“Hear what the Lord says: Arise plead your case.” God had an “indictment” to make against His people. The “mountains” and “hills” would be witnesses in God’s courtroom. The Lord reviewed the facts from Exodus and Numbers. He had brought them up “from the land of Egypt” and had redeemed them “from the house of slavery.” Yet they had not been faithful in the days of Balaam who enticed them with spiritual and physical immorality (Numbers 25:1-9). Even though they had broken covenant with the Almighty, He had allowed their children to renew their national commitment to Him in the days after Moses (Joshua 5). Nonetheless, the Law proved to be a burden that they could not bear. (Acts 15:10)
The Lord called them to a simple life of holy and humble obedience as those who would “do justice” and “love kindness” as they continued to “walk humbly” with the Lord of Glory. They were instead committed to greed, dishonest business practices, and violence.
Because of these persistent transgressions, God had appointed a “rod” of correction for His children. He would “strike” them with a “grievous blow.” Though they might be ever so diligent in working their fields, they would be continually disappointed with the yield from their labors. Why would their lands be so unfruitful? They had chosen to follow the counsel of godless kings and had ignored the Word of their God. Because of centuries of willful disobedience, they would now “bear the scorn” that God’s people deserved.
The Lord’s chosen congregation of worshipers could not have faced the fullness of divine wrath that stood against them and their forefathers. They did not have the strength or holiness to pay the overwhelming debt that had been building up for so many years. Only the Messiah could fully atone for sin, but how should those who would be delivered from evil by the Lord respond to God’s grace? God called all those who trusted in Him to commit their lives to holiness by following His Word. Repentance from sin was a sign of genuine consecration to Jehovah.
The answer for our wretched brokenness has come in person, and He alone can give us what we need in order to turn away from false and empty patterns of life. As Peter testified before the elders in Jerusalem, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:30-32)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God Almighty, You had an indictment against Your people under the Old Covenant. You provided them with many blessings and with great saving acts. What did You require of Israel? They should have done justice, loved kindness, and walked humbly with You. These are the weightier matters of the Law. How have we fared by the same holy requirements? O how we need Your grace! We who have been saved through the righteousness of Your Son are not required to do less than those who came before us. We have been given much, so much is required of us. Your Son has covered our sins. Please forgive us and fill us with Your Spirit, so that we will walk in love according to Your commandments.