Saturday, 14 April 2012

Zawlnei (Prophet)

The Book of the Prophet Isaiah is made up of sixty-six chapter covering a tremendous number of years. The first thirty-nine chapter cover a period leading up to and including God’s judgment upon Israel for the nation’s lack of justice in their society. The prophet is sent to the nation to declare the need to rectify their behaviour and to return to the ways of God or judgment will come upon them in the form of exile. This portion known as simply Isaiah for First Isaiah contains the famous promises of the “virgin that will conceive and bear a son,” the child that is to be known as Immanuel (God with us) (Is. 7:10-17).
Chapter 40 represents a significant shift in the tone and subject matter of the book. This chapter begins that section known as Deutero-Isaiah (Second Isaiah). From this point forward the subject matter and content is “going home.” Here is contained the words of hope and reclamation portrayed in the Advent season.[1]
Before tackling the four Servant Songs of Isaiah, it is valuable to look at the concept of servant as it appears in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament sense, the servant depicted is often called the Servant of the Lord, or the Servant of Yahweh. In the record of these songs of Isaiah God calls him “my servant” and the servant speaks reflectively as “his (Yahweh’s) servant.”  The word, “servant,” means slave, though slave need not be considered only in a negative relationship to a master. C. R. North suggests that servant can carry more of a modern understanding and connotation of “knight.” To be a servant of Yahweh is to be a person of privilege.
In general the word eved (servant) expressed the relationship of the weaker to the stronger party in a covenant; the servant was entitled to look to his lord for protection and---what is implied in the word, the emotional bond which united the two parties to a covenant- “steadfast love” (e.g., Ps. 103:4 KJV usually “loving kindness” or “mercy”). Worshipers of any God were considered servants of that God, thus individuals could be servants of Yahweh.[2]
Servant Songs:
In Isaiah ‘servant songs’ (42:1-9; 49:1-9; 50:4-9; 52:13-53), however this national meaning disappears, replaced by a righteous servant who restores Jacob (49:5). Superficial criticism has accordingly questioned the Isaianic authenticity of the songs, but Isaiah recognized a joyous remnant (10:20-22), which included his prophetic circle (4:26; 8:16). In the songs, however (except for 49:3), the servant cannot be collective remnant but only an individual.
The servant songs imply the equation of the Davidic messiah and the suffering servant  Isaiah, in contextual proximity, describes both as witnessing to the gentiles (49:6; 55:4) and the same holy spirit of equity who fills the Davidic “branch” (11:1-4) rests upon the servant for an identical eschatological function (49:5,7;52:15) requires their equation.[3]
Servant of the Lord:
The first poem occurs in Isaiah 42:1-4 (5-9). Yahweh describe his servant as chosen, endowed with the spirit, humble, and compassionate the will persevere until he brings justice to the nations. In the second poem the servant testifies that he is called before birth, prepared as Yahweh’s special, hidden weapon; the servant feels that his labour is in vain, yet he will trust in God to vindicate him (49:1-4). Although the term “servant” is missing from Isa. 50:4-9, most scholars consider this passage to be part of the series. Here the servant is to the Yahweh’s faithful, obedient disciple, enduring scorn, abuse, and painful beatings, yet continuing to trust in God to vindicate him. In the fourth poem [52: 13-53:12] a group, probably the nations, speaks of the servant’s vicarious sufferings on their behalf and his ultimate exaltation.[4]
1st Servant Song:
The speaker in the first song is God, who introduces his chosen and beloved servant. Endowed with divine Spirit, the servant’s task is to bring forth true religion to the nations (42:1-4). [5] Parts of this verse appear in the words from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism (3:17) ‘Behold’ is equivalent to ‘ this is’; ‘ in whom I my soul delights’ is equivalent to ‘ with whom I am well’ pleased’; ‘ my chosen’ is something like ‘ my beloved’. The intention in using this verse was to show that Jesus was fulfilling the mission described in 42:1-4.[6] 
Isaiah 42:1-4 introduces the Servant as “the chosen one, endowed with (Yahweh’s) Spirit to bring forth ‘justice’ (KJV “judgment”) to the nations.” He will work quietly and “unobtrusively,” without failure or discouragement until justice is accomplished[7]. If the servant is considered as a historical figure, with whom he is to be identified: Moses, Jeremiah, king Jehoiachin, or possibly second Isaiah himself. Recent studies have tended to see the servant as an actual historical figure, possibly the prophet himself, but nonetheless an individual whose experience reflects in concrete personal terms the suffering, hope, and triumph of the people as a whole.[8]
Other view, the task of the Servant is to establish "justice in the earth." This is the task of Immanuel, God with us. Only God could accomplish such an awesome responsibility given to the Servant. When Jesus returns at His Second Coming, He will bring justice to all the nations of the earth. Israel's achievements were never at such a high level. Indeed, she was characterized as unrighteous. However, the heavenly Father declared, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). There are sufficient arguments in the New Testament for maintaining that Jesus Christ, the Anointed of the Lord, fulfills these opening verses of the Servant poems.[9]
2nd Servant Song:
Isaiah 49:1-6, The Servant announces that he has been called by Yahweh from birth and ready for the mission “to the distant people.” Here the servant is identified as “Israel,” in whom God will be glorified. The servant is to restore Israel and to be a light to the nations (gentiles), “that Yahweh’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”[10]
A dialogue between the servant and the Lord (49:1-6), it is opened by the nations. In reply to this declaration of God’s purpose for him, he is strengthened with the assurance that God has a greater purpose for him; he is restoration of the nation of Israel, crushed by the Babylonian exile.[11] In the second poem, the Servant is seen as a prophet addressing His call and commission for the restoration of Israel and the redemption of all mankind.
The "LORD called me from the womb," before I was born, as He did Jeremiah (v. 1). He has equipped Him with wisdom from God's Word (v. 2), and protected Him. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the names of the six persons who were named before they were born: Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah and the name of the Messiah. Jesus Christ existed long before the angel told Mary that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and bear a son and call His name Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25; John 1:1-3).
Why the Servant is called "Israel" in this passage (v. 3)? We know from the context that the nation is not being referred to because it will be the Servant who will bring the people back to God. The Messiah is called "Israel" here because He fulfills all of God's expectations for the nation. His mission is to restore Israel and to a bring light to the Gentiles (v. 6). The Messiah-Servant will receive the worship He deserves when He returns at His Second coming (v. 6; cf. Philippians 2:9-11).[12]
3rd Servant Song:
Isaiah 50:4-9, though the word servant does not appear in the text, the servant hood is implied. The servant describes how “Yahweh wakens him morning by morning to hear as disciples hear.”[13]
In the third poem, we encounter the suffering of the Servant for the first time in these poems. He experiences unbroken fellowship with God. The desire of His heart is to do the will of God. In spite of suffering, He will remain unfaltering in His faith in God. He is set as a flint to do God's will, although He will be rejected by His people.  The people of Israel would be rebellious toward God's chosen Servant and treat Him cruelly. This is the consistent treatment of criminals in those days. Is this not the way in which God's Servant was treated before His enemies crucified Him? "Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him . . . Jesus he scourged . . . And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head, . . and they led Him away to crucify Him" (Matthew 26:67; 27:26, 30). The scourging was terrible torture. They stripped the victim, tied his hands behind him, bent the victim double and tied him to a short post. The lash was a long leather thong, studded at intervals with sharpened pieces of bone and pellets of lead. The body of the victim was reduced to raw, bleeding flesh of inflamed and bleeding welts. Men often died under scourging and lost their reason. Few remained conscious to the end of a scourging. These words of the poet were fulfilled in the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 22:63; John 19:1-3).[14]
The servant is the speaker (50:4-9). He declares that God has endowed him with the gift of eloquence and has thus enabled him to encourage the despondent. [15]
4th Servant Song:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 describes the suffering servant. The passage describes the servant as disfigured and despised, and supposed “stricken by God.” There comes a recognition that this wounding is for the sins of others, not his own. The servant is laid in a “felon’s grave.”[16]
The Lord speaks at the beginning and again at the end (52:13-53:12), in between, rulers and people of the world also take part in dialogue. At the beginning, God announces the impending victory and exaltation of his servant.[17]
These Servant poems reach a climax in the last poem. How can a person possibly miss the vicarious, substitutionary, suffering of this pure and righteous innocent Servant? Isaiah sees Him wounded, bruised, chastised, pierced, plagued and cursed for our sins. The LORD God provides this perfect Substitute as atonement that result in full redemption of the guilty sinner. When we study this passage in the light of history––the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ––it becomes quite evident that He is the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. Verses 4-6 read like an eyewitness account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary.
John R. Sampey well said: "The New Testament application of this great prophecy to Jesus is not an accommodation of words originally spoken of Israel as a nation, but recognition of the fact that the prophet painted in advance a portrait of which Jesus Christ is the original."
Nowhere else in Hebrew thought do we find the idea emphasized of the innocent suffering vicariously for the guilty sinner. Israel is never said to suffer for others; she only suffers for her own guilt. She suffered captivity and exile because she was guilty. Here we find the innocent suffering for the guilty sinner. The Suffering Servant is the Suffering Savior.[18] 
Second Isaiah is known for its message of hope and comfort. There was conflict between different groups in the land, trade was bad and famine threatened. Servant songs show hope of justice, Gods call or choice (Israel), courage to face the situation and protection of God, and the suffering messiah.
As Christian believers, leaders, pastors etc servant songs gives a message of having a hope in any circumstances of the life. As Christians in this world have been chosen (as Israel) in this world to represent Christ.  Christians have to encouraged the people in the midst of their struggle, suffering (like poverty, corruption etc) and there is a promise in fourth song that “God will exalted his servant not for their suffering but for the sake of God’s name he will exalt his people”.

Ceresko, Anthony R. The Old Testament: A Liberation Perspective. Bangalore: St. Paul Press, 1993.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984.

Freedman, David Noel. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing house, 2000.

Hamlin, E, John. The Guide to Isaish. Delhi: ISPCK, 2000.

North, C. R. “Servant of the Lord, The,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Abingdon Press;   1962

Old notes.

[1] C. R. North, “Servant of the Lord, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 292.
[2] IBID.
[3] Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), 1006-1007.
[4] David noel freedman, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing house, 2000) 1190.
[5] Old notes.
[6] E, John Hamlin, The guide to Isaiah (Delhi: ISPCK, 2000), 34.
[7]  C. R. North, “Servant of the Lord, The,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 292.
[8] Anthony R. Ceresko, The Old Testament: A liberation perspective (Bangalore: St. Paul Press, 1993); 320.
[10]C. R. North, “Servant of the Lord, The,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 295.
[11] Old notes.
[13] C. R. North, “Servant of the Lord, The,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 296.
[15] Old notes
[16] C. R. North, “Servant of the Lord, The,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 296.
[17] Old notes.

Generally, Prophet is understood as one who foretells or predicts the future. In one sense, this is true because God is not only interested in our present but also in our future. Therefore he makes provision for our future. Prediction of foretelling was one part of the function of prophets. However, in the Old Testament, a prophet was the spokesman of God of one who speaks for God (Exodus 4:15-16) on matters of relevance to the present or to the future. Prophecy in the Bible is mainly concerned with the revelation of the will of God.
White describes succinctly, the role and functions of Israel’s prophets: “Israel prophets, it has been well said, were preachers of personal righteousness, advocates of the rights of man, and apostles of hope – a remarkable succession of men of sensitive conscience, who commented on social and national affairs in the name of the universal lord, and whose impact upon the religion of later centuries, including Christianity, cannot be over – estimated.[1]
The ethical teaching of the prophets is theocentric. The famous “thus saith the lord” statement of the prophets is an evidence of this. “Now then, hear the word of the lord...” (Amos 7:15, 16). They considered themselves to be the mouthpiece of God.[2]

Eighth Century Prophets:
The eighth century prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah are known as prophets of morality. The emphasis on ethical standard of conduct came into full focus during their time. They saw morality as the decisive factor in determining the destiny of Israel. Their main emphasis was on God’s demand for right conduct from his people. Their greater work was to bring together religion and morality into a unique relationship. God is related to moral conduct and does not delight in the sacrifices of men but in their willingness to obey him. Righteousness is above ritual and Obedience is above sacrifice. Their moral teaching was based upon their understanding of God, who has revealed himself to them as the righteous God.
During the eighth century B.C. the time for God’s judgement upon Israel was drawing near. These prophets understood human evil in terms of sin in the light of God’s holiness and righteousness. The personal conception of sin is as disobedience to God is an important characteristic of those ethical teachings of the eighth century prophets. The people had been unfaithful to God (Amos 5:2; Hosea 5:7; Isaiah 1:21). Social corruption was at every level of justice. Only because of God’s mercy and loving kindness was there any hope for Israel (Hosea 2:19-20).[3] People were been committing all type of sins and going away from God.

Teaching of Eighth century Prophets:
The eighth century prophets are Amos, Hosea, Isaiah (first), Micah, Jonah and Joel.  In this paper we will try to see the teaching of eighth century prophets. Here we will focus only on the teachings of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah (first), and Micah. As there are different views on the existence of Joel and Jonah in those times.[4]

v      Amos: The Prophet of Justice
Amos was a prophet of social justice. He was a daring personality and his message was forceful. Amos was not a part of any institution and was not domesticated. Amos was non cultic prophet who prophesied in the eighth century. Hosea and Micah were his contemporaries. His prophetic activity was during the reigns of Uzzaih and Jeroboam (767-753).[5]
Amos prophesied nearly 200 year after King Solomon. Amos saw that the people had neglected the ethical implications of the law and knew that judgement was going to come upon them from the Assyrian army’s victory over them. They did not take notice of the punishments that had already come upon their land.[6]
Amos challenged the injustices in the courts (5:10-12), fraud in the market place (8: 4-6) and the luxury of the people (3:15, 4:1, 6:4) . He preached his message of judgement in Israel. He was a non- cultic and warned the abuses in the cults of Gilgal (4:4; 5:5) Carmel (1:2; 9:3), Beersheba (5:5; 8:14) and Dan (8:14).[7]
Amos is known for his forth sight call to practice justice. He saw the consequence of the prosperity which had come to the people because of the expansion of trade and commerce during the reign of Jeroboam and indicated the rich who were rolling in wealth and luxurious living in the palaces of Samaria. He charged them with the offences of persecution, cruelty and exploitation through unjust ways of making money and living in splendour at the expense of others (Amos 3: 9-15), warned them that those who practise injustice shall not escape the punishment of God. Severe judgement would descend on them (Amos 8: 4-14). Amos gives a graphic description of the gap between the rich and poor. Whereas the rich live in luxury, lolling on beds inlaid with ivory, lounging of couches and enjoying rich food, drinking wine by the bowlful, the poor are oppressed and reduced to such a low condition that they can be bought for a pair of sandals ( Amos 6:4-6; 2:6; 8:4-6). Amos uses strong language, describing the women living in luxury as “the cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1). Amos reminds the people that serving God did not consist of journey to altars in Bethel, Gilgal at Beersheba. What God desires is the practice of justice (Amos 5: 4-16). God despises the festivals and songs of the unjust and the wicked who worship him.[8]
Amos openly exposed and condemned many evil practices in Israel such as merciless ill- treatment of people (Amos 2:6-8; 4:1; 5:11; 8:4-6), cheating people with false balances, weights and measures (Amos 8:5), extortion and levying unfair taxes on the poor ( Amos 5:11-12), and perversion of justice (Amos 5:7; 10). Forcefully he taught, “ seek good and not evil....... hate evil and love good...... let justice flow on like a river and righteous like a never – failing torrent ( Amos 5: 14, 24).
Amos had taught that disobedience to the word of God would mean punishment and ruin for Israel. It was also the teaching of Amos that God rules not only over Israel but over all nations. Severe punishment will come to any nation that practices cruelty and injustice (Amos 1:3-15). God’s saving work also is not exclusive limited to Israel. God is the liberator of all and equally concerned about the cushites, the philistines and the Arameans (Amos 9:7). For Amos God is not just the God of Israel, he is the God of all the nations.[9]

v      Hosea: The Prophet of Love
It is assumed that Hosea’s prophetic activity might have ended before 735 B.C. he prophesied to the northern kingdom. Hosea analysed the life of Israel and disclosed their infidelity, though God loved them (Hos11:1, 3, and 12:13). Hosea also criticized idols (8:4-6). The moral life of the people was vast and they were going away from God. Israel failed to understand that it is Yahweh who blessed the husbandry rather than Baal (2:10). Hosea criticized the people who were involved in carousing and cultic prostitution (4: 11-14). Hosea regretted the degeneration of the people (4:1, 2). Israel had rejected what was good (8:3) and they violated the commandments (7: 1, 2; 10:4). There was also reference about the sexual immorality of the people (4:12; 5:4; 9:1). The people heart was full of deception. They were crooked people (10:2, 12:7).[10] Hosea laboured in the northern kingdom of Israel, during a time of moral and spiritual decline. The continuous unfaithfulness of Israelites to God, spiritual infidelity, religious fornication, drunkenness, allegiance to Baal was an insult and disrespect to Yahweh and his love (Hosea 2:2ff).
In Hosea’s teaching we do not find the same dominant emphasis on social morality as in Amos. Yet he too exposed and condemned the evil prevalent in the political and social lives of the people. Hosea too is indignant that the people practised wickedness and violated the commandments of the God who loves his people. Hosea finds his own personal experience with his wife who left him and went after other lovers as symbolic of the relationship between God who always remains faithful to his covenant and the people who broke the covenant. Hosea speaks of God as a loving and faithful husband who never forsakes the people even when they forsake him. To him the covenant meant a lofty discipline. God is always true to it and wants the people to return to him.
With this general framework of his message Hosea condemned the hypocrisy in the religion of Judah and Israel. He exposed the shallowness of their religion, their idolatry, the practice of violence, immorality and prostitution, litigation, cheating with false scales and other evils (Hos 4:3, 10-14; 7:1; 10:4; 12:6-8; 13: 1-2). Hosea pleaded that Israel should return to God, show mercy to one another and prove faithful to the covenant. Hosea also reminded the people of their calling to practice justice. “Sow justice and reap loyalty” (Hos 10:12). “Turn back by God’s help; maintain loyalty and justice” (Hosea 12:6).[11]
Hosea’s emphasize on hesed. God’s faithful love or loving kindness, in his significant contribution to Old Testament ethics. God’s love does not chance towards us in spite of his sorrow and suffering because of our rejection and disobedience to him. God demands that his people should have hesed towards him and between themselves. Yahweh declares: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Sow of yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground for it is the time to seek the lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12).[12]  

v      Isaiah: The Prophet of Holiness
Isaiah has been called ‘Prince of the Prophets’. He is the one best known and best loved of prophets. Prophet Isaiah emphasized the holiness of God. He applied the holiness of God to the moral conception of God’s will for Judea and other nations because they were instruments of “the holy one of Israel” (Isa 43:3). Just like Amos, Isaiah also saw evil, immorality, idolatry, pride, and greed in the nation. This was bad because the chosen people of God were under the obligation to be holy people.[13]
Hassel bullock refers to Isaiah as a bright star in the prophetic constellations of eighth century. His prophetic activity might have straight just before or in the last year of uzziah (740 B.C). Isaiah was concerned with the divine law. He points to the injustice and exploitation of the weak. For Isaiah, the administration of justice displaced man’s attitude to God (1:26, 11:3ff).[14]
Isaiah criticizes bribery which was prevalent in every sphere of life (5:20-23). There is a reference about moral bankruptcy (5:8-23) that is a general comment of the morality of the people. The people were corrupt and they were violating the commandments of God. They were disobedient, disloyal, going away from God. It also deals with exploitation, i.e., robbing the poor (10:1-4, 11:1-9) and God’s rule of justice.[15]
The teaching of Isaiah was very much like the teaching of Amos. His basic affirmation was that God reigns and that his sovereignty was over all. Wherever wickedness reigns God will punish it. The book of Isaiah begins with an idealistic vision of peace among the nations. “They will beat their swords into mattocks and their spears into pruning- knives: nation will not lift sword against nation nor ever again be trained for war” (Isa 2:4, see also Micah 4:1-3). Weapons of warfare and destruction are abolished in favour of implements for promoting human well being. The idealistic vision is also reflected in Isaiah 11:1-10 where the prophet speaks of an ideal messianic rule based on fairness and justice. It is a vision of all the animals, big and small, strong and weak, living together with peace and harmony with no fear of hurt or harm. This is really a vision of the nation of the earth big and small, weak and strong living in peace and harmony with no fear of exploitation to domination. His messianic vision was a kingdom of justice encompassing all nations and Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. Israel’s role is that of reconciliation of being “a third with Egypt and Assyria and being a blessing in the world”. All nations are described as belonging to God. “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handy work and Israel my possession” (Isa 19:19- 25).[16]
Isaiah points out that the fundamental sin of the humans is pride over human knowledge and the consequent overconfidence on human ability. “Woe betide those who are wise in their own sight and prudent in their own esteem” (Isa 5:21; see also 2:12; 9:9; 10:13). Isaiah is committed to the absolute sovereignty of God and teaches that the essence of true religion is that the humans should trust in the might of God and depend completely on his power. “He who has faith will not waver” (Isa 28:16). “In calm detachment lies your safety, your strength in quite trust” (Isa 30:15). Such an affirmation of faith in utter dependence on God is expressed much more strongly by Isaiah than Amos.
There is a strong emphasis on righteousness and justice as the expression of the holiness of God. He condemns those who “add house to house and join field to field until everyone else is displaced” (Isa 5:8). He regards those who go in pursuit of drink and get inflamed with wine as having no knowledge of  God ( Isa 5:11-13, 22). He is concerned about such people because they “call evil good and good evil......... and for a bribe acquit the guilty and deny justice to those in the right” (Isa 5: 20-23). For, Isaiah God is the source of justice and righteousness, and the practice of righteousness is the key to peace (Isa 32: 16- 19).[17]
Isaiah pointed out that the root of many social evil lay in the selfish luxury of women (Isa 3:16; 4:1). The moral fabric of society is based upon the moral quality of its women as well as men of Israel fell far short of the holiness of God. Isaiah emphasized the ethical demands of God upon his people. He criticised the rituals and rites that did not tally with their behaviour and conduct. His ethics has been called, “ethical theism” because he pioneered the idea of God in ethical terms and that worship of God should not be separated from right conduct.
Through Isaiah God demanded equality in the administration of justice (10:1-4). Luxury, selfishness, and sensuality of the rich (Ch 1-5) were condemned. Lip service to God (1:10-17; 29:13-14) was denounced. How can the problem solved? Only by returning to God. Be holy, as God is holy. The end result of continuing in evil and immorality is judgement (Isa 33:1). Isaiah makes it clear to his people in chapter 5 that God’s moral law is not subject to any amendment or adaptable to the liking and taste of 8th century B.C. man. Majority cannot dictate the terms for standards of mortality among the people of Israel (5: 24-25). Though they considered themselves to be enlightened, liberal and free people, they were nothing in the presence of God. They were finally destined to defeat, invasion and destruction.[18]

v      Micah: The Prophet of Righteousness
Micah lived under Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah kings of Judah. He was the contemporary of Isaiah. Micah message was for the northern kingdom, Israel. It was a call to righteousness. “Be righteous for the God is righteous”.[19]
Micah was another great prophet who had the vision of the kingdom of righteousness and peace. Micah too shared the idealistic vision about peace (Micah 4:3). He condemned greed of the rich which led to oppression of the poor. “Woe betides those who lie in bed planning evil and wicked deeds and rise at day break to do them..... They covet fields and take them by force; if they want a house they seize it” (Micah 2:1-2). The prophet condemns those who sell women and children as slaves and plunder wayfarers. “To defile yourselves you would commit any mischief however cruel” (Micah 2:8-10). Micah was concerned that “the leaders of Jacob and rulers of Israel” who were supposed to know what is right had become oppressors of the people. “You hate good and love evil, who tear the skin of my people and the flesh from their bones” (Micah 3; 2-3). He explains what true religion requires. “The lord has told you mortals what is good and what it is that lord requires of you: only to act justly, to love loyalty, to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). In this epitomising of religion Micah has aptly combined obedience to God with upright living, practising justice.[20]
Micah emphasized the righteousness of Yahweh. He summarized the teachings of all the prophets. “ he has showed you, O man, 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” (6:8).  A profound moral statement. This was the solution that he offered to the moral and spiritual problem of the day. The sacrifice of fatted rams and the pouring of rivers of oil do not make atonement and are not pleasing to God. In Micah 6:8 three moral virtues are outlined. First of all, humility in life and conduct is the proper way man should come before God. Secondly, giving justice to every man that which is due to him. Thirdly, Micah sees mercy as a moral virtue. God loves kindness, desire to help and compassion from those who are oppressed. These three- humility before God, justice and mercy are God’s requirements for righteousness.[21]
Wheeler Robinson has stated, “the best epitome of prophetic teaching is to be found in Micah (6:8). Here the supreme virtue of religion, as the Hebrew conceived it, is ... that humility of bearing and of conduct, ‘ making modest the walking’ before God, which alone answers properly to man’s constant dependence upon him ... the moral virtues here named are justice and loyal helpfulness.”
Micah, the moral teacher and social reformer, with compassion and without fear, called Israel to a life of righteousness. Meet God’s requirements in live. The summary of the Micah teaching encompass the greatest commandments, “love the lord your god with all of your hearts with all of your soul, and with your entire mind”. “Love your neighbour as yourself”.......(Matt 22:31-40).[22]

Relevance for Church and Society in today’s Contest of Poverty and Injustice:
Most of these prophets’ prophecies and theology revolved around the injustice and the oppression on the poor prevailing in that period. These prophets stood along with the oppressed people and fought for their justice (Micah 2:1-2). Micah sides with the peasants against the wealthy landlords (3:1-3). Prophets like Amos and Micah insisted that to do righteous and justice is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice. They condemned inhumanity. They said that social injustice is intolerable to God.
They could rebuke kings, judges, princes and other false prophets because of their righteous indignation an out injustice, cruelty, oppression, dishonesty and immorality. For them religion and ethics are inseparable and that should be the mission of the church to stood or the justice of the poor and downtrodden.
In this modern era also the situation is almost same as it was at that time. Still poverty is there and injustice is seen in some places and poor are been oppressed in the society by different means. Church has to take initiative in this situation and try to help the poor and oppressed in the society. Church should also bring awareness in the society by different means and even in the church. As the stand against the injustice and poverty and the oppression the pastors, Christian leaders etc should stand from against the oppression. Prophets were guided by God and today we as a Christian leaders are also bond to do so. As Jesus is the greatest example for us. He was a friend of poor, marginalised, oppressed, etc. We have to be there friend try to bring them up in the society.
Church and society if tries to overcome the problem of poverty and injustice then our country will take a high speed of development and it will be rich economically, socially, politically etc. The life and ministry of eighth century prophets very clearly teaches us this is the responsibility of every believer to handle the problem of poverty and injustice and try overcome it.

Chandran, Russell J. Christian Ethics. Delhi: ISPCK, 1998.
James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective. Bangalore: Theological Book Trust, 1992.
Stephen M, Introducing Christian Ethics. Delhi: ISPCK: 2003.

[1] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 52.
[2] Ibid.
[3] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: Theological book trust, 1992); 57.
[4] Stephen M, Introducing Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK: 2003); 49. 
[5] Ibid; 52.
[6] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: Theological book trust, 1992); 58.
[7] Stephen M, Introducing Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK: 2003); 52.
[8] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: Theological book trust, 1992); 59.
[9] J. Russell Chandran, Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK,1998);36.
[10] Stephen M, Introducing Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK: 2003); 51.
[11] J. Russell Chandran, Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK, 1998);37.
[12] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 61.
[13] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 61.
[14] Stephen M, Introducing Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK: 2003); 49.
[15] Ibid; 50.
[16]J. Russell Chandran, Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK, 1998); 38.
[17] J. Russell Chandran, Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK, 1998); 38.
[18] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 62.
[19] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 64.
[20] J. Russell Chandran, Christian Ethics (Delhi: ISPCK,1998);40.
[21] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 64.
[22] James, E Emmanuel, Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Bangalore: theological book trust, 1992); 65.

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