I was reading Micah this morning as I rocked the little one who struggled to sleep. As I read, I came to Micah 6. It’s one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible, primarily because of verse 8.
The chapter begins with the Lord reminding the Israelites, via the prophet Micah, about good things He has done for them in the past. In verses 6-8, he points them away from religious rote and ever-increasing sacrifices, and toward a simple, honest truth:
6 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?
7 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?
8 He has showed you, O man, 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.
It’s a simple expression. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. It’s a verse quoted by Casting Crowns in their song Courageous (which we will link below). The song title is appropriate, because the simple dictum takes courage. In a land and time when we all spend our days making decisions about what is right or wrong for others (that’s American politics) and looking for the grand plan of how it will all come together – this verse tells us to deal with our own issues (justice & mercy) and walk humbly with Him. That’s trust.
He then goes on to make an indictment of the wealthy and the ruling class in Israel. Take a listen and tell me if it rings a bell:
9 Listen! The LORD is calling to the city—
and to fear your name is wisdom—
“Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.
10 Am I still to forget, O wicked house,
your ill-gotten treasures
and the short ephah,which is accursed?
11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales,
with a bag of false weights?
12 Her rich men are violent;
her people are liars
and their tongues speak deceitfully.
13 Therefore, I have begun to destroy you,
to ruin you because of your sins.
14 You will eat but not be satisfied;
your stomach will still be empty.
You will store up but save nothing,
because what you save I will give to the sword.
15 You will plant but not harvest;
you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves,
you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.
16 You have observed the statutes of Omri
and all the practices of Ahab’s house,
and you have followed their traditions.
Therefore I will give you over to ruin
and your people to derision;
you will bear the scorn of the nations.”
Soak that in now. “Am I still to forget?” And what accusations does the Lord make? “ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah … dishonest scales … false weights.” The fiat currency system and our central bank (indeed all the central banks) are the means by which wealth is transferred from the poor to the rich and powerful. (Consider “Just Weights and Measures … and Money“.) And what of these rich men? They are “violent”.
And Omri and Ahab? Omri was a king of Israel, who “did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him” (1 Kings 16:25). Just when Omri had finished sinning “more than all those before him” his son Ahab came along: “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.” (1 Kings 16:30-31). And the people, in Micah 6, have followed their lead.
(Yes, there is obvious commentary to be made here about Ahab, Jezebel, and the worship of Baal; with its attendant sexual promiscuity and resultant child sacrifice. But I’ll leave that for now.)
Now Micah was prophesying to the Israelites. It would be, I think, error to directly translate any of the proclamations as against this nation. That said, the Word of God is timeless. And we know that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
Such times call for courage.