I know I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, but I have an excuse; I was invited, no, told is more like it, that I was going with a friend to the town of Emmett Idaho. It is a mere 900+ miles North East of me and about a 15-hour drive on a good day.
Our day, when you look at the physical evidence, was not that good, but, as you can see, got better.
Our first day on the road was met with two tire blowouts, which cost over $1200 and burned up about four hours of our day. We rolled into Emmett on the second day of our adventure.
We stopped and started the truck many times as we headed toward the ranch. The trailer we towed, was finally parked and disconnected, and the vehicle was parked for the last time that second day. Wouldn’t you know it, the truck would not start. The majority of the plans we had centered around the truck working. By the way, both of these vehicles were borrowed. We got the truck out of the shop, after an overnight stay, on Thursday evening; too late to get any work done and still leave at 0300 on Friday morning. While this story so far doesn’t leave me the room to tell about how God’s grace and mercy played a massive role in this trip/adventure, but it was clear to us.
This adventure, however, is not exactly what I wanted to convey to you. Lacking any internet or phone service from the ranch, I only had brief minutes to contact my wife as we made excursions into town with an older jeep that had a mind of its own. As I think back on it, I believe my friend told me that there was little contact with the outside world while we were on the ranch. Considering the plans, he has for the property and the number of people he foresees coming there, having internet will be a good thing and should have been resolved by the time you read this.
So, what did I do in my relative few minutes to myself? I finished a home study worksheet and emailed it off, just so they could have my two cents on the subject matter; and, after a few moments of pondering, decided to start an in-depth look at the Book of Micah.
My time at the ranch took me away from a home group; a home church I had one chance to attend, and the two guys I meet with twice a week. These two guys have become somewhat of an accountability group for me. What I mean is this – we are told in scripture to confess our sins to one another.
James 5:15-16 NASB and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
This phrase, “and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him,” really bothers me, especially when it is couched in tones of guilt and manipulation, as some pastor is doing his best to control the irrational behaviors of his audience. Get real, saps like me, who go into their pastor’s office, with hopes of talking openly and freely – like you might with a friend, hoping they will be a sounding board as you “confess” your sins, quickly learn that the pastor is not and never will be our friend.
Sins are the simple act of missing the bull’s eye on a target. We, as followers of Christ, are shooting to hit the target constantly, every day. The obvious factor is that the target is often eighty yards away and now looks to be about the size of a button on your shirt. If I give myself the freedom to indulge in rage, I have missed the mark, at least for that moment. When I sit with my friends, I talk about these moments, and, I talk about the constant, grinding issues that live with me and feed into my anxiety.
All these things have helped to make me who I am; and, if I am willing to open my mouth, following the lead of the Holy Spirit, the results can be amazing. The way I see it, God made me who I am, and there are people out there who can relate to me and are just waiting for me to feed into their lives.
Well, this is not a bible study, but more of a little insight into me; and that, has everything to do with Micah at this point.
That being said, what about this book of Micah?
Having come back from Idaho with barely enough time to cover Micah 1:1, I did not feel prepared to lead a bible study on the book. To put it bluntly, I fouled up and got mislead by the verse and my search tools, as I tried to find out what made Micah the person he was.
Some would ask, why is knowing what things influenced Micah important to the study? Because, external influences create attitudes, motivation, language, and reactionary ways. Take Jephthah for example. I always refer to him as the biker gang leader of the Bible. You find his story in Judges 11:1-10. I will leave you to read that for yourself.
So as I sat with my friend (the other guy got a job and won’t be around anymore), I opened with this confession about my shoddy preparations to walk through a study on Micah.
I saw what verse one had to say, and honestly, I stopped right there.
Micah 1:1 NASB The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Aside from Micah, which I know so little about, the only other names that rang any bells are Ahaz and Hezekiah, and so I began to do word searches.
The first name I looked at was Jothan.
Jothan, it turns out was also a son of Gideon, but not the Jothan I was looking for. Gideon was one of the judges of Israel – that means he fought and won a battle or two giving Israel peace for a few years. It turns out Gideon liked women and had a rather large concubine, hence we have Jothan. But in finding Jothan, we find Abimelech, another son of Gideon, who, after the death of Gideon decided to go rogue and take the lead over Israel by killing off seventy of his brothers. It turns out that Gideon even has an eighth generation grandson named Ahaz. After close to five hours of pursuing this detour, I found myself realizing that Jothan is being referred to as the son of a king; and that could not be referring to Gideon.
Although killing your brothers, all on one rock would be evil in my book, Abimelech did nothing in comparison to king Ahaz who is described in the ISBE as: “a gross idolater, and sought safety in heathen ceremonies, making his son pass through the fire to Molech, consulting wizards and necromancers, and other idolatrous practices.”
On top of that, there was no link between Hezekiah and Gideon; and all of them were referred to as kings. One other error became blaring apparent to me as, Micah comes on the scene somewhere around 730 BC, while Gideon is dated back to 1191 BC, over 400 years earlier.
So, in light of confession, I told my friend about this side trip and how much time I wasted. [My friend was a youth pastor at one point in his life, and, he was a church elder.] Odd how I should use the term wasted, as I gained great insight into the life of Gideon and his sons. But it did nothing to further my understanding of Micah. I had to make a U-turn and begin looking in more appropriate places for information pertaining to Micah.
So as I sit with men, like my friend, I am always reminded of this theme in James, as I “confess” my attempts at hitting the mark/bullseye and do not do such a good job. We laughed about the process and enjoyed some fantastic conversation about Micah as we discussed what my friend had learned by merely reading a few chapters ahead.
I mentioned I had been in the State of Idaho, USA., the previous week with minimal internet usage.
On one occasion into town, I found that one of my brothers had put up a lengthy video in which he discussed sanctification. He opened the video with a brief introduction of himself, and then said something to this effect: this is going to be a long and difficult discussion, so sit back, relax, and let’s dig into the scripture. At that point, I shut the video off as I could not afford 45 minutes of my time.
Several days passed and we were now traveling back home from Idaho when I said to my friend as he drove, “are you ready for some deep theology?” He paused, looked at me, and surprisingly said, sure, go ahead. I replied, “alright then, let’s talk about sanctification.” I had already mentioned to him about my brother’s video and how I felt about it. I said, Jesus died and rose again, during which time the book of Hebrews explains how He, as the high priest, sanctified all the heavenly utensils, and us, with His blood. I said, Jesus, is not incapable nor inadequate; therefore He is never changing His mind, nor will His actions toward us ever change. He sanctified us, one time, for all eternity. And, there is nothing that I can do to alternately affect His actions toward me. At this point, I stopped and said, there is sanctification in thirty seconds or less, and it was not that difficult, was it.
Knowing I was going to a place with minimal distractions, and that a primary reason for being there was to reduce my stress somehow, I had talked with God about restoring some level of communication with Him. As the character Christopher Robin would say to Winnie the Pooh in AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, you silly old bear, I too heard something like that and realized that God had never stopped talking. I had allowed the overwhelming stress factors to drown out His voice. Something simple as a thirty-second conversation about something so profound as sanctification, made me aware, once again, of how close the Father indeed is to us, should we choose to follow Him.