SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013.
‘You rulers make decisions based on bribes; you priests teach God’s law only for a price; you prophets won’t prophesy unless you are paid. Yet all of you claim to depend on the Lord. No harm can come to us; you say, for the Lord is here among us,’ Micah 3v11.
THE book of prophet Micah is a quick reminder that God hates sin, but loves the sinner. Sin and all it stands for attracts punishment and, so, sinners cannot go unpunished. When Adam violated the laws of God by eating the forbidden fruit, God handed down judgment to him. Gen. 3v14 -17.
The nation of Israel sinned against God in diverse ways according to Micah: fraud Micah 2v2, theft 2v8, greed 2v9, debauchery 2v11, oppression 3v3, hypocrisy 3v4, heresy 3v5, injustice 3v9, extortion and lying 6v12, murder 7v2. The Bible attests that sin is a reproach to any nation, (Proverbs 14v34). Such volume of sin in Israel certainly will attract His judgment, which must come according to Micah 1v5.
Today, God singled out the sins of these persons: rulers, priests and prophets. Their main sin was bribe. Exodus 23v8 says: ‘Do not accept a bribe, for it blinds and perverts justice.’
Rulers were supposed to lead God’s people, but instead they demanded money before they could perform their duties. Dubiously they cheated their subjects and shamelessly enriched themselves. It is possible they were receiving ten per cent kick back, upfront and left things undone thereto bringing hardship to their subjects. In Nigerian parlance, there was no good governance and the dividends of democracy were a far cry. Yes, if money that could have been spent on valuable projects to alleviate the sufferings of the masses is fretted away by such thing like bribe, how can the people receive the benefits of good governance? Certainly, God was unhappy with the leaders.
For the priests, the supposed mouthpieces of God, money also blinded their spiritual eyes. It was suggested that they lowered the quality of their preaching to the congregations, so, as not to lose members and at the same time their patronage. These pastors forgot that the love of money is the root of all evils, I Tim. 6v10.
However, it is not surprising that today the number of churches and their leaders have no corresponding spiritual effect on the lives of the worshippers. The reason may not be farfetched; priests, preachers have watered down the gospel and sinners feel too comfortable in church. After all, they pay their tithes, buy items of worship (handkerchief, olive oil), buy cars for their spiritual leaders, sponsor their endless oversea trips and such other condemnable things that make the spiritual leaders to feel good. How can God be happy in such a situation?
Everyone in God’s service should beware to avoid God’s punishment. We need to be reconciled to God through Christ and earnestly ask the Holy Spirit to keep us on track to the glory of God.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.