Thursday, January 26, 2017

Week of January 22, 2017

I led the Good Beer, Great News bible study over at Southern Brewed this past Tuesday.  We always start with a question--hopefully, an interesting one.  This week, it was,"Do you remember a time you lost something but later found it?"  The stories were amazing!
One lady mentioned a framed picture that went missing when she helped her father move into a new home.  This caused such heartbreak because it was one of the only photos of her whole family together, and it was taken when she and her siblings--both now deceased--were just kids.  After a period of weeping and gnashing of teeth, she discovered the framed photo was never actually lost.  Rather, it had been lying face down atop a closet.  She left it there so that she'd never forget where it was again!

Another fellow lost his prized Clemson class ring on a rafting trip in the early 1980s.  Almost thirty years later, he received a phone call from a lady who asked him his name.  He confirmed.  She then proceeded to tell him the story of how her parents were vacationing near this river years ago and found his ring in the mud.  Probably Gamecock fans, they just dropped the ring in a container on the mantle and forgot about it.  When this lady's parents passed, she discovered the ring in the container.  Finding the fellow's name engraved, she took to the internet and tracked him down.

These were just two of the stories that kicked off our discussion of Micah 6.1-8, which is our passage for this Sunday (See what I did there?).  Spending all week with the passage so far has shown me a couple of things.  One, I always forget just how much I despise biblical Hebrew until I'm slaving over this alien script, written the wrong direction, while trying to use a lexicon and grammar book that is in no hurry to help in parsing these crazy, shifting forms of words.  But it pays off, I think; for the second thing I learned is that this prophet is speaking to a lost people.

By lost, we're not dealing with post-Great-Awakening thinking on what it means to be evangelical.  Who is lost?  What does it mean to be lost?

We'll explore on Sunday this strange passage.  But I'll offer a few remarks to whet your appetite.

It's a court scene.  God has a case against (literally a "strife" with) Israel, but by verse eight we realize this beef is with all mortals (literally, "A-dam," which translates "dirt-man," a particular type of being).  YHWH is the prosecutor.  Notice the jury: the mountains.  Israel (mortals) is the defendant.

Something to reflect upon here is just who a jury really is.  I served once on a jury (and hope to God I'm never tried by one, but that's another issue).  A jury is made up of presumably upstanding citizens--folks in a position of right-judging based upon their right-standing and orderliness with the law.  That maintains the overall order.  In this passage, what does it mean that the mountains (a being that shares being-ness with mortals but is a different type of being than mortals) serve as the jury?  Mortals have lost something the mountains still have.

The case YHWH lays out is a case that can come only from right-standing ("true-ness" in the sense of precise measurement).  The jury of mountains embody it, as they stand as upstanding witnesses of YHWH's words.  YHWH speaks into the world of beings a demonstration of YHWH's own "truing-up" of mortal beings--history (vss 3-5).  In the order of things, unmoved mountains bear witness to history; for they never left that order, that history; they never tried to be above or beyond their being-ness.

Mortals try to speak into the world of beings (vss. 6-7), and they reveal (to us readers, to themselves?) their lost-ness.  They are literally out of order.

I'll stop here.  But this well-known passage opens itself to us when we begin asking (the right?) questions.  If mortals, of all beings, are lost--have left the order--what does it mean to be in order again?  Hint: verse eight is not a cute to-do list, by any stretch of the imagination.  English fails us miserably here, along with our own disorderly thinking.

See you Sunday.

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