The definition of discipleship – Monday, 16th Week in ordinary time – Micah 6:1-4,6-8

The definition of discipleship – Monday, 16th Week in ordinary time – Micah 6:1-4,6-8

We are in the eighth century B.C. when Assyria, located in Mesopotamia, was the reigning superpower. It was during The reign of King Jotham from Judah in the southern kingdom that the northern kingdom and the kingdom of Syria allied themselves against Assyria, a move that would ultimately spell the downfall of Israel in the north.

King Jotham was succeeded by this father Ahaz in 730 B.C. and he reigned over Judah for 16 years (2 Kings 16:2). He is portrayed as one of Judah’s worst kings (2 Kings 16:3-4). Ahaz made an alliance with Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria. As a result, he and the nation of Judah became a vassal of Assyria. Ahaz was succeed by his son Hezekiah in about 715 B.C., and reigned until about 687 B.C. While a much better king than his father, Hezekiah led a coalition in a failed attempt to rebel against Assyria. Surprisingly, Assyria did not destroy him, but it did force him to pay tribute. The prophet Micah carried on his work in this turbulent period and speaks now to a people who are estranged from their God.

Using the language of a law court Yahweh (speaking through the prophet) orders the people of Judah to rise and present their case. The people are the plaintiff and Yahweh is the defendant or the “accused.” But it is to the mountains and the hills, standing from time immemorial, that this case is to be pleaded before; they are also to serve as both, witnesses and the jury. It is creation, which has been witness to God’s work, that will determine who has broken the covenant relationship that has existed for centuries between Yahweh and Israel. The Lord makes it known that he is prepared to defend himself against whatever accusations the people of Judah might make.

Yet there is no bitterness in this lawsuit for the people are “his people”. On the contrary, it seems that Yahweh is confused as to why the people he has loved beyond measure have never responded in love? “What have I done to you?” asks Yahweh.

Then as if to make what is known, he once again presents a list of divine actions by which God protected his people. His first exhibit is a part of their history with which they are all familiar, the Exodus. Yahweh brought them up out of Egypt and redeemed (padah) them from slavery. This word, padah, has to do with deliverance. Yahweh delivered Israel from a land of bondage and led them to the Promised Land. If that was not enough, he gave them leaders like Moses, Aaron and Miriam” (v. 4b) who became exhibits two. He then blessed them through the foreign priest Balaam and brought them into the promised land.

Now, having heard the accusations brought by Yahweh, the people speak in Micah 6:6-8 . They revert to a familiar formulae, namely to make sacrificial offerings to make up for our transgressions; the more the merrier So they ask what will appease God? Would ten thousand rams or thousand rivers of olive oil do? And if that does not work then their very own firstborn could be thrown in for good measure.

This has been a pattern of showy religiosity that Micah has already condemned, especially from leaders who look to their own interests (3: 11). Here in lies that problem, that they seek to merely appease God rather than change their own behaviour. Micah makes it clear that there will be no more business-as-usual in the religion department without a change of heart and life.

The prophet takes the idea of pleasing the Lord in an entirely different direction. He doesn’t say that the offering of sacrifices is bad; such offerings, after all, are required by Jewish law. However, the focus of this verse is not on external acts, such as the offering of sacrifices, but on attitudes that come from the deepest part of a person’s life, from the heart and manifest themselves in positive actions toward God and fellow humans. Yahweh wants his people to act justly (mis∙pat), to love mercy (he∙sed), and to walk humbly with God?” (v. 8b). This verse is an excellent summary of true discipleship

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