Tuesday, November 29

Words of Praise
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Micah 4:6-13
In contrast to God’s call for the destruction of weapons and the end of war, these verses in the same chapter depict a god of militarism and vengeance. Earlier, love and good feeling toward all people abounded. Here Micah reaches a climax of hate and vindictiveness against other nations, calling for their annihilation.

God had acted for their good during the bitterness of the Exile, rescuing his people from the hand of their enemies. (v.10) However, in the first century after their return from Babylon, the Jews in Jerusalem struggled for existence. The neighboring nations were determined there would be no substantial Jewish settlement there.

Israel’s enemies were unaware of one factor: God was going to have something to say about the outcome of this matter. “They do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan.” (v.10) The Gentile nations would be beaten in pieces and their wealth would be devoted “to the Lord of the whole earth.”

God can use human intentions, whether for good or evil, to accomplish what God wills. God takes our human desires, out of good motives or bad, and works toward goals of justice, peace, and mercy. Human sin makes God’s task more difficult, but God’s intention is always toward the good.

This Week’s Prayer


Monday, November 28

Words of Praise
We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.  Anton Chekov

Micah 4:1-5
Micah envisions a time when Jerusalem and the God of Israel are put at the center of life.  All nations will turn toward Jerusalem and submit to the authority of the Hebrew God. When they are able to do this, then weapons will no longer be necessary and there will no longer be wars.

Interestingly,the book of Isaiah contains the same vision, and virtually the same words, as Micah uses here. For me the question of which prophet borrowed from the other is less important than the fact that they shared a hope for a future without war.

Micah and Isaiah wrote in the 8th century BCE. There have been thousands of wars, large and small, since that time, resulting in untold millions of deaths.

Their vision is an ideal that we may long for, but which seems impossible to achieve. In a world of many cultures and religions, it is a far-off vision that all will submit to the same God, or live in peace under any circumstances. Even Christians cannot agree on what God expects from us.

One “enemy” or threat is replaced by another. The impulse to fight is close to the surface. It is difficult to imagine the elimination of all weapons and all wars. The question, “If we give up our weapons, how can we defend ourselves?” is not going away.

And yet this prophecy remains a vision to be cherished and pursued. It represents the way life should be. Whether it can ever happen in this world, it stands as God’s goal for the future, which might, we hope with the prophets, influence our lives and actions in the present.

This Week’s Prayer