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.

All of Israel should listen (Ezek 36:4-36:4)

“Therefore,

O mountains of Israel!

Hear the word

Of Yahweh God!

‘Thus says Yahweh God

To the mountains,

To the hills,

To the water streams,

To the valleys,

To the desolate wastes,

To the deserted towns.

They have become

A source of plunder,

An object of derision

To the rest

Of the nations

All around.’”

Although Yahweh God, via Ezekiel, was speaking to the mountains of Israel, this also included the hills, the water streams, the valleys, the desolate wastes, and the deserted towns. Thus, he was speaking to all the Israelites, no matter where they lived. All these places in Israel had become a source of plunder and an object of derision to all the other countries around them.

Against the Israelite mountain high places (Ezek 6:1-6:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the mountains

Of Israel!

Prophesy against them!

Say!

You mountains of Israel!

Hear the word of Yahweh God!

Thus says Yahweh God

To the mountains,

To the hills,

To the ravines,

To the valleys.

I!

I myself!

Will bring a sword

Upon you.

I will destroy

Your high places.’”

The oracles or words of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man, personally. He was to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. Yahweh gave him the words to say to the mountains. However, there was an extension from just the mountains to include the hills, the ravines, and even the valleys. Yahweh himself was going to bring a sword, in order to destroy all the high places, where the worship or cultic practices for the various false gods, particularly Baal, took place.

The return of the exiles (Bar 5:5-5:9)

“Arise!

O Jerusalem!

Stand upon the height!

Look toward the east! See your children

Gathered from the west,

Gathered from the east, At the word

Of the Holy One! They are rejoicing

That God has remembered them. They went out from you

On foot.

They were led away

By their enemies.

But God will bring them

Back to you.

They will be carried in glory

As on a royal throne.

God has ordered

That every high mountain

With the everlasting hills

Will be made low.

The valleys will be filled up

To make level ground.

Thus Israel may walk safely

In the glory of God.

The woods

With every fragrant tree

Have shaded Israel

At God’s command.

God will lead Israel with joy,

In the light of his glory,

With the mercy,

With the righteousness

That comes from him.”

This author concludes this book of Baruch with a call to Jerusalem to arise and stand tall. They were to look to the east to see their children, both from the east and west, returning and rejoicing because God had remembered them. They went out on foot, led away by their captive enemies. However, they would return as if carried in glory on a throne. Every high mountain and hill would be leveled, while the valleys would fill up, to make a level ground so that they could walk safely in the glory of God. The fragrant trees of the woods would shade them. God would lead them with the joy and the light of his glory that comes from his mercy and righteousness.

Remembering Moses (Isa 63:11-63:14)

“Then he remembered the days of old.

He remembered Moses his servant.

Where is the one

Who brought them up out of the sea?

Where are the shepherds of his flock?

Where is the one

Who put within them His Holy Spirit?

Who caused his glorious arm

To march at the right hand of Moses?

Who divided the waters before them?

Who made for himself an everlasting name?

Who led them through the depths?

Who was like a horse in the desert

So that they did not stumble?

Like cattle that go down into the valley,

The Spirit of Yahweh gave them rest.

Thus you led your people

To make for yourself a glorious name.”

Despite all their unfaithful actions, Yahweh kept his people safe as in the days of his servant Moses. In a series of questions, he reminds them of the good things in the past. He brought them out of the sea depths as he divided the waters with his mighty arms. Yahweh gave them the Holy Spirit to lead his flock like a shepherd. He was like a horse leading in the desert so that they would not stumble. He protected them like cattle in the valleys that finally got rest. He made his name glorious.

Against fertility cults (Isa 57:5-57:6)

“You burn with lust

Among the oak trees,

Under every green tree.

You slaughter your children

In the valleys

Under the clefts of the rocks.

Among the smooth stones of the valley

Is your portion.

They are your lot.

You have poured out a drink offering

To them.

You have brought a cereal offering

To them.

Shall I be appeased for these things?”

Third Isaiah strongly speaks out against the persistent fertility cults among the Israelites. They lusted among the green oak trees that were considered fertility oak trees. They killed their children among the valley gods under the caves in the rocks. They brought drink offerings and cereal offerings to the altar of these gods of the hills and the valleys. What was Yahweh to do with them? How would he be appeased?

God of water (Isa 41:17-41:18)

“When the poor seek water,

When the needy seek water,

There is none.

Their tongues

Are parched with thirst.

I!

Yahweh!

Will answer them!

I!

The God of Israel!

Will not forsake them!

I will open rivers

on the bare trails!

I will open fountains

In the midst of the valleys!

I will make the wilderness

A pool of water!

I will make

The dry land springs of water!”

Yahweh, maintaining the first person singular in Second Isaiah, says that he will provide water for the thirsty poor people and the parched needy ones. He would not forget them, but he would answer them. He will open up rivers on the bare trails. He will open up fountains of water in the valleys. In fact, he will make the great desert wilderness like a pool of water. There will be springs of water where there was a dry land area. Don’t worry about water! Yahweh will take care of things.