Prophets use words to remake the world. The world—heaven and earth, men and women, animals and birds—was made in the first place by God’s Word. Prophets arriving on the scene and finding that world in ruins, finding a world of moral rubble and spiritual disorder, take up the work of words again to rebuild what human disobedience and mistrust demolished. These prophets learn their speech from God. Their words area God-grounded, God-energized, God-passionate. As their words enter the language of our communities, men and women find themselves in the presence of God, who enter the mess of human sin to rebuke and renew.
Left to ourselves we turn God into an object, something we can deal with some thing we can use to our benefit, whether that thing is a felling or an idea or an image. Prophets scorn all such stuff. They train us to respond to God’s presence and voice.
Micah, the final member of that powerful quartet of writing prophets who burst on the world scene in the eighth century BC (Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos were the others), like virtually all his fellow prophets—those charged with keeping people alive to God and alert to listening to the voice of God—was a master of metaphor. This means that he used words not simply to define or identify what can be seen, touched, smelled, and heard or tasted, but to plunge us into a world of “presence”. To experience presence is to enter that far larger world of reality that our sensory experience point to but cannot describe—the realities of love and compassion, justice and faithfulness, sin and evil—and God. Mostly God. The realities that are WORD-evoked are where most of the world’s action takes place. There are no “mere words.” –Eugene Peterson, Introduction to Micah, The Message
Micah 1, The Message
God’s Message as it came to Micah of Moresheth. It came during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. It had to do with what was going on in Samaria and Jerusalem.
God Takes the Witness Stand
2 Listen, people—all of you.
Listen, earth, and everyone in it:
The Master, God, takes the witness stand against you,
the Master from his Holy Temple.
* * *
3-5 Look, here he comes! God, from his place!
He comes down and strides across mountains and hills.
Mountains sink under his feet,
valleys split apart;
The rock mountains crumble into gravel,
the river valleys leak like sieves.
All this because of Jacob’s sin,
because Israel’s family did wrong.
You ask, “So what is Jacob’s sin?”
Just look at Samaria—isn’t it obvious?
And all the sex-and-religion shrines in Judah—
isn’t Jerusalem responsible?
* * *
6-7 “I’m turning Samaria into a heap of rubble,
a vacant lot littered with garbage.
I’ll dump the stones from her buildings in the valley
and leave her abandoned foundations exposed.
All her carved and cast gods and goddesses
will be sold for stove wood and scrap metal,
All her sacred fertility groves
burned to the ground,
All the sticks and stones she worshiped as gods,
These were her earnings from her life as a whore.
This is what happens to the fees of a whore.”
* * *
8-9 This is why I lament and mourn.
This is why I go around in rags and barefoot.
This is why I howl like a pack of coyotes,
and moan like a mournful owl in the night.
God has inflicted punishing wounds;
Judah has been wounded with no healing in sight.
Judgment has marched through the city gates.
Jerusalem must face the charges.
* * *
10-16 Don’t gossip about this in Telltown.
Don’t waste your tears.
roll in the dust.
the alarm is sounded.
The citizens of Exitburgh
will never get out alive.
Lament, Last-Stand City:
There’s nothing in you left standing.
The villagers of Bittertown
wait in vain for sweet peace.
Harsh judgment has come from God
and entered Peace City.
All you who live in Chariotville,
get in your chariots for flight.
You led the daughter of Zion
into trusting not God but chariots.
Similar sins in Israel
also got their start in you.
Go ahead and give your good-bye gifts
but disappointed Israel’s kings.
has lost its inheritance.
has seen its last of glory.
Shave your heads in mourning
over the loss of your precious towns.
Go bald as a goose egg—they’ve gone
into exile and aren’t coming back.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Warnings are all around us. There are warning labels on most everything we buy. We have so many warnings, in fact, that we have become immune to them. We ignore them until something goes terribly wrong and then we read to find out what we should have or should not have done. Um, too late then, right?!?
Love cautions the loved. The book of Micah is a warning. God’s prophet warns of the terrible judgment which awaits all who ignore God. “Be prepared,” he pleads, and then explains how to prepare.
Micah, a prophet from Judah, prophesied to both Israel and Judah. The people told him to be quiet. Micah’s message to the sinful people was not well received because it pointed out the worthless idols that the people worshiped instead of the one true God. They didn’t even realize how dry and faithless they had become.
Read this WORD from Max Lucado who writes of the warnings of our spiritual dryness with how to respond:
“Deprive your soul of spiritual water, and your soul will tell you. Dehydrated hearts send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Growling mastodons of guilt and fear. You think God wants you to live with these? Hopelessness. Sleeplessness. Loneliness. Resentment. Irritability. Insecurity. These are warnings. Symptoms of a dryness deep within.
Perhaps you’ve never seen them as such. You’ve thought they, like speed bumps, are a necessary part of the journey. Anxiety, you assume, runs in your genes like eye color. Some people have bad ankles; others, high cholesterol or receding hairlines. And you? You fret.
And moodiness? Everyone has gloomy days, sad Saturdays. Aren’t such emotions inevitable? Absolutely. But unquenchable? No way. View the pains of your heart, not as struggles to endure, but as an inner thirst to slake—proof that something within you is starting to shrivel.
Treat your soul as you treat your thirst. Take a gulp. Imbibe moisture. Flood your heart with a good swallow of water.
Begin by heeding your thirst. Don’t dismiss your loneliness. Don’t deny your anger. Your restless spirit, churning stomach, the sense of dread that turns your armpits into swamplands—these are signal flares exploding in the sky. We could use a little moisture down here! Don’t let your heart shrink into a raisin. For the sake of those who need your love, hydrate your soul!
The world can be a dry and wearying place. In such an environment, concentrated study of God’s Word becomes crucial. An extensive and thorough knowledge of God’s Word is our only means of defense. Begin a habit of studying God’s Word diligently.” –Lucado, Encouraging Word Bible
Most people don’t listen to warnings. Let’s be the exception.
Help us pay attention to your loving warnings. We know we hear your voice above all other voices when we abide in your holy presence waiting for your nod of direction. It is in communion, that holy conversation with you, that we find your wisdom drenched in your love, wanting the best for our good. On top of all that our hunger and thirst is satisfied by your gifts of peace and eternal joy in all circumstances. I trust you, dear Jesus, Bread and Living Water, with my life—all of it.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen