Micah 5-7
(Walk Humbly with the LORD)
September 22nd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over the transgression
    of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in showing clemency.

- Micah 7:18 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

These chapters conclude the succinct book of Micah with a final warning and the promise of a future Savior. The first two verses capture both themes: Micah issues a warning regarding the final siege of Jerusalem and heralds the ruler who will come one day from the little town of Bethlehem.

The Savior is described as a master shepherd whose “greatness will reach to the ends of the earth (Micah 5:4 - NIV).” But before that time the LORD will destroy all the false idols and scatter the remnants of Israel to many nations.

In chapter 6, the LORD addresses the people with the emotion of an exasperated parent asking rhetorical questions:

    “O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.”

    - Micah 6:3 (KJV)

The LORD reminds them of how he rescued their lot from Egypt and showed his greatness in many ways. The only thing he asks in return is “To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 - NIV).”

But the people had not done those things. Instead they used dishonest scales to cheat one another and lied shamelessly. Therefore, they will be punished. Therefore they would go hungry as the fruits of their labor are taken away by invaders.

In chapter 7 Micah describes his own misery as he fails to find anyone who acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. He can't even find anyone who can be trusted among the rulers, neighbors, and his own family. Thus, he waits for the day of the coming of the LORD. He warns his enemies not to gloat as Israel suffers because the tables will eventually be turned. God will once again show his powers in defense of the remnant of Israel. Micah recognizes that the nation has sinned and deserves punishment, but also acknowledges the true character of God:

    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—
        from a long time ago.

    - Micah 7:18-20 (MSG)

Reflection and Application

This section includes some of the most specific references from the Old Testament regarding the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. It also includes one of the more well-known verses from the books of the prophets. Micah correctly prophesized that Jesus would come from the humble town of Bethlehem and not the capital of the kingdom (score one for the humble country folk).

Micah also adds that this ruler is one “ ‘whose origins are from of old, from ancient times’ (Micah 5:2 - NIV).” In this verse Micah recognizes that Jesus existed from the beginning – before the current populace, before David, before Moses, before Abraham, and before Adam. He also correctly states that Jesus' greatness will reach to the ends of the earth (Micah 5:4 - NIV). This did not happen during Jesus’ time on earth when the known world was not the whole world. Instead, the ends of the earth were eventually evangelized as Christianity spread and is now vibrant in every continent.

Some of the prophecies in this and other books of the Bible came true during the lifetime of the prophet, some came true centuries later, and some are yet to come. Therefore when we read certain passages and say, “well that didn’t happen” we might want to remind ourselves that it could be a prophesy of a day that is beyond us.

As we wait for that day we find sound guidance in the brief verse from chapter 6:

    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
        And what does the LORD require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
        and to walk humbly with your God.

    - Micah 6:8 (NIV)

These three phrases (act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly) summarize the 10 Commandments and are consistent with every commandment from God: Justice, mercy, and humility. These phrases have also been inspiring leaders for thousands of years and may have been one of the sets of verses that inspired King Hezekiah, who led a reform throughout the Southern Kingdom. One biblical expert noted that the rabbis from the early centuries of the Christian church called this “a one-line summary of the whole Law (1).”

The late Rev. Edward Danks (7 Aug 1931 - 29 Aug 2011) quoted from this verse during a sermon he delivered in August 1995 called “Obeying Life’s Unenforceables” (2). In this sermon, Danks described the unenforceables as those things we are not forced to do, but chose to do. He referenced Micah 6:8 from the reading for the day as he gave examples of different human characteristics that are unenforceables:

    So is kindness. That, too, is an “unenforceable.” Whereas “patience” is seen for the most part to be passive in nature (it is the virtue of receiving other people’s or circumstantial irritability and meanness – “patience” is “love bearing all things” as the Bible puts it), “kindness" is more active in nature. It seeks to extend love into seemingly impossible situations situations. This, too, is a God-like thing, which is why poet Robert Burns said,

      The heart benevolent and kind
      The most resembles God.
      - Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Danks also quoted Ephesians 4:32 and noted that “The World today – and each of our hearts! -- cries out for this 'unenforceable' called 'kindness'."

Those of us who knew Ed can hear his booming voice and picture his looming presence at the beach or in the pulpit as we read these words of wisdom that he penned in 1995. Do any of us every feel that we are the only ones trying to adhere to the unenforceable rules that we find in the Bible? If so, we can relate to Micah’s feelings expressed in chapter 7. We must remember that this is not an excuse to give up. Instead, we can follow Micah’s lead and patiently wait for the LORD. In the meantime we have to keep ourselves on the right path of justice, mercy, and humility (which is hard if we think we are one of the good ones), and then we may discover like-minded people and the work of the LORD in our world.

On the other hand, maybe we have honestly reviewed our lives and think we are so far gone that God cannot help us. This is a myth that the enemy wants us to believe. The truth is captured near the end of Micah’s book: “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy (Micah 7:18 - NIV).” God wants to forgive us. Remember the town of Nineveh in Jonah? They must have led despicable lives, but God loved them so much that he commanded Jonah to go there, performed miracles to make sure he arrived to prophesize, and then forgave the people.

When we read these books of the Bible we more fully understand the infinite power of God and the infinite love of God. A love that looks beyond the surface attributes that our world glorifies but looks deep into our hearts. When he sees our hearts of darkness he does not give up, but sends us messengers to get us back in the light. He sent Micah, Jonah, Jeremiah, and others in the B.C. era. He sent a Savior, and he continues to send people to direct us. We may not always recognize his messengers, but if we seek to be aware we will hear the messages meant for us.

Fifteen summers after Danks' sermon, Micah 6:8 was featured in another sermon (and maybe one or more in between) at my church. In 2010, our church leaders selected Micah 6:8 as one of the “Top 10” verses of the Bible, and then featured all ten in a summer series of sermons.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Where is your favorite place to walk?
    2. Do you ever feel that you are one of the few who is trying to adhere to the unenforceable rules that we find in the Bible?
    3. How can we spread kindness?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you send us many warnings and messengers and have infinite ability to forgive us. Help us to hear you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Country Music Singers


    (1) Boadt, Lawrence, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ; 1984p. 336
    (2) Danks, The Reverend Edward R, “Obeying Life’s Unenforceables!” The Noroton Pulpit, Sermons from The Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT, August 6, 1995

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Nahum 1-3, "No No Nineveh"

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