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.
I didn’t get Friday’s post done on Friday. I just checked on timeanddate.com’s World Clock, and it’s not Friday anywhere in the world right now. So, here I am, breaking my principles and blogging on the Sabbath. Of course, my tongue is in cheek as I say that, because I don’t believe for a second that it’s inherently wrong to read the Bible and write words in any medium about it on any day of the week. And I think I can get this post out without breaking the Sabbath! All I have to do is be very careful not to do any work as I write it. It may be tricky, and it might even take work, but with determination and hard work, we can put up a Chocolate Book post without working.
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.
You probably already know a verse from Micah. You know the expression “beating swords into plowshares?” Maybe you own the Magic: the Gathering card. Well, the idiom comes from Micah 4:3: “Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” You may not have known that you knew a verse from Micah, but there it is. And if you didn’t know before, now you do. We all can say together, “We know that Micah is the book with the ‘swords to plowshares’ verse.”
Lies! Lies and cannibalism!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Micah reminds us of Amos in parts. After all, the messages in these books aren’t Micah’s or Amos’s, or any other prophet’s. They’re God’s messages, and the prophet is simply a person who heard the message from God and bought into it enough to tell it to the people it was for. People are people, and at some times in history, we see people spreading a social epidemic of oppression, corruption, and exploitation of the poor. Amos lived in such times. So did Micah.
Hoo boy. No sooner had I hit verse two of Micah than I was saying, “I can’t handle any more of this.” It feels like the minor prophets are just judgment after judgment, a divine lament of Israel’s protracted moral degradation and a statement of the inevitable consequences. And they’re not even told as narrative: it’s like if an entire book took the form of the protagonist’s impassioned speech at the climax. The book of Micah isn’t the story of Micah and God and Israel. It’s what God had to say to Israel through Micah. And it doesn’t open on an especially rough note, but the constant truth and consequences of the prophets can wear on a guy.