I’ve been thinking. Contemplating even.
In our daily reading, Elise and I have switched over to Micah this week (we’re still kind of keeping an eye on the end of Acts).1
What particularly struck me starting yesterday is the point that really picks up in Micah 1:5, following a word about the tremendous judgment that is coming:
All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria
And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?
The rebellion of the world has corrupted Samaria (the Northern Kingdom of Israel) first, and that corruption has spread to Judah and even Jerusalem itself (1:9). The Holy City, the center of the religious life of God’s people, the geographic locus of his precious Covenant with his people, has become a pagan high place. This is a damning word.
It is bad enough that the world lives in rebellion against God. It is bad enough when the covenant people of God violate his teaching—his clear teaching. But it is most grievous when in the name of God idols are worshiped by God’s people.
The people are even clamoring for a cessation in the preaching of God’s truth. When the prophets speak of disobedience leading to judgment and destruction, the people respond in 2:ff:
“Do not preach”—thus they preach—
“one should not preach of such things;
disgrace will not overtake us.”
In verse 11, we see the problem put in a humorous (or sarcastic, at the least) way:
If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!
The people thought that their special relationship to God precluded judgment. Perhaps they thought God would never bring shame upon himself by letting his adopted nation be laid waste. Maybe they thought their status as God’s people gave them the permission to decide right and wrong for themselves. That wouldn’t really be a new story, would it?
If it could happen to the people of the Exodus, to the people of the Torah, to the people of the Temple, it can happen to us. The Church must resist the temptation to cave in to the rebellion of the world against the God who has adopted us as his own children.2
We must not allow people with rebellious hearts clamor for a preacher who will make them feel better about themselves and their sin and we must certainly not allow the world (unconverted and unrepentant people perhaps disguised as churchgoers) decide what is preached. As faithful Christians, we must not be deceived that every idea which seems good to us has been delivered to us from God by his Holy Spirit. We must never think that our adoption into God’s household gives us the authority of God himself. We must not make the living Temple a place of apostasy.
Since our son’s birth, I’ve learned to pay close attention when a certain minor prophet comes up—and sure enough, the Daily Office lectionary Old Testament reading is in Micah this week.↩
We must also care for the poor and vulnerable, and seek justice for the oppressed—serious offenses that the prophet goes on about at length in these chapters.↩