Fourth Sunday of Advent
O Lord, God of hosts,
how long will You be wrathful
toward the prayers of Your people?
You have fed them tears as their daily bread,
made them drink great measures of tears.
You set us at strife with our neighbors;
our enemies mock us at will.
O God of hosts, restore us;
show Your favor that we may be delivered. JSB
It was a terrible time for the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 700 BC. The Assyrians had defeated the Northern Kingdom and carried most of the people into captivity. Judah feared they were next.
Micah was a faithful prophet of God in those fearful days, along with the leading prophet of the day, Isaiah. Each of them had the same Word from God, but delivered in different ways.
Micah gives us an answer to the question of the Psalmist.
And you, O Bethlehem of Ephrath,
Least among the clans of Judah,
From you one shall come forth
To rule Israel for Me—
One whose origin is from of old,
From ancient times. JSB
But, we have jumped ahead of the story. How long shall we eat and drink the tears? What does that mean? What caused the tears?
The story of the people of Judah twenty-seven hundred years ago is the same story faced by millions of Americans today, as well as people all over the earth. In our times of trial, we ask the age-old question: “Where is God?” My child just died. I am facing divorce. I lost my job. “Where is God?”
When all is well in our lives; when we are rich, fat, and comfortable, it is easy to know that God is with us—even as we all too often forget it. It is in the midst of suffering that we cry out to God for help. We forget that God stood with his people for six centuries until they made it back to their homelands. We forget that the promises of God and will be fulfilled in His time.
We are people of the promise, not people of comfort. We know it will be better, we don’t know when.
The Messiah, the One Who Was Promised, came thousands of years after Abraham, a full thousand after King David, and six centuries after Micah voiced the promise.
God is here, but the tears will still flow. Only in Heaven will they by dried.
Be righteous and do good.