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Wednesday 14 August 2019 – An Unpopular Preacher

Micah 7:1  Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat; there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger. 2  The faithful have disappeared from the land, and there is no one left who is upright; they all lie in wait for blood, and they hunt each other with nets. 3  Their hands are skilled to do evil; the official and the judge ask for a bribe, and the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice. 4  The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of their sentinels, of their punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. 5  Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; 6  for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. 7  But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. 8  Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9  I must bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication. 10  Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets. 11  A day for the building of your walls! In that day the boundary shall be far extended. 12  In that day they will come to you from Assyria to Egypt, and from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain. 13  But the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings. 14  Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock that belongs to you, which lives alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old. 15  As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, show us marvelous things. 16  The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf; 17  they shall lick dust like a snake, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their fortresses; they shall turn in dread to the LORD our God, and they shall stand in fear of you. 18  Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. 19  He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20  You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

Micah lived during the time when Tiglath-pileser forced all small kingdoms, including Israel under Menahem to pay tribute (2 Kings 15:19f) and Judah under “Azariah” (Uzziah). His contemporaries were Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. Micah, like Amos, travelled to Jerusalem as a ‘country’ prophet to warn the descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob of impending judgment because of their disloyalty to their covenant with God.

This was not a popular message, and he was not always well received by the people. Micah 7vs6 finds an echo in Matthew 10:35-36: “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” Micah models one who is willing to stand firm for the truth – even when it is unpopular truth.

This is the tradition of faithful Christ-following preachers. Some years ago Arch Bishop emeritus Desmond Tutu was publically vilified by those politicians who had formerly hailed him as their pastor. His crime was that he had dared to speak an unpopular truth. This is the tradition we hold to. In my Methodist tradition I find the exhortation to speak the truth “both in season and out of season”.

May God bless us with a faithful commitment to the truth.

Ordinary 16 / Pentecost +9

38 Patience

The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 237.

This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)