Micah 4

Readings for this week November 11 – 15
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Day 1 – A Change of Pace

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 4:1-5

We now come upon an interlude that, tonally, contrasts markedly with the preceding chapters of Micah. The first three chapters of Micah spoke of condemnation and judgement: the people, including the religious and political leaders, had turned away from God, corruption was rife, society was corroding, and therefore God’s just punishment was coming. The message of the book has been fairly bleak up to this point. But now we move to an editorial interregnum of hope and peace. The promises given in this chapter may be for a day that is far off in the distant future, but they focus on two central themes: the importance of Jerusalem (thus showing that even Micah’s shocking announcement of Jerusalem’s destruction is not the end of the story), and the inclusion of all the nations of the earth among the people who will flock to the city to meet God there.

The nations will recognise God as a great teacher, one who teaches how to live life under his guidance. Because of God’s presence in Jerusalem, the word of God – his wisdom – will flow from the city to all who seek it, and who seek him. He is the ultimate judge, who judges wisely and fairly, and for the benefit of all and the purpose of bringing peace. The inhabitants of the land will be at peace with the surrounding nations. God was never going to abandon his people. Punishment was not to be the end of the story. Consequences would have to be endured, yes, but restoration, peace and the flourishing of the nation – and the nations – was God’s ultimate plan.

Question to Consider
What is the contrasting picture between this chapter and the earlier chapters of Micah?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for your message of hope, even in the midst of destruction. Help us hold to hope and trust in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Swords into Ploughshares

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 4:3

“[A]n Anglican bishop in Mozambique decided to do something about the proliferation of arms in his country towards the end of a civil war that decimated the nation. He went to every province and asked people what they thought might jeopardize peace in the future. One person responded: “Guns, we have so many guns in our hands. Both sides have been very generous in dishing out guns just like that, so when peace comes are those guns going to be just left alone?” The bishop was not prepared for this question but after much prayer and reflection he received his theological answer from the books of Micah and Isaiah. The following day he announced that disarmament from a biblical perspective would begin, and he issued a request that guns would be returned to collection centres throughout the land. The guns would then be made unusable and exchanged for instruments for production. Since this program started over one million guns and other weapons have been collected and transformed. The program was called “Turning Swords into Ploughshares.” To inspire the future generation, children were encouraged to bring their toy guns to church, where they were smashed, and they were given in exchange toys that did not inspire violence.

“A particularly powerful illustration of the same principle emerges from World War II…An American army chaplain made a set of communion cups from machine gun bullets by extracting the lead and the gunpowder and turning the resulting cases into receptacles for wine, representing the blood of Christ. When he shared communion with a Japanese minster after the war, the lesson was not lost. Bullets that were intended to harm and kill became instruments of life and peace and reconciliation. Whereas the machine gun bullet was once intended to produce blood and death, it had been transformed to contain a drink of everlasting life.”

Stephen G. Dempster, Micah, p.260.

Question to Consider
How can we actively and practically bring peace to our world?

Prayer
Loving Father, may we bring peace to this troubled world by being active agents of justice and reconciliation in every corner of your world. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Remnant

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 4:6-8

For Micah, his message – God’s message – is not just about warning and judgement, and the future arrival of devastating catastrophe. There is also a message of hope, words of support and promise for the remnant community that survives the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying off of the Judahite survivors into captivity and exile in Babylon. As well as this double message of judgement and hope, there is also the fact that the book of Micah (as well as a significant number of other books in the Hebrew scriptures) were collated and edited together at a later date, often only reaching their final form long after the prophet has delivered his oracles. They were collected and edited by a community that was in exile, that had already undergone the very catastrophe Micah was warning about.

God promised, through Micah, that he would not abandon them, even though they would suffer through the punishment their spiritual hubris had brought down upon them. Before, during and after, he would be with them, no matter what happened. His faithfulness to his people was not in question, even if theirs to him was. The fact is the compilers of the book of Micah were living in exile, yes, but this was the very time God had promised his people that he would be with them. They were living witnesses to the fact that God had warned them of the catastrophe that had fallen upon them; but they were also witnesses to the fact that God had not abandoned his faithful followers. He was still with them and would remain so. He can be trusted. His promises do come to pass.

Question to Consider
What does talk of a remnant that will be restored mean to you?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, God of restoration and renewal, remember me when your kingdom comes and all is made new. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – The Importance of Faithfulness

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 4:9-12

Is destruction and ruin always needed before deliverance can come? And if so, for whom is such destruction earmarked? All those not God’s people? God’s people too? Anyone found to fall short of God’s requirements and who ignores his commands, no matter who they are and what people they belong to? These questions, today, should give us pause, and halt us from giving a glib, unthinking answer that automatically assumes that only God’s enemies (and the enemies of God’s people) are being referred to.

As interesting as that question is, and as important as the answer may be to us, the issue is really more about our obedience and faithfulness to a God who has always been – and will always be – faithful to his people, even if such faithfulness requires administering occasional judgement and correction on his part. Perhaps deliverance and restoration do require destruction – but only because, however dire the consequences of our actions and however just judgement may be, God will always be true to his word, he will punish iniquity, deal with sin – and still restore his people. The real question is: what will his people do in the meantime? How will they live? Micah presents two possible ways in which people can respond. One is a litany of vice, selfishness, Godlessness, oppression, injustice and corruption. The other way is a simple call to justice, kindness, mercy and love for God and neighbour. Those who follow this way need not fear destruction. God will have the last word.

Question to Consider
What do you think you would like God to remove from your life so you can become more obedient to him?

Prayer
Almighty God, may we always follow the call to justice, no matter where it leads. May others know us for our kindness, justice and mercy. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Past, Present and Future

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 4:13-14

The book of Micah, and the rest of the Book of the Twelve, is a good example of the coherence of God’s prophetic message and of its relevance and importance beyond the specific places and times it may be directly referring to. Past, present and future are all woven into the tapestry of Micah and the other Minor Prophets. Past events, present concerns and warnings, the arrival of prophesied future punishment as well as promised hope and restoration – all combine together and influence each other and illustrate the coherence of God’s message. It is this coherence, and the lessons and instructive wisdom that we can glean from these messages – about the nature and character of God and about ourselves – that make the prophets important for us today.

Reading about the past informs the present. We learn that current circumstances have a history. There is a discernible path that leads to where we are today. The readers of Micah in exile could see that previous generations had refused to listen to God’s message. The decisions of the past affected the(ir) present. They would have read about how God delivered on his promise of judgement, at the same time as experiencing God’s promise to be with them in exile. And their decisions in the present will affect the future. How will they live now? Will they choose to remain faithful? Will they remain watchful against corruption and injustice? Will they listen to the words of God and live as he has called them to? Will we?

Questions to Consider
How are the prophets and their message a part of the regular rhythms of your life? What do we learn from them about God and ourselves?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, may your words sink deep into my heart; may they manifest themselves in my love as a sign of your transforming power in my life and of your love for all people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)