Leaders Sent by God

Scripture Focus: Micah 6.2-4
2 “Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; 
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. 
For the Lord has a case against his people; 
he is lodging a charge against Israel. 
3 “My people, what have I done to you? 
How have I burdened you? Answer me. 
4 I brought you up out of Egypt 
and redeemed you from the land of slavery. 
I sent Moses to lead you, 
also Aaron and Miriam. 

Mark 1.7-8
7 “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

Reflection: Leaders Sent by God
By John Tillman

God points out Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, the human leaders he sent to guide Israel out of slavery to freedom.

The people God uses are never perfect. Moses had a violent temper, both as a young man and near the end of his life. Aaron built the golden calf and then lied about it. Miriam criticized Moses’ interracial marriage and was cursed for it.

It’s good to recognize God uses imperfect people. If we sin and repent, God can still forgive and bless others through us. But how far does that go? Do we give a pass to pastors with frequent outbursts of temper and violent speech? Do we excuse leaders who accept cultural idols of the moment? Do we defend racist comments? “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6.1-2)

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were confronted about those sins and repented. No one made excuses. For those leaders who continue in sins, Micah has another example—Balaam. 

Not only will God use well-intentioned but imperfect leaders in our lives, he will use outright enemies. God can turn enemies’ evil intentions into good outcomes. For leaders inside or outside our churches who are unrepentant, the best we can hope is that like Balaam, God will somehow turn their evil into good.

God continues to use imperfect men and women to lead his people but he has gone even further than that, sending to us his own son, Jesus.

John the Baptizer was one of those imperfect leaders God sent. He said of Jesus, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” We are not worthy either. With what can we come before the Lord? 

Micah asks, “will the Lord be pleased…” with any extravagant offering? No. Even Micah’s simplest definition of God’s requirements is beyond us. (Micah 6.8) Our justice is tainted. Our mercy is rarely given. Our humility gives way to pride. 

Therefore, God has offered his own firstborn for the sin of our souls. (Micah 6.7) Jesus has acted justly on our behalf, has loved mercy enough to die for us, and walks humbly before God appealing to us. He not only saves us but leads us.

What more could God do for us than this? Will we remember or will we turn away?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine our of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6

Today’s Readings
Micah 6 (Listen – 2:28)
Mark 1 (Listen – 5:05)

This Weekend’s Readings
Micah 7 (Listen – 3:36)Mark 2 (Listen – 3:55)
Nahum 1 (Listen – 2:24)Mark 3 (Listen – 3:41)

Read more about Complaints and Responses
Moses took these personal attacks to heart, growing angry rather than compassionate toward the people’s legitimate needs.

Read more about A Bad Day Fishing
Peter’s first recorded words to Jesus in response to the miracle are “go away.”
Peter seems to believe that his sins disqualify him.

Into His Light — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: 
Micah 6.8-12
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 
And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy 
and to walk humbly with your God. 
9 Listen! The Lord is calling to the city— 
and to fear your name is wisdom— 
“Heed the rod and the One who appointed it. 
10 Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, 
and the short ephah, which is accursed? 
11 Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, 
with a bag of false weights? 
12 Your rich people are violent; 
your inhabitants are liars 
and their tongues speak deceitfully. 

Reflection: Into His Light — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

In Advent we celebrate that Christ came, and is coming, as light into darkness. 

The ancient church set Advent and Christmas in its place in the calendar in order to use the astrological as an illustration of the theological. In the Northern Hemisphere at this time there is a literal darkening of the world as days grow shorter and nights longer. Against this darkening sky we set Christ, the Daystar. (2 Peter 1.19; Matthew 2.2; Malachi 4.2) He is the light and hope of the world. In the setting of Advent’s darkening skies, he shines all the brighter.

Yet, the darkness we speak of at Advent goes beyond metaphor. The worst darkness that Jesus dared to enter was not some hovel or cave in Bethlehem, but the darkened hollows of our hearts in which we hide our sins. The corruption of this world deepens the darkness we live in each day and, in sinfulness, we prefer darkness to light.

This is what Micah speaks of in his lament over what will become of Israel.

What is required of us is justice, but we prefer to take any advantage we can get away with. What is required of us is mercy, but we would rather take violent vengeance for any wrongs. What is required of us is humility, but we prefer to pridefully exalt ourselves at nearly every opportunity. 
What is required of us is to walk with our God, but we prefer the company of mockers, bullies, and strong men whom we would rather rely on than God.

When the lights come on we will be exposed with our bag of false weights, which speaks of the unfair advantages we take against others.

When the lights come on, we will be shown to be guilty dragons with ill-gotten treasures. Like poor Eustace, hoarding our gold, yet longing for the slice of a lion’s claws to release us.

In Advent, the Lord is calling to all wicked cities. The Lord is calling to us. He is ready to bring the light. He will cut us free from our greed and pride and sin. May we anticipate his coming and repent, laying down all the sin that he gives us light to see.

If we let him, he will save us from our own darkest dark by bringing us into his light.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — Psalm 67.1

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Today’s Readings
Micah 6 (Listen – 2:28)
Luke 15 (Listen – 4:19)

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Read more about The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent
In the season of Advent, we confidently wait in a dimming world, knowing our hope in the return of the light is assured.