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Doing Justice

Our response to the injustice highlighted by the Prophets should be to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.


I want to talk to you about a concern that lies at the heart of the Prophets, but let's start with a question. Think about the basic human emotions—joy, sadness, comfort, anger, and serenity—and tell me, which emotion do you think most often characterizes the Prophets? Don't the Prophets strike you as kind of cranky? Honestly. Let me give you a few examples. Amos said, "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan … who oppress the poor and crush the needy" (Amos 4:1). Isaiah says, "Stop bringing meaningless offerings. Your incense is detestable to me … I cannot bear your evil assemblies" (Isaiah 1:13).

Micah 3:1–3 says, "Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil—who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones, who eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin, break their bones in pieces, chop them up like meat for the pan?" Doesn't that sound a little over-the-top to you?

Not only do they use angry words, but Prophets also resort to shock tactics that often look downright bizarre. Hosea marries a prostitute to show how unfaithful the Israelites have become. Ezekiel eats food cooked over excrement to show how defiled God's people have become. Jeremiah digs up a filthy, buried, unwashed undergarment to use as an object lesson to show people how repellent their behavior is to God. The Prophets are filled with stuff like this, and we don't like it. We like happy books. So why should we read the Prophets?

We need to hear the message of the Prophets.

For one thing, we do it because they're in the Bible. It would not be a good thing to have Obadiah walk up to you and say, "How'd you like my book?" ...

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Sermon Outline:


I. We need to hear the message of the prophets.

II. God wants us to do justice.

III. God wants us to love kindness.

IV. God wants us to walk humbly with him.