The more important matters

Micah was a prophet sent by God to deliver his message primarily to the people of Judah. He was a contemporary with a prophet better known to us – Isaiah.

“The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah – the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:1 NIV)

Micah was from Moresheth, a town about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem on the border with Philistia. He was not a ‘city-dweller’ but from a more rural background.  His writing style seems to reflect this, being of a common man from the poorer class of society.

Micah lived and delivered God’s message during the reigns of three kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. The first two of these kings led the Kingdom of Judah into more idolatry. King Ahaz was even involved in child sacrifice.

“He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” (2 Chronicles 28:3-4)

We frequently find in the history of God’s people that with the rise of a particularly evil king that God raised up a prophet – in this case he raised up two: Micah and Isaiah. They were sent let the people know what God thought of what they were doing. And the message was not a good one. God’s judgement was coming on his people, both those in Jerusalem and those in Samaria, representing the northern and the southern kingdom.

Although the stress of many of the prophets, including Micah, was on God’s hatred of idolatry, this wasn’t the whole picture. Along with idolatry we find injustice, rebellion, a lack of love and mercy, and empty ritual in worship. These all went hand in hand. When we remove God from the picture, we also lose the basis of justice, love, mercy and even worship.

Isn’t this what we also see today? As our society tries to remove the thought of anything to do with God, societies are losing justice, love, mercy and faithfulness. But these are the very parts of life that God requires of all people.

“He 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.” (Micah 6:8)

This statement is as relevant for people today as it was when Micah declared it to God’s people in Judah. God still wants people who desire justice, but who love mercy while walking humbly in obedience to God. In the time of Jesus the Jewish leaders still had the same problem and Jesus gave them a similar message to Micah’s.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)

Did you notice what Jesus said? Justice, mercy and faithfulness are the more important aspects of what God wants of us. Sometimes we, like the Pharisees, can overemphasise aspects that are good but neglect these things which are more important.

This seems to be a problem that people have. Micah had to deal with it. Jesus dealt with it. And we are still trying to learn it today. May we not neglect what God requires of us.

Photo by congerdesign from Pixabay

Readings for next week: 2 Kings 15-16; 2 Chronicles 27-28; Micah 1-7

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