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Pictures from Micah: The Called Out and the Outcast

This is the last picture I have to present from Micah, but it is by no means the last picture in the book of Micah.  In the first article of this series, I used the example of repeated themes in a musical composition to illustrate the repeated themes in the pictures I found in Micah.  At the close of his book Micah pulls together the previous themes and shows us how they intersect and illuminate each other.

No Condemnation (Micah 7:7-9)

Humanity has been playing the “blame game” since God confronted Adam and Eve with their choice to eat of the Forbidden Tree.  Micah 7:5, 6 rehashes this to lay our souls bear.  No matter how close the bond between individuals, we are each capable of passing the blame for the sin in our lives on to the person (or people) we love the most.  God calls us to own our choices.

I will bear the indignation of the Lord,
Because I have sinned against Him . . . (vs 9)

Do you and I really imagine that God doesn’t know what we’ve done and/or why we’ve done it?  Do we really imagine that He will love us more for trying to shift our guilt onto someone else?

When we own our choices, bad and good, we silence the accusations of shame from the enemy.  He cannot threaten to tell God what terrible thing we’ve done, if we’ve already told God.  

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise . . . . (vs 8)

“I will arise!”  What amazing confidence.  Do you feel that way when you fall?  I don’t.  The secret is to take your brokenness to God.  Once you tell God, the most marvelous reaction takes place — like dominoes falling.

Therefore I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation:
My God will hear me. (vs 7)

First, we must believe that God hears our cries not just for mercy but for restoration to His image.  James say we are to ask “with no doubting” (1:6).  God is not looking for a reason to ignore us; He is eagerly waiting for you and I to bring our brokenness (sin is the transgression, the breaking, of the law of Love) to Him.  We don’t impress Him by trying to fix ourselves.

Until He pleads my case (vs 9b) 

Breaking the law (any law) carries a penalty.  We need the best representation possible.  Who could be better than the Judge and Law-maker Himself?  If that was all this verse communicated it would be enough, but there is more.  The word pleads is hesed in the Greek.  If you don’t remember it from last week, this is God’s amazing love for each of us.  Not just love, but also His mercy, loyalty, kindness, gentleness toward us.  He doesn’t just craft a clever argument or find a loophole for us; He “loves my case.”  Sounds a bit odd until you continue.

And executes justice for me,
He will bring me forth to the light; . . .
When I sit in darkness,
The Lord will be a light to me. . .
I will see His righteousness. (vs 9c, 8b)

The last part of verse nine could be a little deceptive if we left it at just the opening clause.  If justice for us was executed upon us (notice the shift of executed), we would be like the inhabitants of Sodom — ashes.  What is presented here is God’s hesed.  The light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5) is Jesus.  His righteousness is revealed on the cross on Calvary.  That is where justice was executed for you and I.  Jesus, the Judge and Law-giver, died in your place.

The penalty for your brokenness has been paid, so why would you try to hid the fact that you are broken?  God still needs to heal you, and He will if you will let Him.

Subdued (Micah 7:17c – 20)

Before I can reveal to you the glory of God’s healing work on our behalf, I need to show you the response of those who “love darkness” (John 3:19) because the contrast is shocking. 

They [the nations] shall be afraid of the Lord our God,
And shall fear because of You. (vs 17b)

At the beginning of chapter 4, many nations are making the effort to go up to the “mountain of the Lord’s house” (vs. 1, 2).  In contrast, these unnamed nations are afraid and fear.  What is the difference?  Why are they afraid?

Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
(vs 18a)

Love or fear is based on this pardoning and passing over.  

The last plague on Egypt, that led to Israel being freed from slavery, was the death of all the first borns.  Only people (whether Hebrew or Egyptian) in houses with blood on the door were spared . 

Now the blood [on the doorposts and lintel] shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. . . . (Exodus 12:13)

The destroying angel “passed over.”  God can pardon and pass over transgression only because of the blood of Jesus.  Only those of His remnant are covered.  Remember chapter four?  The remnant is made of the lame and outcast who enter into the covenant relationship with God.

Seems pretty obvious why many nations are draw to God, but why does this make other nations fear Him?  Because they won’t enter into covenant relationship with Him.  They, like proud Pharaoh, would rather die than to humble themselves and be included with the lame and outcast.  In the end, God respects the choices that each and every one of us makes.

It is within the context of this covenant relationship that God’s healing occurs.

He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy [hesed].
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18b, 19)

His healing flows out from His hesed.  God mends our brokenness by transforming us (subduing our transgressions and casting away our sins) through His hesed.  Jesus’ death enables each of us to once again become a child of God and to bear His likeness (character).  Many like the idea of living in a world without violence and pain, but they are unwilling to relinquish their character (self-centered rather than God-centered).  Yet it is the fact that this world is populated by self-centered humans rather than God-centered humans that make it what it is today.

As Micah ends his writing, he reminds us that it is the outcasts and lame (Jacob) that receive the truth — Jesus is the “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).   But connected with God’s amazing love and grace, Micah finished with a new note. 

You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy [hesed] to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old. (vs 20)

Abraham.  The one who packed-up and left when God called him out of his country.  Being outcast or called out often depends on you perspective, like tinted windows.  From the outside tinted windows look opaque, but from the inside they are clearly transparent.  Those outside the community of faith see the member as outcasts and lame, but to us inside we know we’ve been called out.  We’ve been called out of lives filled with shame, pain, brokenness, anger, hurt, and doubt into lives illumined by God’s love and filled with His hesed: loyalty, gentleness, kindness, goodness, mercy, and respect. 

God is still calling.  There is still time to join the outcasts, lame, and called-out ones — the remnant of God.