The title of this article is borrowed from a book by George Grant. Micah is the prophet who boldly proclaimed the mandate. Micah lived from about 735 B.C. to 690 B.C. He prophesied primarily to the southern kingdom. Moresheth, his hometown, was about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem near the Philistine city of Gath.
Scholars note that Micah’s identification by his town rather than his father’s name may be an indication of his humble beginnings. He was a prophet who spoke for the exploited poor. Micah lived in a time when wealth and power were concentrated in the hands of the few. Greed and corruption were rampant and false prophets flourished. Sound familiar?
Like Isaiah, Hosea and Amos, Micah insists that genuine faith produces social justice and practical holiness. From Micah’s perspective one cannot claim to be a person of faith and not engage in social activism. You cannot have one without the other. We who profess faith in God must put feet to our faith and we must live a life exemplary of God’s nature and character, which is holiness.
In this sixth chapter, Micah speaks as if he is attending a court case. God is the plaintiff, the prosecutor and the judge. Israel is the defendant. The ancient hills and mountains are called to serve as witnesses. God files a case against Israel. The charge: the people promised to obey God’s law but have repeatedly broken their promise.
God was outraged because the people had forgotten him and broken their covenant. But God’s rage does not end God’s love. The people recognize that God is displeased but claim they do not know what God really wants from them. They believe they can make up for their sins with sacrifices. But Micah points out that there is no need for sacrifices.
Micah frames God’s mandate by charging the people to repent of their unbelief and injustice and obey God’s covenant laws. And then, Micah poses a question: “What does the Lord require?”
The answer: do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Justice is just treatment or behavior. It is a concept that means people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone. It means “to make right.”
Justice must be coupled with mercy. Mercy is compassion for the least of these in our society. Mercy displayed practically means there are “no haves and have nots.” The 1% do not control 99% of the wealth and resources. Equal distribution assures that everyone has their basic needs met with some measure of comfort associated as well.
How do we accomplish Micah’s mandate? We walk humbly with our God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are called to do justice and live in love. God is a just and loving God. As God’s children, we must strive daily to emulate God’s character.
The Prophet Micah issued a mandate in the sixth century that is still relevant today. Micah’s call for justice, mercy, and humility are essential to returning our homes, communities and nation back toward God. When we follow Micah’s mandate peace on Earth will reign and goodwill toward all humankind will prevail.
Dr. Preston T. Adams III is senior pastor at Amazing Grace Christian Church in Indianapolis. Contact Pastor Adams via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @DrPrestonTAdams. For more information, visit agccindy.org.