Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, March 10, 2006

Double Themes: Bible Commentary on Micah 5 with poem by John Hay, God's Vengeance

Daily Readings
Job 27 Exodus 16 Micah 5 I Corinthians 4

Daily Text: Micah 5

Double Themes
Two themes reappear repeatedly in this chapter and they affect both Assyria, the aggressor, and Judah, the people of God. The themes are those of peace and vengeance, both attributed to God. Let us look at how they work. At the outset Judah is besieged and her ruler is ritually abased by being struck on the cheek. McKeating documents that from Mesopotamian sources the king is struck on the cheek by the priest and is thus abased only to resume his dignity following the ritual. This could be tied into the ruler from Bethlehem Ephrathah in 5:2-5a who will give up his tokens of rule only for the amount of time it takes a woman in labor to deliver! This, of course, could refer to Jesus, also, who was abased for a day or so and after three days took up his life and his majesty at the right hand of God. But he does so as “the one of peace.” At the end of the chapter, the Lord addresses Judah declaring that he will strip her of every inappropriate practice and symbol, exercising his vengeance against her. Peace and vengeance in relationship to Judah.

In 5:5 Assyria invades and what is the preparation to oppose her? Seven shepherds, usually the symbol of pastoral attention, and eight military princes are set up to oppose Assyria militarily. Shepherd and soldier, both given to address the invasion!

In the middle of the chapter, 5:7-9, again we have two images, metaphors in this case, those of dew and a lion. The remnant of Jacob, in both cases, surrounded by many nations will be like dew and then like a lion. The dew will provide all of the moisture needed to make productive the land. It will come, presumably on righteous and wicked alike, providing what is needed. The lion, on the other hand, will with violence address Jacob’s adversaries and will cut them off.

It is fascinating how the God of Hosts will not let himself be bound by expectations and the limitations of most cultures. He will both be God of peace and God of vengeance. Can we not expect the same?

God’s Vengeance
John Hay

Saith the Lord, “Vengeance is mine”;
“I will repay,” saith the Lord;
Ours be the anger divine,
Lit by the flash of his word.

How shall his vengeance be done?
How, when his purpose is clear?
Must he come down from the throne?
Hath he no instruments here?

Sleep not in imbecile trust,
Waiting for God to begin;
While, growing strong in the dust
Rests the bruised serpent of sin.

Right and wrong,--both cannot live
Death-grappled. Which shall we see?
Strike! Only justice can give
Safety to all that shall be.

Shame! to stand faltering thus,
Tricked by the balancing odds;
Strike! God is waiting for us!
Strike! for the vengeance is God’s.

Collect for the Day
O Christ, Ruler and Lord of the world,
to thee we consecrate this land,
its sceptre and its power.
Guard thy land, guard it from every foe.
[475:242:494:Emperor Constantine 272-337]


Blogger Norm said...

This is the only place in the Old Testament that specifically states Jesus will be born in Bethlehem. This is the prophecy that stated Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Mt2:6; Jn7:42). This prophecy was fulfilled. Herod the Great took this prophecy so seriously that he had all male infants in Bethlehem killed

11:39 AM  

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