I am a contrary kind of guy, I guess. I have always loved reading the prophets of the Old Testament. Previously, I’ve done a sermon on the famous passage in Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O Mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
We must remember that the prophets were never really very popular and there was a reason for that. They said things that people did not want to hear. Amos had the gall to go from the less prosperous South to the very wealthy North and tell them to get their act together. He warned them that God expected them to treat the poor fairly. Jeremiah was so insistent in his message of gloom that they threw him in a pit. People do not like to be criticized.
One of the characteristics of the religions that surrounded the Israelites was that they all used forms of sympathetic magic. Thus, if you wanted Baal to bless your crops, you made idols and used rituals that imitated fertility. The Israelite prophets were totally different. They argued that God could not be bought off with rituals or sacrifices. No, if you wanted Yahweh’s attention, then you lived the life that he demanded and then he would bless you.
So we come to Micah. He looked around and saw people cheating the poor and ignoring the demands that God had placed upon their lives. He warned that if they did not repent and love justice and kindness and walk with God, then they would fall under the sword of another country. He also said that they might even be prosperous but “you will eat and not be satisfied (Micah 6:14).” In other words, they could get all the things of this world and it would not satisfy them.
I believe that we have much to learn from Micah. So often we think that God should obey us. If we go to church a couple of times a year or if we donate a couple of hundred dollars a year to the church, then surely we have done enough for God to bless us. Micah and the prophets say that we must walk where God leads. Likewise, we look for more and more material things to satisfy us and tend to ignore the call of God on our ethical life. Micah says we will eat and eat and never be satisfied if we do not follow God. I believe we need to go back to the prophets and understand that the correct way to go is to walk with God and not expect him to follow us.