There is a reason to study the “entire” Word of God, and its not just because part of it is viewed as a history lesson. Then again, that is precisely why we should be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our study of the Word.
It seems that every so often the Lord takes me back into the Old Testament to teach me a “proven” lesson for today. During most of last year that is exactly where He kept my focus, and that continues today as I have been spending time in the minor prophets; only minor with respect to the length of their books. Early the other morning the Spirit led me to the Book of Micah and once again asked me if it’s true that “history does repeat itself.”
In the reigns of Uzziah (Judah) and Jeroboam II (Israel) the nation’s moral and spiritual decay had hit an all time high and God was about to bring judgment upon the people, and in the midst of that decay the prophet Micah brings a message from Yahweh. In stating His case against them God asks a rhetorical question.
Mic 6:1a Hear now what the Lord says: … 3a “O My people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you?…
If they thought the He had been unjust in dealing with them He reminded them that He was the One who brought them out of the land of Egypt and redeemed them from their bondage. All of which was the result of His righteousness, His works on their behalf. In their response the people showed their lack of understanding of what God was asking by asking Him a question…
Mic 6:6a With what shall I come before the Lord, And bow myself before the High God?…
They clearly thought the answer (the solution) was their religious rituals… with what shall I come. What they didn’t understand that what is important to God is not the “gift,” it’s the “heart” of the giver. What Judah and Israel (southern and northern kingdoms) were doing was trying to solve the issue in the only way they seemed to understand; substitute quantity for quality. And that just reflected the fact that they had forgotten what God had already told them He desired; exactly what He is saying to a church today.
Mic 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
In fact, that is exactly what Jesus said to the Pharisees…
Matt 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Just as Israel lost her way, so a major part of the church today has its way, and for the same reason. Just like the church at Ephesus, she has “left” her first love for the “cares of the world.” She has forgotten these three all important requirements of being the bride of Christ:
- To do justly… to act fairly with those who are less fortunate, the opposite of the world around her that is violent, oppressive, and unjust.
- To love mercy… to embrace the spirit of generosity, loyalty, and grace, the faithful, loyal love that is the key to her relationship with her bridegroom.
- To walk humbly with your God… to live and walk in faith, the polar opposite of the thing that God hates; pride. The faith that seeks to give God first place in her life; humility.
Just as God said to Israel, so He is saying to His Son’s bride. He requires more than outward performance. He requires certain qualities of the heart: righteousness, love, humility, and faith. That is something we are incapable of giving Him without the power of the Holy Spirit. The question is, have we submitted our heart to Jesus or have we kept a part of it for the world? History does not have to repeat itself!