Micah 2:1-13 & 7:1-7

Readings for this week October 28 – November 1
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Judgement is Coming

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 2:1-5

We begin with what seems like a traditional woe oracle that very quickly becomes an oracle of judgement. Micah is railing against those who greedily plan and plot the destruction of the lives of others. His cry is not against random crimes but is rather levelled at systematic plans that are deliberately and intentionally hatched as part of a calculated attempt to steal and to oppress. What these people covet – houses, fields – they scheme for and then take. They are blind to the consequences of their sin, especially the effect it has on others. They have made an enemy of God – a enemy they have no hope of defeating – and verse 3 shifts to the judgement that God is planning to visit upon them, God’s plotting against them echoing their own earlier scheming. The powerful will soon become powerless.

We are called to serve others and to work for their well-being and the health of the entire community. We are always to act in the cause of justice, never in the cause of self-interest and illicit gain. We must continually scrutinise our own motivations and actions and make sure we are not manipulating people and situations for our own gain, or supporting actions and systems that oppress or impoverish others. There is also, beyond the level of our possible individual culpability, the issue of wider social systems and structures that also need to be critiqued and held up to the scrutiny of the gospel and God’s call to justice.

Questions to Consider
How often do you scrutinise your motivations for what you do? How do you alter a bad motivation?

Prayer
Lord God, may I not shy away from the self-examination that reveals the true motives for my actions. Show me the truth of myself and the truth of who you are and how I am to act. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – A Stark Choice

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 2:6-11

Micah is God’s prophet, sent to deliver God’s message to his people. Micah now issues a stern challenge and rebuke to those who would ignore God’s message and even attempt to stand in his (God’s) way. Those we read about yesterday, those who plan and plot to steal from others, and who tyrannise and coerce them until they get what they want, they are the recipients of Micah’s challenge here. He is speaking on behalf of those who are suffering the depredations of the rich and powerful. Although scholars debate where exactly each of the multiple speakers in this passage begin and end, the challenge to those in power is clear: they accumulate wealth through nefarious means; they use their power to persecute others rather than pursue justice; and they live their lives as if they believe God doesn’t care about what they are doing and couldn’t stop them even if he did.

Micah’s offer to them: flee, for destruction is coming. The upright will hear God’s truth in Micah’s words and find guidance for how to live. For others, destruction is coming, but even then, as we will read tomorrow, that isn’t the end of the story either. The challenge to us is to make sure we walk upright before God and before our fellow human beings. We cannot retreat into a sealed Christian ghetto. Integrity, honesty, compassion, self-sacrificial love – these are to be the hallmarks of God’s people, even in a society in which the rich and powerful do otherwise; especially where they do otherwise.

Questions to Consider
How would Micah’s message go down in today’s society? In today’s church?

Prayer
Heavenly father, help me not only to hear your truth but to live your truth together with others, as your people, as a beacon of love and forgiveness in your rebellious world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – But There is Still Hope

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 2:12-13

This brief message of hope interrupts the message of judgement, telling of Yahweh himself coming to gather and lead a remnant to safety. These brief couple of verses suggest that deliverance is at hand for a handful of survivors, the remnant of verse 12. With Yahweh at their head, he has come to gather the survivors together, to lead them to safety. The fact that they are referred to as a remnant – survivors, if you like – suggests that judgement has come and they are now on the other side of it. It is highly unlikely that trouble has been taken to gather the survivors together in order to inflict further punishment upon them. Yahweh gathers them like a flock in a pen and then leads them out from the pen.

Another theological point is being made: judgement and salvation both come from God. The prophetic call, both here and throughout the Book of the Twelve (the collection of the books of the Twelve minor prophets – minor due to length, not importance), is one that calls the people to change their behaviour and turn back to follow the ways and precepts of their God because the fate of the nation hangs in the balance. They are called to change, and once it becomes clear that they won’t, judgement comes, judgement that cannot be avoided. The guilty will be held accountable for their behaviour. Injustice and exploitation will be punished; the wicked will be judged, and the poor and oppressed led to safety.

Questions to Consider
How does it feel to know that judgement and salvation both come from God? What relationship is there between the two?

Prayer
Loving Father, may we walk in solidarity with the poor and oppressed; may we only ever be agents of love, leading them to the safety of your embrace, to a just and fair world. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – A Prophet Laments

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 7:1-6

We jump forward to the beginning of the final chapter of the book of Micah, but as we will see, there is thematic reason to do so at this juncture. Chapter 2 saw God, through the prophet, scold his people for their sinfulness and promise destruction if they – the rich and powerful in particular – did not change their ways. We now skip ahead to the first part of chapter 7, where, appropriately enough in the light of what has gone before, we find Micah lamenting over the state of the nation and its people. All of society is in confusion and disorder. Again, injustice is highlighted as a significant issue and, again, the nation’s judges and officials are raked over the coals for their wickedness and impiety. But in an additional twist, Micah also decries the fact that, as well as the leaders’ failings, it seems that not even friends and family members can trust each other anymore.

Micah is lamenting. He is saddened, distraught even, over what he sees around him. He is not pulling his punches over the state of society and the iniquity of its people, and he holds nothing back in his condemnation of a society in which no one can trust anyone else, at any level of society, from government down to family and friends. But what he sees around him is cause for sorrow. He knows how things should be, he knows how people should be treating each other and who they should be positioning themselves towards but he does not see it. Anywhere. At all. What can he do other than literally cry to God?

Questions to Consider
Have you ever despaired over your neighbourhood/city/nation/society? Why? What resulted?

Prayer
Holy Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours. May love move me to tears and to action. May I look with compassion upon and act with love towards your hurting world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Prophet Waits

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 7:7

People could be forgiven for seeing in the litany of 7:1-6 a reflection of our society at this moment in time. Division, suspicion, oppression, injustice, lack of trust, dismissal of anything even tangentially related to God – we see a mixture of these elements, and more, spreading across the world, it seems with gathering speed. When faced with a society that has abandoned God and lost any sense of community, any sense of meaning and proportion, what are we, as people of faith, to do? Turn our backs and abandon society? Retreat into our own Christian enclaves and ghettoes and wait for God to move? Passively resist? Give up?

In response to a society in which no one trusts each other anymore and which no longer trusts in God, trusting is exactly what Micah chooses to do. In contrast to a society that has turned its back on its God, cast away his commandments and his covenant, and abandoned even the pretence of relying on his provision and care, Micah vows to wait for God, his saviour. Why? Because God has already spoken through the law and the prophets what is good and what is to be done, something that, through Micah himself, God has beautifully reiterated, as we shall see next week, in Micah 6:8: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. We need to wait on God, and while we do so, live the lives that he has called us to. Lives illustrative of and committed to justice, lives informed by kindness, lives lived humbly before our God, trusting that through our faithfulness and his spirit, those around us will see his light and his love shine through us.

Questions to Consider
Where do you see God moving in our world to remedy these problems? How are you a part of God’s solution?

Prayer
Lord God, guide us into a way of life and a way of love through which others will see you manifest in all we do. Shine your light and love in us. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)