Summary: When you sin, don’t wallow in self-pity and make these absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep. Just be honest with God -- admit that you've sinned -- and go back to following Him. That’s all he wants.
Micah - God’s Lawyer
William Jefferson was a congressman from the state of Louisiana for almost 20 years. His current location? Oakdale II Federal Correctional Institute in Beaumont, Texas, where he’ll stay until August 30, 2023. What did he do?
In 2002 he used the resources of an organization originally designed to encourage people to vote to ensure that his daughter would win an election to the State House of Representatives in Louisiana. In 1998, 2002, and 2006, Jefferson used this same organization to make sure that his sister would win elections as a city official for New Orleans.
A few days after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Jefferson used a National Guard detachment to recover personal belongings from his home. When the truck they were in got stuck in mud, Jefferson called in a National Guard helicopter to help them out. All this happened while rescue operations were still going on in other parts of the state.
In 2005, a company named iGate sent $400,000 to Jefferson to ensure he would help their business by persuading the Army to purchase iGate technology. Later that same year, Jefferson received an additional $100,000 in cash. When asked, Jefferson said it was to be used as a “motivating factor” to ensure contracts made with companies in Nigeria would be successful.
The FBI raided his home in August 2005, where they found $90,000 in cash in the freezer, wrapped in tin foil and stuffed in frozen food containers.
In 2006 he was stripped of all Congressional committee memberships, and in 2007 was indicted on 16 charges of corruption. He was found guilty of 11 of them, and sentenced to 13 years in federal prison -- the longest sentence ever handed down to a congressman for bribery.
Corruption, it seems, is still alive and well. We hear stories of bribery in other parts of the world all the time -- India, China, and Russia are all typically repeat offenders -- but it’s not something we expect to find here in the United States. We’re better than that, right?
I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making stupid decisions. When people make stupid decisions, they have to face the consequences. Nowadays, that typically means a trial in a courtroom, but in Bible times it meant something more harsh, like fire and brimstone, right?
Usually, yes; that is, unless you count the time that God brought Israel to court for their immorality. Don’t believe me? Turn to the book of Micah, chapter 6.
1Listen to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2“Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. 3“My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. 5My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
6With 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? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has shown you, O mortal, 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.”
These 8 verses read like a courtroom drama: “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”. You start with the prosecution in verses 1-5. I can hear a southern lawyer yelling this now -- God is demanding that the people explain their actions! See, at this point, the Israelites were extremely corrupt:
Chapter 2: “8Lately my people have risen up like an enemy. You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle. 9You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes. You take away my blessing from their children forever.”
In chapter 3, God calls out the leadership specifically: “1Then I said, ‘Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice, 2you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; 3who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?’ 4Then they will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. 5This is what the Lord says: ‘As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim “peace” if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them.’”