Blinded by Pagan Traditions
In the time of Micah, Israel was steeped in the pagan religions surrounding her.
In this Haftarah, a startling question is posed that reveals that many Israelites no longer realized how revolted God is by human and especially child sacrifice, a horrifying ritual of the Canaanites:
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? … Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6–7)
In response, God draws them back to the covenant and underlines that He has already shown them what is good.
He also highlights the following three pillars of true religion: justice, mercy and a wise, humble walk with the Lord.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require [doresh, meaning seek] of you? To act justly and to love mercy [chesed] and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
The Hebrew word that is translated as mercy in this verse is chesed, which is often translated in English Bibles as loving-kindness.
While the word implies piety, or a proper response to God, it also means “kindness to the lowly, needy and miserable, as shown in all charitable acts, especially such as go with personal service.” (Expositors Bible Commentary)
A fuller rendering of the Hebrew translated “to walk humbly” is to have a relationship with God characterized by modesty, decency, chastity, personal holiness and purity.
In the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant), Yaacov (James) also answered the question: “What is true religion, or in other words, what does God seek from us?”
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
Witchcraft and Superstition
Just as in the days of the prophets Micah and Isaiah, Israel is still desperately in need of the Lord.
When it comes to witchcraft and superstition, Israel is like other nations in that it is full of divination, New Age religions and philosophies.
Today in Israel, many homes, cars, and shops contain some form of a hand amulet called a hamsa (five) with a representation of the “eye of God” to protect them from the evil one.
This ancient symbol, which is prevalent in the Middle East, is one example of the “superstitions from the East” that have been embraced in Israel.
Apart from these folk superstitions, there is also a mystical school of Jewish thought called Kabbalah, a word that comes from the Hebrew root meaning to accept or receive.
Kabbalistic sects of Judaism focus on how the world works, immortality and the soul, and the essence of God.
Tzfat, Israel, where courses are offered in Jewish mysticism and astrology, is considered the center of Kabbalah.
Kabbalah has gained traction and become increasingly trendy, as celebrities such as Madonna, Britney Spears, and Demi Moore have endorsed it.
Parasha Balak promises that God one day will cleanse the Holy Land, indeed the world, of superstitions, mysticism, and all spiritual defilement.
Nevertheless, even in the midst of this, a righteous remnant of God’s people remains as “dew” from the Lord.
“The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man.” (Micah 5:6)
In Israel, during the hot summer months when there is no rain, the night mist, which falls as dew upon the Land in the early morning, is the only source of water for the grass and field flowers; therefore, the dew is a beautiful end-time image of the life preserving Living Water that this holy remnant represents to Israel and the nations.