“What does the Lord require of you?” (Part 2) Micah 6:8

Pastor Ino

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This is Part 2 of my message on the book of Micah. The theme of this message is the same as before. But in particular today, I would like to focus on the idea of grace. Micah 6:8 says, “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.”

First of all, about justice: I said in my last message that this kind of justice is based on God’s laws of what is right and wrong. So the word “justice” here is defined by God’s laws. At the center of God’s laws are the Ten Commandments of Moses, which say: Do not make idols for yourselves. Do not worship them. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not give false testimony, and so on. These laws reveal the heart of God. So when Micah says to “act justly,” it means to do what is right according to laws such as these Ten Commandments. We should look at the world and at our leaders in Japan from the perspective of God’s justice. Let us pray for our leaders to govern the country with justice for the people’s well-being. And may we ourselves aim to be righteous in our actions, according to God’s laws.

Next, I would like to consider today’s theme of grace. In particular, the grace of Jesus Christ. In the book of Micah we can find a number of prophecies concerning Christ. First, a prophecy about the birth of Jesus Christ. Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” The name Bethlehem means “house of bread,” while “Ephrathah” can mean “dust”. Bethlehem Ephrathah was a town 8 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem. Micah prophesies that the Savior Jesus would be born in a small town that we could say was insignificant as dust. But verse 4 goes on to say, “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” Though the Savior Jesus will be born in a manger and live to serve, at the same time he will be great in power and the leader of many. Besides prophesying Jesus’ birth, Micah foretells that Jesus will be like a shepherd.

Later, in chapter 7, Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Verse 19: “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” We can see a foreshadowing of Jesus here. Jesus is one who receives us as we are and pardons our sins. He tramples on our sins and throws them into the depths of the sea. That is the Savior Jesus, who overflows with grace. This Savior will lead God’s remnant, among whom we are included; and he will bless us and walk with us.

Going back to chapter 5, Micah 5:7 says, “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man.” The Lord will bless the remnant of his people and pour out his abundant grace on them just as the dew moistens the grass. And the remnant will live victorious lives. This victory is described further in 5:8: “The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue.” In other words, the remnant who are in Christ will be transformed to do God’s work with his great power. Verse 9 adds, “Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed.” One day, the remnant will rule over the earth together with Christ. This is the hope given to us by this passage.

Isaiah, who lived in the same period as Micah, prophesied that the Savior would be a servant, that he would bear our sins, suffer and atone for our sins (Isaiah 53). The Savior Jesus took the form of a servant and atoned for our sins on a cross. The Old Testament foreshadowed a future reality that was fulfilled by Christ; it is through the Old Testament that we can understand the work of the Savior.

The book of Micah also shows us the powerful transformation of a Christian. As Christians, we have victory of Satan. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians talks about this, but we can also see it in the book of Micah. So let us reread some verses starting from Micah 5:2. Let’s read this verse while having the end times in mind. First, the passage prophesies the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. Then verse 3 talks about a great hope that is not only for the people of Israel but also for Gentiles—that is, all other races of people. Verse 3 mentions that “Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son.” God promises to preserve the people of Israel until the birth of the Savior. And until “and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites,” which refers to Christians in the era of the New Testament. We, who are Gentiles, will turn to Jesus and put our faith in him. And as verse 4 says, we will be led by the Good Shepherd.

Micah 5:5 then talks about peace in regards to Assyria. The nation of Assyria was notorious. The Assyrians were cruel, like a people controlled by Satan. But Christ will triumph over Satan’s work. God will use the remnant of his people to accomplish this. God will bless and enable his people to do this. Verses 5 and 6 mention that seven shepherds and eight commanders will be victorious over Satan. The exact number of shepherds and commanders is not important; it is simply describing that God will raise up many shepherds and leaders who will be victorious over Satan. They will triumph over Satan’s attacks with the help of Jesus. When we look at this passage from that perspective, we can see that God’s victory will be with those who walk with faith in Jesus.

Let us turn to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: chapter 2 verses 1-3. It says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Before we believed in Jesus, we lived under the rule of Satan. It is a sad reality. This is Paul’s view of humanity. However, as verses 5 and 6 says, through the grace of the cross, God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” That is what a Christian is: someone who has been saved from the rule of Satan by the grace of Christ.

Ephesians 2:7 says that God did this “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Brothers and sisters, we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ. Let us boldly declare that we have victory over Satan. Our lives as Christians began with redemptive work of Christ. Let us rejoice over his grace, receive the help of the Holy Spirit, and give glory back to God. May we live our lives this way.

Let us end by reading Micah 6:8 one more time: “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.” Let us act with justice and love mercy, that Christ has shown us. Let us aim to walk with humility before God. Because the abundant grace of God is being poured out on you even now.

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