For our first lesson in Micah, our youngest children learned the Hebrew word for “hear.” It is שמע shema’. We talked about our mothers who warn us against going into the street or touching a hot stove or playing too rough. Concerned for her children, she warns against things and behaviors that are unsafe for her children. “Don’t do that!” mother warns because she loves us and wants to protect us. And when she calls out, “Did you hear me?!?” She’s not checking for earwax, she’s checking for obedience. When mother gives a word of warning, she’s not asking her children for their opinions nor is she giving her children the option to do what she says. Did you hear me does not mean, “tell me what you think.” Did you hear me does not mean, “consider what I’ve said, but do what you want.” Did you hear me means, “It looks like you’re not obeying my word and you’re about to be punished for disobedience.”
When mother walks away, her word remains, making her “ever-present.” Her children are expected to abide by her word, whether she is there or not. And somehow mother knows when her children are conspiring disobedience or secretly being naughty. She can walk into the room of her children, “and the mountains will melt . . . and the valleys will be cleft, like wax before the fire.” When mother walks into the room, no one can hide. She can see the bump of rump under the blanket, the eyes peeking through the closet, and the wiggly toes at the base of the curtain. And she can definitely see the broken toys and baby sister crying in the room. She can recognize the guilt and punish every wrong-doing with a swift hand.
It’s tempting to reach out and touch that hot stove or play too rough, no matter what mom says. By our own willfulness, we hurt ourselves and cry out, “Mama, help me!” And Mother hears and attends to the cries of her children. When we get hurt even after mother warns us, to whom do we turn for band-aids, healing, and comfort? We turn to mom. The very one who warns us in order to protect us is the one who makes everything better even when we’ve disobeyed.
This is how the Lord functions in Micah. When Micah says Hear or Hearken it implies responding to the word of the Lord with obedience. The Lord comes down in judgment, addressing every transgression. Yet the Lord “does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18)
The youngest children of Ephesus School will be memorizing Micah 6:6-8.