“Writhe and cry out, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you will leave the city and camp in the open fields. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the grasp of your enemies!” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I don’t know about you, but I love action movies. I love action movies that are about good guys trying to stop bad guys. The more imaginative the problems, and the more creative the solutions, the better. What works so well about these movies, especially when the good guys get in that situation where it looks like the bad guys are going to win, is that we know how the movie is ultimately going to end. The good guys win. Because we have that hope, we can endure whatever trials we face in the movie to get there. Something like this is what undergirds what Micah has to say here.
The people of Judah were ripe for judgment. Historically speaking, that judgment was still a generation or two before it arrived, but their time was growing short. Thus Micah’s prophecy here is a great deal more specific than the prophecies of those who came before him.
He was clear: You are going to be taken into exile in Babylon. Let’s not miss how shocking this news would have been to its hearers. Imagine being told that your nation is going to be conquered by another that is bigger, stronger, and meaner than you are. Imagine being told that when you are conquered, while you may not be killed, you are going to be taken off into exile to a land that is not your own. You won’t speak the language. You won’t know the culture and customs. You’ll be looked down on by the natives as dirty and ignorant and trying to take their jobs. You would have no real freedom because while you may get to try and rebuild your life again, you can’t leave to go back home. Your home has been destroyed anyway.
(Incidentally, much of this parallels the lot of migrants today, and there are more migrants in the world today than there have ever been in the past. Theirs is a situation for which most of us should have a great deal more compassion and concern than we do in practice.)
This kind of news would generally be received in two ways: With utter disbelief and with total shell shock. Many would reject it out of hand. There is a reason Micah spends so much time talking about and announcing judgment on false prophets. People didn’t want to believe what Micah said and so were eager to find other professed men of God who would tell them what they wanted to hear (for a price, of course).
For many, though, they would have been almost paralyzed with shock. Their world as they knew it was about to end. It would be a little like being told that in a week’s time your house is going to burn down and the loss is going to be total. And there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. You’d be a wreck.
Our faithful God doesn’t make announcements like this just to torment us. And, as we have talked about many times, judgment is never His final aim. That’s why there is a rest of the verse here. The foretelling of Micah is not simply that the people will be taken off into exile, it is also that they will be redeemed from that place. The Lord Himself will come and get them.
All of a sudden things aren’t quite so bad as they were before. This is still bad news at the beginning. No amount of good news is going to change that. But, the news is now not simply that God is going to get them, it is that God is going to rescue them. This means that what is coming is not simply disaster. It is judgment. And judgment with God is always followed by redemption and restoration.
Now, we don’t have anything quite like this to relate to directly. We’re not a nation like Israel and we never will be. We don’t have the kind of relationship with God they did. His expectations of us are different from theirs.
We do still live in a world that is thoroughly broken by sin. What’s more, that brokenness seems to be getting directed at followers of Jesus with increasing frequency and intensity nowadays. This fact is true all over the world. Every year we set new records in terms of the number of Christians experiencing persecution of some kind for their commitment to practicing their faith publicly.
In light of this reality, Micah’s words here do offer us some hope. The brokenness will not last forever. Our God will not forget us. He will not allow the injustice to go on forever. He will one day move to make things right. All of them. As we keep reading the grand story of the Scriptures this flash of light at the end of this tunnel grows ever brighter. Jesus Himself promised that He would one day return to claim all who belong to Him and to restore all things.
This means that no matter how broken the world gets, no matter how much of that brokenness we experience, brokenness is not the end of the story. There is hope for all those willing to place their trust in Jesus. The only question that matters now is this: Have you put your trust in Him?
That act won’t necessarily make life easier. In fact, it may well make it harder in short term. But it will connect you with this potent hope that can give life and purpose to everything else you do. The invitation remains open as long as our Lord tarries. You only need receive it and live. I hope you will.