Reading the Bible Day 136
Happy day friends and welcome to our concluding study of the prophet Micah. Today you'll see a select verse used most often at Christmas Eve, or least during Advent, as Micah talks about Bethlehem raising up a savior that will usher in peace. For us Christians, this is another nod to the preparation of Jesus. We're getting closer friends to the gospel! However, today's reading also features the beloved words of Micah 6 which say "what does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Ah, so, so good. What about this section will speak to you? I'm eager to hear.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about humanity?
What about this text speaks to me?
In context with ALL we've read up to this point - does it change the meaning of Micah 6:8 for you? (walk humbly, love mercy, seek justice)
- My Thoughts -
Ah, Micah 6:8 - speak to my soul and let it sing out praise. It's a verse that is the basis for many a churches mission statement, it's probably sold a developing countries GDP in coffee mugs and t shirts each year too. It's the rallying call of those a part of the social justice movement. But do we get it wrong? Well, a little.
The translation is a little wonky as the Hebrew word for "love mercy" is "hesed" which more closely means "God's faithfulness." So in reality it should read as "seek justice, live in faithfulness, and walk humbly with God." I think that's a more accurate understand of the scripture in context of all the other crap that's happening to Israel at the time. Micah 6:8 is a strong reminder to the people that they need to remember the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they are specifically mentioned earlier in the text.
This isn't to say that social justice movement is completely wrong in their usage of this beloved text. One of the prevalent arguments economically right now is the dissolving middle class as the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, primarily off systems of economic oppression. Therefore, social justice christians point to scripture passages such as Micah 6:8, Leviticus 25, and Acts 4 as examples of social wealth distributions. Is this the justice that Micah speaks of? Partly, but not entirely. Earlier in Micah 5 God laments against the people that use faulty scales for measuring - essentially scammers. While I do think there is a moral issue with the the scarcity of opportunity for economically depressed communities I don't think that's the same level of scamming that God specifically laments against.
So, as much as I love the message of Micah 6:8...like any scripture passage we need to be careful about how we apply scripture to our world. The purpose of our time in reading the Bible together is to experience "exegesis" (how the text speaks to you) rather than "Eisegesis" (reading into the text.) A good start would be to consider reading the passage with "faithfulness" instead of "loving mercy" as I think it's a little clearer. Be faithful to God and God's covenant and you won't need to worry about justice or kindness - it will come second nature. How will you live out Micah 6:8 this week?
A prayer from UMC Discipleship Ministries Based on Micah 6:8
Give us, o Lord, an eye for injustice. For it is only when are able to recognize injustice and feel its awful sting that we will be moved to make things right.
Give us, o Lord, a tender heart. Sometimes we are too hard-hearted to recognize when we have been uncaring, unfeeling, or unkind.
Grant us, o Lord the ability to view life from the dust. All our lives we have been taught to make others proud, to be proud of ourselves, to hold our heads high -- all the while missing the virtues of being poor in spirit.
Teach us dear Lord, to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen.