Lesson 5 – What Does the Lord Require
skipping to the minor prophet Micah. They
are called minor, not because they are less important, but just because the
books are smaller.
Use the time line below to locate Micah.
What key events occur during his time?
Ø Read Micah 1:1-5
and read 2:1-4.
Read below as Walter Brueggemann draws attention to the heart of Micah's message.
Of these indictments from Micah, we may note three important factors. First, the poetry is addressed to the leadership, to the ones with social power. They are the ones who have arranged things the way they are. They are also the ones who benefit from the way things are. Second, the agenda is consistently economic. The real issues concerning justice have to do with access to and control of life-goods. We have so much to learn yet about this as the proper agenda of the Bible, and indeed as the proper agenda of God. That agenda has been on God's mind since the exodus. Third, address to leadership and concern for economics make clear that Micah is making a critique of the system of social control. This is not poetry that simply strikes out at a specific act. It is a much more sustained analysis based on the legal precedent of the torah to show that the entire social system is wrongly directed. So the invitation to do justice is in a context of the systemic power of evil. (Excerpted from To Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly: An Agenda for Ministries by Walter Brueggemann, Sharon Parks, Thomas H. Groome. © 1986 by Walter Brueggemann, Sharon Parks, Thomas H. Groome. Used by permission of Paulist Press.)
Ø Discuss what parts of Micah's words give evidence of: its address "to the leadership, the ones with social power"? its agenda as economic? its critique of "the system of social control"?
Ø Read Micah 4:1-5 and 6:6-8. Brueggemann notes that Micah "envisions a changed social system," an "alternative way to order society around the gifts of God" (pp. 10-11).
What are the ways by which this social
system will operate? (See also paragraphs 2 and 5 of the "Bible Background.")
What is the role of God's people in this new social system?
Finding Micah's issues in contemporary life
Brueggemann sees the demand of God to do justice in Micah 6:8 as the crux of Micah's message. Read the following story to examine the issue of justice in our daily lives:
There are, of course, various and conflicting understandings of justice. Let me offer this as a way the Bible thinks about justice: Justice is to sort out what belongs to whom, and to return it to them. Such an understanding implies that there is a right distribution of goods and access to the sources of life. There are certain entitlements which cannot be mocked. Yet through the uneven workings of the historical process, some come to have access to or control of what belongs to others. If we control what belongs to others long enough, we come to think of it as rightly ours, and to forget it belonged to someone else. So the work of liberation, redemption, salvation, is the work of giving things back. The Bible knows that when things are alienated from those to whom they belong, there can only be trouble, disorder and death. So God's justice at the outset has a dynamic, transformative quality. It causes things to change, and it expects that things must need change if there is to be abundant life.
I recently heard a story which speaks of forgetting to whom things belong. A very proper lady went to a tea shop. She sat at a table for two, ordered a pot of tea, and prepared to eat some cookies which she had in her purse. Because the tea shop was crowded, a man took the other chair and also ordered tea....The woman was prepared for a leisurely time, so she began to read her paper. As she did so, she took a cookie from the package. As she read, she noticed that the man across also took a cookie from the package. This upset her greatly, but she ignored it and kept reading. After a while she took another cookie. And so did he. This unnerved her and she glared at the man. While she glared, he reached for the fifth and last cookie, smiled and offered her half of it. She was indignant. She paid her money and left in a great hurry, enraged at such a presumptuous man. She hurried to her bus stop just outside. She opened her purse to get a coin for her bus ticket. And then she saw, much to her distress, that in her purse was her package of cookies unopened. The lady is not different from all of us. Sometimes we possess things so long that do not really belong to us that we come to think they are ours. Sometimes by the mercy of God, we have occasion to see to whom these things in fact belong. And when we see that, we have some little chance of being rescued from our misreading of reality. Justice concerns precisely a right reading of social reality, of social power, and of social goods. (Brueggemann, et. al., pp. 5-6. Used by permission.)
Think about Brueggemann's understanding of Micah and biblical justice: What are the areas of our lives where God's justice is at work to change us? What are the barriers to God's justice in our social reality? What would it take for us as a church to move toward "a right distribution of goods"?
“What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, but a person of quite different
background and experience. He was born in Moresheth-gath,
a town in southwestern
Micah also had beautiful words of promise and hope for the people. Like Isaiah,
he had a vision of a day when the city of
book of Micah also contains another vision, this centered upon
will provide a secure life for the people, and will be a person of peace. In fact, we could translate,".. .and this one shall be called 'Peace.'" It is a beautiful text, showing the faith of the prophet that God's purpose of bringing peace and blessing to earth was sure to find realization before long.
the texts in Micah that speak of the fulfillment of God's work on earth are, as
we have seen, similar to texts in the book of Isaiah. The prophet may have
spent some time in
5Micah shows them, and us, what God desires. Sacrifices and offerings may be heaped up, the worship of the people may be rich and ornate. People may even be led to torment themselves, or even to offer their beloved children as human sacrifices in order to prove their devotion to God. But Micah insists that none of those things is essential. What God expects and wants is a life of just dealings with neighbors, a disposition that aims at the welfare of other persons and is marked by kindness, and a readiness to live out one's life with one's neighbors quietly, responsibly, without fanfare, devoted to God, to human welfare, and to peace among all God's people.
wonder that this text from Micah is quoted so widely. It is a wonderful summary
of the message of
8Then some of the elders remembered that Micah had prophesied the same thing, and King Hezekiah had not put him to death; rather, Hezekiah had led a reform of the society, and the city was spared. These elders saw what God intended by this threat: that the people change their behavior— and live.
1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Kings Jotham,
Ahaz, and Hezekiah of
2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; listen, O earth, and all that is in it; and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
3 For lo, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4 Then the mountains will melt under him and the valleys will burst open, like wax near the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.
5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for
the sins of the house of
6 Therefore I will make
7 All her images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste; for as the wages of a prostitute she gathered them, and as the wages of a prostitute they shall again be used.
8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go barefoot and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.
9 For her wound is incurable. It has come to
10 Tell it not in
11 Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame; the inhabitants of Zaanan do not come forth; Beth-ezel is wailing and shall remove its support from you.
12 For the inhabitants of Maroth wait anxiously for good, yet disaster has come down
from the LORD to the gate of
13 Harness the steeds to the chariots, inhabitants of
14 Therefore you shall give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath; the houses of Achzib
shall be a deception to the kings of
15 I will again bring a conqueror upon you,
inhabitants of Mareshah; the glory of
16 Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair for your pampered children; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they have gone from you into exile.
1 Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power.
2 They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance.
3 Therefore thus says the LORD: Now, I am devising against this family an evil from which you cannot remove your necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time.
4 On that day they shall take up a taunt song against you, and wail with bitter lamentation, and say, "We are utterly ruined; the LORD alters the inheritance of my people; how he removes it from me! Among our captors he parcels out our fields."
5 Therefore you will have no one to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.
6 "Do not preach"--thus they preach-- "one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us."
7 Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Is the Lord's patience exhausted? Are these his doings? Do not my words do good to one who walks uprightly?
8 But you rise up against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.
9 The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my glory forever.
10 Arise and go; for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.
11 If someone were to go about uttering empty falsehoods, saying, "I will preach to you of wine and strong drink," such a one would be the preacher for this people!
12 I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will
gather the survivors of
13 The one who breaks out will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the LORD at their head.
1 And I said: Listen, you heads
of Jacob and rulers of the house of
2 you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones;
3 who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.
4 Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.
5 Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry "Peace" when they have something to eat, but declare war against those who put nothing into their mouths.
6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without revelation. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them;
7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.
8 But as for me, I am filled
with power, with the spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare
to Jacob his transgression and to
9 Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and
chiefs of the house of
10 who build
11 Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Surely the LORD is with us! No harm shall come upon us. "
12 Therefore because of you
1 In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it,
2 and many nations shall come and say: "Come, let
us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he
may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of
3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5 For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.
6 In that day, says the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted.
7 The lame I will make the remnant, and those who were
cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in
8 And you, O tower of the flock, hill of daughter
9 Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor?
10 Writhe and groan, O daughter Zion, like a woman in labor; for now you shall go forth from the city and camp in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued, there the LORD will redeem you from the hands of your enemies.
11 Now many nations are assembled against you, saying,
"Let her be profaned, and let our eyes gaze upon
12 But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 Arise and thresh, O daughter Zion, for I will make your horn iron and your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples, and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.
1 Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid
against us; with a rod they strike the ruler of
2 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when
she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall
return to the people of
4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;
5 and he shall be the one of peace. If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers.
6 They shall rule the
7 Then the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not depend upon people or wait for any mortal.
8 And among the nations the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, with no one to deliver.
9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.
10 In that day, says the LORD, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots;
11 and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds;
12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more soothsayers;
13 and I will cut off your images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands;
14 and I will uproot your sacred poles from among you and destroy your towns.
15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.
1 Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD,
and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with
his people, and he will contend with
3 "O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD."
6 "With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
9 The voice of the LORD cries to the city (it is sound wisdom to fear your name): Hear, O tribe and assembly of the city!
10 Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?
11 Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights?
12 Your wealthy are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, with tongues of deceit in their mouths.
13 Therefore I have begun to strike you down, making you desolate because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be a gnawing hunger within you; you shall put away, but not save, and what you save, I will hand over to the sword.
15 You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
16 For you have kept the statutes of Omri and all the works of the house of Ahab, and you have followed their counsels. Therefore I will make you a desolation, and your inhabitants an object of hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people.
1 Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat; there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger.
2 The faithful have disappeared from the land, and there is no one left who is upright; they all lie in wait for blood, and they hunt each other with nets.
3 Their hands are skilled to do evil; the official and the judge ask for a bribe, and the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice.
4 The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of their sentinels, of their punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand.
5 Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace;
6 for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household.
7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
8 Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.
9 I must bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication.
10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, "Where is the LORD your God?" My eyes will see her downfall; now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets.
11 A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be far extended.
12 In that day they will come to you from Assyria to Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
13 But the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings.
14 Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock that belongs to you, which lives alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.
15 As in the days when you came out of the land of
16 The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf;
17 they shall lick dust like a snake, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their fortresses; they shall turn in dread to the LORD our God, and they shall stand in fear of you.
18 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.
19 He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.
Pre -historic stories -
Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Noah, the
2100 Sarah and Abraham leave Ur of Chaldea (c. 2100)
2000 Stories of Sarah and Abraham in Canaan and Egyp and back in
1900 Isaac and Rebekah with sons Esau and Jacob (1900-1750)
1800 Jacob and Rachel with sons Joseph and Benjamin (1800-1700)
- The Joseph Stories (1750-1650)
1600 Hebrews in bondage in
1200 Invasion of the Philistines - Entry into the promised land.
- Saul founds monarchy
-- First temple built
- Division of Kingdom (
900 Asa king of
Ahab King of
-- Elijah --- Elisha
- Jeroboam II king of
Asariah (Uzziah) king of
- Assyrians take
Isaiah I Return to Lesson
Hezekiah king of
Manasseh king of
Josiah's reform -- Nahum
- Exile in
-- Isaiah II
- Haggai & Zechariah
400 The Pentateuch accepted as Scripture
Alexander conquers East
The Prophets accepted as Scripture
-- Hasmonean rulers (the Herods)
Herod the Great
- Jesus' ministry
Jewish Christianity & beginnings
-- Paul's ministry, letters
- Romans destroy
Gospel of Mark (70) Luke (80) Matthew (90)
100 The Writings close the Hebrew (CS) Canon
Last Christian books written