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When things go wrong, what do you do? Where do you turn? Be honest – we all know the correct answer is ‘Jesus’ – but reality doesn’t always match our best intentions.


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Bible passage Micah 7:1–20


Micah 7

Israel's Misery
 1 What misery is mine!
       I am like one who gathers summer fruit
       at the gleaning of the vineyard;
       there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
       none of the early figs that I crave.

 2 The godly have been swept from the land;
       not one upright man remains.
       All men lie in wait to shed blood;
       each hunts his brother with a net.

 3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
       the ruler demands gifts,
       the judge accepts bribes,
       the powerful dictate what they desire—
       they all conspire together.

 4 The best of them is like a brier,
       the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
       The day of your watchmen has come,
       the day God visits you.
       Now is the time of their confusion.

 5 Do not trust a neighbor;
       put no confidence in a friend.
       Even with her who lies in your embrace
       be careful of your words.

 6 For a son dishonors his father,
       a daughter rises up against her mother,
       a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
       a man's enemies are the members of his own household.

 7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
       I wait for God my Savior;
       my God will hear me.

Israel Will Rise
 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
       Though I have fallen, I will rise.
       Though I sit in darkness,
       the LORD will be my light.

 9 Because I have sinned against him,
       I will bear the LORD's wrath,
       until he pleads my case
       and establishes my right.
       He will bring me out into the light;
       I will see his righteousness.

 10 Then my enemy will see it
       and will be covered with shame,
       she who said to me,
       "Where is the LORD your God?"
       My eyes will see her downfall;
       even now she will be trampled underfoot
       like mire in the streets.

 11 The day for building your walls will come,
       the day for extending your boundaries.

 12 In that day people will come to you
       from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
       even from Egypt to the Euphrates
       and from sea to sea
       and from mountain to mountain.

 13 The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants,
       as the result of their deeds.

Prayer and Praise
 14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
       the flock of your inheritance,
       which lives by itself in a forest,
       in fertile pasturelands.
       Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
       as in days long ago.

 15 "As in the days when you came out of Egypt,
       I will show them my wonders."

 16 Nations will see and be ashamed,
       deprived of all their power.
       They will lay their hands on their mouths
       and their ears will become deaf.

 17 They will lick dust like a snake,
       like creatures that crawl on the ground.
       They will come trembling out of their dens;
       they will turn in fear to the LORD our God
       and will be afraid of you.

 18 Who is a God like you,
       who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
       of the remnant of his inheritance?
       You do not stay angry forever
       but delight to show mercy.

 19 You will again have compassion on us;
       you will tread our sins underfoot
       and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

 20 You will be true to Jacob,
       and show mercy to Abraham,
       as you pledged on oath to our fathers
       in days long ago.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Explore the Bible


The world's colour...
‘Grey: the world is grey, Jack.’ So ends one of my favourite scenes in Clear and Present Danger, as the hero Jack Ryan is told he is part of a conspiracy that goes all the way to the White House.

But the world is not grey. God is holy, and the world is fallen. Jesus is perfect, and the rest of us fall short, no matter how hard we try.

Hope in the darkness
Like all prophets, Micah is willing to wallow: ‘What misery is mine!’ he says (v 1). He bemoans the sinfulness of God’s people: ‘not one upright person remains’ (v 2). The people are ready to shed blood (v 2), the rulers to accept bribes (v 3), neighbours and friends – even family members – cannot be trusted (vs 5,6). All Israel – Micah includes himself by saying ‘I’ – has sinned against God and bears his wrath (v 9).

‘I have sinned,’ says Micah, but God ‘pleads my case and upholds my cause’ (v 9). On his own Micah knows he is helpless, so he puts his hope in God (v 7). Why? Because he knows what God is like, and what he will do: he will forgive (v 18).


Respond


If you forget everything we’ve looked at together in Micah, remember the words of verses 18–20. Read them again, savour them, and picture Jesus hurling your sin into the depths of the ocean.

Ben Green


Deeper Bible study


‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling … foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Saviour, or I die.’ (Toplady, ‘Rock of ages’)

I cannot read verses 18–20 without thinking of other passages of Scripture. Moses’ song of the sea, for example, proclaims, ‘Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?’ (Exodus 15:11). Also in Exodus, God hides Moses in the cleft of the rock and appears to him. Moses learns that YHWH is ‘the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin’ (Exodus 34:6,7). Many of the key words or phrases in the Exodus passages reappear here in Micah. Most striking among them is the Hebrew phrase, nōśê’ ‘āwôn. In Exodus, NIV translates it, ‘forgiving wickedness’; in Micah, ‘who pardons sin’ (v 18). The root nāśā means to ‘lift’, ‘carry’, ‘carry away’ or ‘bear’ whereas ‘āwôn denotes both iniquity and its punishment. Micah tells us that God will completely remove the transgression of his people and rescind its punishment. Yet the transgression Micah has in mind has victims. It is no light matter to say that God will overlook it. There is then perhaps a hint that when God removes sin it costs God greatly to do so.

This idea comes to the fore in the suffering servant of Isaiah who ‘bore (nāśā) the sin of many’ (Isaiah 53:12). Christian tradition applies this to the crucifixion of Jesus, the eternal Son of God. As Peter puts it, ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2:24, RSV). Verse 18 seems to me to say, ‘there was a cross in the heart of God before there was one planted on the green hill outside of Jerusalem’1.

Robert Parkinson

 

1 C Dismore, Atonement in Literature and Life, 1906, p232


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1 Kings 22

Psalms 60,61
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Merciful God
Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2006 Thankyou Music
www.kingswayshop.com



Back to the start (God's great dance floor)
Performed by: Martin Smith
Written by: Martin Smith, Nick Herbert Jonas Myrin & Tim Hughes
Copyright: © 2012 Gloworks Ltd, Kingsway Thankyou Music, Shout Publishing/BMI
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Comments
  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Thank you for this study WL and thank you LYNDA for the link to the David Pawson utube link on Micah. Near the end he said Jesus took the justice so we could have the mercy and if we've received it, it'll be shown in our lives. It was William Gurnall who said 'God wants my faith to improve into a confidence for total deliverance'. Thank you Father that we are a working progress. Thank you that our value is not determined by how well we did at school or work or how articulate we are or what others think but determined by who we are in you. Thank you that you bought us back from the enemy, back from slavery and we are in awe that you should consider it worth all the pain it cost your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Draw us all to a high degree on oneness in you so that the world may see a people who have grown to love one another as you have loved us, in Jesus name, Amen.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    The LORD is my shepherd; "O LORD, protect your people with your shepherd's staff, lead your flock, your special possession." ( verse 14 ) Father God, we are loved and cherished by You; be close to DIANA, RAY, RUTH, JAN and JANE as they receive medical help and be their peace in the days ahead. May everyone who supports and cares for the frail have the strength they need to provide this service. May all suffering people receive Your comfort at this time; may we all encourage one another. JESUS, You are the Messiah. ( Mark 8:29 ). Amen.

  • John Hartley | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Who is a pardoning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free? Samuel Davies (1723-1761) These words will now be stuck in my brain - along with a bit of the tune Surrey - all morning! - It's been good to see just how the Holy Spirit provides the right passage at the right time, along with inspiring the comments that fit the current situation. And continues to be our Comforter

  • Rachael Hampton | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    V7-8 Amp. But as for me, I will look to the Lord, and confident in Him I will keep watch; I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me oh my enemies! When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness the Lord shall be my light. ANOTHER 30 Coptic Christians killed in Egypt. Dear Lord, we pray for all who sit in darkness, that Your light will shine on them. May they keep looking to You, confidently waiting with hope and expectancy for Your deliverance. Amen

  • Rachael Hampton | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Amen GILVIN. Thank you for your post Russell. Anne G, yes, it will be a privilege to pray for you and Ray, and I look forward to celebrating his 85th birthday with you on WL.

  • Adam Julians | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Hearing the concern over the word "Christian" yesterday, I take that on board. Also a comment about provocative. I can honestly say that my intention was neither to start an argument or to shock but merely share that after 20 years of difficulty and pain occurring not just in one church but many, I have come to a decision which has benefitted my walk with Christ and relieved me of what had been harmful to my health with unbearable amounts of stress. For me, what the apostle Paul talked about as we have discussed is something I have found to be true. And that in shining your light you do face attack. People are afraid of that or envious of it. I am a funny guy, and people feel threatened by humour both in the church and outside. Yet what I do brings joy to crowds in a comedy club. "The joy of the Lord is your strength". I performed in front of 160 people a couple of weeks ago and 16 last week. whether it be a small crowd or a large one if the joy of the Lord is my strength and I exercise it that way then who is anyone to be negative about that. I hear what is said about the church not being perfect but if I am as critical about the church as say, criticism I experience from church members about the comedy I do I find a wall goes up. It's oppressive. I love people and I love the church but I find within church experience a worldliness, just as Paul talks about and sadly a lack of love just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem about. This is painful for me and to receive responses that lean more to judgement than towards understanding and comfort is what I am used to sadly, but doesn't help me. Russell seems to be the only one trying to understand and not come out with answers or make out there is something wrong with me. Believe me, this has been hard, painful and I am pain and vulnerable now as I write. I took the risk yesterd to let my guard down about this. And people who love are vulnerable. It takes that to let love in and be loving. It also takes courage. And there is a "holy discontent" or anger I also feel about this. Like many people as researched in the book "The Invisible Church" by Aisthorpe. I am finding it necessary to distance myself from organised religion in order to walk with Christ, to belong to the body of Christ but not find belonging in the visible organised, institutional church. To find that wherever 2 or three are gathered that is "church". I would request politely that if anyone is to respond that words of comfort and support in my decision be offered, not in judgment, defensive remarks about organised religion or patronising comments. And so not unlike the misery expressed in todays reading, I am upset now. The question being asked is where do you turn? Well, I have to say, this is a lonely path to walk being honest. The question being posed today implies that the reality is not being matched by the choices we make. And there may even be some who read what I have written form the heart today and think that is the case with the choices I am making. Well, all I can do is point to what Jesus said judge not for the measure with which you judge will bee the same by which you are judged. As for me, I will seek comfort where I need it and that last thing I am going to do for understandable reasons is to make myself even more vulnerable that I am already being by sharing where I find comfort encouragement and strengthening. You will forgive me for saying this but the last place I will be looking for it at this point in time is in a church.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Let us praise our LORD together!! Everyone; "Come to the LORD.......You are God's own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into His own marvellous light." (1 Peter 2 ) May heaven delight in our love and devotion to our LORD and Saviour; we are His.

  • Cherry Buse | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Adam, thank you for your honesty, it takes courage - God's strength is in our weakness - to make ourselves vulnerable. Stay close to him and he will bless you for taking that stand.

  • Adam Julians | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Cherry, I affirm what you say. Thank you.

  • Peter Oliver | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Yes ADAM I totally agree with you I've suffered in much the same way myself GOD will be the judge.

  • Sue Morling | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    David Pawson - great recommendation Had no idea this teaching series was available on YouTube. Thank you LYNDA!

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    ADAM Churches are full of people who are imperfect and you and I are part of them. In every Church there are Pharisees. We are to stay close to Jesus . Being a Christian is walking a lonely path. God loves you with an everlasting love .You have shared your grief and pain with us. just know that we do care and we do love you for the Lord. Be assured I shall continue to pray for you as I do for everyone on this fellowship site. I would like to share the Song of Moses sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir it has really blessed me I hope it blesses all .....................https://youtu.be/xF-Ald7IPfA

  • Adam Julians | Saturday, 27 May 2017

    Peter thank you. Barbara I appreciate that you are endeavouring to show care and love. However I did politely request in the midst of vulnerability, pain and upset that there not be any defensive remarks about organised religion. While there is no doubt that there is truth in what you say about churches and people not being perfect, you are preaching to the choir. This worldliness that Paul talked about is true of the church now as the one in Corinth that he wrote to. He was not platitudinous, but he bravely confronted the lack of love in no uncertain terms. The church needs to go through the painful realisation of this, to be welcoming of important voices that have the courage and humility to speak up and until it does abuses will happen. Would you say to an abused wife that her husband is imperfect, just as she is and be OK with that? Of course not. You would comfort, encourage and strengthen the wife to be able to stand against the abuse and separate from the husband as long as his conduct is abusive. The church is the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom is it true, but all too often the church merely reflects the same sicknesses of the surrounding society rather then being a conduit for the love of God. The misery this causes is unfathomable for individuals subjected to this abusive conduct, just as the misery experienced by Micah was for him with Israel. There is nothing new under the sun. Will the church be unrepentant and literally have to die out leaving a remnant just as happened with Israel in exile in Babylon? This is the biblical precedent. There is nothing new under the sun. Human nature is unchanged and it is naïve to think that the church today is somehow more "progressive" or "enlightened" than Israel as described in the scriptures. And saying that was Old Testament doesn't change this reality.

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