Divine appeal (Mic 7:18-7:20)

“Who is a God

Like you?

You pardon iniquity.

You pass over

The transgressions

Of the remnant

Of your possessions.

He does not retain

His anger forever,

Because he delights

In showing clemency.

He will again have compassion

Upon us.

He will tread

Our iniquities

Under foot.

You will cast all our sins

Into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness

To Jacob.

You will show

Unswerving loyalty

To Abraham,

As you have sworn

To our ancestors,

From the days of old.”

This Book of Micah ends with this psalm of praise to Yahweh, while asking for his mercy.  There is no other God like Yahweh, who has pardoned iniquity.  He has let go of the transgressions of his people.  His anger was short lived, because he delighted in granting clemency, since he had compassion for them.  He has stamped on and thrown out all their sins.  He has shown faithfulness and loyalty to Jacob and Abraham, just as he did to all their ancestors in the good old days.  Notice the change from the descriptive “he” to the more intimate “you”.

The faithful love of Yahweh (Lam 3:22-3:24)

Heth

“The steadfast love

Of Yahweh

Never ceases.

His mercies

Never come

To an end.

They are new

Every morning.

Great is

Your faithfulness.

‘Yahweh

Is my portion.’

Says my soul.

‘Therefore I will hope

In him.’”

This poem or lamentation took a new turn towards the faithful love of Yahweh. The former tone of pessimism turned to hope, since the steadfast love of Yahweh never ceased. His mercy has no end. Every morning the faithfulness of Yahweh re-appeared. This author depended on Yahweh so that he would hope in Yahweh. Suddenly, this despairing author has great hope in Yahweh. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Heth in this acrostic poem.

The useless sacrifices (Jer 6:20-6:21)

“‘Of what use to me

Is frankincense

That comes from Sheba?

Of what use to me

Is sweet cane

From a distant land?

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable.

Your sacrifices are not pleasing to me.’

Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘See!

I am laying before this people

Stumbling blocks

Against which they shall stumble.

Parents shall perish.

Children with them shall perish.

Neighbors shall perish.

Friends shall perish.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, rejects their sacrificial offerings. What good is that precious frankincense from Sheba or the sweet cane from other far away countries? These rich burnt offerings are still unacceptable and not pleasing to Yahweh since they were no substitute for faithfulness. Yahweh was going to be a stumbling block for all of them. Parents, children, neighbors, and friends will all perish, nice and simple, no questions asked.

The blessing of Yahweh (Isa 65:16-65:16)

“Then whoever invokes a blessing

In the land,

They shall bless

By the God of faithfulness.

Whoever takes an oath

In the land,

They shall swear

By the God of faithfulness.

Because the former troubles

Are forgotten.

They are hidden from my sight.”

On the other hand, Yahweh will bless those who were faithful.   They will have the power to bless because of their faithfulness to God. If the faithful take an oath, God will help them because their former troubles were forgotten. They were lost out of sight. Blessings come to the faithful.

Prayer of thanksgiving (Isa 38:16-38:20)

“O Lord!

By these things

People live.

In all these is

The life of my spirit.

Restore me to health!

Make me live!

Surely it was for my welfare

That I had great bitterness.

But you held back my life

From the pit of destruction.

You have cast all my sins

Behind your back.

Sheol cannot thank you.

Death cannot praise you.

Those who go down to the pit

Cannot hope for your faithfulness.

The living,

The living,

They thank you,

As I do this day.

The father makes known to the children

Your faithfulness.

Yahweh will save me.

We will sing to stringed instruments

All the days of our lives,

At the house of Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah has King Hezekiah happy that his ordeal is over. However, he recognized that these difficulties are part of life. Once restored to health and life, he realizes that these things happened for his own good, even if he was a little bitter. Yahweh had his back, so that he never met the pit of destruction. All his sins were forgotten. Sheol and death were not able to grab him because there he would not have been able to praise or give thanks to Yahweh. There they lose all hope and faithfulness. However, it is the living ones who give praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh, as he did this day. Children learn from their fathers about faithfulness, so too Yahweh has saved him. Thus he and his friends will sing with stringed instruments at the house of Yahweh all the days of their lives.

The future just king (Isa 11:3-11:5)

“He shall not judge

By what his eyes see.

He shall not decide

By what his ears hear.

He shall judge

With righteousness.

He shall judge the poor.

He shall decide with equity

For the meek of the earth.

He shall strike the earth

With the rod of his mouth.

With the breath of his lips,

He shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt

Around his waist.

Faithfulness shall be the belt

Around his loins.”

Isaiah points out that not only would this future king have Davidic roots and be filled with the Spirit of Yahweh, he would be righteous and just. He would not merely judge on what he sees and hears, but with righteousness. He would judge the poor and the meek with equity. His mouth and lips would even kill the wicked ones. Righteousness and faithfulness would be his belts. Thus this future ideal king would be just and fair to all, no matter what their status was.

Evil consequences of the worship of false idols (Wis 14:22-14:26)

“Then it was not enough for them to err

About the knowledge of God,

But they lived in great strife due to ignorance.

They called such great evils peace.

Whether they killed children in their initiations,

Or celebrated secret mysteries,

Or held frenzied revels with strange customs,

They no longer keep

Either their lives pure

Or their marriages pure.

But they either treacherously killed one another,

Or grieved one another by adultery.

All was a raging riot

Of blood,

Of murder,

Of theft,

Of deceit,

Of corruption,

Of faithlessness,

Of tumult,

Of perjury.

There was confusion over what was good.

There was forgetfulness of favors.

There was pollution of souls.

There was sex perversion.

There was disorder in marriage.

There was adultery.

There was debauchery.”

What happens to those who worship false idols? They were ignorant of God (περὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ γνῶσιν). However, they lived in great strife and called it peace. They killed their children in strange initiation ceremonies. They celebrated secret mysteries (μυστήρια) with strange customs. Their lives and marriages were no longer pure. They killed each other. They committed adultery among themselves. They ended up in a riot of blood and murder. There was theft, deceit, corruption, faithfulness, tumult, perjury, sexual perversion, adultery, and debauchery. They did not know what was good.   They forgot favors. They defiled their souls.