It’s not easy to read about the destruction of human life, even when those humans had been oppressive enemies of God’s people. They had their triumphs in this world, but their time was done. Completely done.
Justice. The Assyrians who had been ruthless to Israel and Judah would now be silent. God allowed and orchestrated their demise at the hands of the Babylonians, the same empire who trampled on Judah. Such an interesting time in history with profound messages from our Creator.
What a metaphor God uses here in this teachable moment: a cup filled with his wrath to be shared. His anger overflows to other nations, not just Judah! God directed Jeremiah to the nations sharing in this promise of doom. They were surrounding nations and those, like Egypt, who had done business or had association in some way with Judah.
I’m unsure how Jeremiah would “make” those other nations drink. What does that even mean exactly? But Jeremiah claims to have been successful on that mission. Can you imagine what the other nations thought after hearing the God of Israel was not only pouring out his wrath on his own people but on them, too! Whether they listened or not is unknown. The time was coming when they’d be “crazed by the warfare” God was sending their way.
Can you imagine the abuse Jeremiah would have taken for being the messenger of this recitation from God. This is not a popular message. Nobody likes to be spoken about in a negative light. Certainly, what Jeremiah said about God’s people was true. Sometimes the truth can be brutal.
What emotions stirred for you when you read this passage? Right off the bat, I felt a bit defensive for God. The persons he described had abandoned him and hurt him deeply. The words may be harsh, but we can’t say they aren’t true.
What a great conclusion to the book of Micah which began with a resounding declaration of doom for Judah and Israel! How fitting that Micah closes this book with what seems almost like a prayer or song reminding us of God’s grace.
Jesus called himself the good shepherd in John 10. Micah uses that image, and I can’t help but think of Jesus. A shepherd guides his sheep and protects their welfare. Even so, the world will see and be amazed at what the Lord will do for us. I long for the day when people will “cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them.” Can you even imagine?
We have the fifth and final vision Amos records for us. This one is special because of God’s presence seen by Amos at the altar. There are very few people who have seen God, so Amos is immediately set apart as belonging to a special class of God’s ambassadors. We can also be ambassadors for God in our own circles and beyond. What does that look like for you?
In this intimate encounter, God confirms all of the messages he has already given Amos. This vision is thought to be one Amos received at a time later than the other visions. Take a moment to just let these words settle. “Then I saw a vision of the Lord standing beside the altar.” Seeing God is an honor I can only imagine having. How will it feel?