Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Micah’s the sort of short book you can read in a week (it only has seven chapters), yet being filled with such varying bits of prophesy, I’ve found it a bit hard to get a handle on. Still, I’m determined to find something that I can remember the book for, other than just because its title happens to be the same as one of my friend’s kid’s names.

I could mark it in my head for its foretelling of the coming of Jesus, some 600 years in advance:

The LORD says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”

So the LORD will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then his fellow-countrymen who are in exile will be reunited with their own people. When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength of the LORD God himself.

- Micah 5:2-4a (Good News)

Well, God or no God, in 600 years there was probably going to be someone who said that at some point. Law of averages.

Alternatively, I might focus in on what Micah predicted would become of God’s people after Jesus’ arrival:

His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness, and he will bring peace.

- Micah 5:4b-5a (Good News)

The people of Israel who survive will be like refreshing dew sent by the LORD for many nations, like showers on growing plants. They will depend on God, not man.

-Micah 5:7 (Good News)

(I’m picking just the bits that I want to look at here)

Well, many Christians hardly live in safety today, and we definitely don’t have peace yet. However taken together, these extracts do sum up the huge change that took place in the church after Jesus had shown up.

Previously, God had taught Israel by giving them instructions, including to sacrifice whatever was most important to them. For most people, this meant giving up their best source of income - their best animals. That really required faith, to trust that God would sustain them without it. It really forced a decision to choose which was more important - material things, or God. Also, implicit in that, was an understanding of right and wrong.

Unfortunately they had followed these instructions to the point where they had lost sight of the lessons contained therein. Sacrificing the animals had become a ritual - no faith required, or consideration of right and wrong. Without that fundamental understanding of putting God first, they didn't put God first in the rest of their lives either. They divided against themselves, and ultimately lost everything.

Social justice is far more important to God than just blindly following bureaucratic rules.

So Jesus didn’t restore things to simply repeat the same exercise we’d flunked. He could have just given us a new set of instructions to follow and gradually suck all understanding out of. He didn't.

He taught us the same lesson of putting God first, and examining right and wrong, with a different example. He told stories. He answered questions with questions, to provoke people to examine right and wrong. He taught by example.

Micah’s on the same page, metaphorically, if not literally:

Will the LORD be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or endless streams of olive-oil? Shall I offer him my first-born child to pay for my sins? No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.

- Micah 6:7-8 (Good News)

Today God’s nation is not geographical (with our antagonistic borders and armies etc.), but philosophical, and ‘foreigners’ are still welcome to join, and sacrifice stuff to God for the same underlying reason - to make sure that God is more important to us than those things.

You’ve got to wonder why God didn’t start out this way. The arguable success of God’s later plan rather implies that the earlier one was not as good. Why didn’t he emphasise this kindness to others thing back in Leviticus? Oh yeah, yeah that’s right he did, throughout chapter 19...

Well he should have made it clearer. Oh, I’m just whinging.

With infinite power, God has no need to ever repeat himself anyway.

And let’s not forget the most obvious difference of all between the two plans – every single living person back then was different.

One facet that both plans share though is that, to work, they both require a response from us. That would be why the earlier plan didn’t last then. Same with the garden of Eden one. I would argue that God’s plan for the church that we see happening today, is also dependent upon us, and is therefore also failing to some extent. There are enough of us, including me, still getting it wrong.

Final lesson, containing everything that everyone could be today, must surely go to the end of the book though:

There is no other god like you, O LORD; you forgive the sins of your people who have survived. You do not stay angry for ever, but you take pleasure in showing us your constant love. You will be merciful to us once again. You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea! You will show your faithfulness and constant love to your people, the descendants of Abraham and Jacob, as you promised our ancestors long ago.


0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **