Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against those who put nothing into their mouths. Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without revelation. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God. But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
Things had been going so well until now; decades of a sort of peace had been marked by dizzingly rising living standards for some and escalating celebrity status for a small number of well-known persons.
But now, external threats are darkening the horizon and the internal contradictions and complacencies of the society are being exposed as never before. The poor and vulnerable are being exploited and destroyed by the rich and powerful and many religious leaders are openly conniving with this state of affairs.
Are we talking about eight century BC Israel and Judah or twenty first century AD Western Europe and North America?
Micah demonstrates God’s especial anger at those religious leaders who misuse their position and vocation to pander to the self-interests of the rich and who also turn on those who raise inconvenient truths or refuse to fawn and flatter them.
I hear echoes of 1 Corinthians 13 v. 2 when Paul writes “,,,, if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
God will leave them literally and metaphorically in the dark as a punishment.
He contrasts these false and simpering prophets with his own confidence in channelling God’s love and power for His people. After all, Micah means ‘who is like God.’
Too often in our society, we Christians seek the comfort of being respectable first and the voices of the Kingdom second, if at all.
We row back from holding our society to God’s account and settle for being ‘nice’, when we should be lovingly outspoken.
A particularly memorable scene in the film Ryan’s Daughter is when the priest, played by Trevor Howard, lashes out at the hypocritical villagers who have just attacked the Sarah Miles character for transgressing their social norms.
One indignant citizen argues “You’re abusing your position, Father” to which the priest replies, growlingly, “that’s what it’s there for!”
Lord of all peoples Give those of us who have a voice The courage To witness to your Kingdom
Never let us favour only the rich and powerful Muttering soft words of comfort Whilst the poor and the vulnerable suffer Through our neglect or contempt.
Give us, Lord, instead the power with love To look at ourselves and society With a clear vision and to speak on what we see Because that’s what we’re here for!