GOD’S KINGDOM Micah 6–7
“He has showed you, O man, 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).One day God’s kingdom will fill the earth. Until then we who know the Lord can live as citizens of that kingdom, our lives demonstrating our allegiance to King Jesus.
The biblical concept of a kingdom differs from the modern view. We tend to think of a kingdom as a location: a land with borders, within which a common language is spoken. In the Old Testament, a “kingdom” is a sphere within which the will of a king is supreme. In one sense the entire universe is God’s kingdom, for He is its Maker and ultimate authority. Yet ever since Satan’s fall the universe has been a kingdom in rebellion against its rightful Ruler, just as ever since Adam’s fall earth has been a rebellious planet. Yet the Bible reveals the God who gently and lovingly seeks to win back earth’s rebels. God spoke to Abraham, and gave Abraham promises broad enough to cover all his seed. God exercised His power to free Abraham’s children, the Jewish people, from servitude in Egypt, and bring them to the land He had promised their forefathers. And God gave them a Law, to teach Israel the way of love—to show them how to live with Him as their King, by voluntarily submitting to His will. Micah portrayed a people who had abandoned covenant life and refused to live with God as their King. Yet in this third sermon Micah reminded Israel and us of three great truths. God is still King, and God’s people can still choose that simple lifestyle that is His will for His own. God is still King, and even in a rebellious society, an individual can maintain his citizenship in God’s kingdom. And God will be King over the whole earth. Ultimately His sovereignty will be acknowledged by all, and the whole world will be the kingdom of our God.
Micah stated God’s case against Israel (6:1–8) and announced God’s sentence (vv. 9–16). He lamented the breakdown of covenant life (7:1–6), yet lived in hope (vv. 7–10) of God’s ultimate victory (vv. 11–20).
Understanding the Text
“The Lord has a case against His people” Micah 6:1–5. Micah pictured the mountains of Israel, those eternal witnesses to the historic story of redemption, as judges, who hear God state His case against Israel. The question God asked Israel, “How have I burdened you?” (v. 3) might be paraphrased, “What have I done to make you fed up with obeying Me?” What had God done? Oh, all God had done was to be faithful to His covenant obligations as Israel’s Ruler to protect His people. God redeemed Israel from the land of their slavery, provided a great leader in Moses, protected them from their enemies, and brought them safely through the wilderness to the Promised Land (vv. 4–5). Whenever Israel, or you and I, stray from the Lord, we can’t blame Him. God is utterly faithful to His people, fully committed to His covenant promises. If we become estranged from God, we can be sure of one thing. It wasn’t God who moved away from us. It was we who moved away from Him! “With what shall I come before the Lord?” Micah 6:6–7 What did this faithful God want from His people? Micah, taking the part of Israel, used irony to sum up what they had been willing to give Him: burnt offerings. Thousands of rams. Even, as the pagans, their own children. What a travesty. Israel had responded to God’s love by practicing a religion of externals, a religion of ritual. It had even corrupted that religion by violating God’s express will and offering child sacrifices. God our King is no more satisfied today with mere religion than He was in Old Testament times. God has been faithful to us. He wants us to respond to Him from the heart, and to be faithful to what He as king has told us He desires. “He has showed you, O man, what is good” Micah 6:8. When my father died, I chose this text for his funeral service. My dad had no special claim to fame. He was a rural mail carrier for over 30 years, a Justice of the Peace for another 10, and an enthusiastic fisherman. He had a dry sense of humor, twinkling eyes, a fine memory and speaking voice, and a quiet faith he seldom spoke about but never hid. Everyone who knew Dad respected him, but I suspect few thought of him as someone special. That’s why I chose this Micah text for his funeral. I’ve had the chance to meet and know some of the “greats” of our faith. And I appreciate them. But Dad represents to me the loyal citizen of God’s kingdom, who, untainted by fame, responds to the Lord in the simplest and yet most beautiful of ways. What does God require? Religious rituals? Thousands of sacrifices? No, He’s shown us what is good. What God our King asks is simply that in honor of Him we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. You and I may never make the list of Christian greats here on earth. But far more important than that is to be found on the role of those citizens of God’s kingdom who respond wholeheartedly to the will of our King, and show it in a simple lifestyle of justice, mercy, and humility. “I have begun to destroy you” Micah 6:9–16. The verdict was rendered in God’s favor. He had been faithful as Israel’s King. Israel has rebelled against His will. Justice and mercy are mocked in Israel, and humility was a joke (vv. 10–12). God is King, and such violations of His will will surely be punished. The graphic description of Israel’s punishment in these verses reminds us that God is a great King. Rebellion against Him must, and surely will be, put down. “What misery is mine!” Micah 7:1–2 Micah now expressed, not the misery of Israel, but the misery of a godly individual in a corrupt society. His first cry was one of loneliness. He looked desperately for “the godly” with whom he might have fellowship. But the land was as barren of godly persons as a field that has been thoroughly harvested is barren of fruit to satisfy one’s hunger. Each of us has a basic need for fellowship with other believers. We need the mutual support. We need to know that we are not alone in our commitment to the Lord. If you want to grow in your relationship to God and as a Christian, perhaps your first priority should be to bond with Christian friends who share your commitment and desires. “Do not trust a neighbor” Micah 7:3–6. A society in rebellion against God, as the soci- ety Micah described here, corrupts relationships. Bonding can take place between the godly, because those who deal in justice, mercy, and humility can be trusted to care about others. But in a society where these qualities are lacking, the individual experiences isolation and alienation. The members of a corrupt society know they cannot trust themselves, and thus can trust no one else. What an awful way to live: to “put no confidence in a friend” and “even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.” It is not only right to live as loyal citizens of God’s kingdom. It is the only way to live happily. “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” Micah 7:7–13. Micah had looked for godly people with whom to bond, and found none. He found only enemies, who gloated over the apparent failure of his predictions of doom to come true. And so Micah asked a question millions have asked through the ages. How does the godly person, who seeks to live as a citizen of God’s kingdom while traveling through Satan’s world, survive? Micah said simply, “As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me” (v. 7). Though we sit in darkness now, we can see the light that is beginning to appear on history’s far horizon. God is coming, and when He appears all the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. What gives us hope despite present darkness is the certainty that God’s day will dawn. As Micah said, looking forward to a restored Israel, “The day for building your walls will come” (v. 11). “Shepherd your people with your staff” Micah 7:14–15. When God the King does come He will display His power. This is the significance of shepherding “with your staff.” The staff was a sturdy stick carried by the shepherd. It not only aided him in walking over rough ground, but also served as a weapon to beat off wild animals that would attack his sheep. When God the King comes, He will protect His own. He will use His staff, parallel with “wonders” (miracles; acts of power like the plagues that struck ancient Egypt) in verse 15, to crush every enemy of His people. It’s good to remember that God is King. He merits our allegiance. But as sovereign Lord He has ultimate power. One day He will use it for His own, against all our enemies. How good it will be then to be good citizens of His kingdom, not rebels against His rule. “They will turn in fear to the Lord our God” Micah 7:16–17. The display of God’s power will convince even a hostile world that He is King. Deprived of their power, the nations will at last turn to Him.
God Will Be God(Micah 7)
It’s not easy to say, when we feel as alone and helpless as Micah obviously did, “I watch in hope for the Lord” (v. 7). Micah—like experiences aren’t as unusual as they may seem. More than one Christian in our cities feels the same anguish Micah expressed. More than one feels alone (vv. 1–2). More than one feels surrounded by a violence and corruption with which he or she simply can’t cope (vv. 3–6). The promise of our King’s coming exists, but to many that day seems so far off. So unreal. What keeps our hope alive in hopeless situations? Micah closed his book with a simple explanation. Our hope is kept alive by the simple fact that God is God. His nature, His character, is the firm ground on which our hope is built. It is because God is who He is that we know all will be well. Who is He? Listen to Micah’s words. “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 true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as You pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago” (vv. 18–20). So when you’re feeling down or defeated, read these words of Micah again and again. And remember, God will be God. And because He will be who He is, you and I can watch in hope for Him to act.
God’s character is our guarantee of good things ahead.