Monday, April 27, 2009

M is for Micah

I was re-reminded today that "plaque verses" need not remain merely plaque verses. In some circles I've been a part of John 3:16 was the plaque verse. Other it's been Romans 3:23 or Isaiah 40:31. Though I wouldn't quite call Micah 6:8 a plaque verse quite yet it was very quickly headed in that general direction when I realized a couple of weeks ago that I don't think I have ever read the entirety of the book of Micah from beginning to end. I have heard sermons on Micah chapter 6, heard Micah 5:2 quoted at Christmas time, but I had never taken the time to look at the context from which those passages are so often quoted. And so a couple of weeks ago as I and a friend were bemoaning this fact together, we decided to read through the whole book of Micah a couple of times and then discuss it.

The first read through was a little discouraging. It took me until the next to the last verse of chapter 1 to say, "ooo, that I've heard of!" Even then it was only a one liner, "...the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam". But that one line helped me put the previous 15 verses into the proper context. All those places and settings, people and events were integral parts of Israel's history, their story leading up to the point of their redemption and their being set apart as a remnant. Adullam sent me back to the story of David, his exile and flight from Saul whose passion and drive in life was to see David dead. From there I stumbled across the story of David who after becoming king sought out members of Saul's household not to retaliate but to whom he could show mercy for his friend Jonathan's sake. There was one, Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan who remained of Saul's house. He had been crippled since the age of five after his nurse dropped him as they fled the city at the news of Saul and Jonathan's deaths. This man, this cripple, was the remnant of a former age, a past allegiance, an old friendship, and David wanted to make sure that mercy was extended to the man that had gone from greatness in family status to utter obscurity due to his grandfather's mistakes. David ended up altogether adopting Mephibosheth, "So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons." (II Samuel 9:11)

In that day, declares the LORD,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
and those whom I have afflicted;
and the lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and forevermore.

Micah 4:6-7

It thoroughly boggles my mind how every story really is just a small scale reenactment of The Story. The thread of redemption is woven through the tapestry of time. That thread of scarlet that links the mercy of a benevolent provider to the need of a desolate soul. The Story that constantly reminds us that it really is the least and the last who will be the first and the foremost. The Story that continually recalls the refrain "and this not of yourselves". Mercy truly is a gift for which we are utterly unable to boast.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah...

Micah 5:2

It is to you who are too little, you who are crippled by the affects of the fall, you who have no right to eat at the King's table; to you who has been shown so great a mercy goes forth the call to go and do likewise. You, oh Christian, whose debt has been paid, whose sin has been atoned for, what doeth the Lord require of you...

to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

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