Summary: Dramatic monologue as if it were from Micah himself, summarizing the entire book around the contrast between practicing ritual in order to avoid judgment vs. living God’s requirements of justice, mercy, and the humble walk.
[Outside the sanctuary] Justice, O God! Justice! We must have your justice! And righteousness! Without that we are lost! Oh, Lord God, the Temple and the city – what I see there sickens me. That ripe and rotten ritual, those empty gestures, those paid and padded priests! O God, righteousness! It must come; it must. Without righteousness we are lost!
[Entering the sanctuary, speaking toward the front as if to an elevated and distant God] Who is a God like you? Who indeed? You brought us out of slavery. You struck down Pharaoh’s oppressive hand. You took us through the deep waters. You led us through the wilderness. You gave us leaders with integrity. You brought us to this fair and pleasant land. O God, our God, who is a God like you?
The nations have their gods, but we have You, and we must walk in the name of Yahweh, your name, revealed to Moses and written on our hearts for generations. Who is a God like You, who chose us out of all the nations to be yours, who promised our father Abraham to make of us a people whose numbers are like the sands of the sea, who covenanted with us never to fail us or forsake us. Who is a God like you?
Ah, but there is the issue, isn’t it? You covenanted with us. You told us through your servants Moses and Joshua and Gideon and Samuel that we were to live in faithfulness to you. You gave us ten commanding words by which we were to live. You told us from the beginning that we were to have no other god but you. You warned us to stay far away from killing and from adultery and from theft and covetousness. You urged us to remember the Sabbath and to keep it separate. You gave us the conditions of the covenant. But what have we done with them? What have we done?!
Oh, who is a God like you? For now my eyes see your judgment coming on us. I have been to the frontier and have seen the Assyrian army camped and waiting to pounce, just as they have already swarmed over Tyre and Askelon, Ekron, even Egypt. Now my ears have heard your judgment, for the noise of the Assyrian camp rises as a murmur out of the valley, and the name of Sennacherib is whispered on every lip. O, Lord God, the Assyrians, the Assyrians! Are they to be your instruments of judgment on Judah as they were on Israel? Oh, who is a God like you, bringing destruction even on what you have made?!
[Pausing, turning toward the congregation]. People of God, hear me! Hear me before it is too late! For though the enemy is only a few miles away, we may yet turn and be saved. You must know – you and your king, Hezekiah, and all the leaders of Judah – you must know the heart of your God. You must understand His ways. And you must turn from the ripe ritual of rotten religion and must receive redemptive righteousness. Without this there is no hope. Hear me, people of God; hear me. Turn from the ripe ritual of rotten religion and receive redemptive righteousness. For that is the word that has come to me, Micah of Moresheth; that is the word I must preach to you today.
[Pausing, quizzical look]. Ah, you want to know who Micah is? Who is this aged bag of wind that he should invade the quiet of this place? How dare he mess with the satisfying system we have inherited? And why does he not just go preach about the usual things, like alcohol and drugs, things we already agree we are against? Who, you ask, is this preacher?
I am Micah. I come from the village of Moresheth, near the city of Gath. I am from that very region where the armies of Assyria have in recent months been so devastating. In my town we have heard of stealthy sentinels from Sennacherib’s legions, lurking in the corners to spy out our defenses. And in my town we have seen Hezekiah’s soldiers preparing for battle – ah, but what preparation they make! They gamble at the gates. They help themselves to ripe fruit from our marketplace. They push around the lame and the elderly who cannot defend themselves. And, worse than that, they line up outside certain houses, known to be the lairs of prostitutes. And if one of them is caught in a crime and is brought to the judge, well, no problem! A little bribe and the crime goes away. And then, when they have done all that, these soldiers of the King of Judah, these sons of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – they offer little cakes to the image of Astarte and they run through a rippling ritual to Baal, the god of our ancient Philistine foes. Who do they think they are, that they can wipe away with arrogant hands all that God has said we must do? Who do they think they are, that they will risk the wrath of God after all that has happened?