13 August 2019Micah 4:1-8
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. (v. 3)
Psalm: Psalm 26
It is easy to read this passage and get caught up in the ‘famous words’. They are truly moving and yet they are part of a longer passage. A passage of ‘what will happen’ and ‘what might be’. Notice that these words are not rooted in a favourable analysis of their situation. This isn’t political speak to reassure, ‘Don’t worry it’s all going to be OK despite evidence to the contrary!’ This type of positive thinking is optimism. It sees the half empty glass and spins the narrative that it is ‘half full’. Micah, however, looks into the darkness and sees the light of hope; something that comes from outside the situation. Optimism is the product of a positive take on reality. Hope is the result of a promise, beyond the situation, one that is trustworthy. This hope, rising from a promise that is believed, results in a new way of living. It sets those who hope at odds with the way things are, by holding before them the promise of how things are going to be. Because of hope they ‘live as if’ in the present, out of step with the dreary reality they face.
Hope that arises from a promise that is trusted is the basis of this ethic of peace. It relies wholly on the trustworthiness of the promise. There is nothing else to go on. There is nothing in their situation to suggest that disarming is a good idea. It is only because a faithful God promises that they can be freed from their violent present. Some people see prophecy as essentially a prediction about the future. In some ways, however, it is the very opposite. Prediction sets out the future onto a certain track, and whatever we do, the future will happen. Prophecy, however, is a promise that challenges the certain, joyless track of the present, and opens it up to wonderful new possibilities. It calls for new ways of being as we are called to live ‘as if’ in the ‘not yet’!
- Consider some of the promises of the Good News that mean much to you.
- What hope do they encourage in you?
- How can you live differently now in the light of that hope?