Chapter and verse: Micah 6:8
David Grosch-Miller discusses the Magna Carta of prophetic writing
“It is not enough to say the right things, you have to do the right things”
The Magna Carta of prophetic writing is how this verse has been described. Written some 700 years before the birth of Christ, this sentence captures the theological basis upon which Jewish and Christian ethics have evolved over the centuries. The prophet wrote at a time when wealth had become concentrated in the hands of the few, religious observance was high but there was a disconnection between what happened in the Temple and the aggressive land practices/exploitative policies that generated wealth at the expense of the vulnerable. Micah voices the judgement of Yahweh that when it comes to religious observance, it is not enough to say the right things, you have to do the right things in order to demonstrate true understanding.
God, the loving parent who has done all that is possible for the beloved child, is deeply frustrated that divine generosity is repaid by forgetfulness. The relationship of trust is broken, the people forget what God has done and intimacy is replaced by ceremony and functional responses. The loving parent does not want bigger or more expensive presents, the one who has poured out love wants love to be returned. You can’t buy a relationship, you have to make a commitment and stick with it – both when it is easy and when it is painful and costly. God desires justice that is measured by how well the most vulnerable fare in the community – a loyal and consistent love that is commensurate with the kind of love that God has shown toward Israel and a careful walking in ways that are moral and ethical.
This is an extract from the September 2015 edition of Reform.