Micah gives us insight into social justice and the hope of Jesus. Social injustice was the great sin that marked the society of his day. Micah 3: 9 Listen to me, you leaders of Israel! You hate justice and twist all that is right. Micah knew there was the hope of a Savior to come who would right all wrongs. Micah 7: 7 As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.
The people of Micah’s time followed the rule of law but not necessarily the intent God had for the law. They felt they could lie, cheat, steal, and then appease God with the ritual of animal sacrifice. Micah answered them like this. Micah 6 8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  What does “do what is right” mean? The English Standard Version translates it this way, but to do justice. The Hebrew word that is translated here is mishpat.
Mispat, Judgment, and Justice
The Hebrew word mispat has the connotation of both judgment and justice. But how can we judge people and still have justice? God uses judgment to save and not destroy. Psalm 76:9 You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God, and to rescue the oppressed of the earth. God asks His people to do what he does. Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Micah preached of judgment to come. As the ultimate judge, God had the right to discern the actions of His people. Even though they would have to face the consequences of their sinful actions, God had a plan to save them. Micah foretold of a Savior to come. But what were the people to do while they waited? Worship God by doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.
We have seen how God desired the people to do what was right, but then He added to love mercy. The Hebrew word used here for mercy is the word hesed, the covenantal love of God for us. A sense of God’s justice and lovingkindness is necessary to do social justice well. We can do good acts in society. But I think the long-term effects of good actions depend on why we do them. Giving food or clothing to the needy is a good thing. But providing physical necessities with spiritual food has eternal ramifications.
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