Micah 4:1-7

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted. 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 now and forevermore. Micah 4:1-7

Today we hear from Micah. Micah and Joel clearly disagree in their visions – yesterday Joel called out the warriors to beat their plowshares into swords and their pruning hooks into spears and today Micah says exactly the opposite. What are we to make of this?

I am often reminded in doing Bible study with people that we each come pre-equipped with a set of lenses that we apply to reading the Bible. Often those lenses are unconscious or at least pre-conscious. We “believe” things about the Bible but have no idea where those beliefs came from or why we settled on thinking one way rather than another.

For example, when I started at the seminary my “lens” told me that I would be learning from Bible experts who had mastered their understanding of the correct way to read and interpret the Bible. My goal was mastery of the text.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my professors disagreed, often profoundly disagreed, with each other! At first I was absolutely convinced that the professors I personally liked were RIGHT and the professors that I disliked were WRONG! I once even went to the professor I liked to complain about his colleague. I was surprised again when my professor actually defended him as a person and as a teacher, even though they came to different conclusions about the issue I was raising.

My point here is that Joel and Micah really do represent two different poles of prophetic tradition. They really do disagree. Any attempt we might make to harmonize them (eg. First Jesus kicks tail and only then does the good stuff come) is more about us and our theories about the Bible than about Jesus and God’s plans for the future.

Today my goal isn’t mastery of the Bible but friendship with the Bible. My sense is that God calls us to talk together about the Bible (Isa. 1:8) and how we are hearing it rather than beating each other over the head with our pet theories.

By the way, my primary Bible lens is Jesus. So when it comes to Joel and Micah, my question would be, “Which looks more like Jesus?”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, there is great wisdom in coming to see that, while we often turn to your Word seeking answers to our questions, what you often give us instead are questions to our answers. You invite us to reason together, to listen to one another, even when we disagree. Shower the grace upon us that sets us free to do just that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Micah 4:1-7”

  1. Rita Wade Says:

    When I first started attending bible classes as an adult, I liked the teachers who told us what the lessons said, we (almost) took notes and then left ‘with more understanding’. I wasn’t as fond of the teachers that had us re-read the lessons and then invited everyone for comment. I didn’t care what the students had to say, I just wanted the truth in a 45 minute package. Years later, I’ve learned that as in anything, not everyone has something valid to say – even though we give them that right. Also, I’ve learned that there is no ’45 minute’ correct package and that we need to come together and prayerfully and with great study share information and reasoning. While not everyone posses great knowledge, everyone who is willing to share has life experiences that are valuable and can aid in study. Thank you for pointing that out yet again in this devotion.

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Interesting thoughts and a keen perception. I like the use of “Jesus” as a lens to view not just the Bible but also the world at large.

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