I remember Miss McNamara at Blessed Sacrament School in about 1955. She would come into the room and clap her hands real loud to make us 4th graders settle down. She had to get our attention, but it never worked. Then she would rap her desk with her pointer. We would all hear it but never took it seriously until Sister Emily walked into the room. We had all been pulled by the ear or had our hands slapped with rulers, or our arms nearly ripped out of their joints by sister Emily.  She had a powerful effect on us. Miss McNamara hadn’t earned that kind of respect yet. The boys making the trouble, me included, would all sit down and shut up then. When Sister Emily was around, we knew immediately that she meant business. Most of the Old Testament prophets are like Miss McNamara. They shouted out their warnings to the world but the bad boys didn’t listen. The interesting thing about the Prophet Micah is that they did listen to him. They repented of their sins which postponed God’s judgment on the people for over a hundred years.

Micah called for their attention and like Sister Emily, he got it. This is clear in Micah 1:2-3, “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.” Prior says, “The double command to hear and to listen, issued with such peremptory suddenness at the beginning of Micah’s prophecy, is directed to you peoples and addressed to the earth, and all that is in it (2). Everyone and everything in the entire world is required to pay attention to these words. They may be concerned with one small area at one specific point in time, but they contain crucial lessons for all people at any time.”[1]

We often view God as being way off in space and removed from the daily events of the world and our personal lives. Yes, God is transcendent in his glory and majesty, but He is not removed from the events in our world and has promised justice to all people. He will appear in history. Kaiser says, “Here is the great Old Testament theme of theophany, the appearance of God. It depicts our Lord suddenly coming in all His power and majesty to help His beleaguered people or to dispense justice regardless of the persons upon whom that judgment must come. So awesome is His presence that even nature itself threatens to come apart as it responds to Him.”[2] Those who listen and repent can be saved. Those who reject the message will meet Sister Emily. Of course, this is a minor illustration of the vast destruction God’s judgment will bring to the “bad boys.” God breaks into the events of history to either save people or to judge them for their sins. After affirming God’s love for the whole world, John 3:17-18 tells us, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

[1] Prior, David. 1988. The Message of Joel, Micah and Habakkuk: Listening to the Voice of God. Edited by J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Kaiser, Walter C., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1992. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Vol. 23. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.