December 19 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, ‘Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.’” ~Micah 3:11

OLD TESTAMENT

Micah is a prophet from the town of Moresheth in southern Judah. He preached against the sins of both the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). The period of his ministry, which can be dated by the list of kings mentioned, began prior to the fall of Samaria in 722 and extended into the following century.

When the prophets use the word “prostitution,” they are almost always talking about idolatry (Mic. 1:7). God speaks of His relationship with His people using the language of a marriage covenant. He is bound to them in a love relationship, and they are bound to him. Therefore, He is intensely jealous when they “prostitute” themselves with other “gods.” Their sin is often born out of a desire to forge alliances with surrounding nations, and the people embrace foreign gods in order to show that they accept other cultures. The ultimate goal is to develop good trade relations, giving the Israelites opportunities to make money. Thus the expression, “she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes” (Mic. 1:7), which is another way for God to say, Israel became rich by cheating on Me.

Even the priests and prophets are caught up in the racket. Both are members of the upper echelons of Israelite society and so are well-educated, well-connected, and very influential. Because of their status and influence, the priests and prophets are often tempted to compromise, and they do. The ministers play to the people by preaching messages that make them feel good. “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for the people” (Mic. 2:11). Prophet and priest alike are pressured by kings and royal courts to shape their message in a way that makes the king look good. No ruler wants an influential guy preaching sermons against his administration, and no minister would find it advantageous to his career (or his life) to do so.

God often had to bring in an outsider—like Amos or Micah—to preach the truth. Any minister of the gospel who is afraid to confront people, to tell the truth, and to hold people accountable only cares about himself. I can tell you from experience that when you tell people how it is (even if you are kind and loving) and when you confront people for the wrong they are doing, they stop sending you Christmas cards! (They also tell all their friends what a mean person you are.) However, every committed lover of God should long for his or her pastors to tell the truth. They can and should carry out their work wisely and winsomely, but they must never shade the truth. Pray for your pastor to “tell it like it is” and encourage him to do so.

NEW TESTAMENT

The doctrine of the future (eschatology) is revealed to us in esoteric language so it is important to not press the language of Revelation into molds that don’t fit. God does not show us what the future will look like in vivid HD-quality pictures. He relies upon figurative language like the images of a sealed book and seven trumpets (the last of which are called the three woes). The events, whatever they may look like in reality, are revealed here to demonstrate that Christ is sovereign over all of them, even the bad ones.

It is a bittersweet message that John bears to the Christ-followers of his day and every day since, a fact he learns by eating the scroll. God is judging the earth, and His people will go through difficult times (as they have been doing for 2,000 years); that’s a bitter scroll to swallow. However, how sweet it is to get a taste of Christ’s sovereignty. He will watch over His people (as He has been doing all along) and will bring renewal to this earth. He is coming, and the heavens and the new earth await us!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.