And I said: Listen, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Should you not know justice?— you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a cauldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.
Micah, really doesn’t pull any punches today as he tells the political and judicial leaders of the people exactly how it is. Talk about speaking truth to power! I say truth, but I really hope the idea of cannibalism was hyperbole rather than fact; and it probably was a way of the prophet dramatically describing the abuse of those less powerful, by those who should have defended the rights of those in their care.
But Micah also has a great sense of poetic justice for the powerful who fail to hear the cries of the needy will find their own cries for help ignored by God.
We live in a world which is often unjust; where leaders do not always govern in the best interest of all people. I have been writing this when the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ have been released and we see just how the uber-rich can legally avoid paying their fair share of tax. At the same time, the introduction of Universal Credit has left many with no choice but to turn to foodbanks as they wait for their claims to be assessed; while MP’s can claim for televisions and furniture for a second home, not to mention £25 a day for food!
None of us like to hear words of condemnation or to think that we have done something wrong – the people of Israel were happy to hear criticism of their neighbours but not themselves. We are keen to criticise those in power, especially those we disagree with politically, yet if we were to honestly look at ourselves there are times when we do not do what is required of us which is, as Micah will go on to say, ‘to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God’.
Creator God, ruler of heaven and earth, you call us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you. Help us to do just that, to look out for the needs of others and, when we see it, challenge the abuses perpetrated by those with power. Amen
The Rev’d Branwen Rees, Minister, Port Glasgow and Greenock East URCs