Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Americae tertia pars: memorabile provinciae historiam contines engraving by Theodor de Bry, 1592
And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
— Micah 3:1-3
Following his general criticism of the nation, Micah, with biting satire, chastises the leaders of Israel, the ones he sees living off the misery of the people, devouring them as a cannibal would his victim. This is strong language indeed, from a man who has great passion and love for the poor and downtrodden. The book of Micah is perhaps a socialist manifesto, building on God's laws for equality and service, outlined in the Torah and emphasised in Psalms, e.g.
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.1
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,2
Micah's shocking metaphor reminds us that the people do not exist for the sake of the leaders, but leaders are there for the sake of the people. A leader should never serve God's people dominated by the question, "What is in it for me?"3 This is true of course not just for God's people, but for any people, in any community. The world has a history of its political leaders treating people like livestock, or components of a great machine—the latter mindset being carried over into our work places, which became, particularly during the industrial revolution, dehumanised environments where profit heavily outweighed compassion. The mindset still exists, albeit in less brutal forms, but we still find that most corporations treat their workers as second class citizens, the accolades, glory and profit going to those who are in charge—the so-called leaders.
But such self-centered, greedy, careless and thoughtless behaviour is not sustainable, and there will be consequences. Forces of destruction such as the plague of 1666, the Spanish flu of 1918, and today's Covid19 do not come from nothing. Each has its source in neglect, the inevitable neglect that is borne of the profit-focus, where more is taken and less is given back until imbalance becomes the order of the world. As it is.
1 Deuteronomy 32:4
2 Psalms 82:3
3 Micha 3: Against Princes and Prophets by David Guzik, Enduring Word, 2018