Quote #1: During Micah’s lifetime, the Assyrian Empire began to grow more powerful. In 722 BCE, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria, and its capital Samaria fell, bringing the Assyrian armies to within 10 miles of Jerusalem. The southern kingdom of Judah was not overrun, but was made a vassal state, paying tributes and forced to bow to Assyrian religious and political authority. In the years immediately following the fall of Samaria, the population of Jerusalem increased, possibly due to an influx of refugees from the north. This may have contributed to the economic difficulties and exploitation that Micah addresses.
Micah 3 New International Version (NIV)
9 Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets. Micah 6:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? 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 thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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.
Quote #2: “The subtle nuances of the very strong (Hebrew) verb da-rash are just fascinating. “Require” misses the heart of it, I think, for we resort to notions of rules or grading, as in “the teacher requires you turn in a three-page paper by Friday.” The verb darash has undertones of affection, or the healthiest sort of dependency, as in “the child requires his mother’s love,” or “the flower requires rain and sunshine.” There is a mood of seeking in darash; lovers seek each other out, and a shepherd seeks his lost sheep—and in the Old Testament, both situations use darash. So when the Lord “requires” justice, kindness and mercy, it isn’t that the Lord “insists on” or “demands” these things. God seeks them, yearns for them, and frankly needs them from us as intimate partners in God’s adventure down here." - Rev. James Howell, Meyers Park UMC
Prayer for the Week - Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, creator of the universe. When the people went astray and abandoned your covenant, you remained faithful. Lead us to follow your will and walk humbly with you, help us to live in your promises, and remind us of your unfailing love. We pray all of this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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