“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”Micah 6:8
In my research for the PEN, I came across this humorous story told by Pastor Richard Brown. It is a true story and I believe it fits well within my thoughts concerning the Book of the Minor Prophet Micah:
Years ago, in the small town of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, there lived several town-drunks. These men where classic characters, each unique in his own way, and from time to time they found themselves arrested and eventually in front of the City Judge.
My father was the Fire Chief and in Catlettsburg, in those days, the city operated its own jail, and my father also doubled as the Police Dispatcher and City Jailer. He told me this true story:
One of those town-drunks, Sy Billips (fictitious name), was arrested and brought before Judge Vernon Dinkle.
Now when you were found guilty of public drunkenness, it usually meant a fine and some jail time. On this particular day, the Bailiff called Sy’s name and asked him to stand. Judge Dinkle said, “Mr. Billips, You are charged with Public Drunkenness. How do you plead?”
Sy, having been in this spot many times, knew full well what awaited him, so he decided to try a diversionary tactic. He said, “Your Honor, if you don’t mind, I would like to try myself”. The judge was intrigued, so with a sheepish grin on his face, he said , “OK, let’s hear it.”
Sy proceeded to call himself every kind of despicable name that came to mind. He said, “Sy you are a low down, no good pole-cat of a man, who has abandoned every responsibility you ever had. You have spent your whole life thinking of nothing but your own selfish desires. And now here you are, once again, throwing yourself on the mercy of this court.”
Sy went on, “But you will not find mercy today, because you do not deserve it.” And he looked up at the judge and said, “Your Honor, I find myself guilty as charged, and I sentence myself to a $100.00 fine and 30 days in jail. And I pray that God will help me understand the wickedness of my ways.”
Judge Dinkle was visibly impressed, he said, “Sy, I think you really mean it this time. I commend you for your righteousness.” At which, Sy interrupted the Judge and said, “YOUR HONOR, I HAVE ONE MORE THING.”
“I SUSPEND MY SENTENCE!”
NO SUSPENDED SENTENCE
As you read this short seven-chapter book, you quickly understand that God’s purpose for sending Micah to His people was to warn them of the coming judgment and to offer them, one more time, an opportunity to repent. Thus bringing them the pardon they so much needed, but didn’t deserve. As you search for the particulars as to Israel’s sin, you come to understand that Israel is being judged for their many transgressions as seen in 1:5. The word “transgression” denotes a willful breaking of a covenant. Transgression can also mean revolt, and certainly that is what Israel was doing. So, what was Israel’s great transgression? First, Micah compares the worship that was going on in Jerusalem with that of pagan worship. 1:5 says, “What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?” The pagan worship Micah refers to is that of building “high places”, stone altars and Asherah groves. These are places of worship of pagan gods. On top of this, they also were involved in temple prostitution (1:7) as part of the worship of the carved images.
Second, as we move to chapter two, we see that the rich and powerful had taken advantage of their affluence and destroyed the Israelite communities with their greed. Chapter 2:2 says, “They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So, they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.” Third, we see Israel is full of lying prophets along with wicked rulers to the point that Micah says, “Hear now, O heads of Jacob, and you rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice? You who hate good and love evil; who strip the skin from My people, and the flesh from their bones…” (3:2)
No wonder that God had had His fill of a people who turned their back on Him to do what was “right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) He would judge them, and it would be harsh. “Therefore, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time.’”
WHAT GOD REQUIRES: CHANGE!
Israel, would not listen to God and God dealt with His children in a very specific way. He would place a yoke of captivity and exile on them that would bring great misery to them. But it isn’t as if God wanted to deal with Israel with such great harshness. Through the Prophet Micah, God reminds Israel that even though He has a complaint against them, He also reminds them of their past. He alone redeemed them from the house of bondage (Egypt) and they needed to change. I believe that God always requires of us the attitude and action of change. As Micah 6:8 reminds us, God alone has shown us what is good and what is good is found in doing justice, loving mercy, and to walking in humility before Him.
ONE MORE THING
What happens if we don’t change? One commentator put it this way, “Whenever the rights (i.e. requirements) of God are lightly treated, the rights of man can fare no better… It requires no superior insight to draw the parallel for our own day.” If we ignore, take lightly, or rebel against what God requires from us, it will have a direct impact on those not only in the church but also on the culture we live in.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—Wishing you Joy in Jesus!