Tuesday of Epiphany 4 – Micah 6:1-8

Hear what the Lord says:
Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
    and let the hills hear your voice.
Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord,
    and you enduring foundations of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against his people,
    and he will contend with Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    How have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
    Aaron, and Miriam.
O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,
    and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
    that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

I had not asked for much of him, just an announcement of an event we were hosting at the big gathering he was presiding at. It was a simple thing really. He promised to do it. He forgot, and the opportunity was lost. There was a moment when it would have been good, but now that moment was past. I was disappointed and angry with him. But what could he do? Micah imagines a much more significant issue than this. He speaks of the people of Israel who seem to have simply forgotten what God has done for them, the great rescue he worked in the days of Moses. Micah asks what gift he can bring to make it right. There is nothing. A thousand rams, rivers of oil, even the horror of a first-born sacrifice, Isaac on Mt. Moriah is not enough.

So, what can I do with a man like the one who disappointed me. There is no way for him to make it right. His lame apology is just that, an apology, not restitution. What can God do with us? The final verse guides me and speaks to all of us. God did not ask us to pay the price. My first-born son as a sacrifice would make no difference for my sin, a river of oil or a thousand rams offered on an altar would change nothing. Only God could change that reality, and it came at the price of His first-born Son. Now that God has made it right, He asks us simply for the humility to walk with Him in doing justice and loving kindness.

By Christ’s gift of Himself, I am now freed from the scale-balancing and fruitless effort of keeping score with this man who disappointed me. Christ has died for that sin and my many sins as well. He cannot turn back the clock and I cannot expect him to. Together we can do the right thing right now. We can love kindness and walk together humbly before the God who died for us both.

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