While we believe all the Bible (in my case the Septuagint) is divinely inspired, there are several places, such as the Ten Commandments and John 3:16 which focus on key truths.
Today we would like to look at Micah 6:8, “Has it not been told to you, O man, what is good? or what the Yahweh requires of you, but to do justice, and love mercy, and be ready to walk humbly with your God?
First, we need to look at “what is good.” If we want to think Hebraically, then we will realise that only God can really define what is good. Indeed in Genesis, when Eve and Adam eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, the point is being made that mankind wants to decide these questions instead of letting God settle them. We also see that Yahweh sees the creation of the first five days is good and the sixth day is very good. In other words, creation, before the fall, was good. In addition, Yeshua tells us that God alone is good. So to determine what is truly good, we must seek God’s revelation, the Bible, to discern what good is. We are given direct examples (marriage between one man and one women), the Ten Commandments, and we are given historical stories that illustrate points that are not always explicitly stated. While polygamy is no where specifically prohibited in the Old Testament, the life stories of the Patriarchs, of David and Solomon make it obvious it is not a good idea, and David shows what can happen to a family if a father does not fulfil his role. So to be good, is to follow fully the precepts of the Kingdom, as laid out in the Old and New Testaments.
“To do justice.” The Torah lays out what justice is. The prophets’ main complaint through many of the prophetic books is that justice is not done. To look at justice, we can look at some specific things stated. No-one was to have two measures or two weights, in other words, we begin with a sense of fairness and honesty. We are not to move the boundary mark, again honesty. We are not to set stumbling blocks in front of the blind, i.e. we do not take unfair advantage. We are not to treat the rich better because they are rich, and we are not to favour the poor because they are poor. This is where we as a country originally got equal rights under the law, it is a Biblical principle.
To do justice also goes back to crime and punishment. Gaol was not listed as one of the punishments commanded in the Torah. In fact there were only two penalties, death or restitution. The death penalty was for a fairly short number of crimes, murder, adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, and rape. Everything else was covered by restitution. In restitution, if something was stolen, it had to be repaid, often with a fine as well. If the person could not pay it back, then they were sold into slavery (but note that slavery would never last more than 49 years). Justice was also taking care of someone and their family if they were injured until they could return to work. The point was to restore right relationship between people and between the criminal and God.
Of course society today is much too merciful than this. A child rapist might be back on the street in 20 years. In Honduras and Mexico, long gaol sentences are considered cruel and unusual, so twenty years is the max. Of course if we followed the Old Testament there were would be no gaol except to hold people in preparation for trial.
The question arises then, are we a just society? The Bible emphasizes, a fair wage for a day’s work. Today many people cannot support their family on what they are being paid. In addition by forcing many to work on Sunday, the poor are robbed of being able to spend time with their families or at worship. There are many employers who are very unfair with their workers. It is not a new problem, and not one that will disappear, but we need to push for true fairness in the workplace and every place. If all employers treated their workers fairly, there would never be call for unions.
Hesed, translated mercy here, can refer to kindness, but more often refers in this context to relationships, especially covenant relationships, between man and man and between man and God. Mercy in this context would be being faithful to one’s wife, and to God. But it also has the characteristic of showing kindness to others. Remember in the Gospels, in almost every healing, Yeshua had compassion on the person who needed healing first. Are we so kind to others that we feel their pain with them? If not, we should.
“To walk humbly with God” sounds easy, but is hard for us. To do this, we need to remember where we come from. The word humble comes from the Latin word “humus,” dirt. To be humble is to remember that we came from the dirt, that is from the earth, and we receive a brief reminder, Man, or “Adam” is made from earth or dust, “Adamah.” To be humble is to know where you come from, or to know your place. God has blessed me with skills in language. I can take credit for studying, but it is only God’s gift that allows me to pick up a language in six months. Can I be proud of my green eyes? No! They too are a gift from God. To walk humbly with God, we need to know who we are (sinners, saved by grace) and who God is (our merciful and just king.) We need to quit trying to save ourselves, and we must learn to submit to Yeshua.