Wednesday

08 July 2015

“Therefore because of you, Zion shall be ploughed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.” (v. 12)

Psalm: Psalm 37:30-40

Background

Truth can sometimes be very difficult to speak, and even more difficult to hear. The words of the prophet Micah certainly do not make easy reading and would have had a disturbing impact on those who first encountered them. But however uncomfortable, it was a message that needed to be shared. Micah was speaking at a crucial time in the history of God's people; on the surface things seemed fine - Jerusalem was a prestigious city and at its heart was the temple of Zion; a symbol of God's rule and presence. There were plenty of people around who were willing to assure the population that all was well.

But in reality, things were far from well. Micah foresaw a time when the holy temple would be nothing but a ploughed field and Jerusalem reduced to rubble. It was not long before his chilling vision became a reality; the nation was overrun by enemy armies and its people taken into exile.

Some might argue that this was all an inevitable consequence of the political instability that prevailed at the time, but Micah takes an altogether different view. His vision is of a nation that depends upon God for its wellbeing; a God who places justice at the very centre of their life and identity. And he recognises that these principles of justice have been abandoned in almost every aspect of society. His oracles describe corruption, oppression of the poor, abuse of the vulnerable and a systemic culture of self-interest and greed.

Yet his greatest criticism is often reserved for those who remain silent in the face of such realities; not least those who hold religious office and responsibility (verses 9-12). He condemns prophets who are too willing to simply say the things that the wealthy and influential want to hear, and priests who provide their services only to those who can offer financial reward.

Micah is clear that a nation where injustice is rife, and whose spiritual leaders have become complicit in its escalation, has no viable future. Even though it can be costly, he invites us to acknowledge injustice and work to address it. His predictions feel harsh and difficult, but history offers a sobering account of their accuracy.

 

To Ponder

  • What might Micah say about our own nation and world today?
  • What should God's people refuse to be silent about today?

 

Bible notes authors: Andrew Bradstock and Phil Jump (members of the Joint Public Issues Team: Baptist, Methodist, United Reformed Church and Church of Scotland working together)

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