Pastor Chris Tweitmann
This Saturday, January 6th, is the 12th day of and official end to the festive Christmas season. Brits know it as “Twelfth Night,” whereas others call it “Epiphany.” The word “Epiphany” comes from Greek and means “manifestation.” A more modern definition of the word would be “usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” However, in its original usage, “epiphany” characterizes the revelation of God through the humanity of Jesus Christ.
Traditionally, churches spend this Sunday reflecting on biblical stories that reflect this epiphany. The two most common texts looked at on Epiphany Sunday are the visit of the Magi, the wise men, to the Christ child or the public baptism of Jesus by His cousin, John. While we will have these scriptures in mind this weekend, we will not be pouring over them together. Instead, we will begin a new sermon series based on the prophet Micah.
Micah is the thirty-third book of the Bible, the sixth part of what is called the Book of the Twelve – the Minor Prophets. The term “minor” refers to the length of the books, not to their importance. The Book of Micah is the centerpiece of the Minor Prophets. It contains within it the message and themes of the books that come before it and of those that follow it. The Book of the Twelve uses it as a pivot in balancing the eighth century B.C. prophets before it and the seventh to fifth century B.C. prophets that follow it.
The prophet Micah, whose name is a shortened from of Micaiah which means “Who is like the Lord?‟, was from a town called Moresheth. Moresheth was located about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the border between Judah and the Philistine territory. A contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, Micah prophesied in the midst of the divorce of the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah to the south. Specifically, he served the Lord in the 8th century B.C. during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, who were kings of Judah.
Something of a country preacher, Micah describes his times as one of moral and spiritual decay. Greed and injustice rule the day – running as far and deep even in the small towns and villages of Micah knew well. The internal corruption of the leaders of his nation: priests, judges, prophets, and rulers, has set the stage for the invasion, destruction and exile of Micah’s homeland.
Micah ‘s word from the Lord is a message primarily focused on Samaria and Jerusalem but more broadly declared to all the nations of the world. Samaria and Jerusalem were the two capital cities that served as the central places of worship for all of Israel (Judah and Israel collectively). With their importance comes their responsibility. They had much influence upon the nations. How they lived influenced how others lived.
This weekend, we will begin to absorb and reflect upon God’s proclamation to these cities and their citizens through the prophet Micah. Together we will carefully wade through the vigorous language, many figures of speech and frequent play on words, Micah uses to deliver his message. His prophecies had an impact that went far beyond his local ministry. Even a century later, Micah was remembered and cited in the midst of similar woes (Jer. 26:17-19). Seven hundred years later, events took place that further ratified the validity and timeliness of his message (Matt. 2:1-6; John 7:41-42).
Alternating between oracles of doom and promises of hope, may we engage the book of Micah not as detached observers but an engaged and responsive audience.
For as we will discover, each of Micah’s three major sections begin with a call to listen. Harsh declarations of judgment may not be what we crave or want to hear. Nonetheless, Micah’s prophecies remain for us as a word of caution. We, like the capitals of Samaria and Jerusalem and the people who lived in them, are not islands unto ourselves. How we choose to live before the Lord will influence and affect others around us. How we choose to live with or without God also will shape and impact the course of our future as well.
Grace to you!