“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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?” (Mic. 6:6-8)
Mark & Hannah, it’s pretty sexy these days to talk about justice. It’s like apple products and skinny jeans and organic produce. And of course there’s nothing particularly wrong with any of those (except the skinny jeans), but ever since Adam and Eve sinned, there’s been a deep current, a gravity in the world, that pulls people toward hypocrisy. We call these people posers, fakers, Pharisees. And it all goes back to Adam and Eve in the garden: naked, ashamed, hiding from God, trying desperately to be cool, to be safe, to just be OK.
People who are guilty need a covering. People who are insecure and fearful look for something safe, someplace shady. In Micah’s day, instead of black rimmed glasses and hipster tattoos and piercings, people went in for big sacrifices. You have to realize that sacrifices usually included a big feast, so it was more like throwing a huge bar-b-que party in the name of Yahweh. They could invite all their friends and be really popular, and hey, there was a Bible verse on the napkins, something hip and trendy like doing justice. And meanwhile the poor around them were getting crushed, theft ran rampant, and the innocent and weak were despised and forgotten and killed.
In our day, people ride all sorts of waves they hope will carry them into success, carry them into safety, get them noticed, make them cool or content. Maybe it’s clothes, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s living in a particular neighborhood, having money in the bank, being thought of as particularly wise or smart, or maybe it’s talking about justice and mercy a lot. But according to the end of Micah’s prophecy, Israel’s justice is only going to come about through a supernatural act of God in forgiving Israel. Israel can’t do justice until God does justice for them and forgives them.
The good news of the gospel is that Israel has finally found that forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. In His blood is the forgiveness of every sin, the cleansing of every stain because God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. When you’re forgiven, completely, absolutely forgiven, then you don’t need any covering. You don’t need to prove anything anymore. You’re not afraid of anything or anyone. When you’re forgiven, you’re not ashamed of anything. That lust, that lie, that theft, that porn, those angry words, that bitterness, that hatred seething in your heart: God already knows all of it, Jesus suffered for all of it, and so what if the whole world knows? Who cares if it gets plastered on the internet for everyone to see? But if you don’t have that kind of freedom, that kind of confidence, you will not be on the side of justice no matter where your coffee came from, no matter what your carbon footprint is. You can talk about justice all day long, but if you are not completely clean, completely forgiven, completely accepted in Jesus, you’re just pretending. You’re a poser, a faker, a Pharisee, and you’re on the side of injustice.
So Mark & Hannah, as you begin your life together today, I call you to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. But I exhort you in the name of Jesus to accept no substitutes. And here’s how you can tell the difference: how will you deal with your own sin? Mark, when you get lazy and when you get sharp with your words? Hannah, when you get fearful, worrisome, upset? How will you deal with your small, petty sins, your own small acts of injustice? Will you own them, confess them cheerfully, and accept the forgiveness of God and rejoice? Or will you try to cover them, ignore them, minimize them, make excuses for them, wallow in them, get depressed and write bad, moody poetry? You see, if you don’t do the justice of God there, in the tiny kingdom of your heart, in the inner city of your soul, in the poverty stricken ghetto of your own home, how will you ever do justice out there in the real world?
But the good news of Jesus is that His blood is for the forgiveness of sins. His blood makes the foulest clean. His death satisfies every accusation that could ever be lifted against you. You are forgiven, released. And when you are clean, when you are forgiven, when His justice covers you, then you will become the greatest instruments of justice. You will become fearless contenders for the weak; you will conquer the strongholds of injustice in this world.
So my prayer for you is that your home would be full of justice, full of the justice of the cross, full of forgiveness, full of freedom, and may it spill out on to your children, on to your neighbors, and may Jesus use you to lift up the weak, resist the proud, and bind up the broken.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.