Thursday, September 24, 2020

Civil Proceedings

As we wrap up our look at the goodness of God as expressed in the minor prophets (and this has been only a glimpse - the minor prophets are full of this stuff), we'll look at one more passage. This one is in Micah 6.

God is frustrated with His wayward people (are you noticing a theme yet?), and He determines to bring His judgment upon them. Here we are again, presented with the greatness of God - the all-powerful, all-mighty, sovereign nature of God that can just bring judgment on His people because of His righteous anger. As we said earlier this week, that's every bit His right in His greatness. 

And it's kind of what we're all afraid of, isn't it? We're afraid that God's just going to decide to rain down judgment on us. We're terrified that we will upset Him somehow, and He'll just come in judgment without giving us a chance to even understand what we did. So many of us live our lives afraid of making a single mistake because we have this idea of a difficult God with such high standards and a short fuse. A lot of us fear that one day, we will blink and find ourselves in Hell without any idea what we did to end up there. Some of us, if we don't have this thought now, have had this thought before. 

But Micah offers us a word that ought to bring us comfort, if we read it for what it's worth and not in the eyes of our own fear or preconceived notions. Micah says, "The Lord has filed a lawsuit against his people. He is arguing his case against Israel."

It is easy to read this with an eye for God's greatness and think, well, we're doomed. The Lord is dragging us into the courtroom where He'll lay out all our sins in front of us and give us the death penalty. If we're not careful, this verse can reinforce the misconceptions that we have about God's judgment. 

Now, read it with an eye for His goodness. 

Because the thing about a lawsuit is that you have to bring evidence. When you present your case, you have to lay it all out on the table. You have to show not just what's happened, but why it's a problem. You have to build a case to prove your point. There is no courtroom in any just place in all the world (and justice is important because our God is just) where "because I said so" constitutes any reasonable proof. No matter who you are. 

If there's anyone in all the universe who ought to be able to say "because I said so," it's God, but the fact that He brings His case into a courtroom, that He compares it to a lawsuit and to a case He wants to present, means that He doesn't want to rely on His authority. He wants you to see the evidence for yourself. 

He wants to lay it all out on the table and not just show that it's broken, but show why it's a problem. He wants to help you get a vision for the things that He sees and why they bug Him so much. And it's not about proving you sinful and despicable and horrible; it's about being honest about where things are missing, where there's room to grow. One of the cool things about the goodness of our God is that He doesn't keep things from us; we don't have to guess what He's thinking. He's willing to bring the evidence and show us. He's willing to put it on the table in front of us. All we have to do is show up and be willing to face it. 

One of the other cool things about the goodness of our God is that He's not looking for a condemnation. If He were, it would be a criminal court and not a lawsuit. Lawsuits are civil. They are about showing a burden of error, of injustice, of neglect, or whatever. You aren't condemned in a civil court; you are only found liable. You are shown exactly how your broken things got you here, and you are given the structure around you to make it better. 

Which means that God's case against you is an encouragement for you to keep growing. 

Now, that's good

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