We are studying portions of the book of Micah, Micah 3:1-2, 9-12, and 6:6-8, for Sunday, March 22. We haven’t quite worked out how we will share our thoughts about the text with one another this week, but we are working on that. In the meantime, some notes on the text are here, and here are some questions about the text that we might want to think about in solitude, or discuss in the comments section, or converse about in some other digital way once we figure out what that could be, or even talk about on the GOFT[*]:
Micah 3:1 suggests – with its rhetorical question “Should you not know justice?” – that knowing justice when you see it is a fundamental attribute of “heads” and “rulers”. Why is that, do we think?
What does “justice” mean in this context, to Micah and to the 8th century Judean audience? What does “justice” mean to us? How is our idea of “justice” similar to Micah’s, do we think, and how is it different?
Should our idea of “justice” be informed by Micah’s, or the Bible’s more generally, do we think? Why do we say that?
In 3:2-3, Micah uses a dramatic image to illustrate what it means to be “hating the good and loving the evil.” It suggests that people are being treated as items of consumption – and violent consumption at that.
Why would Micah use this image? Assuming it’s for some reason, what reason might it be? What do we think Micah is trying to do, or what does Micah need to do, in this prophetic speech? What makes us think this?
[Think about some of the reasons people use sensational images today. Does that give us any other ideas? What ideas?]
One interpretation is that, at this time, people were being forced to sell their land, and sometimes even their children or themselves, to pay their bills. Why would that situation be portrayed as eating people, do we think? What impression does it give us of the debtors? Of the creditors? Is this fair, do we think? Why, or why not?
Would Micah’s image fit economic life today, do we think? Why, or why not? What makes us think that?
Micah 3:11 tells us that all three categories of community leaders are motivated by money. What makes this a problem, do we think?
Do the leaders perceive it as a problem? What makes us say this?
Should they perceive it as a problem? What makes us say this?
Does the situation Micah describes look like our own world in any way? What way or ways? [More personal:] Do we ourselves perceive the contemporary situation as a problem? Should we? Why do we say that? How do our answers make us feel? Why?
In Micah 6:6-7, the speaker suggests that extravagant sacrifices might be necessary to come before God. Could the extravagance of the sacrifices mentioned in chapter 6 have anything to do with the obsession with money shown by the leaders in chapter 3? How might those two things be related?
Could the extravagance of the sacrifices mentioned in chapter 6 have anything to do with the leaders’ sense that “YHWH is with us” (Micah 3:11)? How might those two things be related?
How are the standards set out in Micah 6:8 (doing justice, loving chesed, walking humbly with God) related to the standards of good and evil held by the leaders addressed in chapter 3? [e.g., are they the same or different; are they mutually exclusive; how are these values related to other values, like prestige, power, comfort … ?]
Overall, we might want to reflect on what Micah seems to be saying about leaders (specifically the princes, the priests, and the prophets of ancient Judah; by extension, leaders today), and what makes for successful leadership, leadership that secures the people’s good. Micah emphasizes what the leaders understand to be good and desirable, vs. what they understand to be disgusting (“abhorrent,” Micah 3:9) and undesirable. Micah seems to be addressing leaders whose values are systematically distorted – in fact, reversed, such that success and failure are confused. How has this situation come about? Can anything be done to remedy it?
[*] Good Old-Fashioned Telephone