Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A quick run through Micah (chapters 5-7)

Micah Chapter 5 -The Promised Ruler
God now describes more about how his people will see his plan come to pass.  It won't be easy and it won't be quick but it will happen.  Much of the language used here in this passage points us to Jesus, especially in verse 2 where we see a 'ruler' coming from 'Bethlehem' who is 'from ancient times'.  This isn't a last-minute panic reaction from God to save the day.  God knew what would happen before the foundation of the world and his plan was set in his mind even then.  This is an old and ancient plan.

The end result is described.  A remnant will be left (v7).  That means many will be destroyed by sin and it's consequences but a few will be saved and God will make sure his people are not entirely wiped out.  They will live among all sorts of people (v7) and they will be purified from their sin even further (v10-15).
Something to consider today:
Why all this brutal bloodshed and suffering?  It's because God has given his people freedom to choose to follow him or go their own way.  Sin (going our own way) is serious and leads ultimately to death and separation from God but there are consequences here and now too.  Have you realised the seriousness of your own sin and spoken to God about it?  Only when we've realised the seriousness of the trouble we're in can we appreciate the need we have for forgiveness from God (1 John 1:8-10).
Micah Chapter 6 - What does God want?
God has nothing to hide from his people.  He is innocent, even though they may blame him for their struggles with sin's consequences.  He has rescued them from slavery in Egypt (v4) and led them ever since but they still don't get what it is that God expects in return.  He's not looking for dead animal sacrifices even though he commanded them.  He's looking for obedience and he sums it up with three things in verse 8...
  • Act justly (do what is right)
  • Love mercy (when you and others get it wrong, be patient and forgive)
  • Walk humbly with your God (be with God who always acts justly and loves mercy)
Something to consider today:
How much do you do the three things above?  If we're honest, we fail on all three.  There are times when we do wrong (or fail to do right), we give up on people or avoid them when they let us down and we rarely feel close to God.  And yet God has given us the human instincts for these three things.  We want to do right, we want to love mercy (and we're inspired when people show true mercy and don't give up on people) and deep down we want to be in a right relationship with our maker.  What do you make of what God wants?
God again describes the trouble coming to his people because of their unfaithfulness to him. Mercy isn't mercy unless there's any justice and God is holding his people responsible for their choices.

Micah 7 - Hope!
So is God enjoying watching his people struggle and face destruction?  No!  He's in agony about it (v1) but what's he going to do?  He can't just pretend everything's fine or he becomes an unjust god who turns a blind eye to rape, murder and selfishness.  But he can't completely destroy them either, even though their actions deserve it.  He loves them.  And anyway, God's plan doesn't end in destruction and failure.  Bearing in mind that God knows the end from the beginning, it would be a pretty dumb plan if it did.

There's some incredible words at the end of this book...
    18 Who is a God like you,
       who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
       of the remnant of his inheritance?
       You do not stay angry forever
       but delight to show mercy.
    19 You will again have compassion on us;
       you will tread our sins underfoot
       and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
    20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
       and show love to Abraham,
       as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
       in days long ago.
Something to consider today: 
'Who is a God like you?' (v18).  If you're not always convinced about God, one thing you might do is consider the alternatives.  Where else can you take your own weakness and failures seriously and yet find forgiveness, peace and hope?  The God of Micah is the one true God who acts justly and yet loves mercy.  It's not what any of us would have imagined and that's the point.  It sounds too good to be true but that's because it's so good that it is true.  There is always hope with a God like this, especially since this God is actually real and if he's real then our hope and future with him can be just as real.