Sunday, January 01, 2017

Reading Through Micah

(I saw the hematologist yesterday and now have a testing regimen set up for the next couple weeks. I am thanking God that we can get the testing done so quickly. I am hoping that the tests will reveal an issue that can be dealt with fairly quickly. We shall see. I appreciate your prayers)

Hosea to MicahMicah is one of the best known books of the Minor Prophets because of its prophecy of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. We will read through it accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. A contemporary of Isaiah, Micah follows him in warning Jerusalem of God’s judgment through Assyria and encouraging them with a vision of the future coming kingdom. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

The book of Micah is a difficult book to organize. Shank organizes the book around three questions that deal with God's judgment, God's presence and God's requirements for relationship. Jerusalem had failed to understand these questions and so was facing God's judgment. Micah preached as the Assyrians began their invasion of Judah and besieged Jerusalem. Hezekiah responded to Micah's prophecy with repentance and reform and the exile was delayed almost 100 years. Micah also prophecies a return and golden far future for Israel.

Presenting a God who both punishes and forgives, Micah explores the nature of the sin that brings judgment, the way God communicates—or refuses to communicate—with humanity, and what the people must do to receive his forgiveness.
374

Chapters 1 and 2 answer the question “Is God responsible for the destruction we face?” Micah asserts "yes he is." The false prophets counter with the idea that God gives only good but forget that good comes only within the bounds of the covenant and trusting in God's provision. Judgment, generally, comes from the sin of the people who willingly remove themselves from God's protection and receive the consequences of their unfaithfulness.

The LORD’s kingly duties, however, include both blessing and cursing. Someday the LORD will lead his people home from exile; here it is also the LORD who takes them into exile. Israel will not be taken into exile because of the LORD’s inability to prevent it; rather the judgment and exile they experience is the work of their own God. Micah 2.13, 402

Chapters 3-5 answer the question, “How do we know God is with us?” The answer does not come from having many idols or temples, but from a daily walking with God. This is when we see God working in both discipline and blessing. Micah looks forward to a day when God's presence will be clearly seen in a world that keeps covenant. Chapter 5 climaxes the section with God's promise of a future strong Davidic king who will lead the nation to complete its role of bringing blessing to the nation and purging the world of sin and its effects. This ultimately points to Jesus, but each generation in Israel would have been hoping that each new king would fulfill this prophecy.

In Micah’s vision, however, Israel will know that God is with them because they will be walking with him. The other nations can walk with their false gods; Israel will know the true God. Micah 4.5, 413

Whether it is the secular society building its faith on a negative answer to the question, “How do we know God is with us?” or the faith community wondering if their positive answer is correct, Micah’s response is relevant: God does exist. At the moments when we least expect God, Micah confirms God’s presence. Micah 4.11-13, 417–418

The dominating theme of these verses is that the victory comes not from Israel’s military power, but from their king. Their king will seem as powerful as seven shepherds appear to a flock of sheep, as dominating as eight leaders would be to one nation. Micah 5.2-6, 423

Micah 6-7 replies to the last question, “What does God want from us?” (428) In chapter 6 God puts the nation on trial regarding their covenant justice, loyal love (hesed), and humble submission to covenant boundaries (6.8), and finds them guilty. He then calls them to confession which would lead to forgiveness. However, the nation refuses to respond. Micah, in chapter 7, looks around him and sees nothing but deceit and oppression. However, the book ends with Micah reminding himself of God's care and promises for the nation and commits himself to active waiting and trust in God's plan.

With the entire world watching, the LORD puts both himself and Israel on trial in the case of the LORD v. Israel...If anything, the LORD’s words in 6:1–5 are the summation before the jury, but, unlike a trial which ends with sentencing, this judicial scene ends with a call for rehabilitation. Ultimately, the LORD is not interested in punishment; he wants people who will be like him and walk with him. The LORD will punish, however, if Jerusalem does not obey (6:9–16). Micah 6, 428

Even when our attempts to seek and save the lost, to show mercy, or to be servants meet resistance or simply fail, we find comfort in knowing that we travel Micah’s road. Beyond that, we learn from him how to commit our waiting to the mission, to prayer, and ultimately to God. We readily join him at his watchman’s post, seeking the salvation of God. Micah 7, 439

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