Micah 6:6 “How shall I approach the Lord and bow myself before God on high?”
Micah was a prophet to Israel around 740BC. He was also a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. Both Micah and Isaiah focused on drawing national attention to three main areas: 1) Israel’s rejection of God by pagan worship of foreign gods, 2) a call to repentance to return to God, and 3) the promise of a future Messiah who, if they turned from their sin and returned to God, would forgive and reconcile them back to Him as His children. With our nation’s Presidential election next week, we can see many similarities today in American culture with ancient Israel at the time of Micah and Isaiah.
During the time of the prophets, the nation of Israel was not a democratic republic like America, but a theocracy. The famous first-century historian Josephus is the one who first used this term to describe Israel’s system of government: “There is endless variety in the details of the customs and laws which prevail in the world at large… some people have entrusted the supreme political power to monarchies, others to oligarchies, yet others to the masses. Our lawgiver, however, was attracted by none of these forms of policy, but gave to his constitution the form of what – if a forced expression be permitted – may be termed ‘theocracy,’ placing all sovereignty and authority in the hands of God.”
Under a theocracy, a God-ruled nation, Israel knew no division between sacred and secular, holy and profane. All life was subject to God’s will and under God’s sovereign authority. The kings of Israel were not mere secular rulers but God’s chosen servants anointed to their office by His prophets. Each anointed king was meant to be a prototype of the future ideal king, the Messiah Jesus Christ.
And all citizens of the nation of Israel, their leaders, and their institutions came under the scrutiny of the prophets. There were two main national evils which God denounced through the prophets and for which He then ultimately judged the nation: 1) Israel rapidly became paganized (they abandoned Him as their God), and 2) the nation became arrogant, self-centered and merciless as they became more affluent.
In our verse this week, Micah explains one of the favorite topics of all the prophets from Moses through John the Baptist: the sin of hypocritical, ritualistic religious piety that is devoid moral righteousness which centers on justice with mercy. Let’s first examine Micah’s declaration to Israel through verse 8.
“With what shall I approach the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall it be with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will He be pleased with 1,000’s of rams, or 10,000 rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The paganism of Israel: In paganism, the worshipers performed rituals for his deity, including child sacrifice, in hopes the deity would give them prosperity or victory over enemies. But the pagan manmade deities of Israel’s surrounding nations made no moral demands on those worshippers. Israel began doing the same – treating God as if He were just another pagan god, who could be bribed with a sacrifice.
The wealth of Israel: This was a warning given to Israel by Moses when they were first freed from the tyranny and oppression of Egypt: “And it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – when you have eaten and are full – then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).
That was 1450BC. God sent Micah to Israel in 740BC, 700 years later, to tell the nation that through the wealth God had poured upon them, they had forgotten Him, turned to false gods made by their own hands, and become arrogant and cruel, a self-centered people who murdered their own for their individual gain.
Do we not see the parallels with America today? In this Presidential election, one candidate vows to protect the unborn, to protect freedom of worship, to protect freedom of speech, to defend our police, to strengthen our military, to protect America’s borders from aliens, to defend our Constitution, to stand against Socialism and Marxism. The other candidate promises to do the exact opposite on every one of these. If Micah were here today, which would he denounce? Like Israel, America’s future hangs with this election.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #421