Today's lesson is found in Micah. Again we are studying in the books of the prophets. Micah lived through the destruction of the northern kingdom in 722 BC. Therefore he prophesied about the same time as Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. Micah's plea was that if God's people didn't seek justice in their society, then God would purge them of evil by allowing their destruction. Micah's call is just as relevant today for churches, Christians and nations.
(Micah 3: 1-4)
“And I said Hear, I pray you, O Heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?” Micah 3:1. The leaders of Micah's day believed that they were above the law. That was just the beginning. Micah proclaimed "Do you think you won't be judged?
How many of our own leaders believe that they are above the law? Their first mistake therefore was that they didn't believe God cared enough about their part of the word to judge them. “Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the cauldron.” Micah 3: 2,3.
Micah uses horrific language to describe what God sees the leaders doing to the most vulnerable. In essence He's saying, “You have eaten my children.” These people are consumed by greediness and wickedness (Micah 2:1). “Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.” Micah 3:4.
Their next mistake was that they believed that God would continue to ignore their evil. It's a hard lesson to learn but the ramification of sin does not always happen immediately and God will not ignore sin endlessly. God is loving and forgiving. He offers salvations through Jesus Christ. But there will come a day when the time is up for us to accept His offer.
To repent not only means to be sorry but to turn and do the right thing. Too many times we are just sorry we got caught. God knows all our sins, and they are ever before Him. We should continually be in a state of repentance for we all sin in some way.
LOVING JUSTICE AND MERCY
(Micah 6: 6-8)
“Wherewith shall I come before the lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body of the sin of my soul? Micah 6: 6, 7. Micah calls for corrective action. But this action is not just the sacrifices.
In the Old Testament to “bow down before” was the most foundational act of worship. But in addition the act must include sacrifice to be complete. The last part of verse 6 and all of verse 7 include a list of possible sacrifices in an accelerating value. Micah starts his sacrifice list with a burnt offering and goes all the way to the unthinkable sacrifice of first born child. Micah leaves the question unanswered, but the expected response is clear. We cannot earn favor with God through our sacrifices no matter how lavish. Sacrifice is empty without obedience.
“He hath showed 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. Micah gives us a concise summary of what God demands from His people in verse 8. God requires justice, love and mercy, and humility. God sent his Son, Jesus, to teach these lessons again to us. Will we learn or do as the nation of Israel did in Micah's time and be destroyed?
What are God's requirements? Throughout the Old and New Testaments God requires obedience. And when we disobeyed, God provided a way to return to Him, if we obey. It sounds so simple but the temptations are still around us and require that we focus on God and not on the world.