“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains;
let the hills hear what you have to say.
“Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation;
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the Lord has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.
“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.
My people, remember
what Balak king of Moab plotted
and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
The prophecy of Micah attests to his deep sensitivity to the social ills of his day. It is believed that he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Micah’s message reflects social conditions prior to the reforms under Hezekiah. Micah showed great tenderness in threatening punishment and in promising justice. Micah also stresses that God hates idolatry, injustice, rebellion, and empty ritualism, but that He delights in pardoning the penitent.
In chapter three, Micah cries out, “Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil…” Greed and corruption ruled in the land, especially during the reign of Ahaz. It was said of Ahaz, “He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshipping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.” These were dark days in the history of Judah. It is from this context that Micah writes his prophetic book.
In chapter six, he brings his message of judgment to a dramatic close. In verse eight, he declares what God requires: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” If the people did not repent of their wickedness and follow these requirements, the Lord would give them over to ridicule and ruin. Unfortunately, they did not heed these words and the rest is history.
So, what does it mean to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”? J.M.P. Smith called this verse, “The finest summary of the content of practical religion to be found in the Old Testament.” To please God, we must act in godly ways toward other people and toward God. God’s law provides very specific guidance with regard to just behavior. Justice requires witnesses to be honest and impartial. It requires fair treatment in the courts for all people. It requires special consideration for the most vulnerable people.
To love mercy implies action. It is kindness or love as expressed through kind or loving actions rather than only feelings. This means we are to love others as God loves them. When asked what the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied, “Love God…and love your neighbor as yourself.” So it is love expressing itself through tangible actions.
To walk humbly with your God implies that we must allow God to lead us. This leaves no place for arrogance or pride. A person who walks humbly with God understands that everything that he or she possesses is a gift from God. To be truly humble, we must give up all pretense of self-sufficiency and must instead rely on God as our help and shield.
Questions to Ponder:
Do you stand up for the fair treatment of all people? Do you see value in other people regardless of their race, social standing, gender, or economic position? Do you recognize everything you possess is a gift from God? Do you rely on God for your daily bread?
- Thank God for His great love for you!
- Ask God to forgive you for the times that you did not stand up for others in the past regarding unfair treatment.
- Ask God to give you the power to obey the commands of Micah. Ask God to help you act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
Holy and Righteous Father, You are perfect, blameless, powerful, majestic, loving and kind. You are the mediator and advocate for those who are oppressed. You are the army of the Lord of hosts and one day You will return, and every eye will see, and every tongue will confess that You are LORD! Oh Father, You tell us “vengeance is mine!” Even with those words You don’t want us to sit back and wait for Your vengeance, You want us to be Your hands and feet and respond to unjust things, to run right into the enemies camp in the power of the Holy Spirit and speak out, defend, protect, save, rescue, mediate, shield, embrace, sweep up, run with, empower those who are hurt, those who are oppressed, those who are sorrowful. Help me and Your global church to arise and stand with You, our God, in heaven and to move… to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with You, our God. Let it be Lord in me and each one of Your beloved ones. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I receive, and I pray. Amen.