Right is Right (Micah 6:1-8)
David Peterson / General
Good; Right; Truth / Micah 6:1–8
Sermon type: Textual-Topical
Proposition: Though we are forgiven by grace we are not then free to live contrary to God’s law because God’s law is simply a reflection of what is good and right and true. Jesus comes to forgive us and lead us in God’s ways.
1. The Good is what is fitting. It fits reality. It is right. Right is Right.
2. These are the “important matters”—”justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Mt. 23:23)
a. To humanity: When you do right
b. To Israel: (Deut. 10:12, 13)
He had shewn it to them. The law was full of it. He shewed it to them, when He said, And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command thee this day for thy good? They had asked, “with what outward thing shall I come before the Lord;” the prophet tells them, “what thing is good,” the inward man of the heart, righteousness, love, humility.
Pusey, E. B. (1885). Notes on the Old Testament: The Minor Prophets: Micah to Malachi (Vol. 2, p. 82). Funk and Wagnalls.
c. Our Country’s history
“This verse stands as the motto of the alcove of religion in the reading room of the Congressional Library in Washington.”
Barker, K. L. (1999). Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (Vol. 20, p. 113). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
I. It is right to honor God (walk humbly)
a. It is right to honor God because we know there is a God
i. We all act as if there is a God (morals, meaning, order, ground)—Jordan Peterson
In the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
Source: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Collier Books, 1980), p.31
ii. Our very nature requires a God, our need for security and significance to rightly function (humility acknowledges the truth)
Love of one’s self and one’s world is distorted if it does not penetrate through the finite to its infinite ground.
Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology: Volume Two (p. 48). The University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
“Is it not of great significance that humility and reason returned to Nebuchadnezzar together? ‘At the same time,’ added the humbled king, ‘my reason returned unto me.’ The King’s pride was to him a kind of insanity which drove him at last into the fields to dwell with the beasts. While he saw himself large and God small he was insane; sanity returned only as he began to see God as all and himself as nothing.”
SOURCE: A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest (Oliphants, 1950), 51–52.
II. It is right to work for a right ordering of society (act justly)
At the broadest level, there is a sense in which justice ultimately has in view the proper ordering of all society. This more comprehensive meaning also seems called for in Isa 42:1, 4, where justice is presented as the mission of the Messianic Servant of the Lord. He will establish a proper order on earth. Lindsey maintains that “any translation less comprehensive than ‘a right order’ or a similar phrase fails to take account of the far-reaching accomplishments purposed for Yahweh’s Servant. The Servant’s task is to rectify within history all aspects and phases of human existence—moral, religious, spiritual, political, social, economic, and so forth.” Again he notes that mišpāṭ “describes the totality of the just order that the Servant will cause to prevail on the earth.” That is precisely what the rulers and leaders of Micah’s time had failed to do. In a more practical vein, “Perhaps it is not amiss to suggest that as the Lord’s servants today, we too are to strive to help bring about such a proper and just ordering of all society (cf. Mic 6:6–8).” Craigie observes: “ ‘Justice,’ Disraeli said in a speech to the House of Commons (1851), ‘is truth in action.’ Injustice, as Micah saw so clearly, was falsity in action throughout every key realm of society.”
Barker, K. L. (1999). Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (Vol. 20, p. 75). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Justice is what love looks like in public.
—Cornel West, U.S. professor and scholar (1956—)
Professor Davie Napier, Yale Divinity School, said to the graduating class at Lexington (Ky.) Theological Seminary in June of 1982 that it is not an easy time for ministry. Peace, always tenuous, fragile, at best fleeting, may be lost to perpetual darkness. And it is a rough time for ministry when quite apparently in our own and most countries of the world, peace is wanted and somehow expected without justice.
Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 273). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
i. READ Micah 4:1-5 (Messianic Kingdom peace rooted in law, i.e., 10 commandments)
ii. 10 commandments lie at heart of all law
III. It is right to reflect God’s character (love mercy)
love mercy. The word khesed [2617, 2876] (mercy) describes the loyal love of Yahweh for his people.
Patterson, R. D., & Hill, A. E. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi (p. 336). Tyndale House Publishers.
a. God’s character and promise (READ Micah 7:18-20)
b. God sees beyond what we are to what we were meant to be and what he can enable us to be
“Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race,” wrote English scholar Alcuin. He was referring to the A.D. 793 raids on the monastery at Lindesfarne, off the eastern coast of Scotland. The pagans were “Northmen” (or Norsemen) and this raid inaugurated what is called “the age of the Vikings.”
“Behold the church of Saint Cuthbert,” wrote Alcuin, “splattered with the blood of the priests of God, despoiled in all its ornaments; a place more venerable that all in Britain is given as a prey to pagan peoples.”
The Vikings, swift and merciless marauders, were pagans who attacked Christian settlements from Ireland to the Mediterranean for the next 200 years. They brought with them not only blood and destruction, but also a violent paganism, in which the gods Thor, Wodin, and Frey, an unholy trinity of power and magic, threatened to undue the 500-year work of Christian missionaries. No wonder that from the Lindesfarne raid on, monks regularly prayed, “From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord deliver us.”
Not only did the Lord deliver England from the pagan Vikings, over the next 400 years he also converted the marauders. It is one of the most remarkable and little-known stories in Christian history—the conversion of the Vikings. It happened slowly and piecemeal—a combination of missionary effort, key royal conversions, and mostly day-to-day witnessing by common people who bumped into Christians as they traded goods. But by 1200, the Scandinavian countries became thoroughly Christian, and after the Reformation, thoroughly Lutheran.
God is about the business of changing not just people, but whole cultures. It doesn’t happen overnight and not as neatly as we’d like. But it happens—if we continue to pray and have patience—even from one generation to the next.
Source: Georgia Beaverson, “The Fury of the Northmen,” Christian History, issue 60, no. 4, p.41
1. Jesus has come to lead us into God’s purpose (READ Micah 2:12-13)
2. It is the cross that awakens us to faith and inspires us to obey