1:9 – "this wound incurable" – what an image of impending doom – sure, to them it was a local calamity, but when it comes down to it, most of the impending doom of atomic warfare is relevant insofar as it is our local life that goes up in smoke and radiation. Source of the problem is exactly the same... the things which make for peace.
1:10 – rural focus for his comments – all the neighbouring towns in Shepelah district, low foothills area west of the Judean hills.
1:10-16 – the creeping doom of advancing invaders in town after town to Jerusalem's gates. And town after town in his area is mocked (because it brought trouble on its own head) by a pun on its name – example – dust-Ville – return to the dust, deceit-Ville, true to its name etc. This passage is hard to translate but you can feel it.
1:13 – one of Solomon's chariot cities – early reliance on military resources – look what it has come to. "You were the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion." Military towns, muscle flexing – reliance on anything but God. So too at the "political level". Brandon – the town of political muscle as a way of getting things done?
2:1 – fantastic! "Because it's in their power to do it, they do"! They plot in the early hours their day's objectives – management by objectives! All those early hours -- how clear our thought -- but how disastrous if our objectives are crooked.
2:3f – the old George Elliott theme of bringing our own trouble in on our own heads.
2:1f – dialogue with the real troublemakers.
2:6f – don't preach like that to us – we're the church types in town – God is not that impatient! He is a "nice" God. "Disgrace will not overtake us" – the motto of Westman!
2:6-7/8-11 – two preachers contrasted – and their popularity is inversely proportional to the depth of their message. So what shall I preach – "wind and lies" or "such things" "the sensual gospel".
2:12-13 – three images of God's leadership of his people. Shepherd who gathers; "breaker" ram that bashes obstacles for flock; and King at the head of his people. The great deliverance of God's people.
2:12 – gathering the remnant is as much a part of the story as landing down hard on the group for their activities.
3:1f – is it not for you to know justice – where black is white, and white is black – Westman writ large – all the sin and filth imaginable is good, and quality life is bad – they are in fact like cannibals devouring their own kind in order to come out on top and be "the last ones to survive" – nominal religion people yet! But getting no "word" now because they rejected, and later because it's too late!
3:5f – salaried preachers of the worst kind – their inspiration comes from money not God and in the end they have no well-used path beaten to God's door for help.
3:8 – the true prophet and his role – to touch and stir popular conscience by the exposure of social wrong.
3:9 – who is the real patriot – the financial mercenaries in leadership or Micah who predicted the fall of Jerusalem and its leaders because of the actions of the leaders.
3:11 – "leaning on the Lord"! All the right words and all the right actions superficially – but down deep, nothing – all is committed to what they really are leaning on – money.
4:1 – it shall come to pass – world peace made possible by submitting international disputes to arbitration at law in Zion. Armed parties bring their grievances and submit to arbitration of quality and then, satisfied, not only go home, but disarm as there is a new method. Abiding peace comes from learning his ways and walking in his paths (cf. "the things that make for peace, "Cradle Of Syllabics" theme, etc.) – big disputes "for strong nations afar off", not just little ones.
4:4 – God's Nobel Prize action – he gets the prize. God's dream and work – not demands – we are just late at picking up the idea of world peace.
4:1f – four ingredients for peace
- choosing of a better way (arbitration versus war)
- an arbitrator who is under law (just) and removes the fear element
- hope unquenchable
4:4 – casting out all fear of others by God – how suspicious we are of other nations and groups. Vertical relationship results in horizontal relationship. Our common friend and Lord.
Chapter 5 – the military Messiah, but the problem is deeper.
6:1 – God's attitude to ingratitude – "I did all this and haven't weighed you down with burdens and all you do is forget!"
6:6f – the people respond with – okay I screwed it up, am guilty, and ungrateful – but tell me how do I return and approach this God now I screwed it up? Ritual? Things? Sacrifice my own kids? (Notice the fear, and understanding of God!)
6:8 – then Micah's great answer in 6:8 – yourselves not things.
6:9 – God's hammer of war and siege is justly deserved, and the famine and total loss of money and families etc. is owing to their deficit and antisocial life from King Omri and King Ahab (cf. Naboth's Vineyard) down to the lowliest "in habitant" – all are cheating in business, lying, deceiving each other, and contributing to the total collapse of their society for their own personal gain. And they are all rightly condemned by even the standards of their national neighbours.
7:2 – the godly man (6:8) has perished from the earth – I looked in vain for him like looking for fruit after harvest. All this passage is a lament over corruption.
7:4 – the best of them is like a briar (rough and ugly to deal with). It permeates right down to the family level and neighborhood. "Politics" work in the short-term but it:
- destroys community and trust
- gets people into tasks they are not equipped to handle.
7:8-10 – Jerusalem's bad times will reverse – a strong well-put poem for now as well both individually and as community.
7:18 – fantastic! For the remnant, and delighting in care for people that is steadfast – tough love, but steadfast. Such will ultimately triumph...
[Second set of comments]
1:7 – church furnishings will be split up for use by others in buying proselytes! A just reward! Either they were paid for by temple prostitute proceeds, or by wealth generated and credited to their effect in life. A walk around the churches of our day might well reveal some interesting stories in our own day – God knows all these secret stories behind church revenues and accoutrements and is concerned about our reluctance to repent of the spirit which brought them forth – he refuses to "own" the stuff, and brushes them aside reaching instead for the person behind and acting always two redeem at a deeper level – the deepest level – nothing takes priority over that.
1:9 – "for her wound is incurable and it has come to Judah (our home)" – for which he laments before the fact of destruction – like cancer today – the arrival of news of incurable disease – grief precedes death. Westman two –whose wound is incurable – "it has reached the gate of my people..."
1:10ff re-creation of suffering cities in the path of the army:
- 10 – roll on the ground
- 11 – led away by conquerors, barricade themselves
- 12 – anxiously wait for good news/in very great anguish
- 13 – flee in chariots
- 14 – resemble a wadi whose waters fail
- 15 – fall into enemy hands, while the "glory of Israel" the fleeing nobles seek refuge in caves of Adullam. Being (word?) bidden to mourn for her lost cities and children.
– the horrors of "conventional warfare" which we now rejoice in compared to nuclear war.
1:16 – kids and combat – killed or exile – what difference – they are the real losers of all this adult trouble.
2:9 – "my glory" is the young fathers of the land – they are wrenched from their families by the social chaos of the land. A lovely remembrance Day text "and from their young children you take away my glory forever" – War does that, and the passage itself leaves open the social causes of war and of the underlying religious causes of social behaviour.
– (marginal note) Interpreters Bible comments that it's the kids who are "my glory". Watch here though, that the men are not necessarily lost to war – where then?
2:10 – arise and go, this is no place to rest – it's not fit for human habitation – the conduct of the rich has polluted it – they will be driven out. Interpreters Bible takes another twist and says arise and go from half-way houses of thought – no compromise as it's not perfect, just better than before – but don't stop.
2:6-11 – Bears fuller deeper study as it is pregnant with meaning.