Extravagant Rituals or Ethical Religion (Micah 6:6– 8)? Ritual Interface with Social Responsibility in Micah
The phenomenon of ritual criticism in prophetic writings of the HB/OT is one that highlights the discrepancy between ritual and lifestyle on the one hand and emphasizes the significance of rituals for the improvement of ethical life of people. Rituals are viewed as Ancient Israelite’s vertical dimension of the relationship between God and man while ethics are its horizontal components (man to man relationship). In Micah, rituals are presented as acts of people’s relationship with Yahweh (worship, offering and sacrifices) that do not impact positively on the horizontal dimension (social justice). This dysfunction of relationship is poignantly addressed by Micah as his oracle switches from confrontation to reconciliation. This article addresses the confrontation between Yahweh and Israel/Judah by juxtaposing two dominant spheres of Israel/Judah’s religious life; ritual and lifestyle. Micah 6:6–8 stands in sharp contrast to the extravagance and mockery of rituals and as an alternative presents a message most profound and insightful for an invaluable decision. A truly ethical religion, Micah holds, is not about extravagant rituals but personal duty and responsibility for fulfilling that duty in society.
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