I think one of the challenges to reading through The Whole Story of the Bible is to keep reminding ourselves that the people involved were very real people dealing with really crucial and often difficult circumstances. For example, we have now arrived at a sobering word from Yahweh through the prophet Micah.
Stop for a moment and remind yourself — Micah was a man much like you. He had the daily challenges of life, arguably more acute to a person living in an agrarian, subsistence culture in the ancient Near East. Picture him making his way through the tasks of his day, engaging with those in his city, working, conversing, going to bed, waking up and starting all over again. In the midst of that, as we read in this little book, he was dealing with some pretty severe issues of injustice and unrighteousness in his culture and from his governmental and religious leaders.
And he’s a person, just like you, trying to make his way in that reality. Except, unlike you, he then hears a word direct from Yahweh. It is a word vivid in poetic imagery; for example, a courtroom scene that would rival any Law and Order episode, and God himself walking the earth. It is a word rich in description for what a culture should look like in terms of justice and righteousness. It is a word that has connections to the Old Testament story that has unfolded before it, as well as the New Testament story that follows.
And, it is a word from Yahweh that is over 2,500 years old, and yet is just as timely and applicable as if Micah had stepped onto the scene today. For we still have the same issues of injustice and unrighteousness. We still have a culture, and the people in that culture, crying out for and pursuing justice, but in many cases unhinged from any kind of standard that can rightly guide them.
So this past Sunday, in my sermon on Micah, I try to make those connections between his day and ours, and to give some very concrete and practical ways we are already responding as a church family. Finally, I reveal how we can keep progressing as Micah shows us the path forward to pursue justice and display righteousness, and thus extend the life-giving and Eden-like kingdom of God in our day and our place. For I believe all that is what God means when he says,
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8, English Standard Version)
I encourage you to watch or listen to my sermon on this incredibly helpful word from God, through Micah, for our lives, and for those we are trying to reach with the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
And for further study on Micah, head over to our friends at The Bible Project. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this book, as well as all the books found in The Whole Story of God (which we call the Bible).
In addition, be sure to check out their theme video on Justice, which provides a vivid and helpful look at how foundational justice is to the rescuing work of God in the world, throughout the story he is writing and bringing about.
Finally, just a reminder that this coming Sunday we will turn our attention to Nahum. Be sure to read it a few times this week so that you may come with a ready and expectant heart as we gather together Sunday morning at 10:30am at Calvary.
Following Jesus with you,
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.