You’ve probably heard countless pastors, speakers, authors, and other theologizers tell you, in one form or another, “Start with God,” and that’s exactly what Nahum does. Right off the bat, he paints us a prophetic picture of God: his character, his actions, and how he engages with his creation. But this isn’t a warm-and-fuzzy Joel-Osteen-style God. His primary aim is not your happiness, and insofar as he wants you to live your best life, that best life involves judgment, trial by fire, and grave consequences for any sins you may have committed. This God might conceivably be your friend–but he’s certainly not your buddy.
We just finished another minor prophet, so today we flip back to trying to learn new things about gratitude, or at least to remember things about gratitude that we’ve forgotten or haven’t thought about in awhile. Here’s the scene: David has just come back from victory over the Philistines and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. There, the citizens make offerings, David distributes food to them, and then Asaph the priest (who also wrote a bunch of the psalms) and his relatives offer thanks to God in the form of a psalm. Welcome back to another installment of our stupidly-named series Totally Hip Gratitude. I have made my bed, and now I must sleep in it. But what can we observe about this passage and what it shows us about thankfulness?
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.
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!
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.