Micah 3:5-12; Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 43; Matthew 23:1-12; I Thessalonians 2:9-13
It is a transitional threshold time for the Israelites. Moses has passed and Joshua is now transitioning into being the leader. These people, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, have never known any other leader than Moses. God is intentionally establishing Joshua as the leader in the eyes of the people as he places him in a visible place where all can see. It is vital that God do this and not Joshua on his own. This is a time of power but also it is a time that necessitates humility.
This is also a threshold moment, the people are finally entering the promised land. Their parents failed to trust God forty years ago so now this generation will enter. As they enter, God enters with them. They carry the Ark of the Covenant as they cross the parted Jordan river. This is also a moment of recognizing the power of God. He is present as the Ark is present which is a comfort and assurance for the people, at the same time is is terrifying – the people are to always be at a distance of at least a half mile from the Ark. They cannot help but know that the God, in all power, is with them, at the same time they have to be in a state of humility.
- Why was it important that God blatantly place Joshua in a visibly leader role.
- What do you think Joshua was thinking at this moment?
- Do you think that we know that God’s power is with us?
- Do you think we recognize that power and stand in humility at the same time?
- What do you think the impact of arrogance on our part is in our life?
Our Micah passage sets up the thread that weaves itself through the readings for this week. Micah is loudly confronting the religious leaders and prophets who are being paid by the political leaders to deceivingly convince the people that everything is okay when it is not. Micah is a prophet at the same time as Isaiah – they are both confronting the prophets who are speaking lies to keep the people calm and the political leaders in power. Religion has sold itself to the highest bidder and authenticity in all the leaders is absent. Micah is furious.
Micah is in the country, in the middle of nowhere while Isaiah is in the city. Micah sees the destructive impact on the people that are far from the center of politics and the religious institution. Micah sees the destruction that is present because of the lies and deceit in Jerusalem, he see how the decisions made in Jerusalem are harming the everyday people. He is seeing the Assyrian troops on the horizon ready to conquer and destroy the regular people out in the country side while the leaders in Jerusalem are communicating, and accepting, the message that everything is fine, ‘we are turning a corner and will soon be okay.’ Even though Micah and Isaiah are both warning of the false prophets, Micah is calling Isaiah out for his comfort and royal influence in Jerusalem.
While this passage sounds to be solely directed at the false prophets and the inauthenticity in the leaders, the verses just prior have been directed at social injustices. Micah is standing up for a people who have just been accepting disinformation and abuse.
- Can you see this same scenario present today in our world today?
- How do you know who to listen to and who to trust?
- Why is authenticity so important in the people who lead us?
- Why is authenticity so important in our life?
In Psalm we see a person who has been falsely accused of something – the consequence of this false accusation is probably that this person has been exiled from the temple. “I am not guilty of this accusation’ is the complaint made to God. The complaint is followed by a plea for rescue and finally, there is hope.
- How is verse 3 a response for the Micah passage as well?
- Why is truth often combined with the concept of light?
- Have you ever had a conversation with yourself like the one in verse 5?
It is Tuesday of Holy Week – Jesus will be arrested on the Thursday night which is only two days away. This has been a long exhausting day. Jesus has faced the questioning by all the different groups of religious leaders who have tried to discredit him and his teachings but have failed in their attempts. Now he is speaking to his followers. His teaching now has turned to the hypocrisy of the leaders, especially that there actions do not reflect their teachings. Jesus is talking about authentic discipleship as opposed to inauthentic and/or abusive discipleship.
- What is Jesus saying about those we permit to lead and influence us in our spirituality and even more in the whole of our life?
- What is the danger in permitting any human(s) to have guiding power over us?
- Can you see “Love God and Love your Neighbor’ embedded in this passage?
I Thessalonians 2:9-13
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians could easily be misread as being arrogant – ‘imitate me’ and ‘doing what I said’ are a few examples. However, this is a letter of deep love and affection for a people to whom he feels like a father. In our past three readings from this letter Paul has beamed with pride at the amazing reputation of the church at Thessalonica. They are truly living out the truth. In this section Paul points out that his life matches his message and encourages them to continue doing the same. He also reminds them to be very critical to discern truth from lies. Paul is leading the church to be a new society and to ‘live lives worthy of God.’
- What would it look like for you ‘live a life worthy of God?
- What do you suppose are the elements of the relationship of Paul and the Thessalonians that cause him to say ‘I so deeply do care for you, you have become so dear to me’?
- Why is it important to Paul that the people know he lives what he preaches?