I've been hanging out in the book of Micah the past few weeks. There are some stunning pictures there. All of us know, "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." But there are several other striking oracles found in this "minor" prophet.
Last week I preached on Micah's warning against prophets, those who cry "peace" when their bellies are full, but declare war against those who put no food in their mouths. For these pray-for-pay prophets, it will be night without vision. The point is bigger than this for Micah. It's the refusal to see some things, mainly injustice, that makes us blind to everything. Worse, sometimes worship can be precisely the thing that keeps us from seeing what God is up to in the world. It can be our refuge from God, not our refuge in God. We can use the talk of God or the things of God precisely as a hedge from doing what God requires of us. My fear, as someone who gets his bread from being a professional theologian, is not that someday it will be for me night without vision, but that this might already be the case.
The realities of globalization mean that I can't buy a piece of fruit or fill my tank with gas or fund my ira or max out my credit cards without participating in a system of decisions, policies, trade agreements, labor practices, etc, that are largely invisible to me. They are invisible to me because they are pervasive and complex. I cannot simply excuse myself from them, nor can I get at their complexity. And so, I turn a blind eye and go to worship. And here's the thing--most of these structures and systems and policies in the main do not favor the least of these. Night without vision.
This week, I'm in this ironic little hope oracle in Micah 2. Things are desperate in Jerusalem. The Assyrians have the place surrounded. The walls of Jerusalem, the very thing Judah depended on to keep them safe, has become their prison. But God knows what to do in situations like these--he tears down the walls. It's the last thing we'd expect. These walls represent for us the very promises of God. We can't imagine that God could be present apart from them, or that there would be meaningful life apart from them. But Micah knows that it is absolutely the case that the things we trust for our security can become our prison. And God is gracious to tear them down, even if it means using Assyrians. That's grace I can usually live without.
So, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.