This morning I sat down to read the book of Micah by the light of the Christmas tree---I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have not read through Micah in its entirety. I am intimidated by the Old Testament. But--I'm glad I read through this short OT book today. My Bible has an awesome intro. to each book; in the intro. before Micah it described our society's overuse of the words love and hate. It's incredible how many times I use these two small words in my everyday speech. Because of their overuse, "We no longer understand statements that describe a loving God who hates sin. So we picture God as gentle and kind--a cosmic pushover, and our concept of what he hates is tempered by our misconceptions and wishful thinking" (Life Application Study Bible). This got me thinking about how I look at God's punishment, how he deals with sin. The Old Testament is filled with displays of God's wrath on sin; it seems like each time I read through some of these I grow uncomfortable. Maybe this is why I've strayed from reading books in the Old Testament--maybe I am uncomfortable with these accounts because I don't really have a good understanding of a loving God who hates sin.
As I read through the first five or six chapters I found myself wanting to stop because it was so gloomy. But I kept reading for some reason. And when I reached chapter seven I felt a relief--I began to understand a little more God's purpose for His wrath against Jerusalem and Samaria. More than that, I feel like this sort of gives me a hope for what is to come in our world. Sometimes I get so frustrated with all the crap that goes on in our society, in my community, and even in my small social rings (that I am sometimes guilty of being a part of), but in Micah 7 God promises to lead His people out of darkness. Micah declares:
"As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness." --Micah 7:7-10
In a nutshell---I am learning that our God is one who is loving, yet hates sin---and this is okay. I am learning that I need to be patient like Micah and wait for God to bring me out of darkness--while I'm waiting, I need to examine myself, repent, and be faithful. If you haven't read through the book of Micah, I encourage you to read through it. It's eloquent, practical, and thought provoking. I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs, Equally Skilled, from Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot) whose lyrics are from Micah 7.