“But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; They do not understand his plan.” (Micah 4:12)
We, as humans, have a problem when it comes to relating with God. We are finite and limited. We live within time. While we can study the past, and even learn from the past, we do not know everything that is happening. While we may be experts in what is currently happening in our own lives, we are limited in knowing what is happening in the lives of others, especially those around the world. We are self-absorbed, often finding it difficult to see beyond ourselves and what we think is best for us personally. Because of our limited resources we have no way of being able to see how all parts fit together. We make assumptions based on what we determine is truth, and then live out those assumptions whether they are true or not. And, to point out the obvious, we have no ability at all to see the future or to act in the present based on what will happen in the future.
God, on the other hand, is eternal and omniscient. God has always been and always will be. God lives outside of time, and thus is able to interact with all events and situations in a way we could never understand. God knows the past, even the intricate details that through human reasoning are beyond knowing. God knows the present, not just the moments and events, but the thoughts and inclinations of the heart. God is outward focused, concerned with what is happening with all people and creatures. God’s wisdom is beyond understanding. God knows how the world works and knows what is most needed for life. And if that were not enough, God also knows the future. God knows the goal to which God is moving the creation. God can see past the pressure of the present situation because God knows what the response will be tomorrow.
While all of these statements may seem obvious, we often seem to forget them when relating with God. A tragic event happens and we instantly assume that God caused the tragedy, or at the very least God allowed the tragedy, because God is punishing us. We receive bad news (a job loss, a home loan not going through, a rejection letter from the graduate school we wanted to enter) and we immediately question God’s love for us. We see the success of others and we wonder why everyone else seems to never struggle in life but we can’t seem to catch a break. And then we draw the conclusion that God is never going to come through for us. We’ve written the ending before witnessing all of the acts unfold.
But God knows more than we do. God sees the future and understands the present. God doesn’t get overwhelmed about the present crisis because God knows ultimately how the story will end.
Micah begins his book with oracles of judgment and destruction. Things are not going well for Judah, mainly because of their own sins. Micah is prophesying exile. Yet in chapter four, Micah speaks a work of hope. Even though destruction is coming, God will not forget Jerusalem, but that in the future Mt. Zion will rise above all other places, peace will reign, and the Messiah will come. And in the midst of this oracle Micah sheds some light on the way God works. The enemies have surrounded Jerusalem and are cheering its destruction. They can see the handwriting on the wall, Jerusalem will be destroyed and they will rejoice while it takes place. God sees their rejoicing but cautions that they may be rejoicing too quickly. You are rejoicing now at Jerusalem’s demise because you do not know the future, God says. Yes, Jerusalem will be destroyed now, but a new city will rise from the ashes. God will not abandon the city. Instead, this is all part of God’s plan for an even greater future. There is hope.
We would do well to remember this prophecy. How often have we predetermined the ending of what is taking place? How often have we questioned God’s love or God’s faithfulness before God has had a chance to respond to a tragedy? How often have we made assumptions about the present situation when more time would reveal a future we could have never imagined? How often have we lost sight of God’s promised good ending to the story, and instead become depressed in the present moment. Before we determine we know the ending of the story we must remember, God is still in charge, and God is still directing the story toward a good ending.