This was a world where the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. With a surge of refugees coming in, making the place feel overpopulated and overwhelming to what they were used to, it was easy to take advantage of not only their hard work, but their fear. Everyone was fearful for what felt like impending doom, and so not only the foreigner, but they themselves found played by their fear, pushed out of their spaces by those more wealthy than they. Dishonesty was everywhere, and since the name of the game was self-protection, prophet, priest, judge, and ruler were all in on it together; they could make a dollar by treading on the weak in their midst with a religious justification ready to be made. No matter what, they were safe from the enemies around them because of their great armies.
This is the world of Micah.
If you are a Christ follower feeling the gut-wrenching dissonance between what is happening in our nation by those calling themselves bible believing and the faith we know and cling to, you will most certainly find a home in the prophets. The above world mentioned does not feel too far off from what we see and hear around us.
Not only did these things happen in the city of Jerusalem, a seeming far cry from their sister now called Samaria, overtaken no doubt due to their false worship and failure to uphold the covenant, but also in the fertile lowlands, the home of our prophet.
Actually, Micah and his message was regularly called “fake news.” His words did not tickle ears in the ways that others taught and preached.
Micah was a minor prophet with a lot of hard things to say, but he also said them with tears in his eyes. As he saw the heinous sins of his family members, he wept, mourned, lamented, because these were his people, these were God’s people. It is not as if these people he spoke to were not religious, but actually, the most religious you could get. The inconsistency seemed to be blatant, to only a small few.
Earlier this week, and unfortunately, has been the story since the beginning within our Church bodies, we have seen the downfall of some very big and well-known church leaders due to habitual and utterly harmful, unrepentant sin. With women time and time again silenced and misused, the many weak and poor within our churches pushed out, we see with clear and vivid eyes the reality of those who don’t take the covenant to heart: to follow means to love God and love neighbor, not one or the other.
What sort of people could we be if we believed the whole covenant, and not part? This covenant draws us closer to God, not through mere ritual, not for simply our benefit, and not for what we could get out of it, but because of who he is and what he has done. What if we approached our communities in the same way, obeying God and his commands because they are more beautiful than our darkened hearts, seeking after the lost, the weakest, the lonely, the poorest? This covenant draws us closer to true abundance, not our own manufactured version of it; God’s call to die to ourselves not starting after the Gospels, but from the very start of time as he clothes our nakedness and wretchedness, as he walks through the bloody pieces for us.
You will know them by their fruit—fruit found in dependence, not independence. These fruits bring shalom into chaos, birthing resurrection hope, love when all seems lost. Wake up, O sleeper.