Justice+Mercy: Week One Study Guide

Kicking off a five-week study through the powerful Old Testament Book of Micah, this study guide explores God’s nature as just judge and merciful Savior. Discover how even in an increasing dark world, God’s mercy, grace, and goodness shine through and triumph over evil.
 
 

 

TALK IT OUT

Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to reflect on and questions to discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, as well as some action points for the week.

Memory Verse of the Week: Micah 2:12–13 (NIV) 

“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. The One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their King will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.”

Getting the Conversation Going: It’s not supposed to be this way—disease, corruption, poverty, illiteracy, divorce, racism, fatherlessness, child abuse, sexual assault . . . it’s not fair and it’s not right! We long for justice, and we’re not the only ones! You see, God is a God of justice; it’s a core aspect of His character. So, as people made in His image, we innately desire justice and can usually recognize when injustice has occurred.

Discussion Question 1: What does justice mean to you?

Discussion Question 2: Why is the desire for justice so strong in people?

Humans have a strong desire for justice. But here’s the thing: Because we live in a sinful world, our definition of justice is often significantly different from God’s and even from other people who may see the world differently than we do. What’s worse is that so often in our culture today, we tend to confuse feeling offended with suffering injustice. So, with so many different versions of justice out there, what does justice looks like in the eyes of God?

The biblical idea of justice is primarily captured in two Hebrew words—tzadeqah and mishpat.

  • Tzadeqah: This word can be translated as “being just or righteous.” It refers to a life of right relationships or relational justice (or just-ness).
  • Mishpat: This word can be translated as “treating people equitably—in a fair and impartial manner.” At its core, it’s rectifying justice.

Over and over again in Scripture, we’re shown that tzadeqah and mishpat must go hand-in-hand. Think about it: If we walk in tzadeqah with one another, we would have no need for mishpat because everyone would be living in right relationship with everyone else. Mishpat is only necessary because of sin. It’s only when a violation of right relationship against yourself or others has taken place that the desire for action—for protection, defense, restitution, or retribution—comes about.

The gospel leads to a passionate pursuit of justice in the world.—Pastor Doug Sauder

So, the biblical definition of justice means to treat all people equally and in a right and just manner. It’s a combination of “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 ESV, relational) and you shall “show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1 ESV, societal/rectifying). As believers, the truth of the gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us must lead to a pursuit of justice in our world; it must ignite a passion to help those in need, defend those who can’t defend themselves, and advocate for the outcast and marginalized. Why? Because this is what Jesus did during His three years of ministry, and this is what He calls us to do!

Discussion Question 3: How does the gospel shape our understanding of justice?

God’s Justice: The Book of Micah was written to convey God’s prophetic warning against Samaria and Jerusalem, the two capital cities of the now divided kingdoms of God’s people—Israel (Samaria) and Judah (Jerusalem). Why? Two main reasons:

  1. The greed and oppressive practices of those in power (Micah 2:1–­5) who upheld Israel’s corrupt political and religious leaders and led the nation into extreme moral decay. The landowners, religious leaders, political powers, and city officials had abused their power, oppressed the people, and conspired to do evil. They coveted and defrauded others of their property, they stole and plundered, hated good and loved evil, oppressed the poor, despised justice and distorted truth, accepted bribes, used their religious positions for profit, engaged in dishonest business practices, acted with violence and deceit, and murdered their own people.
  1. Idolatry. In Samaria, there was the worship of the golden calf of Samaria, and in Jerusalem, King Ahaz built an altar like that at Damascus and sacrificed on it INSIDE GOD’S HOLY TEMPLE. 

The people were unjust and corrupt. Because of this, God would bring judgment upon Israel and Judah.

God’s Mercy: Judgment is not the final word. Our God is a God of justice, but He is also a God of grace, mercy, and restoration! And James 2:13 tells us that His mercy triumphs over judgment. Micah served as a prophet during a time of great injustice. He delivered bad news to a wicked people, but he also delivered truly wonderful news that after God’s judgment, God’s mercy, reconciliation, and restoration would come! He laid out their sins, but shared the hope of God’s promise for redemption.

This is where Jesus comes in. By taking on the nature of man and dying for the sins of man, He “breaks open the way” (Micah 2:11–13 NIV) for all people to come to God! This is explained clearly when Paul says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13–14 NIV).

Today, we can rejoice in knowing that we “are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him [we] too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV).

As recipients of His mercy and grace, we, like the prophet Micah, are called by Jesus to deliver the bad news of sin and death, but provide the great hope of the gospel! May we approach our call and commission with the same passion and zeal as Micah.

Discussion Question 4: How are God’s justice and mercy two sides of the same coin? Why is it impossible to separate them?

Discussion Question 5: What can you do this week to be an agent of both God’s justice and mercy in a world full of injustice?

This Week: Read through the Book of Micah in its entirety—it’s only seven chapters! Familiarize yourself with it as we set out to study it over the next few weeks.

A LOOK AHEAD

In our next study, we’ll dive into a discussion of Micah 3–4.

Additional Resources

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.