For the next couple of weeks, we move out of the stories of the Narrative Lectionary into the poetry of the prophets. Our passage for this week is probably one of the most well-known passages in the bible, maybe only second to John 3:16.
First a bit about Micah. The prophet Micah lived in a rural village south of Jerusalem, in an area that had been invaded by a neighbouring empire. Micah was concerned that the leaders who lived in the capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem were making choices that served their own wealth and power but had negative effects on the people who lived out in the countryside. He brought God’s word to challenge both the leaders and the everyday people to be faithful together, rather than each thinking they could live without affecting the other. The words he conveyed to the people were from a vision of God.
We hear today from near the end of his vision, in chapters 5 and 6. All this continues to add into our theme for this period of Living into the Covenant. If we want to know what God desires of us, Micah tells us – “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” So, what does that look like? We have explored some of this in our Covenant of Community Life where some of the words above are used.
The word ‘justice’ in Hebrew means fairness, not necessarily righting wrongs or bring punishment but being fair in our actions and words. To love kindness links back to the desire to move away from the history of war and unrest that the Israelite people had been experiencing since the time of Kings David. But I also think if we take into account where Micah is speaking from, namely an area of the land that is far from the capital cities and easily forgotten when decisions were being made, and actions taken in the capitals, this could be a call to add into the leaders’ thinking. Remember Israel was a separated kingdom at this time with Samaria being the capital of the Northern Kingdom and Jerusalem the capital of the Southern Kingdom.
I think we can all imagine what walking humbly with our God looks like. It reminds me of the comments that Adam and Noah walked with God. This walking is the relationship we have with God, a relationship that God is always seeking with us, hence the covenants God has made.
What does it look like when we do as God desires of us – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God? Let’s reflect on that a bit as we gather together as God’s people in this place.