Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Micah 6-7and My Own Article on "Continuing Revelation" (Part 5)

Micah 6 – The mountains and hills will be witness to Yahweh’s accusations against his people – the very foundations of the earth. God has given us so many blessings – how shall we return thanks? Sacrifices? Libations? First-born children? NO!! “What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

But what we do instead is keep the standard of the world – we gain wealth by cheating and violence (6:11-12). Omri and Ahab set the bad example then, but there are similar models in our day.  Because they [and we] follow these bad examples the Lord says, “I will make an example of you, bringing you to complete ruin. You will be treated with contempt, mocked by all who see you” (6:16).

Micah 7 – The prophet is miserable. “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth” (7:2). Corruption is everywhere – “the man in power pronounces as he pleases” (7:3). But punishment will come from the North (the traditional invasion route). Micah says, “for my part, I look to Yahweh, my hope is in the God who will save me” (7:7).

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy: though I have fallen, I shall rise; though I live in darkness, Yahweh is my light" (7:8). This does not happen just once in history and it does not apply to only one people. We today also yearn for God’s care and his word to be felt palpably in our lives, both personal and corporate. “As in the days when you came out of Egypt grant us to see wonders” (7:13).

“What god can compare with you: taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger for ever but delighting in showing mercy?” (7:18). Have pity on us. The great faithfulness of God is celebrated by Micah.  God, who gave promises to Abraham and Jacob, whose people so often fail him and run off after other gods; this God of ours will never fail to deal with the guilt and sin of those who seek Him out.  The promise always remains though only a small remnant of those under the promise respond.

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“Continuing Revelation”
Part 5
The idea of checking one’s own sense of who Christ was with the Christ of Scripture was an important one to me. I remember wondering how modern Friends could be so cavalier about not feeling they needed to be familiar with the Scriptures, when really the only way we could be introduced to Christ was through these early writings. That he was more than the writings, I could accept; but that he could be known without first being revealed to us through the men who had known him or known others who had known him—this I had trouble seeing. The Scriptures were not dispensable even if they were not completely exhaustive.

The other part of the Friends’ discernment approach that I found meaningful was the way they used the idea of the cross—that the life Christ offered us was on the other side of the cross. The way this worked was simple—you could test a leading by asking yourself if the leading would bring you satisfaction and a sense of fulfilled desire or restraint and self-denial. If the leading served your “worldly desires” or gratified you in some immediate way, it was probably not from God. I know this sounds crazy to modern ears, perhaps a little masochistic too. But it was not. Maybe it was oversimplified, but the idea of it was that if something you felt called to do simply served you, your wishes, or your will, it probably was something rooted in your own will. And what you strove to come into as a Friend was to stand in God’s will and come into a life that stood in his will. The testimony of Friends was that this life would ultimately be much richer and much better than any life you could conceive of in your own power.

Another important principle of discernment among Friends was the principle of testing individual leadings against the corporate judgment of the gathered Meeting. This was the whole purpose of what later came to be called the Meeting for Business. Here “clearness” could be sought by individuals who felt burdened with some “leading” or “call” they needed support for—like traveling in the ministry or undertaking some project requiring resources beyond those personally available. The Meeting could also step in if it was united in believing that a Friend had overstepped his or her guide or brought disrepute on the Society.

The principles outlined here created among Friends a conservative way of containing the dangers inherent in their new covenant approach to Christ’s gospel. And when they were combined with making changes in the established decisions and conducting the practical affairs of the Society, they were very stable indeed. Indeed, it was difficult to make any changes to established ways of conducting community business or articulating the principles of the Society. Any policy or practice formally instituted by a Meeting or Yearly Meeting for its constitutive Meetings was impossible to change without there being “unity” to change it—and unity meant fundamental accord among everyone involved in the business session called to consider the policy. There were a few ways around this demand, but very few. It would be too complicated to describe in detail the business procedures Friends instituted in the early days of the Society, but they have kept the Society’s formal documents (the minutes and disciplines published by Meetings and Yearly Meetings) very “traditional”, very consistent with early documents and statements.

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