Love And Justice


“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

     And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

     and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8 is known by many as the rallying verse for a concern for justice and shalom as his people walk with the LORD:

The Hebrew for “to act justly” is “to do mishpat (“justice”).” But, as we noted, mishpat here is not a cold, legal word. Rather, it is used in parallel with hesed, “mercy.” This is arguably a word that also reflects God abundant covenant care and abiding faithfulness for his people. To love this mercy, to do justice and to walk humbly with God is, in the end, what the LORD requires of humanity. This is woven in to our core identity as those created in the image of God.

Humanity, bearing the image of God, is to be attentive to the vulnerable. Nicholas Wolterstorff helpfully points out the four-fold vulnerables in the Old Testament: the poor, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner; four life-threatening economic and social realities in the ancient world. Other kings in the ancient Near East seem to take an interest in three of these (the widow, orphan and poor). The foreigner seems to be unique in the Old Testament, very likely due to the history of Israel we have seen above. Zechariah 7:9-10 mentions all four of them.

There is an admission in the Old Testament that poverty and vulnerability are ongoing realities in the land, that even the promised land will find poor inhabitants (Deut. 15:11). But far from a resignation of an unfortunate reality, the blunt admission of continuing poverty in the land is the basis for compassionate response. 

What a beautiful and challenging picture we have of God’s intention for the care of humanity in his creation.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your compassion. Teach me to love and care for others the way You love and care for me.