Summary: God had given his people explicit instructions as to how to conduct themselves. First God’s people were to love him and second they were to love others. The prophet Micah points out that sacrifice is pointless unless it is supported with obedience. What
“What God Desires”
Intro: Reviewing the headlines of the past few months we cannot ignore what we read.
Child dies after months of abuse
Taxi Driver Murdered in City
Finance Company Execs get fat, while Investors Lose Fortunes
World Wide Shortage of Credit
War Breaks out In Gaza
and so on ... and so on...
Strangely enough, this is not new. God’s people have been dealing with such issues well before Jesus walked the planet earth.
Father threatens Child, Changes Mind at site of Ram
Brother Murdered in Jealous Rage
Kingdom Plunders, while People Starve
World Wide Shortage of Food
War Breaks out in Palestine, Again
It is easy to see that things have not changed much. The question for the next three weeks is, “How are Christians supposed to respond to such problems?
First we begin by looking at God’s desire to build a people solely obedient to him.
3500 years ago (give or take) God entered into a covenant agreement with the Hebrew people, through Moses, who was their leader. A covenant is a mutually agreeable contract between two parties. In short, by this agreement God said to the Hebrew people: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” If the people of God were obedient, they would gain the Lord’s favour, and if not they would receive his curse. Seeing that people like formulas, this should have worked out quite well. The problem arose, that the people of God wanted things to be on their own terms.
God had given his people explicit instructions as to how to conduct themselves. The first is expressed in
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
The second is expressed in Leviticus 19:18
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.
Sound familiar? From this we have two concerns:
1. To Love God
2. To Love Others
So, we might then say to ourselves, wait! I do that, I go to church, and pray, and I give my tithe and once in a while I volunteer for the kitchen or as a greeter.
Is this what God means by obedience?
The answer comes in the form of a simple verse in Micah chp. 6. Micah was a prophet in southern Judah in around 750 B.C. He developed a deep sensitivity to the social ills of his day. At the time, Israel was in a state of moral and social decay. In chp 6, the Lord serves the people a law suit, through the prophet. In v. 2 he says, “For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.”
vv. 6-7 *** GO THROUGH***
Micah points out that sacrifice is pointless unless it is supported with obedience.
Finally, from the prophet’s mouth we hear God’s answer.
8 He has shown all you people 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.
God is more interested in the way people live than their religious practices. In Micah’s day, the people of God were preoccupied with what they could do to please God. The question should not be, “what can we do that will please him,” rather it should be, “what is pleasing to God.” God had already offered his people salvation, by rescuing them from captivity in Egypt many generations before. And what did God require? He required the people to be obedient. Micah reminds his own people of this in Micah 6:8.
This week:- “Acting Justly”
Next Week:- “Loving Mercy”
Following Week:- “Walking Humbly”
So why do we need to be Just
1. God is Just
For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones. The righteous shall be kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off (Psalm 37:28).
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep (Psalm 36:6)
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
The first thing Micah says is that God expects us to “act justly.” This is not an appeal for the judicial system to hand down harsher sentences for those who broke the law. Micah is directing his message to every person. It is not enough to wish for justice, or complain that there is a lack of justice. Instead we are to work for justice. This is acting justly. Some bible translations use, “do justice.” Justice is not something we merely talk about, it is something we do.