Saturday 11 July 2015

Bible Book:

Micah 7:1-20 Saturday 11 July 2015

Psalm: Psalm 100


Imagine yourself standing in an abandoned orchard - its gnarledand twisted trees are overgrown and unkept; what little fruit theystill bear is inedible; riddled with insects and spoiled bydisease. The prophet Micah imagined himself in a similar place -standing in a vineyard, where the few grapes it bore, had longsince been stripped from the vines.

This was Micah's vision of the future. It might have been aquite literal one - he had already been outspoken about the greed,consumption and self-interest of society; a vineyard stripped bareby those who just grabbed what they could, with little concern fortending the vines for next year's harvest, would be a typicaloutcome.

But the vine was also a well-recognised image that representedthe nation of God's people. Perhaps Micah's vision was more of ametaphor; seeing himself as part of a society that had beenstripped bare and left fruitless by its abandonment of justice,truth and common good.

Faith has to be lived out in the real world; a world that cantake its toll on us; that can both press us into its mould andinflict us with its own damage. Micah has been uncomfortably clearabout the bleak future that faces God's people; his words nowacknowledge that he too has to live within that society, and cannotescape its judgement.

His tone has somewhat changed; having been critical of thefailures of its spiritual leaders, and corruption and inequality inits legal and economic spheres, having even challenged itsreligious activities, Micah turns his attention to the socialfabric of society.

He portrays a violent and self-seeking environment whereeconomic failure pitches individuals against one another. Hedescribes corrupt civic authorities that harm rather than helpthose who turn to them; even family life has been torn apart bymistrust, envy and self-interest. Micah's message has stretchedfrom impending war and invasion to damaged and broken communities,yet at the heart of his wide-ranging catalogue of woe is one simplereality -the nation has abandoned the laws of God.

What he describes, we might well call a moral breakdown, but itis important to note that in his earlier writings he attributes theroot, even of this, as an abandonment of God's justice. His messageis simple - when justice is abandoned, every aspect of societyfalls apart.

Micah's oracles do not make easy reading - but he does not standat a distance to condemn his world, but places himself at itsheart. He knows that he will have to suffer the consequences ofothers' wrongdoing, but faced with the choice, he does not shrughis shoulders and seek to protect his own interests, but ratherresolutely sets his intent to stand firm in his faith and trust inGod.

To Ponder

  • Where do you feel that society seeks to press you into itsmould? How can you stand firm in your own faith in suchcircumstances?
  • Where do you see the consequences of injustice in your owncommunity and context?
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