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Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year 2014 - Micah 6.8

{Audio File can be heard here}
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[Passage: Micah 6.1-8]
New Year 2014: Micah 6.8
O Lord Jesus, you walked the way of the cross as the obedient Son of God, open our eyes and ears and hearts, and teach us by your Word and Spirit, that we may not rebel, but may walk in the obedience of disciples who have learned well from you. Amen.

Of course New Years is a time of new potential, new resolves and new directions. It is also a time for healthy reflection. If we go blundering and smashing on through our days ahead of us without reflecting on the successes and catastrophes of the previous times, we are bound to repeat oft-committed bunglings. And if we plunge full-steam head-long into the new year without contemplating the past goodnesses of God in the previous months, we may find ourselves increasingly insensitive to His present kindnesses.

Bring it Up (1-5). The opening scene has a back and forth-ness to it. God invites an increasingly compromised Judah (1.1) to air their complaints against God (v.1). God then turns the arbitration around against Judah, calling creation to sit in the jury box (v.2). Then He asks the wounded lover’s question (v.3). Finally He draws them to His history of repeatedly loving them by rescuing them from what they could not rescue themselves (v.4-5b). These actions of God were not only to rescue them but to keep alive in their memory “the righteous acts of the LORD” (v.5c). As a matter of fact, The New Testament says the same to us, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10.11). And what they, and we, are to recall is God’s persistent fidelity to Himself and His unrelenting devotion to them/us! Before God gets down to how to repair the problem, He starts by showing us His deep, tenacious, determined love as it has worked out in the past.

1st Principle: We too need to reflect on God’s past mercies before we think about present motivations and potential maneuvers. Just as in the New Testament… Romans 6.8-23!

Bring it Down (6-7). At this point the scene changes. Micah steps in as “the voice”, he pretends to be the presence of God’s people in his own person, mouthing their own sentiments and words; “Okay, how do we make this right? I know! How about more glitz and pizzazz in our public assembly? What about more liturgical hoopla and ceremonial muscle? Even down to giving the costliest sacrifices like the big shots do in other countries” (6-7)?

Now before we misuse this section and draw from it what’s not there, let’s stop. The erroneous remedy Micah is sarcastically expressing here is not against God-ordained worship, with all of its ritual, ceremony and liturgy per se, but (1) mockingly speaking against God-ordained worship abused, battered and vandalized (child sacrifice). And therefore, (2) acerbically preaching against God-ordained worship being used like a religious Tylenol or Lortab (to kill the pain, not fix the problem).

2nd Principle: God wants God-ordained worship, but it cannot be used against God! He will not be pacified into docility and compliance by us candy-coating our stubborn sedition with gilded liturgical gymnastics!

Bring it Around (8). After recounting God’s past mercies, and stripping away false dichotomies and erroneous tonics, God now moves to the right remedy. You must understand all of this presupposes God’s gracious, persistent love for his people. Therefore, here is what God seeks from His rescued, worshiping people. It’s a simple format, though rarely easy. (1) Achieve Justice (mishpat); (2) Love Merciful kindness (hesed); (3) To walk Humbly (hatzne-a’ lekat) with God. All three flow together. Individually, and together, they have vertical implications as well as horizontal. They are synonymous with the 1st and 2nd great commandments - love God wholeheartedly and love your neighbor as yourself.

3rd Principle: Genuine, heart-felt, God-ordained worship should go hand-in-glove with the God-ordained way! Matthew 23.23 – not either-or but both/and.

Let me wrap this up with two simple statements, and then a simple compass reading (GPS Coordinates) for your trek through 2014:
1.      Micah 6.8 is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his beautiful, effective obedience for us: “The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him” (WCF 8.5). This verse reminds us that Jesus lived out the very goodness, spotlessness, the healthy-holiness we couldn’t live – and, truth be known, we once didn’t want to live. And then, in justice, loving kindness and humility, He wrestled our rebellion, sin, brokenness, shame and guilt down to the cross, held on to it tightly there, and had it all slaughtered so we could now be reclaimed and restored into deep friendship with God.

2.     This is also a picture of what we will one day be, and so, even now we long to be.

Looking through the unknown-ness of 2014 – with all of its potential for getting muddled, messy, sidetracked, disoriented, bewildered – I encourage you to begin by memorizing Micah 6.8, but also meditating on it, and making it part of your prayers. Look at Micah 6.8 as your compass coordinates on your trek: “Which way should I go? What should I do? This I know for certain – do justly, love merciful kindness, and walk humbly with MY God.”


We thank You, O God our Father, for your past mercies! Things we saw unfold before our eyes, things we found out about after the fact, and even for those we were unaware of! Now O Lord, we ask you to help us in this coming year. Seeing your rich goodness toward us, and hearing that you have shown us what is good for us, help us to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you our God; and we ask this because of your Son Jesus, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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