We have three interesting readings today. We see Job wrestling with his concept of what God is and how he “does great things beyond searching out, and marvellous things beyond number” (9:10). We have Micah who told of “the one who is to be ruler in Israel” and would “come forth” from Bethlehem (5:2). Matthew 2:1-6 shows us that “the chief priests and the scribes” knew this prophecy, telling “the wise men (Magi in the Greek) from the east”.
These priests and scribes never imagined the ruler would be born in a stable! They were looking for the fulfilment of the prophecy in seeing one who would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD. In the majesty of the name of the LORD his God” (Micah 5:4) – and so Christ will, but in God’s good time.
Our reading in James spells out the qualities needed in those who will be there at the time of its wondrous fulfilment. He writes, “Blessed is the man (or woman) who remains steadfast under trial (we think of Job being a good example of this), for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (1:12). We are expected to show this love by our actions. John makes this point in his first letter; “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Returning to James we see how direct and challenging his message is – for then and for today! “…put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (verse 21).
But it is not enough to have the knowledge of God’s word implanted in our brains. James states “… Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Finally, we noted his point, “the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (verse 25). They had been set at liberty from the rituals of the Law of Moses – but let us be busy today in our doing as well as our meditating, and let us be inspired by the things “which God has promised to those who love him”.