Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 11 April 2007


By Jim Jordal

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)

Micah's burden concerned economic justice for the common people of Judah. The nation had fallen under rich, arrogant abusers who used their social, political, and economic power for personal gain. Micah's message, written during the century preceding Judah's captivity in Babylon, echoed that of contemporaries Isaiah and Amos as they identified the mainly economic sins of their fellows, promised God's punishment, and foresaw Divine forgiveness and deliverance at some future time.

Micah's first diatribe against economic abuse concerned those who "devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds. At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance" (Micah 2:1-2).

He attacks what we might call deliberate, planned injustice and oppression originated by financial schemers who lie awake at night devising ways to seize coveted possessions from their victims. Perhaps Micah had in mind the earlier evil deeds of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, who had vineyard owner Naboth killed so they could snatch his property for their vegetable garden. Anyway, it was deeds like this that earned Micah's enmity and led to this outburst.

Political and economic leaders and their priestly lapdogs next earn Micah's wrath as he blasts their practice of giving religious approval to any nefarious activity promising them financial support. He accuses this cabal of hating good and loving evil, stripping the (economic) skin and flesh from God's people, abhorring justice, perverting equity, taking bribes, fomenting bloodshed, and perverting scriptural truth. And all the while they disingenuously deny their evil intent and claim God's blessing upon themselves (3:1-4, 9-12).

One can't resist comparing this passage with today's unholy alliance between politicians, business and financial titans, and the religious right--seemingly aimed at perpetrating exactly the same abuses criticized by Micah. Look at the revelations of political chicanery involving certain political leaders who sell out to the powers of globalism and the corporate octopus, all the while currying favor from portions of the conservative religious establishment.

His final denunciation exposes the inability--even refusal--of wicked oppressors to make any connection between their corrupt behavior and the evil soon to come upon the nation. He says it this way: "Hear the rod! Who has appointed it? Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked? Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, and with the bag of deceitful weights? For her rich men are full of violence. Her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth" (6:9b-12).

According to Micah, wealthy persons in the land commit violence against the poor through their control and manipulation of economic weights and measures. In those days, accurate scales and weights were essential to justice in the marketplace. And it's no different today, except that economic analysis, statistics, models, and policies replace scales and simple bags of weights.

So economic injustice arises as abusers and oppressors manipulate the levers of finance to further their greedy desires at the expense of common people, who remain without power against the system. I'm speaking of interest rate manipulations, bankruptcy laws, credit controls, abusive use of eminent domain, misleading advertising, and the host of devious mechanisms whereby the strong financially oppress the weak.

A particularly troubling example is the housing market of the past few years--set aflame by low interest rates, come-on advertising, and poor returns in other investments. Some 71 percent of current housing loans are either interest-only or adjustable rate mortgages. So what happens to many marginal buyers lured into the housing market by these stratagems when interest rates rise, as they are now doing? That's right: foreclosure or bankruptcy!

And what happens to retired persons or those nearing retirement when private pension plans default and are assumed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), a quasi-governmental institution created to take over failed pension systems. What you don't usually hear is that it's permissive laws passed by Congress that allowed corporate chiefs and take-over artists to loot pension funds in the first place, and then to plead poverty as they dump their responsibilities onto the PBGC, which, even if it avoids insolvency as is threatened, returns only about two-thirds of a normal pension. I'm afraid Micah would consider that to be using "wicked scales" and "deceitful weights."

And then we have the granddaddy of them all, periodic administration attempts to privatize the final safety net for workers--Social Security. Should this disaster occur retirees would be left with private pensions in the form of 401(k) plans and savings or investments. What happens then to retirees when Wall Street financial manipulators squander or steal their investments? That's why we have Social Security: to prevent such disasters and to provide a court-of-last-resort for the common people. And now that's also threatened.

Why do you suppose Scripture contains so many passages concerning economic injustice and oppression? Is it only so we can learn of historical economic injustice among God's people? Is it only so we can better appreciate our blessings today? Or do they have such powerful application today that they must not be avoided or minimized? What do you think?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.