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Pictures from Micah: The Mountain

Music and Art

In 1873, artist Viktor Hartmann died suddenly.  His good friend Modest Mussorgsky along with others brought together over 400 of Hartmann’s pieces for a memorial exhibition.  While strolling through the exhibit, Mussorgsky, a composer, found the inspiration for the memorial composition he desired to write for his friend.  “Pictures from an Exhibition” walks the listener thought 10 of Hartmann’s pieces.  Each movement carries with it a theme from the previous movement, just as the memory of one picture goes with you when you see the next picture.

I enjoy listening to beautiful music and walking through art galleries.  There is something about the products of such creativity that moves me in my in most being.  One of my favorite pieces of music is “Pictures from an Exhibition”, but I did not understand what I was listening to until I heard a music program that provided a commentary about the pieces that were played.  The commentator would play a section from one movement and call our attention to the theme.  Then we listened to the next movement — the theme was there, but it had changed a bit.  That is how life is.  Each experience colors the next.  

I had a similar experience to Mussorgsky when I “strolled” though the book of Micah some time ago.  Mid-book, I was caught by the beauty of the message and how the passages just seamlessly connect with each other and build on one another.  It took me nearly three weeks to “stroll” through Micah 4 to Micah 7 because I was so enthralled.

This is what Bible study means to me.  It is a deep, moving experience.  I am changed and enlarged.  So, I would like to take you on a “stroll” through the second half of the book of Micah.  I will point out to the the “pictures” that took my breath away and provide a little commentary.

The Mountain of the Lord’s House

In my Bible Micah 4:1 is at the top of a new page.  Perhaps that is why it caught me off guard.  I completed chapter 3 and turned the corner.  In front of me was one of the most breathtaking word pictures I had ever read.  

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow to it.
Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
(Micah 4:1, 2a)

Do you see it?  

What an amazing picture: a mountain on top of mountains.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and see mountains everyday, and the image of a mountain on top of the mountains just stopped me.  Originally, I am from the Southwest, and not the mountainous part.  Perhaps that is why this verse and its twin in Isaiah 2:2,3 never stood out to me before.

As I sat and basked in the wonder of a mountain on top of mountains, I saw the impossible — a river flowing up hill — a river of people.  Micah sees in prophetic vision that people from all nations would make the effort to go up to the Lord’s house.  Yet they would not see it as an effort, for the image is that of flowing.  Water flows by obeying the most powerful natural force — gravity.  It is irresistible.   

Here these people are drawn by a more powerful force than gravity — God’s love.  Flowing is effortless, and so seems to be their journey to the Lord’s house.  They would rather be there, not matter the difficulty, than anywhere else.

Look closer.  How is God identified?  The God of Jacob.  Jacob the outcast.  These people are drawn to God, for He welcomes all who will yield to the irresistible draw of His love.  There is no compulsion in these verses.  These people are doing what they want to do most — go to the Lord’s house.

The Outcast and Lame

Now look at the people and “many nations” that are flowing into the house of God.  Verse 6 and 7 fill in their details: 

“In that day,” says the Lord,
“I will assemble the lame,
I will gather the outcast
And those whom I have afflicted;
I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast a strong nation;
So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
From now on, even forever.

Do you see who He gathers?  Not the proud and wealth.  His remnant, those flowing into His house, is made up of the outcast and the lame.  

The term “outcast” links this passage to verse two: the house of the God of Jacob.  But on closer inspection there is more.  It is not only the “outcast” that make this journey, but the “lame” as well.

This also is Jacob.  He became lame after wrestling with the Angle of the Lord (Jesus) all night. (Gen. 32:24-31)  As a result of Jacob’s tenacity, the Lord changes his name to Israel.  These are people, who are willing to flow up hill to the house of the Lord, have the same tenacity as Jacob.

Do you feel like an outcast or lame?  Then you are exactly who God is looking for.

This picture just keeps getting better though.  In chapter five and the second half of verse 3, the remnant theme is repeated and expanded.

Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.

In chapter 4 verses 6 and 7, the Lord was gathering the outcast and the lame to make His remnant.  Here the remnant, the outcast and the lame, are referred to as His (Jesus’) brethren.  His acceptance is not begrudging like the older brother in Luke 15:30, but over flowing with joy like the father in Luke 15:20-32.

These outcast and lame are the children of Israel because they desire to live in a covenant relationship with God.  That covenant is what Jacob desired all his life.  And when he clung helpless, broken emotionally (outcast) and physically (lame), to the Angel of the Lord, he obtained his heart’s desire.  That is why it is the outcast and the lame that become the remnant; they are the only ones who realize their great need.

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