Archive for the ‘Micah’ Category

In morning devotions at iServe Africa we’ve been preaching through the Minor Prophets and came across the famous Micah 6:8. It’s the banner of a thousand Christian organisations. And as a mission statement for an NGO or mercy ministry it’s a good one. These things are very much on God’s heart – justice, mercy, humility. May the Lord increase and establish those working towards these things. But as a summary of what the Christian life is all about or as a sermon (and it is a very tempting 3-point sermon: 1. Do Justice; 2. Love mercy; 3. Walk humbly) there’s a problem. It’s not good news. It’s simply Law. It condemns and kills me; it doesn’t bring me life. If I just preach this verse and exhort people to those three things then I’ll either just kill people and drive them to despair or, worse, I’ll flatter people that they can sort themselves out and do the right thing – pure moralism. What’s the answer? Context, context context…

What came out very clearly as we read through the whole book was that the verse actually comes in the context of a searing indictment of the sin of God’s people. Micah 6 is a bit like 1 Corinthians 13 (the famous wedding passage on love). Just as the point for the Corinthians is that they haven’t got love in their church so Micah exposes how God’s people haven’t been doing justice, loving mercy or walking humbly with their God. They know full well what He requires (Micah 6:8a – this isn’t new stuff; it isn’t a lack of knowledge problem), what’s more they know God’s massive grace and love (Micah 6:1-5), and yet they are completely corrupt, violent and running after other gods.

When God turns up in person a few hundred years later it’s no different – even the disciples fail to walk humbly with their God (Mark 9:33-34) – and mortal man, who knows full well what is good (Mark 12:32-33), pours out his corruption, violence and pride on God himself (Mark 14:10-11). Are our hearts different? Mine isn’t.

The point of Micah 6 is to destroy our hope in our own goodness and set us up for the punch-line of the whole book:

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19)

That is our hope. Not our justice or mercy or humility. Jesus. The perfectly just, delighting-to-show-mercy, humble-to-the-cross one who takes away our sin once and for all. Isn’t that what we want to be preaching? That’s where the good news and life transforming power is.

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