Warning as Gift

As we met the prophet Micah only two weeks ago, we got a small taste for the context in which he spoke to, helping us to take baby bites of this book that can feel more than confusing at times to grasp and understand.

“Do not preach”—thus they preach—“one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Has the LORD grown impatient? Are these his deeds? Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?
— Micah 2:6-7

Others did not like Micah’s words, especially those words that did not sound so sweet, bringing to light the sin and blood on their hands, the hard hearts in their many sacrifices in God’s holy temple making no room for real change or repentance. We shy away from truth in hope for love, but not God’s love, rather, what our world has called love: the lie that says that one must agree with all I do in order to truly love me. This kind of love has destroyed relationships, including many in their relationship with God. The broad place then becomes a balance beam, one we made ourselves.

If we’re being honest, we join in with those crowds in loving words that affirm all we do, sticking our noses up at anything that could say something different. Protecting our idols instead of allowing God to strip us of the scales on our eyes makes it clear that we are still prone to wander.

If someone is criticizing you and the criticism is mostly mistaken, identify the 20 percent of the indictment that is fair. Without excuse be willing to take it to heart. The strongest Christians are the ones most willing to repent.
— Timothy Keller

As we step back into Leviticus 26, we find some ground rules as it pertains to the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience as laid out as terms in the covenant between Israel and Yahweh. In comparing these blessings and curses, the curses there are found explicit here in Micah, laid out as a warning, as an invitation to repent and turn, the whoring Judah so invested in their prosperous lovers that they sold their soul. Loving their God seemed right and easy to do, but allowing their love for God to impact their love for neighbor was disconnected. They found other “prophets” who would coddle these beliefs, helping them to cling tightly to their mass amounts of gold and other people’s calves.

They believed with fervor, but their faith was lopsided in its content. Their very complacency was a symptom of a widespread disregard of God’s moral demands upon His people… For Micah, character expressed in social conduct is a better guide than creed or race to identifying God’s true people.
— Leslie Allen

The way we behave comes out of what we believe. We either trust and know God as he has revealed himself to be, or we make god out to be what we’d prefer, holding on to what is comfortable instead of allowing what is uncomfortable to shape us from the hands of the One who made us. We cherry-pick around what we want to hear and what we’d rather not obey, forgetting that the grace that saved us is still doing that work, grace that brings godly grief bearing repentance.

Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

In this upside-down Kingdom, even the sins that I commit do not need to have a hold on me, as they can once more be a vessel that causes my downtrodden face to behold Christ. Every hour, I need Him. As I long for holiness, I look at Who holiness is, the one who defines and embodies holiness, rather than creating those rules for myself. Repentance is a glorious and sweet gift, the softening of this heart of stone becoming soft clay in these bends and breaks. The news of a hard diagnosis never feels good, but it is in embracing this hard reality, the hard truth, that makes it possible to accept the treatment plan, possible to heal.

As Micah leans in to the sins of his family around him, tears streaming down his cheeks, may we hear and heed the warnings God has for us today in His Word living and active, broken for us literally in His Son, calling us into repentance and true life in Him.