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,
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.