Micah 7

This chapter describes judgement and mercy. Micah speaks of summer fruit, not quite like Amos did in the last chapter. For Amos it was a vision of decay but for Micah it’s a vehicle for longing and sorrow. He wants to find sweetness and goodness but can’t.

The best of them is like a brier, the most upright a sharp thorn. The prevailing standards of morality are so low, even the best is no good.  He describes a society with no trust, where it’s each man and woman for themself.

He decides to wait for the lord instead. He looks forward to the time when he will call Judah back and build the walls again. Which is confusing because I don’t think they have even gone into exile yet, so he is looking forward to a time when they are uprooted and when they go into exile, then return, and then fail again. It’s all very grim and makes the Messiah prophesies all the more vital.

 

 

Micah 6

God defends himself in a quasi legal setting, It recalls the first chapter where he was walking among the mountains, because now he calls on them to witness his defence.  He is making the point that he is not cruel but a loving God, reciting instances in the past where he has saved them.

In response the people are overwhelmed, realising there is little they can do to match. Animal sacrifices aren’t enough, should they give their first born? But God has shown them what is good … the very thing they are bad at now … to be just, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

Then justice is promised for the cheaters, the merchants with crooked scales, and gangsters, those with wealth through violence. Sickness and failure are coming for them.

We used to sing a song at church of verse 8, about walking humbly with God. It’s a memorable summary of the obligations of a believer, like Jesus’ two great commandments, to love God and to love your fellow man.

And it comes from gratitude, not obligation, in context. People make so much of the difference between the old and new parts of the Bible, yet the life of love because of grace is laced though the old everywhere you look. This is anti legalism.

The justice promised here is more concrete than I would now expect. The Psalms and the wisdom literature push away the idea of earthly retribution “how long?”… we’ve learned to leave them to heaven. That said the order of our society, the justice system and the media is a mercy from God so there is not a sense of anarchy.

I’m stressed this week, more deadlines than time. My gloom parted somewhat a day or so ago to be replaced by practical pressure. I’m praying for a time of equilibrium. When things get pressured, I have an unhelpful response where I let things go, which makes the pressure worse. I must focus and stay on top of things.

I’m learning about the spiritual nature of blessing and praying for practical outcomes.

Micah 5

A warlike seeming chapter with a striking prophesy about the Messiah coming from Bethlehem in the centre. Finding it hard to follow from a basic level whether it’s the Assyrians laying waste the judeans or the other way around. I think the latter, so it’s like their come back after exile, but of course the Messiah is the ultimate come back.

It just awesome that this was written 100s of years before Christ was born. I’m sure atheists have multiple ways of explaining it, but having accepted the existence of God, this knocks me out. It’s totally consistent with the theme of god’s interaction with humankind that the humble thing.. Bethlehem.. is the source of victory.

Micah 4

Here commences 2 chapters of comfort. They could use it too, the people being in poverty here, while the elite exploit them. In Amos it was a time of general prosperity, and there were only glimpses of relief from the doom.

It’s a vision of an exulted Jerusalem… the holy mountain atop the other mountains… a hub from which god’s word emanates to all nations. Peace and abundance break out, swords made into ploughs as Jesus quoted, everyone happy under their own fig tree.

It’s a vision affirming that Israel’s God is the one true God of all the world.

On that day they won’t feel pathetic any more. The last shall be first. There is reference to the daughter of Jerusalem, which is I suppose like the new Jerusalem in revelation, which comes down from heaven like a bride. It’s also a true picture of the church, though to be in a literal church these days can feel like being part of a bedraggled remnant sometimes.

There are many nations gathering against them and wanting to defile them, pain is ahead like a childbirth, but glory too.

I was part of a Facebook discussion between Christians about an article taking about Christians loss of influence in our society over weekend. The responses felt a bit trump like… how can we make Christianity great again? I was glad I had the perspective of the minor prophets to bring to it.

Chill, don’t panic, God is in control. A time of weakness is likely to be in his plan. It’s not got to the point where we are being hounded and persecuted, but it may. But there are far more examples of his people being in that situation in the Bible than there are of them being culturally dominant. And when they have earthly strength is when they lose focus and become the most corrupt. So chill.

Comfort indeed.

Micah 3

The entire leadership of Judah has become corrupt. They would have seemed quite respectable from the outside: ruling, judging, performing religious duties.

The give away is the grinding poverty of the people, which is jarringly described in cannabalistic terms: they are stripping the flesh off the people, grinding their bones and feeding off them.

The roles of prophet, priest and king which Jesus would take on himself are being done by people comfortable with leadership serving themselves, not being servants of the people or God. They pray to God to keep them from harm, happy to lean on him for their own well being while exploiting their own role mercilessly to their own advantage.

Micah declares himself a true prophet, full of power justice and might from the spirit. Because of them the whole society will crumble and be destroyed.

God has an equivocal relationship with earthly power. St Paul and Jesus make it clear that even quite corrupt and oppressive governments, such as the Roman, can be vehicles of god’s blessing which should be accepted by believers. It’s probably no accident that the Roman empire with its pax Romana … Roman peace and straight roads was a conducive environment for the early spread of the gospel.

God needs Judah to stay distinct, the chosen people. They keep unchosing themselves by losing their core though the nature of sin.

Sometimes it is his purpose that kingdoms should rise, and sometimes to fall. Neither event should shake or faith in him.

Micah 2

Prattlers

Ever tuned out to a sermon? Ever NOT tuned out to at least part of a sermon.

God is aware that his messengers are treated as background noise. He’s aware of the seeming futility of the prophets. Speaking the truth is an end in itself, not always a means to an end.

This passage focuses, after an epic first chapter, on the evil of some particularly selfish and exploitative people. To them the prophesy is just prattle, the think they have it all together, they are wise guys.

They listen to lying prophets who tell shallow philosophies of wine and drink, the people’s prattlers.

A small group will stay faithful, and they will have chosen what is lasting and eternal, as the achievements of the wise guys come to nothing and they are ultimately lost.

So many images in the Bible of the smallness of the believers way. The narrow path, the remnant, the last, the weak, the meek, aliens and strangers. Yet we are still confronted by societies move away from respecting our religion as the dominant ideology. It’s uncomfortable, sure, but it’s a correction back to the natural state.

We must accept there is method in gods apparent madness.

These prophesy books are pictures of the strength and the power of God. They are detailing the sometimes dreadful detail of how in our weakness, he is made strong.

Micah 1

I’ve been reading a lot of minor prophets. Micah will be the last before I move on to something different.

3 chapters of judgement, 2 of comfort, 2 of salvation.

I’ve followed the chronological order according to Bible gateway. Last was Amos. Certainly the coming judgement and it’s cause declared by Micah is very similar to that of Amos. Judah, the southern kingdom, has merged religion with the Samaritans, the king worshipping their gods as well.

The prophesy of destruction from this apostasy in Michah 1 is, if anything, more urgent than in Amos. Its even closer to midnight. There is impressive imagery of God personified like a giant, trampling mountains of touching the land and it melting like wax.

Good to contemplate once again how meaningless Christianity becomes if it is no different to the surrounding culture.

I get worried about a siege mentality sometimes, as Christianity is becoming less the dominant value in western countries like mine, Christians are freaking out.

But it’s also a mistake to go the other way, which is more my personal temptation, and be OK with everything.

Last week in the sermon our rector gave a great example of those circus acts where the rider stands astride two horses at once. That’s what Judah is doing, and we can be tempted to live like that too. If the horses go different directions, disaster will ensue. Not practical to ride two horses at once.

Things are so tense in our family at the moment. My youngest, 12, is having trouble adapting to high school. Need much wisdom and clarity.