The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.

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The wickedness of the city (Mic 6:9-6:12)

“The voice of Yahweh

Cries to the city.

It is sound wisdom

To fear your name.

‘Hear!

O tribe!

Hear!

Assembly of the city!

Can I forget

The treasures of wickedness

In the house of the wicked?

Can I forget

The scant measure

That is accursed?

Can I tolerate

Wicked scales?

Can I tolerate

A bag of dishonest weights?

Your wealthy

Are full of violence!

Your inhabitants

Speak lies!

They have tongues of deceit

In their mouths!”

The voice of Yahweh would cry out to the city.  The wisdom of the city assembly should be to fear his name.  These city folks should listen to Yahweh.  How could Yahweh forget the treasures of wickedness of these wicked people?  How could he forget the accursed ones?  How could Yahweh tolerate wicked scales with dishonest weights?  The rich wealthy people were full of violence, while the common folk inhabitants of the city spoke nothing but lies, since they had deceitful tongues.

The bad rulers (Mic 3:1-3:3)

“I said.

‘Listen!

You officials

Of Jacob!

You rulers

Of the house of Israel!

Should you not know justice?

You hate the good!

You love the evil!

You tear the skin

Off my people!

You tear the flesh

Off their bones!

You eat the flesh

Of my people!

You flay their skin

Off them!

You break their bones

In pieces!

You chop them up

Like meat in a kettle,

Like flesh in a caldron!’”

Micah has a bitter rebuke concerning the savage behavior of the leaders in Israel and Jacob.  Yahweh, via Micah, used descriptive language to explain what these leaders were doing to their people, treating them like cattle.  Micah wanted them to listen to what he had to say.  They hated the good things, but loved the evil things.  They were skinning the people, tearing off their flesh, and eating them like cannibals.  They were breaking their bones and chopping them up to boil them like meat in a kettle.  This was despicable behavior.

The appearance of Yahweh (Mic 1:2-1:4)

“Hear!

You people!

All of you!

Listen!

O earth!

All that is in it!

Let Yahweh God

Be a witness

Against you!

Yahweh comes

From his holy temple!

Behold!

Yahweh is coming

Out of his place!

He will come down!

He will tread

Upon the high places

Of the earth.

Then the mountains

Will melt under him.

The valleys

Will burst open

Like wax near the fire,

Like waters poured down

A steep place.”

This text is a very colorful opening to the Book of Micah.  Yahweh would make a grand appearance.  As usual for prophets, Micah asked the people to listen.  However, the earth itself was also asked to listen to the prophet Micah.  Yahweh was going to be a witness against the people and the land itself.  Yahweh was going to come out of his holy Temple.  He was going to come down to the high places on earth.  The mountains would melt under him, while the valleys would open up wider.  Then in very descriptive terms, the presence of Yahweh would be like wax near a fire or water pouring down a steep incline.  The powerful heavenly Yahweh was about to make an appearance on earth.

Against the Temple worship (Am 5:21-5:24)

“I hate your festivals!

I despise your festivals!

I take no delight

In your solemn assemblies!

Even though you offer me

Your burnt offerings,

Your grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

I will not look upon

The peace offerings

Of your fatted animals.

Take away from me

The noise of your songs.

I will not listen

To the melody

Of your harps.

But let justice

Roll down

Like water.

Let righteousness be

Like an ever-flowing stream.”

Amos has Yahweh reject the Temple cultic worship side of Israelite life in very strong terms. Yahweh hated and despised the religious festivals that were part of Temple worship. Neither did Yahweh take any delight in their solemn assemblies. Yahweh was not going to accept their burnt offerings and grain offerings. He was not going to even look at their peace offerings of fat animals. He wanted them to take away the noise of their chants and songs, since he was not going to listen to their melodic harps. Instead, he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like gushing water. He wanted righteousness to be like a continual flowing stream. Justice not worship was his cry, a theme that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, (1929-1968) often mentioned, as he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like running water.

The chosen ones (Am 3:1-3:2)

“Hear this word

That Yahweh has spoken

Against you!

O people of Israel!

He has spoken

Against the whole family

That I brought up

Out of the land

Of Egypt!

You only

Have I known

Of all the families

Of the earth.

Therefore,

I will punish you

For all your iniquities.”

Yahweh, via Amos, wanted the people of Israel to listen to his word. This diatribe was against the whole family of Israel. Yahweh had chosen them as the special ones from all the families on earth, when he took them out of Egypt. They were special. Nevertheless, he was still going to punish them for their iniquities.

The false leaders of Israel (Hos 5:1-5:2)

“Hear this!

O priests!

Give heed!

O house of Israel!

Listen!

O house of the king!

The judgment

Pertains to you.

You have been a snare

at Mizpah.

You have spread

A net

Upon Tabor.

You have dug

A deep pit

In Shittim.

But I will punish

All of them.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, spoke to all the people of Israel. He told the priests to listen. He wanted the people of Israel and the royal household to listen also. This judgement pertained to all of them. They had been a snare at Mizpah, the Transjordan city, north of Jerusalem. They had also spread their net over Tabor, Mount Tabor, where there was an idol sanctuary also. They had dug a deep pit at Shittim, where there was religious intermarriage. Yahweh was going to punish them for these anti-Yahweh activities.