by Rebecca Kocsis
He has shown you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
Did you ever wonder why the prophet Micah uttered those words? When I first came to know the Lord, we sang them as a worship chorus. It was lovely and inspiring. However, I had no idea why the Holy Spirit inspired Micah to utter them. Looking at the scripture in context and delving into the history of Israel gives us a clear picture of what God was saying to His people.
The name Micah means “Who is like Jehovah?” His name advertises that he was a servant of the one True God. He was a contemporary of Isaiah, but came from a humbler social class. In fact, it was written of him, “The poor peasants of Judah had a strong champion in this powerful young preacher from the country.”
By the time of Micah’s ministry, the eighth century BC, the fairly even distribution of wealth that the Lord had established when the children of Israel entered Canaan had been replaced by a greedy, materialistic, and harsh society that separated the Israelites into two classes – the rich and the poor – the “haves and the have nots.” The rich landowners got richer at the poor farmers’ expense – eventually causing them to migrate to the cities. For the poor, these cities were characterized by poverty and vice. Contrast that with the luxurious lifestyles of the upper class and their cruelty to and exploitation of the poor. Does this not sound like something straight out of a Dickens novel? Add to that, trade with pagans and the idolatry and immorality that comes with it and you have a pretty dark picture.
Micah 6:6-7 gives us additional perspective. “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
Although Judah had become altogether corrupt, the people were religiously practicing sacrifice(s) to the Lord in the delusion that this would satisfy His demands. God corrected His people. He did not want burnt offerings. He wanted His people to exercise justice. He required His people to exhibit mercy rather than bring an abundance of calves and oil to His altar. His desire was that His people practiced humble obedience rather than the despicable practice of human sacrifice – slaughtering their children on pagan altars in an attempt to atone for their sins.
The people of Judah, in performing the ritual sacrifices, were merely keeping up appearances – going through the motions. Unfortunately, they were ignoring what was most important to God. It reminds me of what Jesus said about the scribes and Pharisees of His day. In Matthew 23, He strictly criticized them for their hypocrisy – their outward religiosity, but inward lawlessness. He said they were “like whitewashed tombs”. Outside they appeared beautiful, but inside they were “full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” These were extremely unpleasant words. Jesus reserved His most strict criticism for those who trusted in or boasted in their religion.
How does this apply to us as homeschoolers?
How many of us trust in homeschooling as a guarantee that we’ll have godly kids? All you have to do is take the kids out of public school and give them some Christian school books and – voila! You’ll get godly kids. God does not owe us a special blessing because we homeschool. True, homeschooling helps, but just like Moses learned during his wilderness wanderings with the children of Israel; it’s a lot easier to take the kids out of Egypt – than to get Egypt out of the kids. It’s a lot easier to take the kids out of the world than to get the world out of our kids. They have the same sin nature to struggle against as we do. How did we get out of “Egypt”? It was a work of God, wasn’t it? And it’s maintained by the transforming of our minds by continual washing of the Word. It’s the same with our children. Homeschooling is not enough. We must pray for a work of God in their lives.