For many people the expectations for the new administration in Washington are pretty high. With others the expectations are not so much. In fact they would love to see failure to vindicate their own political bias regardless of what it might do to the country.
But I think there is another set of expectations for the new year that we completely overlook. What are God’s expectations for his people? Remember those familiar words in Micah 6:8? “He has told you, O Man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah the prophet bears a name that means :“Who is like Yahweh?” We are told he is from the little town of Moresheth which may be the same town mentioned in 1:14, Moresheth-gath. If so, Micah came from a little town not far from Jerusalem (25 miles SW of Jerusalem near the Philistine city of Gath). He lived on the edge of paganism and fought the same drift among his own people. Before we look at his famous statement in v. 8 consider what was going on here in chapter 6. Micah was moved by the spirit to emphasize God’s justice and love in disciplining the nation for their disloyalty to him. He also wanted them to understand that “God is the sovereign Lord of the earth who controls the destinies of nations, including His covenant people Israel.” The image Micah paints is one of the Sovereign God bringing His people to court in vv. 1-5 while documenting His faithfulness to them in vv. 3-5.
Then we come to verses 6-7 which seem to be the people’s reply to God. “Okay God, just what do you want? More sacrifices? How many? Do you want more money? They are not repentant. They are basically asking God what His price is. It’s like being caught for speeding. What is your attitude? Are you sorry for breaking the law or just sorry for being caught.
And then Micah tells them in verse 8 what God wants. He wants Justice and Mercy to their fellow man and Loyalty to God. This is the theme of the book.
Does this sound familiar. Love your neighbor as your self and love the Lord your God …Israel had violated both of these ideals. Because of this God could declare them guilty.
The simplicity of God’s expectations and the profound clarity and seriousness of those expectations should stop us in our tracks. How much time and attention do we give to these three practices? You see the word “require” is an active participle [qal] which represents continuous action. This is an “all the time” kind of thing. Let’s just think about these three practices in terms of today.
To do Justice: The word “justice” in this context refers to social fairness, which is discussed in vv. 9-11. The OT knows no distinction between the secular and the sacred! All of life is sacred! We must not be prejudicial with people of other races, backgrounds, or ages. We only make distinctions where God has declared distinctions. We stand for truth and proclaim truth while loving the people to whom we are ministering. We are fair, just, and we do what is right, no matter how uncomfortable that makes us. And we do this all the time.
To love kindness: This is the powerful covenant word hesed. It is one of the richest words in the Old Testament used no less that 250 times. It refers to God’s covenant loyalty. It reflects God’s sacrificial, no-strings-attached, kind of love. We are to dispense our love on the basis of grace not merit. Listen to Hosea 2:19 “I will commit myself to you forever; I will commit myself to you in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love, and tender compassion.” That is real loving kindness! So being a follower of this God requires that we pursue the same loyal love.
To walk humbly: This is a rare practice in our day even for believers. The term “walk” in the Bible is a metaphor of identification with someone (see Gen. 5:24; 6:9; Job 34:8; Ps. 1:1; Mal. 2:6). It is also used as a metaphor for daily living (Prov. 2:7; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 4:1; 5:8) Our identification with others and before God and our practice of daily living must be characterized by genuine, deep humility. Humility is hard for us because, like Israel in Micah’s day, we tend to see ourselves in our own light and not God’s light. When we see ourselves standing next to Jesus, humility becomes the norm. It is not hard any longer.
Perhaps this year these expectations should exceed our concerns and expectations for Washington. Think it thru