Finding Hope in the Ruins

Today’s Reading: Micah; Psalm 38, 41, 66

In November of 2013, several tornadoes ripped through our community, including the culdesac where Scott’s parents live. We spent the day with our family thanking God everyone was safe and praying for all the neighbors who had lost so much. It was heartbreaking to watch as families grieved and hugged, sifting through the rubble of what used to be their home. Today, the neighborhood is almost back to normal. It took time to rebuild, but God is faithful.

This is similar to Israel’s experience, only their destruction was a consequence of their own sinful behavior. God had a plan to rebuild His people, but first they would have to go through a time of loss. They would have to walk through the ruins before they found redemption.

Up! Begone! This is no longer your land and home, for you have filled it with sin and RUINED it completely (Micah 2:10).

God had made a covenant with His people and they had ignored their promises to Him and forgotten His faithfulness. He brought them out of Egypt to the land of Canaan, yet they chose to walk away from His plan for them. They rejected God and demanded an earthly king. He told them to serve Him only and to have no other gods before Him, yet they worshipped false gods and bowed to idols. They put themselves on the throne where God was meant to reign. The result – RUINS!

I will bring you to RUIN for all your sins.
You will eat but never have enough.
Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain.
And though you try to save money, it will come to nothing in the end…
You will plant crops but not harvest them.
You will press your olives but not get enough oil to anoint yourselves.
You will trample the grapes but get no juice to make your wine…
I will make an example of you, bring you to complete RUIN

God’s people used His covenant with them as an excuse to sin. They said, “No harm will come to us for the Lord is here among us” (3:11). This is Micah’s response to them, his call to RIGHTEOUSNESS – not their own effort to save themselves but their submission to God’s call to be righteous:

“Listen, you leaders of Israel! You are supposed to know right from wrong, but you are the very ones who hate good and love evil…Then you beg the Lord for help in times of trouble! Do you really expect him to answer? After all the evil you have done, he won’t even look at you!” – Micah 3:1,4

God had a message for His people – one of both REBUKE and REDEMPTION:

“O my people, what have I done to you?
What have I done to make you tired of me?
Answer me!
For I brought you out of Egypt and REDEEMED you from slavery.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you.
Don’t you REMEMBER…REMEMBER your journey…
When I, the Lord, did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.”
– Micah 6:3-5

The response of God’s people was REMORSE. They REPENTED of their sins and inquired of the necessary RETRIBUTION:

What can we bring to the Lord?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?
– (Micah 6:6-7)

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he REQUIRES of you:
to do what is right,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
– Micah 6:8

But among the RUINS was a glimmer of hope – a promise that God would again RESCUE and RESTORE His people:

“Someday, O Israel, I will gather the remnant who are left.
I will bring you together again like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture.
Yes, your land will again be filled with noisy crowds!
Your leader will break out and lead you out of exile,
out through the gates of the enemy cities, back to your own land.
Your king will lead you; the Lord himself will guide you.”
– Micah 2:12-13

I love this RESPONSE to the hope given by God:

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…
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
(Micah 7:7-9).

I hate being punished. It is so awful to be called out on an error and have to admit you were wrong. I have no problem apologizing but suffering the consequences of my mistakes or sins is miserable. To be surrounded by the mess I have made is a rough place to be. I’m so thankful I serve a God who rescues and restores me when I repent of my sins in true remorse.

I look to you for help, Oh Lord – my God will certainly hear me. When I am surrounded by darkness, the Lord is my light. I can survive the ruins because I am not alone. My God, you are with me on this path to redemption. Thank you for being this kind of loving God!!! Amen.

Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.
For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
– Psalm 66:16-20