THE READING: Micah 6:6-8
“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? ill 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?” 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
It’s 740-700 BCE
and God’s people are anxious. The
northern part of the kingdom (Israel) has already fallen to the Assyrian army,
and its leading families have been deported to Assyria. The southern part of the kingdom (Judah) is
now under threat, and sooner or later also will fall.
The leaders of
Judah – king, rich landowners, leading merchants, priests – are doing all they
know to survive as a kingdom. Micah, a
prophet, sees they are working on the wrong track though.
people, they pray God will give them a strong king to lead them to victory in
battle against their enemies, and last week (in Micah 5:2-5a) we read Micah’s
answer to them. He says a saviour will
come – but only after their defeat. And
rather than a warrior who will give them victory over others, the king God will
choose for them will be a shepherd who will take the time and care to feed
anxiety like other people they also try to be as religious as they can be. They fix up the temple and start piling on the
sacrifices – a religious revival, to try to get God on their side, and this
week we read Micah’s response to their renewed piety and fevered religious
At the heart of Micah’s
message is the understanding that God did not bring the people into their land
and help them be a kingdom just so they could be like other kingdoms with a
warrior-king and God on their side to make them bigger and better. The purpose was that they learn to be distinctive
among nations and a light to other peoples – a people known in the world for
the way they live out God’s good will for all, and for showing that it really
can be done.
passage was chosen for worship this week because the choir is offering a carol concert with the theme of what
Jesus wants from us for Christmas, and this passage Micah offers one of the
“classic” answers to the question of what God wants from us.
What makes us
anxious (as persons, as a church, as a nation, as a world community)
today? How are we on the wrong track in
how we are trying to survive and make things better? How are we on the right track?
What do we
do at Christmas that’s on Jesus’ or God’s wish list?