Google+ 03/18/13 Get Out Your Hedge Trimmers!

Micah 7:1-5

 

How miserable I am!
I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat.
Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger.
The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth.
They are all murderers, setting traps even for their own brothers.

 Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil!
Officials and judges alike demand bribes.
The people with influence get what they want, and together they scheme to twist justice.
Even the best of them is like a brier; the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns.
But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.
Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion.
Don’t trust anyone—not your best friend or even your wife!
 

 

The book of Micah has often been compared, in style, to Isaiah.  Because of the poetic beauty of the original manuscript, Micah has often been called "Isaiah in shorthand!"  Churches and the Revised Common Lectionary tend to avoid this book, because the message is honest, straight-forward, and harsh.  Many church leaders don't want to "offend" anyone, and Micah certainly does that, if we are being disobedient in our every-day walk with God.  The purpose of the book of Micah is to face the people with their sins and to speak God's words of judgment that must fall on His people, because of their persistent sinning.  Micah completes each discourse by ending with a word about restoration, as he does in our scripture today.  Micah speaks of two kinds of restoration.  One is immediate after the Babylonian captivity, and the other is ultimately at the Millennium.  Our Scripture today terrifies me, mostly because I know it is true.  The more we do for God and the closer we walk with Him, the more we realize that we are experiencing "earthy loneliness."  God is always with us.  While this is an extremely comforting thought, we also deal with worldly people, every day, that can be very much like our Scripture describes them.  Many people are simply spiritually void.  There are two reasons for this and our Scripture describes both of them.  First, all the Godly people are gone.  What, there are no Christians left?  Not at all.  The Christians that are left have given up on Christ.  Most ministers today only preach the gospel that is comfortable.  This has to do with the "Caesar money" that comes from congregations.  There was a reason why the Old Testament had the Levites owning nothing.  The Levites were taken care of by the "congregation" so that all their needs were met.  There were no "salaries."  In essence, ministers had nothing to lose and everything to gain by preaching the truth to all the people, whether the people liked it or not.  Today, churches have become "popularity contests," with ministers "polling the delegation" about ministry decisions that should be made by those called to the gospel ministry.  As a result, "ungodly" decisions are made which hurt people and water-down God's message so that no one gets it.   That's why Christian bookshelves and the internet are full of "joke books for pastors!"  Believe me, the Scripture and my own mistakes are funny enough without any help in this area!  So, you can now see  why Micah says that all the Godly people are gone.  Finally, because the Godly people are all gone, what is left are the "murderers, bribe-takers," and people of influence who wish to "throw their weight around" because of how much they contribute to the same churches with "no Godly people left."  If you don't believe this, look around as many churches identify their largest givers, in order to cater to their needs.  These same people, void of Christian influence, then do what Micah says and twist justice.  They act like briars to contain and restrict the work God truly wants done.  Most often, these same people that the ungodly church identifies as "leaders" and "lifts up," serve as a hedge of thorns to destroy everyone that attempts to follow God's word.  Wow, I feel like Micah expressing this horrible "state of the church," especially because I, like Micah, know it is so true.  Where is the comfort that God is with us always?  Micah tells us!!!   To all those ungodly people, your punishment and confusion is at hand!   God will not be denied, whatever you might do or think.  As Godly people, show up and proclaim the word of the Lord.  Lock arms with your "Family of God." Get out your "hedge trimmers" and go to work cutting down the briars and thorns.  Trust God.  Trust virtually no one else.  Plant new grapevines and fig trees and get ready to enjoy the fruit!