Today’s reading: Micah 1-7.
Each of us has a worldview, an understanding of how things work. For some it’s a crafted philosophy. For others it’s based on assumptions that are never consciously considered. But all worldviews seek to answer the basic questions of life:
- How did I get here?
- What went wrong?
- Can this be fixed?
All the “isms” aim to provide answers to these questions. As an example, communism would say that things went wrong when owners oppressed workers to extract wealth, and that the way to fix things is to take away rights of property and make everyone equal in producing and consuming. Capitalism, in contrast, would say that the problem began when governments gave advantages to privileged or protected producers, and that the way to solve the problem is to empower entrepreneurs by giving them unregulated access to markets.
The people of Israel knew how we got here. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They were not so understanding about what went wrong or how to fix it, but Micah knew the answers and was not afraid to share them.
The people were unrepentant sinners.
Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance. Therefore, the LORD says: “I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves.” Micah 2:1-3
God was beginning to judge them.
Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. Micah 6:13-15
God would soon destroy their home.
Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us.” Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets. Micah 3:11-12
God would send a shepherd to redeem them.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” … He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. Micah 5:2-5
The people will one day repent of their sin and return to God.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. Micah 7:8-9
God will forgive them.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago. Micah 7:18-20
God will then restore their nation.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. Micah 4:1-3
Our Christian worldview begins with the recognition that we were created by God. We are here by God’s will, not chance, and so our first duty is to him. Man marred God’s perfect creation by sinning, and our transgressions continue. All that’s wrong with the world flows out of our disobedience. Yet God, in mercy, provided a way for our guilt to be removed. The shepherd born in Bethlehem will lead not only the Jews, but all who believe in him, to the Promised Land of fellowship with God.
“The promise of the Redeemer at first was vaguely general ( Gen 3:15 ). Then the Shemitic division of mankind is declared as the quarter in which He was to be looked for ( Gen 9:26, 27 ); then it grows clearer, defining the race and nation whence the Deliverer should come, namely, the seed of Abraham, the Jews (Gen 12:3 ); then the particular tribe, Judah ( Gen 49:10 ); then the family, that of David (Psa 89:19, 20 ); then the very town of His birth, here. And as His coming drew nigh, the very parentage ( Mat 1:1-17, Luk 1:26-35, 2:1-7 ); and then all the scattered rays of prophecy concentrate in Jesus, as their focus ( Hbr 1:1, 2 ).” A. R. Fausset
“Israel’s deliverance from her long travail-pains of sorrow will synchronize with the appearance of Messiah as her Redeemer ( Rom 11:26 ) in the last days … when Christ, having been preached for a witness to all nations, shall at last appear as the Deliverer of Jacob, and when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, and Israel as a nation shall be born in a day ( Isa 66:7-11, Luk 21:24, Rev 12:1, 2, 4; compare Rom 8:22 ).” A. R. Fausset
Image by @sage_solar on Flickr, CC by 2.0