Summary: Christianity is fundamentally about a relationship and so not a contract such as I do "x" for God, and God does "y" for me.
Justice, Mercy, Humility: Series: Fundamentals
Micah 6:1-8 July 25, 2010
Fundamentals. A child has to learn balance in order to learn to walk. A business has to have more money coming in than going out. A family has to understand the basic rules of the Monopoly game before they can enjoy an evening together around the kitchen table. And a follower of Jesus has to live out of a daily, moment-by-moment relationship with the God of the universe. These are fundamentals.
This morning I want to walk you into an ancient courtroom as a witness to an ancient legal trial, with a whole lot of contemporary relevance.
1 Listen to what the Lord is saying:
“Stand up and state your case against me.
Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.
2 And now, O mountains,
listen to the Lord’s complaint!
He has a case against his people.
He will bring charges against Israel.
3 “O my people, what have I done to you?
What have I done to make you tired of me?
4 For I brought you out of Egypt
and redeemed you from slavery.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you.
5 Don’t you remember, my people,
how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?
And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
when I, the Lord, did everything I could
to teach you about my faithfulness.”
6 What can we bring to the Lord?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God
with offerings of yearling calves?
7 Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
The Complainants: vs. 1-2
The court case begins. God starts. The invitation is given. “Go ahead… come… bring all your evidence of how poorly you have been treated by God…”. It is obvious there is a problem – the earlier part of the book of Micah demonstrates that. God and the people are not getting along, things aren’t going as they should, it is coming to a head, and God starts with this invitation. “Come and prove how badly you have been treated”…
The next line invites the mountains as witnesses of this complaint, which immediately elevates this entire confrontation and puts it in a different league. If I may re-interpret, God essentially says “go ahead, bring your case against me, but do so not from a moment in time or a single incident, but in the light of the history of my interaction with you”… You might find a few places in your life when God didn’t seem to “show up”, when things didn’t go as you thought they should, when you felt like God wasn’t doing enough/doing His part/keeping His promises. So if you want to come and complain against God, know that God is going to hear that from a much longer perspective. Has God really not done enough for us? Has God really not done His part?? Are we contending that God has really not kept His promises???
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a similar experience. I have… there have been times, even in the not-so-distant past, when I’ve gone to prayer kind of mad at God. I’ve gone to prayer with an attitude of, “OK God… only You can fix this, only You can solve this, only You can make this happen… and thus far you ain’t doing it…”. Now, this passage in Micah is on a much broader scale, and much more confrontational, but the same process happens to me when I shut up and listen to God. He brings me back to a much bigger picture. God asks me questions like the ones we are going to see as we work through the rest of the passage. He says, as He does in vs. 1, “go ahead and bring your complaint, but do so in front of the timeless grandeur of all creation.” And know some perspective is coming…
The tables turn quickly in vs. 2. We find out that the problem is not the unfaithfulness of God, but rather that God has some charges of His own to bring, which He does in the verses that follow.
God’s Case: vs. 3-5
Would you feel slightly intimidated, if the God of the Universe suddenly declared He had charges to lay against you? Perhaps “terrifying” would be a better word! I imagine myself in this passage, beginning with a desire to come to God and complain about something He had or hadn’t done, and then hearing God say, “I have a case against you…”, and I imagine cowering away…