18–24 December 2016.
In the book of Micah we see many of the same themes that were raised last week by Amos, especially the concern about economic oppression and corruption, and the abuse of the poor and weak. Really, this is a constant theme all through the Bible and in the teachings of Jesus.
Do you remember in Mark 12 how Jesus warned people about the teachers of the law who pretended to be holy but devoured widows’ houses, taking advantage of the poor and weak? In Micah, we see God’s same anger at this type of behaviour.
Chapter 1 opens with a frightening prophecy against the Israelites, describing the terrible judgement about to come. In chapter 2, we hear the reason why God will punish them so severely. The people spend all their time thinking up evil plans, new ways to cheat others. They abuse their power to take land and property from their neighbours. They use violence and fraud to steal other people’s homes and leave them with nothing. They evict women from their homes and leave children with nothing.
In chapter 3, we hear that even the leaders of Israel – the ones who are supposed to stop injustice – are all doing the same things! They take bribes, commit murder and corruption, hate justice, and twist what is right. And they devour the poor “like meat in a pot”. Because they do all this, and because they allow their greed to devour the poor and to throw them out of their homes, in 2:10 God’s terrible judgement comes to Israel: it is now their turn to be made homeless. “Get up and get out!”, God says. “This is no longer your land and home, for you have filled it with sin and ruined it completely.”
In the Old Testament days, people oppressed the poor and weak. Eight hundred years later in the days of Jesus, they were doing the same. And now 2000 years after Jesus, it looks like nothing much has changed. Are we always going to behave like this?
Micah hoped that one day people would return to God and do what is right. At Christmas time we remember that Jesus also came to set things right: to pull down the rich and powerful and lift up those who are poor and weak. So let’s never give up hope that we people can really change, that we can come back to God, and can begin really caring for those in need around us.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis