Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Micah, God, and True Religion

"Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against His people; He is lodging a charge against Israel" (Micah 6:2).

When Israel entered the land, the entire nation stood on Mounts Ebal and Gerizim and swore allegiance to the law of God (Deuteronomy 27; Joshua 8). This pledge of allegiance was witnessed by these mountains, and, by implication, by all the mountains of Israel. Later, as Israel and Judah had corrupted their ways against Him, God called on the mountains to judge Israel (Micah 6:1–2). The mountains had seen it all, both the making and the breaking of the vow. The mountains would hear the case God prosecutes against Israel, and they would pass judgment. If Israel was guilty, the land would spew her out into captivity.

God began by reminding Israel what He had done for her. He redeemed her from captivity and gave her a spacious and gracious land, as well as wise leaders. All He required of her was that she act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8). These things she had not done.

True religion, according to Micah, is not a sweet smile, a nice personality, or pious words. True religion involves, first, a total commitment to God’s justice. The basis and standard of justice is the righteousness of God Himself, and it is revealed in His law. True religion involves a passionate commitment to the law of God, including its social dimensions and applications. We are to love the law because it is God’s law, and we are to obey it as it applies to all walks of life: business, home, politics, the arts, and so on.

Second, true religion involves a total commitment to God’s mercy. It means that in our commitment to justice we are not interested in harming people or destroying them but in seeing them saved. True mercy does not excuse sin, and true mercy may entail excommunicating a person from the church for a time, or even considering him as dead. But these are the extremes of justice. Primarily, mercy causes us to seek ways of healing.

Finally, true religion means walking humbly with God. Walking with God means keeping in close fellowship with Him. Walking with God means keeping a steady pace, a consistent relationship with Him. Walking humbly means submitting to Him. It means doing what He says because He says it. Finally, walking humbly means being grateful to Him and thanking Him for all His many benefits.

Take up today’s newspaper and look carefully at numerous articles in it. As you consider each one, decide what true biblical justice and mercy would mean when applied in each case. Begin training yourself to apply biblical principles to all areas of life.