What is this?

Micah 6:1-8

We hear this refrain from Micah so often, do we completely understand it though. Lets look at the whole of these verses to see. In verses 1-2 we have the introduction, this is a time for Israel to plead their case. Their case of feeling wronged because they are in bondage in a foreign land. Their case that God has left them and forgotten them there. So they are in essence wrestling with God.

First God gets to lay out the opening argument in verses 3-5. It comes out of different saving acts, have they forgotten them? Did they forget God led them out of Egypt another place of bondage? Did they forget they turned away and worshipped another and still God led them up? Did they forget God continues to be with them through everything? This is the reason we remember too, we remember God saves, that God's salvation is not something which wears out and ends no matter what times we live in. 

Now in verses 6-7 Israel has the chance to reply to this. What more do we have to do? We do offerings, we worship God, do we need to offer more, do we need to offer the firstborn for all our sins. Have they not done enough? Shouldn't this offering be enough? They believed through their worship and offerings they were doing exactly what God wanted. They are forgetting all that the prophets told them before they went into captivity. How they were treating one another, forgetting the poor and the marginalized. Using their misfortune for their own benefit. We have those examples in Jeremiah, in Isaiah where they are asked to change their ways before it is too late. Welcome the stranger, help the widow and orphan, don't shut them out or not feed and take care of them. Yet this is what Israel did.

So verse 8 is the deeper response. What does the Lord require? To do justice, to love lovingkindness, to walk discreetly in the fear of God says Rashi a Jewish commentator. We hear these so often we forget the walk. We become consumed with doing our justice, our acts of kindness and we forget the other. Walk kindly means when we don't understand another viewpoint we may have to sit with God before responding, seeking out God's justice, God's acts of kindness beyond responding. We have become so divisive today we think promoting justice is our loudest voice and we dismiss one another and hurt one another. Yes, we do have a call to stand up for those on the margins, but that means all who stand on the margins. This is why it is so important to ask deeper questions before responding and alienating one another.

Once we have fallen so far away from one another we don't care. We don't care whose wrong or right, we don't care to listen to God, we don't care what scripture really has to say because we have it all figured out. We don't though. Time and again through history we don't have it figured out and people have had to point a new way. The reason we have Jesus teaching the beatitudes is trying to take these three broad precepts and give us nine so we will keep it broad. Moses gave 615, says another Jewish commentator, and Micah narrows it to three. So we have to remember to slow down and walk.

We walk because we want, desire to listen to God. What is God's justice? What is God's lovingkindness? Do we even understand it even a little bit? Do we leave our gift at the altar and seek to be reconciled with our enemy? Yes, with our enemy. Do we look out for those in need of feeding, shelter, an act of love which might keep them from the edge? Do we respond to one another out of the love which God has for us, showing us mercy, grace, and giving peace? Only until we sit and wrestle, only until we open our hearts to these little ones, only until we desire to walk humbly might we be able to understand the broadness of this passage. Its not just a law, its not just words, it is the Infinite trying to convey to us once again all that it means to shine God's light in this dark world. May we take the call to be light bearers.