Sunday, January 11, 2015

what we want or what we need

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Micah 6:1- 7:6
Micah is a book all about wants and needs.
So is 7 Eleven. I want the donut, I need the milk, what will I choose?
(Please, anything but those off colored "hot dogs" that have been rotating on those off-colored rollers since the Clinton Administration.)
And the people of Micah's time, just like me in a convenient store, have a hard time distinguishing which is which. The humor begins towards the beginning of this book.
Micah has been given the Word of the Lord- exactly what the people need. But their appetites are inclined in a different direction.
"Do not prophesy," their prophets say. "Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will not overtake us (1) ."
Who wants to hear bad news? Not me, and definitely the people of Micah's time. They preferred the sticking your fingers in your ears approach to anything that challenges their status quo.
How 'bout this zinger?
"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 this people (2)!"
This "prophet" and his "good news" would go over particularly well at college campuses and parking lot tailgates all over this nation. (He may actually be currently employed by Anheuser- Busch.)
Nope, folks who don't want to hear the truth rely on several vague notions that they will be somehow spared the consequences of their choices. They mutter to themselves things like this:
"Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us (3)."
Surely not them.
No, in this book of Micah, the people wanted a "get out of jail free card" so they could continue their own way, even if going that way was literally the road to Hell. But God, like any good parent, did not give them what they wanted, He gave them what they needed. What the people needed was a national kick to the pants. That kick came to them in the form of the Babylonians.
"You shall go to Babylon... (4)"
Not much fun- in fact this whole ordeal was full of death and suffering and pain. A temple razed, a proud nation humbled, God's own children cast out of their own Promised Land. But one thing can be said of this exile, it actually cured the Israelites of idolatry: "You will no longer bow down to the work of your hands (5)." Of all the areas where they fell short of afterwards, chasing after Baal or Molech or Asherah was no longer one of them. They took their national medicine, even if it were more bitter than vinegar, and it worked.
Times change, but people don't. The more I read about the people of Israel, the more I identify with them. How quickly we turn the Christian faith into a system to meet all our demands and wants. How quick we are to protest even God's truth when it becomes difficult. We know we need the meat and milk of the Word, but the competing Twinkies and Slurpees go down so much easier. Praise God that there is a way out!
We wanted a neat religious system that we controlled ourselves, instead what we gto was the Untamable One who kicked our religious mumbo jumbo to the curb (6).
We wanted for God to leave us alone as we turned our back on Him, what we got was One who came to "seek and save the lost (7)."
We wanted a God who would say that our sin was no big deal, instead we what we got was One who told us it was such a big deal that only by His bloody sacrifice could we ever overcome it.
Thank God we don't always get what we want!
(1) Micah 2:6
(2) Micah 2:11
(3) Micah 3:11
(4) Micah 4:10
(5) Micah 5:13
(6) Matthew 21:12
(7) Luke 19:10

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