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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Micah 3:5–12

Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against those who put nothing into their mouths. Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without revelation. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the Lord and say, “Surely the Lord is with us! No harm shall come upon us.” Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. (NRSV)

Reflection
Although Micah is perhaps best known for his proclamations that a great ruler would one day come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and that, in God’s future, swords may be beaten into plowshares (Micah 4:3), the vast majority of his book is a scathing rebuke of the religious and political climate of his day. Israel in the eighth century BCE was suffering greatly from corruption and injustice, as the most vulnerable of society were being taken advantage of by those in charge. In our passage this morning, Micah turns his wrath on the sycophantic and self-serving career prophets who were legitimizing all that was occurring around them—the ones proclaiming “peace” in a time of war, and the ones turning a blind eye to the injustices of the day for self-gain. 

We often don’t spend nearly enough time on the prophets, largely because we don’t have to stretch hard to see parallels in our world today. Our society is sharply divided along many different socio-economic, racial, and political lines.  The most vulnerable in our midst are at the mercy of the powerful.  Many of us rush to believe in easy ideas of peace and harmony, or are lulled into a false sense of security by the promise of hope. There is nothing wrong with wanting those things—Micah himself clearly yearns for that as well—but his message is that we must all be clear-eyed about where our society is falling short as God’s people and to call to task all those who perpetuate those shortcomings, even if—or perhaps especially if—that indicates us and those around us. 

Prayer
Holy God, as I long for your Kingdom where justice, peace, and compassion truly reign, help me to be clear-eyed about any place where my life might stand in the way, and help me to truly change.  Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry


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