Today’s Passage: Micah 7
Today Micah signs off. In his parting words, he’s got hope for a better Israel and a better world. He’s not optimistic that God will bring it to fruition in his lifetime, but he does expect vindication against his enemies. When it comes, it won’t come on the basis of his own goodness, but God’s.
Micah also signs off with a confession.
The rampant evil in Israel has been a pervasive theme in Micah’s prophecies, and here he owns his role in perpetuating evil in his world, even as he speaks out against it. He tells us, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me” (9). He knows that, objectively speaking, he merits God’s indignation. Whatever wrongdoing he’s done is wrong because it’s a violation of the moral code that God built into the universe just as integrally as the laws of physics, and in the cosmic courtroom, he needs God to take the stand for him and argue for his part.
He believes God can pardon him while still executing justice. Maybe he even expects that God will do it by bearing his own indignation, paying the penalty himself in order to serve the sentence due to Micah. But he knows he needs God to go to bat for him. “Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me” (8), he confesses. He’s flawed, he has sinned, and the vague spots in his confession may come from ignorance of God’s methods, but he expects God will bring him out into the light precisely because God is righteous. Micah’s got faith, and because he’s got faith, he’s got hope.
Like most prophets, Micah concerns himself with the evil in the world, which naturally inclines us to consider the problem of evil, because on Chocolate Book that’s what we do. Some of the prophets express anger at God or put him on the stand for questioning, but not Micah. And whenever I see a person confront the evil in the world and not even for a second take God to task for it, I’ve started asking, “Why?” Are they just inclined to be charitable to God? Do they know something God’s accusers don’t?
Micah isn’t deeply philosophical about this issue, not the way a theologian like Augustine or C.S. Lewis might be, so my interpretation involves some speculation. But I think he understands that God, as the pre-existing and self-sufficient creator of the universe, also determines what’s true about it. Consider the set of all true propositions about the universe–we’ll call it set T. If morality exists, there is a subset of T that comprises all true moral propositions about the universe, such as “murder is evil” or “you shouldn’t kick other people in the shins just because you enjoy making people’s shins hurt, seriously, that’s just messed-up.” Call that subset M. Now if God is in fact ontologically prior to the universe, he determines what is true about it. Morality simply is what God makes it, based on what sort of universe it is. To put God on trial for being evil is to assert that God is not ontologically prior to the universe.
And I would particularly assert: that’s not the God Micah knows.
And with that said, it’s time for yet another much-beloved Chocolate Showdown! Today it’s Green & Black’s 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate vs. Endangered Species 88% Cocoa Dark Chocolate. The Green & Black’s has a snappier, crunchier texture with a bitter edge to its darkness. The Endangered Species, though, has a softer and smoother texture. Both have a strong, dark-chocolate flavor, but the Green & Black’s complements it with sweetness, while Endangered Species has a more pronounced vanilla taste. Which do I like better? I’m awarding my highly-coveted Medal of Preference to Green & Black’s.