This chapter of Micah has stuck in my mind over the years. Matthew points to it as a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6), and I think it may have been Matthew’s reference to Micah that originally brought me here. I remember reading the verses in the lower-left corner of the page in the blue-covered Bible I had at the time, reading the lines, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (2). That idea struck me as incredibly cool: Jesus Christ’s work in time and space and his involvement in our human world were ancient, primeval, reaching even further back than his appearance on earth two thousand years ago.
Sometimes I wonder just how typical my youth group was of youth groups in the 90s. A big part of the culture was the push to get out of your comfort zone. Whether evangelism, or service projects, or leading a Bible Study, everyone was striving to be Peter on the water, walking out to Jesus; the prevailing catch phrase was “Get out of the boat.” I bought into it, in word and deed disdaining that oft-reviled “comfort zone,” but as soon as I left for college, I severely dialed back my zeal for discomfort. And in retrospect, I think it was because a part of me was never entirely on board with getting out of the boat.
I’m pretty sure the only reason Amos 1 and 2 aren’t a single chapter is to keep the chapters short enough to read in under two minutes. Remember the formula from the first chapter? “For three transgressions of Nation X and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they did Terrible Thing Y, so I will send fire upon the wall of Nation X and it will consume her citadels, garnish as necessary with additional judgments?” In this chapter it continues. However, it only runs through one foreign nation (Moab) before turning to Israel and Judah. Yes, that’s right. For all the attention God gives the heathens abroad for the abuse they’ve heaped on his people, now he’s turning his attention to his people’s own biggest abusers: themselves.
Joel may not spell out Israel’s sins as explicitly as Hosea does, but he certainly spells out the sins of the foreign nations.
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled trip through the minor prophets to bring you a new series: Totally Hip Gratitude. In this study, we’ll examine the topic of thankfulness, and we’re going to intersperse installments of it between prophets. To kick the study off, we’re going to look at a few passages from Leviticus, as well as a few passages where thankfulness doesn’t directly come up.
I’m wary of drawing analogies between our present-day situations and those in the Bible. Sometimes the Bible isn’t about you. Moses’ story doesn’t exist solely so you can draw parallels between the Exodus and your putting in your two weeks’ notice at your old job. God made Moses a unique individual and called him to a specific historical purpose; he had a particular relationship with God, and he isn’t just a vehicle for our modern-world metaphors. That said, man: if Hosea 13 doesn’t seem to me like it could be about 21st-century America.
Pre-industrial agriculture is one of those aspects of the ancient world that I know next to nothing about. I have no hands-on farming experience, but I know enough about it to know I’m glad I don’t have to know about it. Plowing is hard work. Sowing is hard work. There’s a reason they call all the farm activity that gets done before sunrise “hell to breakfast,” and weeding the flower beds is about all the horticulture I can handle, thank you very much. If God had put me in the fifth century instead of the twenty-first, I guess I’d have to get my hands dirty and sweat out ten-hour days just to eat. But thank God I don’t.