That's the Book: Micah
Last week my mama felt sick. Doubled over pain, nothing fixes it kind of sick. Tuesday morning she ended up in the hospital being prepped for an emergency appendectomy. Surgery isn't fun. Hospitals are difficult places to spend a week. The doctors who read the report and diagnosis her situation weren't doing so to be mean. They saved her life.
Micah was a prophet whose message was primarily to the leaders of Israel. The political, religious and economic leaders were breaking the rules of commerce outlined in the covenant God gave the people. As a result, the poor people were being cheated and abused. The whole country was sick. God was not impressed and sent Micah with a diagnosis. Personally I like Micah. He speaks my second language. Sarcasm.
"If a liar and deceiver comes and says, "I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' that would be just the prophet for this people!" Micah 2:11
Can't you see him? I think Micah probably got the same kind of pushback from his peers that a prophet with a message about sin would have today in Las Vegas....or on twitter. A laugh and a sneer. In Micah's day there were false prophets being paid to tell people only what they wanted to hear.
We have that too. Our society excels at distraction, at self medication, at delusion. We are not so good at the diagnosis bit. Truth is we have a pride problem. A greed problem. We've got a rebellion problem. Recognize any of these symptoms? Laziness? Cruelty? Despair? It's a sin thing.
Beware a church or blogger or author who preaches a gospel without repentance. It's like telling someone on a sinking ship there is no need to worry about life boats. You know my mom? Imagine the doctor had been afraid to tell the truth. If he had reviewed the charts, had diagnosed her condition and then handed her a pain killer with a big smile and said "Don't worry! Nothing is wrong! Those symptoms are just society making you feel bad. Cover it up, ignore it. You're good". She would have died. End of story.
Before Jesus, I can tell you I was lost, blind, drowning, shackled. Pride, bitterness, selfishness, unfaithfulness. Find any list of symptoms in the Bible, I was on it. I covered up with a to do list, with control, with food, with detached daydreams. Any sin I skipped was mostly a lack of opportunity. I am so grateful for the people who told me how to be rescued rather than trying to convince me nothing needed to change. I'm forever grateful for Jesus. The savior.
Micah also has one of my favorite prophecies about the promised Messiah. Think Baby Jesus in the manger. And consider this was heaven's darling poured out for you. His origin is from the very beginning. God had a plan.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2
Just following a list of rules doesn't fix the heart. Last week I attended a local Celebrate Recovery group to hear a friend give her story. (Think AA with Jesus. You can find info HERE). I was so encouraged by the kindness in the room. By the honesty and hope. A good program to move through your stuff can help. Micah didn't just address the illness of Israel. He prescribed a good rehab program.
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:7-8
Want me to break that down? Here are some practical things I think about as I consider this well loved verse.
How I live matters. Not because of a list of rules. Because it shows the condition of my heart. Because it greatly impacts people around me. Acting justly requires me to not cheat. To watch and address my bias. To build bridges and ask tough questions. To love whom God loves. (Hint....He loves everyone).
Where my heart lives matters. Our pastor yesterday said that in order to have God hear us we must forgive others. He said when we harbor a heart of hate or bitterness we cut ourselves off from God. It's because God is full of love and mercy and grace. So we have nothing in common with him when we hate. You want to get better? Love mercy. Cheer on the ones doing the work of forgiveness. Not the ones being vengeful. Give second chances. Smile at people in courthouses and on work crew. Give grace. Let it go.
When I go on a walk with my spouse or my kids it forces me to slow down and breathe. I listen better on a walk. Fewer distractions. Bigger perspective. Walking humbly with God means the same thing. Space to listen. It involve taking the focus off me and mine mine mine. It means less of me and more of him.
When I left the hospital after my mom's surgery I was grateful. For doctors, for hospitals, for clean water, for medication. I felt the same way when I walked out of the Celebrate Recovery meeting. Grateful. For grace, for salvation, for the cross, for forgiveness. For community and truth. I was grateful for God.
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." Micah 7:7
Let me speak some truth today to you. If you are in pain, don't ignore it. If you look around and see your life causing grief and oppression to others, get help. Don't cover it up with sex, or medication, or food. I know it's hard to poke around and open those doors. I know it's scary and painful. But if you don't the consequences can kill you. And I know a way to get better.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the debts of the sea." Micah 7:18-19
Such a beautiful song. Zach Williams, Chain Breaker.
Yup. Another one from the Bible Project. These are great overviews. Read it and learn. Show your friends who think the Bible has nothing to do with their lives. Show your kids.
This is my favorite weighty justice book. If you want to move your faith out of the pew and into the streets where God wants it read this book. Be warned though. Your life may change. If you want a copy from Amazon click on the book. If you see me on a regular basis, ask and you can borrow my copy.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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