Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The most famous oracle

The announcement of the most devastating judgment and punishment is followed by the most famous oracle of the prophetic literature. Micah presents a vision of paradise on earth that has been called “an impossible dream for all of humankind.”

The striking contrasts between Micah 4:1-5 and 3:9-12 serve to link these two sections demonstrating not only coherence of the literary structure but also the centrality of Zion. In one sense, the Prophet also contrasts Zion with Sinai. No one can touch Sinai because Yahweh protected his holiness with fire. Micah does not promise protection for Zion. Instead, the Prophet proclaims an idealistic and utopian vision of the future that seems so realistic it sounds feasible.

Mic 4:1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,

Mic 4:2 and many nations shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Mic 4:3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;

Mic 4:4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

Mic 4:5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.

This oracle supported the belief of the audience that Zion can not be destroyed. Micah does so at this point in his argument to stress the certainty of disaster. They had said: “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No evil shall come upon us.”

“In the latter days” now refers to the time after the destruction. As Shaw stated: “The very oracle in which Micah’s audience found security actually demonstrates their security is false.” And further “The entire speech is well crafted to shake the false confidence of the leaders of society through confrontation.”

The abrupt change in form from an oracle of doom to one of salvation is consistent with the theme of destruction and renewal that is so characteristic of the prophetic literature. This oracle completes the second of three cycles of messages of judgment and salvation.

Copyrighted 2007


Post a Comment

<< Home