Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God

October 4, 2020

Micah

A lot of people are still looking for work. 

While work is hard to find for some, the job market seems wide open for some positions.  

For example, here’s a company seeking a health travel nurse. This position is a 13-week contract assignment with the possibility of extension or direct hire. The position is paid by the hour and not by the visit. There is reimbursement, full benefits, and a bonus program. Health care has always been an excellent field to find a job.

Here’s one for a Commercial Construction Project Manager. This person is responsible for the overall success of a construction project. You need a strong understanding of building systems, five years of experience in commercial construction, excellent planning, and problem-solving skills, some computer skills, and safety training. It pays very well and has excellent benefits. Hopefully, if you are in construction, our area will provide some excellent job opportunities.  

 Here’s one that sounds interesting, but I’ve never seen a job posting like this.    

Prophet needed as a spokesperson for God. No experience necessary, but must have a calling from God to apply. Must be willing to confront injustice, point out wrongdoing in others, and be willing to take insults and rejection. Excellent communication skills are desirable. Must possess a high level of integrity. Must not favor any political party. Judgment and hope must be scattered like seeds over a plowed field.   The prophet must have a clear understanding of the history of God’s people and not be afraid to tell them what the future may hold. Prophets are always on call without monetary compensation, but the benefits are out of this world. 

This job posting is surprising because the job of a prophet has gone the way of the Milk Man and the typesetter.  

I have noticed that sometimes people say prophetic things, but we just don’t seem to have any real, living prophets these days, at least not like there were in the Old Testament times. 

Take Micah as an example.  

Micah didn’t apply for the job. Most prophets didn’t. Like I said.  Prophets are called.  God drafts them.  

Micah had a burning desire to see many of the wrongs done to the people of his day made right. He was unable to keep quiet when he saw people being abused, mistreated, and taken advantage of.  So he began speaking out.

Prophets almost always:

  1. Preach judgment and hope.

Let me show you how Micah did this.  

First of all, Micah preached judgment. 

Who likes preaching judgment? Who relishes telling other people about God’s wrath and the consequences of their sin? O.K., some people seem to like doing this, but they are the exception.

And who likes being judged? Who likes hearing this kind of preaching?  I suppose some people do but they always think it’s meant for someone else. 

People that hear words of judgment are put on the defensive. They feel threatened, and this usually sets up a confrontation between the prophet and the one being judged.  

Other people that hear words of judgment are convicted, and their hearts are softened.  They come back into a relationship with God. That is the prophet’s goal.  

Other times, people’s hearts are hardened, and they attack the messenger.  

Remember how the Pharisees received Jesus’ words?  Not so well.  They eventually decided they wanted him dead.  

Micah delivered words of judgment to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.  

He warned that Assyria was coming to ravage the Northern kingdom, and then the Babylonians would come and bring even greater destruction to Jerusalem.

But why? Was it because their army was weak? Had the kings not set aside enough money for defense?  

Micah said that this was going to happen because they had lost their way morally.

What were their moral lapses?

Micah said that God despises injustice. In Micah’s day, the poor were being exploited. Micah lived among the poor. It was because he had great empathy and compassion for them that he could speak on their behalf.  

Look at chapter 2:1-2

“Woe to those who plan iniquity,

     to those who plot evil on their beds!

 At morning’s light, they carry it out

     because it is in their power to do it.

 They covet fields and seize them,

     and houses, and take them.

 They defraud people of their homes,

     they rob them of their inheritance.” 

The reader may have been reminded of the story King Ahab who desired a piece of land near his palace for a vegetable garden, but it was owned by Naboth, who had a vineyard there.

The king offered him another piece of land for the vineyard, and he said he’d to give him a fair price for it. Naboth declined. He said he inherited the property from family, so it wasn’t for sale.  

The king’s wife noticed that the king was upset about something, and when she asked him what it was about, he told her how Naboth refused his offer to exchange or sell his land.

The king’s wife, Jezebel, scolded her husband for being such a wimp.  She told him as the king he should have whatever piece of land he wanted. She promised to get it for him.

She wrote letters and put the king’s seal on them and sent them to the man’s hometown with instructions to throw a feast in his honor.

With all the town people present, two scoundrels were hired to give witness that Naboth had cursed both God and the King. It took two witnesses to speak against you in those days to be stoned to death, which was done to Naboth that day.  

When Jezebel received word that her plot had been carried out, she told the king that he was now free to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard, which the king did.

 Micah was speaking out against this kind of injustice. All the while, these people were still practicing their religion. But Micah called them out.  

He said, 

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burn offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? H has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lburntrequire of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (6:6-8 NIV)

The prophets or the preachers of Micah’s day were part of the problem. Micah wasn’t just calling out the laity. Micah was calling out the other prophets of his day because they were trying to muzzle him. They were telling him that God was on the side of the house of Jacob.  

We hear this kind of talk from preachers today who have stooped low to defend words and actions to protect political agendas all in the name of God.  

Our problem is that we have decided we want preachers who tell us what we want to hear and not preach to us what we need to hear–the Word of God.

Micah told the people: 

If someone showed up with a good smile and glib tongue

     and told lies from morning to night—

 ‘I’ll preach sermons that will tell you

     how you can get anything you want from God:

 More money, the best wines . . . you name it’—

     you’d hire him on the spot as your preacher! (2:11 The Message Bible)

Every preacher must ask, “Do I preach what they want to hear, or do I dare be prophetic?”  

When someone takes a poke at me for something I said, I ask myself, “Was I wrong, or was I prophetic?”  

Sometimes I’m wrong. 

But sometimes I’ve just preached the truth and some people don’t like hearing the truth.

Sometimes we run from the truth like a roach runs from the light.  

What a stark contrast between Micah and all the other preachers. While they said, “God’s not going to let anything happen to us,” Micah was very clear that judgment was coming.  

However, he did not deliver a message of judgment without a message of hope.

Aren’t we glad?  Is there anyone that needs a message of hope?

What word of hope did Micah have for Israel and Judah?

Micah told them that God would shepherd the remnant of his people and bring them back to good pasture and be their king once more. 

Unfortunately, they did not hear or remember these words until after the land was taken, and the temple was destroyed. After all, all the other prophets had told them not to worry. God wasn’t going to allow anything bad to happen to them.  

But after Micah’s words came true, these words of hope were very meaningful.  

We need to hear that God is here for us to help us pick up the pieces. We need to understand that God has not abandoned us. We need to know that even though the world around us is falling apart, God still loves us and still cares.  

We need to hear the words of Jesus: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 CSB).

Micah told Israel and Judah that God would still shepherd them and lead them to good pasture. 

Micah’s prophecy seems to have a double meaning in chapter four. While his words provide hope for that generation, his words project far beyond that time and place. We could say that his words have meaning even beyond our days and into the future.

He speaks of “the last days.” What Micah meant by the last days, we might not fully know, or even how far out into the future he was thinking.  But his words seem to speak of end times. 

He speaks of days when God becomes the king of all nations, a day when there will be peace on the earth.  

Micah envisions a day when people from many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (4:2-5)

Micah tells us of a God working toward a world of peace, not war, violence, or bloodshed.

In Micah’s day, the victims of their sin were the innocent, the poor, the vulnerable, the weak, and the exploitable. It is much the same in our day. 

The poorest schools get the least help. People of color get the least protection and the most profiling. The poorest people get the least help in the criminal justice system. Those who cannot pay for medical attention are sometimes overlooked. The weak and vulnerable are bullied even as children and as adults.    

Micah tells us that a day will come when all of this will stop.  

But is this Good News if it doesn’t stop in our lifetimes? If Micah is talking about something far out there somewhere, is it Good News?

Good News comes closer to the present if we become part of the solution and not the problem. When we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, we become part of the solution. We bring Good News. We bring hope.  

Micah painted a picture throughout chapter four of a time of suffering. He said things were not getting any better and that they might get worse before relief came. But he didn’t want the people to lose heart because a Redeemer was coming.  

He prophesied in chapter five that a ruler would be born in Bethlehem to bring hope and salvation.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore, Israel will not be abandoned with the time when the one who is in labor give birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth and he will be their peace.” (5:2-5a) 

When King Herod questioned the Wise Men from the East about the place where the Messiah was to be born, they quoted Micah 5:2.  

When Micah made this prophecy, he was looking forward. As we read it, we are looking back.  

We see that God was involved in the history of Israel to provide hope for them amid their suffering, even though much of it was brought on by their sinfulness.

A lot of our suffering is brought on by our sinfulness, either directly or indirectly. What we continue to need is the hope of a redeeming Savior.  

Words like these: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

We need words like these from the Apostle Paul:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18 NIV)

This kind of hope can be a reality when we make Jesus the Messiah, the Lord of our lives.  

This kind of hope, more precious than gold, can be realized when we give our Lord the place in our lives that He deserves.   

Do you have this kind of hope?  It does not mean that your life will be free of struggle.  It does mean that as you struggle, you struggle with purpose.   In fact, our struggle has an eternal component to it.  It will not be in vain.

So do not lost heart.

If you find yourself losing heart today, I invite you to come to Jesus.  In Jesus, you can find strength and hope for the journey ahead.

All of this talk of judgment is heavy, but there is good news with Jesus.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, ”

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 KJV).

So, I invite you to come to Jesus.  Come to Jesus and receive his grace.  Make a commitment to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh.

Will you do that today?