Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, & Micah: Day 23

From Exile to Victory

by

Today's Text: Micah 3:1-12, Micah 4:1-13, Psalm 25:8-9, 1 Corinthians 10:31

Scripture Reading: Micah 3:1-12, Micah 4:1-13, Psalm 25:8-9, 1 Corinthians 10:31

The book of Micah is a cry for justice, with a pattern of rebuke and restoration throughout its chapters. Micah reads as a defense of justice, and a judgment of those in Israel who do not practice it.

Micah chapter 3 begins with a stunning, almost disgusting, rebuke of the powerful leaders, using cannibalistic metaphor to charge them with oppressing the poor. The prophet spares no words, addressing them as those who “hate good and love evil” and “abhor justice and pervert everything that is right” (vv. 2, 9).

In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller writes:

“It is the generosity of God, the freeness of his salvation, that lays the foundation for the society of justice for all. Even in the seemingly boring rules and regulations of tabernacle rituals, we see that God cares about the poor, that his laws make provision for the disadvantaged. God’s concern for justice permeated every part of Israel’s life. It should also permeate our lives.”

Micah’s words—and Keller’s—are disquieting because of how easily I see myself in the oppressors. I have lived a fairly fortunate life, physically and monetarily, and it is so natural to continue to live my fortunate life, day to day, without seeing the ways people are oppressed around me and all around the world. And even when those blinders fall off, it’s easy to merely throw money at a good cause or say an earnest prayer. But both can be done without engaging my heart.

Thankfully, we can read on to Micah chapter 4, and see that true justice and knowledge comes from the Lord—not from us. We can go to the mountain of God, where “he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his path” (v. 2).

This is a beautiful passage, full of some of the most well-known images of peace and prosperity found in the whole Old Testament. From a promise that the people of Israel would be able to turn their swords and spears into plowshares, to the picture of sitting peacefully under vines and fig trees, Micah reveals the end result of loving justice and living God’s way.

Micah’s vision of justice is a vision of the restoration of shalom, God’s original design for the world. In his book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, Cornelius Platinga describes shalom as a “universal flourishing, wholeness and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed.” This is the world as it ought to be, as God intended it to be.

Micah shows us two very different visions of the world. Chapter 3 shows us the consequences of not pursuing justice, mercy, and loving our neighbors. And then chapter 4 shows us a restored, peaceful world where we walk with God and in His ways.

My heart longs for the redeemed world Micah describes, for God’s creation to be restored. This longing makes me want to walk in His ways. It leads me to pray He will rewire my stubborn, entitled, fortunate heart toward justice, to ask that He give me His eyes to see the poor and oppressed. With the Lord leading, the pursuit of justice and shalom becomes a daily endeavor, one we pursue with our Creator God.

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Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

  • My brothers name is Micah. His distaste for the church as a whole began with a general lack of justice in the church where we grew up — people allowed to skate by on appearances, two faced, etc. My Micah couldn’t stand this. He could smell their insincerity and unfortunately it put a bad taste in his mouth toward Christianity as a whole. My heart breaks as a result whenever I read about this biblical Micah, so full of the boldness of God and with such clear vision of God’s plans. My own Micah was at one point in time a worship leader…now he runs from the truth. Yet the two Micahs share so many similarities – boldness, opposition to injustice, hatred of what is insincere. My prayer is for my brother’s life to be redeemed, for his Biblical Micah-purpose to be revealed and for him to WALK in the truth. Will anyone reading this join me in praying for this?

    • AmyQ

      Yes! I pray for your brother as I pray for my heart to be softened so that I won’t be like the people that caused him to turn away.

    • Renee

      Just prayed for Micah to be drawn back to the love and grace of God. I have prayed for you as well – that Micah will see in your life a reminder of what a sweet and authentic relationship with the Lord looks like and the hope that only God can give us in this lost world we live in.

    • Morgan

      Praying that he will give it another chance. If not the church, at least Jesus. Praying that if he can just get past just get past how terrible “the church” can be sometimes, he will see how absolutely amazing Jesus is. God will always be calling Micah back. I pray that he will listen and be wrapped in his arms again.

    • Lauren T

      Your brother is the same as my niece. Her church and parents protected a man who molested her and it makes me so angry. How can they do that? She has run in the opposite direction. I pray for her to see Jesus through the hurt in all that mess. I’ll pray for Micah and all those with whom the church has run off because of injustice and choosing evil over good.

    • Rian

      Kylee,
      I feel the need to respond to you, because I basically followed the same path that your brother is on. I was raised in the Baptist church, and couldn’t stand the hypocrisy. It turned me away from organized religion from age 15 to 30. Right before I turned 30 was when I started seeking God again. I found a wonderful non-denominational church full of amazing people who understand that we are all flawed and are all sinners, and do away with any fake pretenses to the contrary. It took 15 years, but I finally heard God calling me back to Him. I have no doubt that the same will happen for your Micah. This is just part of his journey.

  • AMEN! Thanks for this!

  • Yes, this! Thank you.

  • Allison Joy

    Oh my goodness. I love this, especially Micah 4:6-7. I have lived in the St. Louis metro area my entire life. I work for Vocational Rehabilitation, a state agency which helps people with disabilities find and maintain employment. I work out of two offices, one in Downtown St. Louis, and the other only a few miles away from the epicenter of the Ferguson protests. Reading these verses gives me so much hope! “I will assemble the lame and the outcasts…. I will make the lame a remnant and the outcasts a strong nation….” I see the “lame” and the outcasts daily. What else can I say, but “come, Lord Jesus.”

  • Wow! This is one of my favorite SRT devotions ever. I love the idea of the pursuit of shalom daily.

  • Caroline

    Isn’t it amazing that he is a God of justice?

    “Iet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I see Micah chapter three and chapter four being the two shores of a river, joined by a wood bridge that is being thrown around with the wind. I’m looking at it and meditating how in the world am I going to walk to orher side, seeing there’s no other option.
    The idea of being just and loving our neighbours, our brothers as Jesus loved them is a difficult task when the people around you, the environment, the personal values of our peers are not in equilibrium with ours.
    That is the wind and awful weather that makes me dubious of the idea of crossing the bridge.
    Even so, Jesus commanded our love for others as a requirement to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Not just to love the easy and kind. Also the injust.

    I must work at this. It is very difficult to love and forgive people we don’t identify with.

    But I can cross the bridge with the love of God.

    • Daniela

      I just found a verse for my comment!
      Psalms 121:8 – The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

      • Joanne

        Thank you Daniela. This reading and your post are very encouraging. I am going through a tumultuous time right now. I have unsaved siblings and I am handling my mother’s estate. I love your metaphor! Decisions are not always cut and dry. Often I could easily argue either side of an argument and do so both ways using scriptural principals.

    • Emily B.

      That’s a great image. Thanks for sharing!

    • Micahlee

      Love this image

  • churchmouse

    I have a love /hate relationship with my smartphone. I love that my schedule and my contacts are at my fingertips and that I can locate a nearby restaurant with a few quick taps. I hate that I have become a news junkie due to the 24/7 availability of current events, most of which sounds like Micah 3. Some days I just want to crawl back to bed, pull up the covers and plead “Just come Lord Jesus, come. Put all this world out of its misery.” Hiding is not His calling, however. He desires for me to recognize evil for what it is. He wants me to combat it by being faithful to Him and by doing good where I am. He gives me the assurance that, though the task is enormous given the magnitude of man’s sin, “on that day” is coming. Restoration under His sovereign reign is the end game. All of the world’s evil, though very real, is also smoke and mirrors to Him. He will not relinquish control. He will not yield. He will do what He has said He will do. Rescue. Restoration. Revelation. Reign. So… Again, today, I take a deep breath, close out the news feeds and just try to do what I can where I can in a way that I can. Show me and teach me Your way, Jesus. Help me to do what is right. Here. Today. For the glory of God.

    • Caroline

      What a reassuring thought in a scary world! I appreciate this insight!

    • Tricia C

      Amen

      • Sandy

        “So…Again, today, I take a deep breath, close out the news feeds and just try to do what I can where I can in a way that I can. Show me and teach me Your way, Jesus. Help me to do what is right. Here. Today. For the glory of God.” Your words here, Churchmouse, remind me of a quote from Oswald Chambers: “”It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God – but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people – and this is not learned in five minutes.” Lord, give us your eyes and your heart to make a difference for you and your kingdom right where we are.

        • Anna

          I have never heard that quote from Oswald Chambers before, but I LOVE it! Thank you for sharing, Sandy!

    • Suzanne

      Amen
      Thank you

    • Suzanne

      Amen

  • Honestly, this feels overwhelmingly massive to me this morning. I can’t wrap my puny human brain around the vastness of the world and the evilness lurking in the billions of hearts of men. But then I remember that justice, love and kindness are acts we perform one-on-one. I might not be Mother Teresa but I can follow her example, caring about and loving each person in my path. Lord, fill my path with people who need justice, love and kindness, that You may use me as Your instrument every day. Remind me, Lord, when I get overwhelmed, that You only ask of me that I see and knoe each person as an individual, as worthy of Your peace and grace. Amen.

    • Christina D.

      I totally relate. Thank you for sharing your words and your beautiful prayer. Praying it with you today!

    • jami

      Thank you for your sharing, Kay! That is exactly how I have been feeling!

  • Alison MacFarland

    Yes indeed! We must love our neighbours no matter the age, race, gender, country, sexual orientation, wealth or anything in between. We are all God’s children in need of his grace and glory! May you have a blessed day my sisters.

  • ❤️ oh how I yearn for such a delightful place.

Further Reading...