When I delivered this message during worship I began with a tube of toothpaste and an empty bowl.
I’m going to squeeze this tube of toothpaste in an effort to empty it as fast as I can. Does someone have a phone available to time me? Please set your stopwatch and see how long this takes.
… it took 21 seconds.
That didn’t take very long at all. Now I would like you to reset the time and see how long it takes me to put the toothpaste back in the tube. What? Oh yeah. Getting the toothpaste back into the tube is much more difficult.
A main topic of our conversation in Micah is sin. This little demonstration with toothpaste is a great worldly demonstration of sin. Committing sinful acts is really easy. Yet, cleaning up the mess of sin is much more difficult. Or you can put it this way. Once the sin is over, the consequences remain.
Let that be an introduction to the book of Micah. Read Micah 1:1-5.
From these opening verses you quickly see that the people of God have committed transgressions. The people of God have sinned. Yet, in these opening verses you don’t see the specifics or the depth of their sin.
If you continue to read the prophetic work of Micah you will see that he highlights a number of sins:
Oppression of the poor (2:1-3)
Corrupt courts and judges (3:1-3)
Dishonest commercial practices (6:10-11)
False prophecy (3:5-6)
Greedy priests (3:11)
Loss of social order (7:2-6)
That is merely scratching the surface. The sin is numerous. The sin is deep. The sin is devastating. It leaves me to ask the question: How can such a nation be the instrument of God?
Well, if you keep reading the prophetic work of Micah you’ll find an answer to that question.
They will be judged:
“Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations. All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.” – Micah 1:6-7
They will be saved:
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7
In light of all that … Micah gives us a really simple command. How many of you like things simple? This is a safe and comfortable time to raise your hands. How many of you like things simple? Well, you’re about to get things broken down on an extremely simple level.
The people of God sinned. They were seeking a savior. Thus, like many of us seeking a salvation they try to earn it. We try to work for it. In Micah 6 the people contemplate … Does God want burnt offerings? Does God want a thousand rams? Does God want ten thousand rivers of oil? Does God want my firstborn for all my transgressions?
The answer to these questions come in Micah 6:8.
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
To Act Justly: We typically read justice as giving people what they deserve. Yet, we mean read that to mean punishment. Yet, the minor prophets speak of justice as giving people what they deserve – which is respect, kindness, and love. All people are created in the image of God. We should treat them as such.
Love Mercy: The Hebrew word “Hesed.” Could be translated as “loving kindness” or “steadfast covenant love.” It is demonstrated over and over again by God’s loyalty to Israel despite unfaithfulness. We should love the fact that God is faithful despite our unfaithfulness. This should cause us to worship God and give grace to those around us.
Walk Humbly with God: He is God. We are not. With this attitude you cling tightly to God.
The conclusion of Micah is powerful:
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. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
– Micah 7:17-20
Here is the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God.
The ways of the world …
- It is really easy to sin
- The consequences of our sin remain
The ways of God …
- It is really easy to sin
- The consequence of our sin remain
- God forgives