ImmerseProphets - Page 53



IMMERSED IN MICAH
T H E N A M E M I C A H means
“Who is like Yahweh?” So it shouldn’t come as
a surprise that Micah’s short book of prophetic oracles focuses on God’s
unique character, especially in the context of his covenant relationship
with his people.
Because God is holy and wants his people to be a light to the world,
Micah warns his compatriots in Judah that God is about to judge and
punish them for their unfaithfulness. Like the people of the northern
kingdom of Israel, the people of Judah were exploiting the poor, violating the protections for the vulnerable built into the Law of Moses.
“How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and
weights?” God asks through Micah. “The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence.” And so, Micah warns,
“Mount Zion will be plowed like an open field; Jerusalem will be reduced to ruins!”
But Micah’s messages do not end with judgment. The Lord of the
covenant is above all else the God who offers forgiveness, compassion,
and loyalty to his people. Micah emphatically affirms that God will keep
his promises to heal and restore. Once again in the prophets, hope gets
the final word.
Micah’s collection of oracles is organized into three groups—not chronologically but thematically. Each group begins with prophecies of ruin
before presenting hopeful promises of restoration. An example of the
message of judgment can be found at the beginning of the third set of
oracles. Here Micah uses the prophetic technique of the “covenant lawsuit,” as Hosea did, in which God brings the people to trial for breaking
their covenant with him: “Listen to the Lord ’s complaint!” Micah says.
“He has a case against his people.”
God reviews earlier biblical stories to show that he has consistently
protected the people and provided for them. In response, Micah wonders aloud what compensation they can possibly offer back to God.
The people clearly believe that all they need to do is offer sacrifices,
and they complain about even having to do that. But what the Lord
really requires is this: “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with your God.”
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