April 20, 2010, was an ordinary spring day for oil rig workers stationed off the southeast coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. All was well until the rig exploded, killing eleven workers and causing one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in the history of the world.
The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon may have been a surprise to most of the workers on the rig that day, but it wasn’t a surprise to one person. Earlier that morning, rig operator Jimmy Harrell had argued with a senior BP official about what materials should be used to fix a leaky pipe. Harrell suggested a proven, yet expensive, option. However, the BP executive chose the cheaper, unproven, less reliable option. Tragedy, of course, followed, with oil washing up on the shores of the mainland for years to come.
In the first chapter of today’s reading, God speaks through His prophet Micah to warn the people of His imminent judgment. God cannot turn a blind eye toward the sins of His people simply because they are His. Israel’s world is literally going to be torn apart, and God is being intentional with His people, informing them of the judgment due to them because of their disobedience. Micah warns them, “All this will happen because of Jacob’s rebellion and the sins of the house of Israel” (Micah 1:5). God’s people are not going to be pillaged because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because of the greed of surrounding nations. No, God wants His people to know that their immanent destruction is of their own doing and because of their own sin. Still, His warning goes unheeded.
But in chapter 2, God offers a ray of hope amidst the lament and despair. He says through Micah, “I will indeed gather all of you, Jacob; I will collect the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in the middle of its pasture” (Micah 2:12). He tells them there is One who will break open the way for them, and then lead them into freedom.
Indeed, a deliverer came and freed the remnant from captivity; and Jesus, our Deliverer, has already come to free us from our oppressive slavery to sin from which we once lived. But even while we’ve been set free through the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus, we still struggle to find contentment in that freedom. We often struggle to rest in Him, returning to our old ways, despite their ugliness and oppression.
By grace, may we heed and reflect on God’s message through the prophet Micah. May we look forward to God’s coming judgment, and turn our hearts toward Him in repentance. And may we learn to cling to the finished work of Jesus Christ, resting in our deliverance secured in Him.
Written by Chris Martin