emotionally sensitive areas where grievous wounds can be dealt much more easily than on the surface.
Why does this matter? Because what we see in these few verses is God experiencing this kind of anger and hurt with the people of Israel. Read the verses that come before this one when you click through the link above. God announces that He’s going to make His case against the people of Israel. This kind of language isn’t unique to Micah. The prophet Hosea contains a case against Israel as well. There, God announces He’s going to make a case and then starts listing their sins.
Look at the verses here, though. God declares He will make a case against the people and then the very next thing He says is to ask them what He’s done wrong to them. It doesn’t immediately make for a very compelling case, I’ve got to admit. Here’s what you’ve done wrong…what have I done to you?
And yet, this is exactly the case God needed to make against them. His case was this: I haven’t left; you have. I haven’t changed; you have. So He asks: Have I done something to cause you to leave? Have I been unfaithful that you thought you could find a better, more faithful option than me somewhere else? This is not some blind, raging anger, it is the passion of a wounded lover. This is the hurt of a concerned father.
The truth is, the people of Israel did not leave for any good or rational reasons. They left because of sin and selfishness. God had been faithful. When they were in captivity in Egypt, God sent Moses and Aaron and Miriam to lead them to freedom (incidentally, it is worth noting that Miriam, a woman, is included in the list of exodus leaders here).
The imagery of the next verse is a little obscure, but powerful still. Check this out: As the people journeyed through the territory of Balak, the King of Moab, the tribal leader hired a prophet named Balaam to speak a curse over them. The idea may seem silly to us, but it was serious business indeed to them. But, God shows Himself faithful. He wouldn’t let this pagan prophet threaten His people. Instead He gave Balaam an oracle he never expected. Every time he opened his mouth to speak blessings on Israel flowed out.
The mention of the Acacia Grove and Gilgal is talking about the time when God parted the Jordan River like He had the Red Sea for the people to cross and begin their conquest of the Promised Land. He did this for a people who had openly rebelled against Him and who constantly complained about everything He was doing. Yet He had made a promise and nothing was going to cause Him to break that promise. This was the faithfulness of the God they had left behind. So, why did they leave?
Let’s make this personal. If you have ever wandered in your faith or drifted from God or just plain never accepted Him in the first place, why did you do that? Was it because He was unfaithful to you? Did He fail to honor a promise? Were you left in the dust when He moved forward on some plan? What was it? Why did you leave?
Can I make a gentle suggestion? Your issue with God was a matter of perception, not reality. The truth is that He never fails. He’s never unfaithful. He always honors His promises. And He never leaves people behind. He has a long and consistent record of faithfulness to His people. He has a long and consistent record of faithfulness even to those who are not His people. When Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us, He was telling the truth. Our place is to trust Him and keep moving forward down the path He has stretched out before us. It won’t always be easy, but you’ll always be glad you did.