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The Scriptorium

Rulers' Remit

God confronts unjust rulers. Still. Micah 3.1

Warnings to Rulers: Micah 3 (1)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 132.13-18
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”

Sing Psalm 132.13-18
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
God dwells among us, and He will forever, to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His Presence ever, but we shall reign with Him before His face.

Read Micah 3.1

1. To whom is this verse addressed?

2. What were they supposed to do?

The word “justice” is tossed around rather cavalierly in our day. People have invented all kinds of “justice” according to their interests and agendas – economic justice, racial justice, social justice, international justice. In the Word of God there is only one kind of justice – God’s justice. It is a gem with five facets:

Obligatory justice concerns what we owe others as the image-bearers of God.

Preventive justice shows us steps to take to avoid sinning against others.

Retributive justice is enacted when we have intentionally harmed someone or their property; it involves punishment and payback.

Restorative justice involves making wrongs right.

And distributive justice entails caring for the poor and needy and for those who serve the Lord.

The administration of justice, according to the teaching of God holy and righteous and just Law (Rom. 7.12), was entrusted to Israel’s rulers and prophets, as well as to the heads of households (cf. Deut. 6.4-6). Kings were required to read daily from the Law of God, to lead the way in doing justice (Deut. 17.18-20), but there is little evidence any of them did. The rulers of Israel were to “know justice”, that is, to study and understand God’s Law so that they could administer it unto love for God and neighbors.

Rulers betray their remit when they decide they know better than God what they should do and how they should rule. Thus they fail in their calling to govern people for good (Rom.13.1-4), and they fall under the discipline of the Lord.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Hear. Now. Those of us who are followers of God. Know justice! “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles” (Matt. 12.18; Is. 42.1).

God cares about justice for us: “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Ps. 37.6) “Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Is. 30.18). “For I, the LORD, love justice…” (Is. 61.8). “…His ways are justice…” (Dan. 4.37).

We must care about justice for others—all five facets of it: obligatory, preventive, retributive, restorative, and distributive.

God has been warning us since Isaiah’s time that a lack of justice would lead to the ultimate injustice – the murder of the perfect Son of Man and God: “In His humiliation His justice was taken away…His life taken from the earth” (Acts 8.33; Is. 53.7,8). “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails…” (Is. 59.14, 15).

As forewarned folk we hear now the words to us: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother’” (Zech. 7.9, 10).

First, we must hear and know justice – “to study and understand God’s Law”.
Then we must do it – “to administer it unto love for God and neighbors”.

1. According to Jesus (Matt. 24.12), what happens when we neglect the Law and lawlessness obtains? Why is this so?

2. Do you see any evidence among Christians today that our love has grown cold? Does our society indicate a need for more justice or less? What is our role as Christians in bringing more justice to our world?

3. Read Psalm 1: How does this psalm direct believers concerning justice? What does it promise if we obey?

He delivers this address to the leaders: those entrusted with judgment trampled on justice; hence he puts it in the form of a question, Was it not you who had responsibility for judging, for punishing the guilty and letting the innocent go free without blame? How did you, then, who were entrusted with administering the laws, turn from the practice of good works and ardently support evil? Theodoret of Cyr (393-466), Commentary on Micah 3.1-4

Closing Prayer: Psalm 132.1-12
Thank God that He has set His King on His throne – our Lord Jesus Christ. Call on Him to lead you in the path of His Word and covenant today, and to clothe you with His righteousness.

Psalm 132.1-12
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Remember, Lord, we pray, in David’s favor, the hardships he endured, the oath he swore,

the vow he made to Jacob’s mighty Savior: “I shall not enter through my palace door;
I shall not sleep, nor slumber my eyes favor, until I make a dwelling for the Lord!”

The word throughout the chosen nation spread, to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said, “and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread; come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place; Your holy Presence meet with us in might.
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace, and we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face, but look upon us in Your holy light.

Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David; do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor, and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever; thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

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God’s Law and God’s rulers
Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, explains the continuing importance of the Law and how we can make better use of it. Order your free copy by clicking here. For a more complete treatment of a Biblical view of government, order a free copy of The King’s Heart by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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