Micah 6:1-8 • Psalm 15 • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 • Matthew 5:1-12
Micah is a prophet speaking largely to the area of Samaria (Northern Kingdom) shortly before it falls to the Assyrians (the conquering of the Southern Kingdom, Judah which includes Jerusalem, will fall to the Babylonians next). Micah’s message accompanies the messages of Isaiah and Jeremiah and shares the same themes. The message of Micah alternates between judgement and hope, condemnation and correction. The mode of the message is one of a courtroom where God is the prosecutor presenting the case against the people. In chapter six, God confronts the case of the people who are making a claim of mistreatment by an unjust and unmerciful God. God responds (rhetorically and somewhat sarcastically) by asking if it was the fact that he rescued them from slavery in Egypt or that he shielded them from the curse of Balak and Balaam (see Numbers 22) that offends them. God then explains to the people that he is not looking for the religiosity or sacrifices that their false gods demand – practices and sacrifices that include sacrificing their children. God, instead, calls on the people to change the way they look at life and how they live life. In verse eight God sets a new (and old) base line for the people, a base line that calls on the people to act in a way that is just, kind, and humble (three very competing human emotions and characteristics). Funny (?) Note:At the Fellowship Center, where Grace Fellowship currently meets, in the men’s bathroom, you will find this verse (Micah 6:8) hanging over the urinal…In the women’s bathroom, you will find a much different statement hanging over the sink. Draw your own conclusions about the meaning of this…..and please be careful sneaking a peak this Sunday.
Psalm 15 (Responsive Reading)
Psalm 15 could easily have been a question and answer session between faithful Jews and the priests who met them at the temple. The question asked was ‘Who may abide in God’s tent?’ The use of the word ‘tent’ here instead of the word ‘temple’ is a question put into figurative words as they were referring to the time before there was a brick and mortar temple and instead they had a tent. What they were basically asking, and how the question would be asked by us, is “How can I be right enough to live and walk in God’s presence?” The answer is interesting in what is says but even more intriguing by what is not said.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
As we have seen, the church at Corinth was greatly divided on many issues, life status, backgrounds and culture, values and beliefs, and even in their experience of arriving at a believing faith in Jesus Christ. In this passage, the apostle Paul brings the believers back to their core belief, the truth that brought them to an understanding and commitment to the faith. Paul reminds the believers at Corinth that at their core they shared the most important, and unifying, factor of life and faith – Jesus.
To understand the context of this passage we must first look at the final three verses from the previous chapter.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus, from the beginning of his ministry and fame, was ministering to all people – at the beginning, he started at a geographical location that was filled with all kinds of people. He was not just speaking to the Jews or just to the gentiles, he was speaking to and healing everyone. He was not just speaking and ministering to the well or the sick but to all, not just to the affluent or the poor but to everyone. This is the audience that we see in Matthew 5 when gave his most known and recognizable sermon. We see this sermon continue through three chapters in the book of Matthew but it all begins with these twelve radical, and surely odd and controversial, statements. In these verses, Jesus sets the bar for us to strive for and, while doing that, he establishes a context for us to better understand and interpret everything he says and does from this point forward.