Frank A. Mills

Broken Grace

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If I were G-d, I would...
(Micah 6:6-8)

There are two Hebrew words that are applicable to our question: “If I were G-d, I would ....”:

Halakhah (הֲלָכָה) = “To walk as G-d,” i.e., to walk in the imitation of G-d ... it is a quest to imitate (as opposed to a quest to imitate the ways of the world) ... not a system of laws and boundaries, but a life based on giving and receiving blessing.

The second is...

Kavanah (כַּוָּנָה) = intention, attentiveness, awareness, appreciation ... the desire to Imitate.

Both of these words are applicable to our text, Micah 6:6-8.

Micah 6: 6-8 Context — Israel, in Assyrian captivity, had adopted the ways of those around them and in the process became part of the oppression (steeped in corruption) of those most valuable in Hebrew Law to G-d, the fatherless, widows, orphans, and “aliens” (those non-Jews who have adopted the Hebrew way as their own, yet by law had no property rights. Now they’re wondering why G-d is not blessing Israel even though the people are going through all the acts/ritual ... yet there is no understanding of what it really means to be a “People of G-d.” Simply put, the Israelites of Micah"s time had lost the concept of halakah, walking in imitation of G-d.

Micah reminds them that outward ritual without spiritual morality is useless ...
They have been giving their gifts (sacrifices, tithes, etc), but not themselves ... what does G-d want?

To be Doing justice (righteousness) — The Christian KJV version says, “Doing justly” "Doing justly: in Hebrew is mish-pawt (מִשְׁפָט), a legal term that includes both judgment, as in sentencing, and defense. It also speaks to using the law wrongly for self-gain. Micah here is reminding the Jews of the Mosaic Law which speaks to oppressing others for self-gain, e.g., usury, slavery, using poverty of others for self-gain, etc.

The word is closely related to the Hebrew word for “family.” Think about how parents lovingly raise children, or G-d as our parent ... justice tempered with love. This sort of justice is as much corporate as individual ... Micah is saying that God’s people corporately need to speak out against injustices and as individual people of G-d live justly in all dealings with others, including speaking out (even as a lone individual) when justice is not prevailing. This is the meaning of Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when we live together in unity ... for there the Lord bestows his blessing ...."

When combined with mercy (as Micah does), TRUE justice cannot exist without mercy ... justice, living in such a way to bring health and well-being to the community (nothing about vengeance or an eye for an eye here) ... Consider the words of Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Exercising mercy (an element of divine love) = (kheh’-sed) from “to bow” implies equality ... giving mercy elevates both the humanness and the G-d-likeness of the individual receiving mercy ... it also puts us on equal playing field, remembering God’s mercy toward us ... “A G-d who delights in showing mercy (7:18).”

Which brings us to humility (an essential part of justice) ...

Loyalty to G-d and showing mercy to our fellow humans involves involves forgiving with joy ... the payback is that we become blessed by G-d for doing so.

[These two sum up the entire second half of the Ten Commandments, which at this point in time, the Jews were almost totally ignoring.]

A humble walk with G-d is all about humility.

Tsaw-vah’ (צָוָה) (“to lust”). In English, humility comes from “humus/earth.” Humility is to remember from where we come and where we are going to return. It is just the opposite of "lust."

Thus, humility is the renunciation of all human arrogance and self-will, including self-security; replaced by confident waiting upon God’s direction and then acting upon it, justly and with mercy ...

“Except for the grace of G-d, there go I.”

Note that the Jews are called to walk “with,” not “before” in the sense of confession & repentance; something that would not be require if we walked humbly with G-d on a daily basis in the ordinary life. Remember in Micah’s days the Jews and their very systems – legal and religious – were steeped in corruption ... the people thought that they could garner God’s forgiveness by an occasional act of humility before G-d, as shown, they thought, in their so-called offerings and sacrifices. The Halakhah – The Blessing Way – is to walk daily blessing others and ourselves through our actions.

It is impossible to do true justice & exercise true mercy without humility, and specifically, without humility before G-d.

Ironically the Greek Goddess of Justice is Nemesis ... "doing justly" has always been our nemesis!

This runs contrary to external forms and functions and our worship of the “proper” way of doing things

How a holy, priestly nation ought to walk ... that is people who imitate G-d in their life.

These are “community” words/actions ... required by both the individual and the nation of Israel (Church) as a whole ... or to put it a bit differently ... IT IS MY VOCATION as a person of faith, and it is OUR VOCATION as a Community of Faith.

Don’t think of “vocation” so much as a “job,” but rather as an “experience.” We experience G-d and community as people when, and only when, we “act justly, exercise mercy, and walk humbly with G-d.”

This is the message of our scripture readings for today ... This is the holy message that we declare – more than declare – we live.

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