Micah

Good morning! The seven chapters of Micah compose our full reading today. This prophet comes from Judah in the south, around the same time as Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. He experiences the fall of Israel, and is familiar enough with its cities to invoke them in these chapters. We may be most familiar with Micah 6:8 (a powerful and compact summary of God’s desire for human behavior), but there’s more to this prophet. He entwines oracles about divine judgment with others of divine restoration, conveying trust that though the path of righteousness leads to hardship sometimes, God will see the righteous through to a pleasant reward.

Right from the beginning, Micah lays out the divine case against Samaria because of the shrine set up there for Israel. The city will be flattened and its idols destroyed. (Note that even though Samaria was destroyed multiple times, its people remained a specific community—Samaritans—at the time of Jesus and even down into modern times. Judah too comes in for rebuke, largely for social sins like covetousness, exploitation, bribery, and falsely seizing the land of poorer folks. Micah 3 lays out the sins of a corrupt “church and state” (so to speak), where both kings and prophets put their own interests ahead of the people. Micah condemns the deceitful trade of those in power, scorns the wealthy, and is the voice of God detailing how the nation will be punished for their immorality. Idolatry will lead nowhere, other than working hard and going through all the right motions, but never feeling truly fulfilled.

While it’s a foolish era, there is hope for a righteous remnant, whom God will gather into a protective folks like sheep. Obedience to God’s word is the better way to prosperity and hope. Micah 4 sounds a bit like an enthronement psalm, describing the temple as the highest of mountains and a destination to which all the world streams for wisdom. At the time when God vindicates the righteous, all the underdogs will become top dogs. The preeminent example of this found in Micah 5, where little Bethlehem is promised “from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel”. This ruler (later interpreted as Jesus) leads the whole of Israel to protect the poor and care for the nation. What matters to God more than anything else, even temple sacrifices, is justice, mercy and humility. Micah’s closing word contends that God’s mercy is more durable than God’s wrath. Divine compassion will follow the judgment that comes to Israel, casting “all our sins into the depths of the sea”. Happy reading!

Read Micah. Note that the link here is only for chapters 1-3—for copyright reasons, you will need to click the button at the bottom of the linked page to read Micah 4-7.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Nahum and Habakkuk. Thanks for reading!

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