Our world is a mess, but there’s hope. This isn’t a new problem. Over two millennia ago humanity was much the same in Micah’s day. He saw the mess, but as a prophet saw the hope too, and was proven right. Micah can teach us how to manage our mess, and where to find the same hope.
First the mess. In Micah’s world bribery, corruption and other bad influences were dominating the culture. As he explains, the ‘ruler and judge ask for a bribe; and the powerful man dictates the evil desire of his soul’(Micah 7:3). Even diligent members of society were using their efforts to plot and plan evil rather than good, with ‘hands… on that which is evil to do it diligently’(Micah 7:3). It was a dog eat dog culture, such that Micah could say ‘every man hunts his brother with a net’(Micah 7:2), even with violence, lying ‘in wait for blood’(Micah 7:2).
Despite this it appears they’d retained some concept of worshiping ‘before the exalted God’(Micah 6:6), whilst ignoring the fact that He wanted them to ‘act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly’(Micah 6:8) with Him. Even the religious leadership had all the wrong priorities: the ‘priests teach for a price’(Micah 3:11), and the people had bought into a distorted message, as Micah caricatures them: if someone prophesies ‘“of wine and of strong drink”; he would be the prophet of this people’(Micah 2:11), like the ‘itching ear’(2 Timothy 4:3) theologians and their flock the apostle Paul warned Timothy about later.
These sort of things might sound depressingly familiar to us as well, in type if not degree; ‘there is no new thing under the sun’(Ecclesiastes 1:9). We might feel like Micah, ‘I will lament and wail… I will howl like the jackals, and moan’(Micah 1:8), although this was partly at least because he saw the coming judgement too, but that should add to our feelings about such things as well. Nevertheless, after the despair there’s hope, which begins with Micah’s ‘But as for me…’.
‘… I will look to Yahweh.’ At first this can seem a lonely activity, swimming against the tide of society around us. There might well be mockers saying, ‘where is Yahweh your God?’(Micah 7:10), and it could even be that ‘a man’s enemies are the men of his own house’(Micah 7:6). Interestingly, Jesus picked up this very phrase and passage when describing the ‘flint’(Isaiah 50:7) faced decision required to follow Him, warning that ‘A man’s foes will be those of his own household…’(Matthew 10:36).
Part of the hope for Micah was looking forward to Him, ‘from everlasting’(Micah 5:2) coming out of ‘Bethlehem’(Micah 5:2), as a ‘shepherd in the strength of Yahweh’(Micah 5:4) to ‘the ends of the earth’(Micah 5:4). By picking up Micah’s prophesy, our Lord is showing us that until this ‘“uttermost parts of the earth”’(Acts 1:8) mission has been completed, the ultimate realisation of Micah’s hope here has not come to full fruition.
However, when discussing similar opposition and losses for the Kingdom on another occasion, Jesus added that we would ‘“receive many times more in this time”’(Luke 18:30), i.e. our new covenant family/community of faith in this age. Micah didn’t find himself standing entirely alone either. In his time ‘Hezekiah’(Jeremiah 26:19) and others stood in communion with his confession ‘I will bear the indignation of Yahweh, because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my case… He will bring me forth into the light’(Micah 7:9).
Now, together with Micah, we can all confess another ‘as for me, I am full of power by the Spirit of Yahweh’(Micah 3:8), and in that Spirit proclaim the same saving Shepherd out of Bethlehem, ‘“in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”’(Matthew 24:14). In the meantime, as with Micah’s message, we must walk with Jesus in humility, as His just and merciful servants, expressing God’s ways in this mess by going about ‘“doing good”’(Acts 10:38). Encouragingly, somehow these efforts won’t get ‘burned’(1 Corinthians 3:15) when everything is ‘dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it… burned up’(2 Peter 3:10), but they’ll be carried through with ‘reward’(1 Corinthians 3:14) perhaps our part in ‘the glory and honor of the nations’(Revelation 21:24).
Lastly, note how this is all part of our focus/‘look to Yahweh’, true Christian mindfulness: rooted in the history of how God has ‘“redeemed”’(Micah 6:4), anchored in the future hope of ‘heaven’(Philippians 3:20), so steady in the present for worship, sharing the ‘truth in love’(Ephesians 4:15), and walking in ‘good works’(Ephesians 2:10).