Thursday, July 20, 2017

Assembling the halt, the outcast, the afflicted


6 In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;
7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 4:6-7)

When I read this, it seems to me it is talking about the gathering of Israel, but in curious terms. The halt are the lame, the “driven out” are those who were marginalized or rejected, and the afflicted are those who had some sort of physical or mental problem that was unexplainable or seemingly incurable.  Why speak of these as part of the gathering of Israel in the last days?  

Also, the blessings given to them are interesting and even a little counterintuitive.

As a first instance, the Lord promises that those who were halt will be made a remnant.  The “remnant” in battle terms would be those who make it through war and destruction that killed or scattered everyone else. You’d think that only the fit would survive, but no, the halt do--the ones too lame to run, those who aren’t seen as a threat.

As another instance, the Lord promises to gather those who were driven out and make them a strong nation.  These are the outcasts, the marginalized, maybe even the people who had to leave because they couldn’t accept what was going on.  Or they might have been driven out because they were criminals.  They are so few, so alone…  And the Lord says He will make them a strong nation?  That’s a major miracle for the marginalized to become such a strong institution that it might be called a nation.  It would have to have a justice system, so any criminals would have reformed.

And the afflicted. This could be those with physical handicaps and/or mental illnesses. They are the people who probably had heads shaken over them and hands thrown in the air, saying, “I just don’t know what to do about them! What can I do for them?”   These were often seen as people God was punishing.     But if they are gathered to Mount Zion, then they are obviously being blessed instead of cursed!

All these the Lord says He will reign over in Mount Zion forever. These are people who accept His guidance and commandments. They believe in Him.  Could it be that their handicaps and marginalization and rejections and trials have humbled them enough to listen?

I get some great principles from these verses.
1)   Handicaps, marginalization, and afflictions can prepare us to follow the Lord if they humble us.
2)   The Lord reaches out to all types of people with all kinds of challenges and has the power to make weaknesses into strength.  Once again, the halt (lame)  become the remnant (the ones who survive). The outcast (rejected) becomes the strong nation, able to create unity and social cohesion so that others won’t suffer similarly. The affliected one who previously seemed punished by God becomes the faithful adherent in Zion.
3)   Behind the Sunday smiles, all of us have some problem we need help with. Even those who look like they have perfect lives have hidden challenges. (“In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”) We are all broken somehow, all in need of healing, in need of Christ.

In a way, it also prophesies of days when handicaps and affliction would become better understood so that tools and means to cope with them would be created, and people who had these problems would be given the resources to transcend their difficulties and progress further.  Again, all of that shows the Lord doesn’t want to leave any of His children behind, and He reaches out to all.