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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Christian journalist: You are the water for your neighbor’s estate (Micah 5)

Micah 5:7, “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind.”

Exegesis and Application

This is a remarkable verse for it tells of God’s common grace among the peoples of the world. He provides His children as refreshment for the entire human race. What we read here is that the people of God, small in number (“remnant”) will be dispersed throughout the world (“in the midst of many nations”) and will act like “dew” and “rain” to the cultures of the world. And nothing can stop this divine blessing (“do not wait for man or linger for mankind”). Let’s take a closer look at this verse as it pertains to Christian journalists.

“The remnant of Jacob” is a clear reference to the followers of Yahweh which means Christians. “Remnant” language is used throughout the minor prophets and Micah uses it repeatedly. The Great Shepherd will save and deliver a faithful few to His heavenly Messianic Kingdom. In Isaiah 11:11 God promises to reclaim from the scattered nations a remnant of faithful followers. Interestingly, in Isaiah 19:25 the remnant will include followers from various nations, not just Israel. Paul notes this in Romans 9 and 11 and applies it to the Christian believer. The Hebrew word for “remnant” (“shear”) means “residue,” or “remaining” or “that which is left over.” The word has both an active and passive sense: those that stick it out and those that are chosen to stick it out.

The next phrase “in the midst of (surrounded by) many peoples (nations)” is paradoxical and inspiring. On one hand, true Israel will be surrounded by enemies and those outside the faith, and yet the promise is for survival in this hostile environment. Christians will find themselves in the minority, without political power (the Hebrew word used here for nations, “am,” can connote political and cultural identity) and yet there is still the existence of the powerless remnant.

The next phrase describes the function of the remnant among the nations – “like dew from the LORD and showers on the grass.” These similes speak of the life, renewal and refreshment and even fertility given to each surrounding nations by God’s people. As a sign of God’s common grace, His people will be a blessing to the nations of the world (cf, Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:24; 28:14; Ps. 72:17; Zech. 8:13; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8). Note that both “dew” (Hebrew = “tal”) and “showers” (Hebrew = “rebibim”) are literally a gift from God. Water can be stored and tapped but not created. Like sunlight a human necessity is at the mercy of a sovereign and beneficent God of creation. Micah in pointing out to a people in a dry land that what moisture the land receives is from Yahweh. Carl F. Keil points out that “dew” is a figurative biblical expression for “refreshing, simulating and enlivening” state of affairs (cf, Deut. 32:2, “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”); Ps. 110:3, “dew of your youth”; 133:3; Hosea 14:5, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily.” “Showers” is a good translation of the Hebrew here. The Hebrew literally means “many raindrops” or “abundance of raindrops” from the root “rabab” which is “many” or “much.” The point, of course is that “dew” and “showers” refer to different forms of water from Jehovah. One is subtle and goes without notice, the other is a torrential downpour easily noticed. But both forms are so natural and taken for granted that special attention is seldom given to the source (God) or the form itself (believers). Here is a one verse summary of the Old Testament teaching that the followers of Jehovah are to mingle with non-followers and to take part in the dominant culture in which God has placed them (cf, Gen. 18:23ff, Abraham/Sodom, in addition to all the references to the Abrahamic promise of “blessings” to the nations of the world; Gen. 39:5, “The LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph”; Ezra 6:10, pray for King Cyrus; Is. 65:8, juice in the grapes; Jer. 29:4-9, “build houses and settle down”; Matt. 13:24-30, parable of the weeds; Acts 27:24, “God has graciously given you [Paul] the lives of all who sail with you”; Rom. 9, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy”; 1 Tim. 2:1-2, praying for kings and authorities).

The next phrase is “which do not wait for man or linger for mankind” and indicates that the “dew” and the “showers” come from a sovereign God. As Leslie Allen has pointed out “man is singularly impotent over water supplies” and “he is helpless before the cruel sun. Ultimately man can neither help nor hinder the supply or so basic a commodity.” There is the sense in which the prophet is saying that the nations cannot prosper and flourish without the heavenly dew and rain showers via the believers in their midst. Without this divine nourishment, which they oppose and persecute, the nations with wither and die like dried grass. Christians are the “channel of God’s grace,” as Allen puts it. It is also important to note that the prophet is saying that God’s blessing through Christians will happen whether or not the nations ask for the blessing – “dew” and “showers” will come even if the nations don’t specifically ask for it because it is good for the nations to have moisture for the land. Christians will bless the surrounding nations just by being living their lives in obedience to the God of creation.

Christian journalist, the clear teaching of this verse is that we are to be the refreshing and life-giving “dew” and “rain” to those around us. Note that the both are temporary and short-lived and must come often for the effect to be felt. The “dew” and the “rain” are not lavish displays but quiet and persistent benefits. These metaphors are a wonderful picture of what we are called to be to our newsroom colleagues.

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