Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A God of Justice but Mercy is His Specialty

I love the biblical book of Micah, cause it exudes with themes of Social Justice. Reading the book of Micah, I can't help but notice how his heart broke for the same things that broke God’s heart. It was evident that Micah’s burden was for the poor and he rebuked the rich, self-reliant people of Israel’s two affluent capital cities, while presenting hope and support for the poor. The rampant deceit, fraud, injustice and corruption was crippling the people, allowing the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer. So through Micah, God issued his warning [2:3-5].

Of all the persons that should have set the standard for righteous living it was the leaders and prophets who were to be the example, but it was these same leaders of Jacob and Israel who led the people astray, oppressed them and devoured them amidst their corruption. Micah held little back exposing the hypocritical actions, and low living of the leaders and false prophets.  There was no way that in the light of these revelations that they could deny that the impending judgment of the Lord was just.

There was no excuse for the sins that were being committed, God had made it very clear, what was expected of His people. Time and time again, we see throughout the Old Testament that it's not their sacrifices, ritualistic worship or offerings that God wants but to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”~6:8.  It doesn’t require a lot of hermeneutic examination to know that this is still the essence of what the Lord requires of us today.

Micah encourages God’s people with the hope of an ideal future  to be ushered in by the Messiah born in Bethlehem "He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  And he will be their peace." ~5:4-5. I love the contrast of the current leaders of Israel who oppress and destroy the poor versus the coming Shepherd King who will stand and protect his flock. What a relief that must have been to those who had been under the thumb of unrighteous rule.  Micah reminds us that Justice and Mercy meet at the cross in unparalleled perfection.

I love Micah’s prayer of thanksgiving  found in chapter 7, which foretells of the grace that was to come “Where is the god who can compare with you—wiping the slate clean of guilt,Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.You'll stay true to your word to Father Jacob and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—Everything you promised our ancestors from a long time ago. ~7:18-19. What a glorious image of our God, who is abounding in grace and mercy. I particularly love the line about hurling all our iniquities into the depths of the sea, what freedom is found in forgiveness as great and complete as this.

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