If there ever was a temptation to neglect God’s justice and holiness, Micah 6 offers a strong corrective. Without a doubt, it is true that “God is love,” as John reminds us in his letters (I John 4:8). But when we skip over the justice and righteousness of God, we lose a sense of the very real, very tough truth: that God is just, righteous, and holy, and that in our sin, His people have fallen short throughout the ages (Romans 3:23).
God’s prophet, Micah, tells us, “It is wise to fear [God’s] name” (Micah 6:9). Fear seems like such an odd word to describe a part of our relationship with God. But throughout the prophets’ writing, and especially in the book of Proverbs, we read over and over again of how important it is to have a healthy fear of God. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, encourages us: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Certainly, Solomon was well aware of the beauty and wonder of God’s unmerited grace and goodness—the same God who poured out favor and lavished wisdom upon Solomon, though Solomon would ultimately stray far from God’s direction. When we neglect to fear the Lord and follow His commands and His ways, we place ourselves in a position that is at odds with His holiness.
While legal proceedings worked a little differently in the ancient Near East, it’s not difficult to grasp the gravity of the circumstances in Micah 6. Being in a metaphorical courtroom on the opposite side of the table from God is not a good situation to be in.
This is not because we serve and worship a vindictive or vengeful God, but rather because we serve a just, holy, and righteous God. Yes, His goodness, mercy, and love have covered the sins of those who call on Jesus’ name. But Micah reminds us of the very real consequences of our sinful choices: they always put distance between us and God, between us and our family and friends.
What God required of His people in Micah is still required of us: “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8). While we often have trouble living, thinking, and speaking consistently in this way, we are blessed beyond belief to have a great High Priest and Advocate, who stands with us and for us when we break God’s law.
We are wise to fear God in His greatness and power, and we are wise to draw near to God because He promises He will always draw near to us. When we do, He provides the power and mercy we need to pursue our calling and love Him in the midst of our trials and challenges.
Written by Andrew Stoddard