Jan 29 – 4 Epiphany
God Challenges Israel
What God Requires
Background: The Book of Micah is the sixth of the twelve Minor Prophets. It is broadly categorized as announcements of punishment and salvation. Micah was a prophet during the period 742 to 698 BCE. Some of the latter portion of this book, chapters 6-7 specifically, may post-date the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BCE.
Theme: This passage can be found in a portion of the Book of Micah often subtitled “the Reign of the Lord Over His People.” Specifically, this passage follows the classic lawsuit motif. This motif follows the form: summons, call to witnesses or judges, list of benefits conferred upon the defendant by the plaintiff, and complaint against the defendant.
Questions to Ponder:
* Read Micah 6:1-8.
* Briefly describe the political, social, and religious situation in Israel for this passage.
* Why might God command Israel to plead their case? What has happened in Israel’s recent past that would warrant a lawsuit by God?
* What are some of the benefits provided by God that are numbered in this passage?
* What is the implication of God’s command to Israel to plead its case before the mountains? How would a mountain pronounce judgment against a people like Israel?
* Why might God present God’s case against Israel to the mountains?
* Do you think that God’s question in verse 3 is rhetorical? How might Israel feel like they had been wearied by God?
* What was the sin devised by King Balak of Moab?
* How did Balaam answer King Balak? What is significant about Balaam’s response to Balak?
* What was the significance of Shittim and Gilgal? What happened in Israel’s past between Shittim and Gilgal?
* What do you think Israel is asking of God beginning in verse 6? For what reason might there be the shift in tone at this point in the text?
* What is the allusion presented in verse 6b? How are those actions relevant to Israel at that time?
* How do you think God responded to the request from Israel in verse 7?
* Do you think the offerings promised in verses 6 and 7 are truly devout? Why or why not?
* In verse 8, the “formula” for doing God’s will is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. How does one (1) do justice? (2) love kindness? or (3) walk humbly with God?
* What do you think is most challenging about doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God?