Plunged into a World of Presence

Prophets use words to remake the world. The world—heaven and earth, men and women, animals and birds—was made in the first place by God’s Words. Prophets, arriving on the scene and finding that world in ruins, finding a world of moral rubble and spiritual disorder, take up the work of words again to rebuild what human disobedience and mistrust demolished. These prophets learn their speech from God. Their words are God-grounded, God-energized, God-passionate. As their words enter the language of our communities, men and women find themselves in the presence of God, who enters the mess of human sin to rebuke and renew.

Left to ourselves we turn God into an object, something we can deal with, some thing we can us to our benefit, whether that thing is a feeling or an idea or an image. Prophets scorn all such stuff. They train us to respond to God’s presence and voice.

Micah, the final member of that powerful quartet of writing prophets who burst on the world scene in the eighth century B.C. (Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos were the others), like virtually all his fellow prophets—those charged with keeping people alive to God and alert to listening to the voice of God—was a master of metaphor. This means that he used words not simply to define or identify what can be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or tasted, but to plunge us into a world of presence. To experience presence is to enter that far larger world of reality that our sensory experiences point to but cannot describe—the realities of love and compassion, justice and faithfulness, sin and evil . . . and God. Mostly God.

The realities that are Word-evoked are where most of the world’s action takes place. There are no “mere words.”

You’ve been reading from the introduction to the book of Micah found in The Message Bible . Discover the surprise and wonder of Scripture as you hear it with fresh ears. With its vivid language, The Message compels readers to recognize their own lives from a new perspective—God’s perspective.