Hope: A path to fulfillment! – Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 30, 2013 AM
Many years ago when I worked in a nursing home, there were folks who talked about the joys of years that slipped away too quickly. Some of them were Christians who raised their families, worked faithfully in their churches, and retired from their occupations. In some cases it was difficult for these folks to realize that they must depend on others to do for them what they once did for themselves. Some were discouraged, knowing the effects of aging and illness while others realized that God has given us a hope and a future that will be greater than all the joys of this life combined. Our greatest days await our arrival in heaven or the return of our Savior Jesus Christ!
We all must decide how we will deal with painful and difficult circumstances in this life. Some stoically try to tough out the difficult experiences, while others attempt to push the experiences deep into their subconscious minds. Some blame others and in moments of weakness may even blame God for their losses. Some develop negative attitudes and become bitter and pessimistic towards life. Wise Christians, however, know God has a wonderful future for us beyond this life. Questions we struggle with today either will be answered or they will concern us no longer because we are in His presence. We will leave behind the troubles of this life. We will be renewed with health, strength, and joy greater than anything we have experienced. We too can live in hope of God’s promised future blessings. Micah gives us a message of hope for the future, let’s discover how…
Micah encouraged the people of his day with positive truths. They were going to endure great hardships and discipline from the Lord. Eventually there would be a limited earthly restoration, but Micah promised a complete and wonderful restoration in the future for God’s people. In our journey in this life, we must…
I. Continue to seek God’s truth! (4:1-2)
1. Micah had described the future destruction of Jerusalem in the last verse of chapter 3. Here he followed that terrible prediction with a hopeful vision of a better future for God’s people and Jerusalem. The phrase “the last days” points to future events described by Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The renewal of Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile would have partial fulfillment in these predictions, but the complete fulfillment will occur at Jesus’ second coming. “The mountain of the LORD” refers to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It will be “raised above the hills”, is a promise not only to Israelites but also to those living in all the nations of the world. Jerusalem will be the focal point in the future events Micah described. “Many nations” are the Gentiles, non-Jews, who will travel to Jerusalem in search of the “God of Jacob.” The house is the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and later rebuilt following the Israelite’s return from exile. That structure existed until Herod rebuilt it and the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70 following Jesus’ prediction, because of the Jews rejection of Him. While no temple has yet been rebuilt, some anticipate it will, but others suggest that it has already been rebuilt through Jesus because of prophecies such as this one. The purpose of the visits also points to a future event rather than one in the past. People will come to learn of God’s ways so they can walk in His paths. While people from around the world have gone on spiritual quests to Jerusalem, the scope of this future event is far greater than any pilgrimage in history. Ironically, the Israelites were not seeking to know and obey God’s law in Micah’s day; but in the future Gentiles would. Micah described a turning to the Lord. At this time, many in the world will put aside atheism, agnosticism, and false religions. They will acknowledge the God of the Bible as the one true God. Believers need to continue to seek God’s truth!
EXAMPLE: Other than studying the Bible each week during worship or Sunday school, how diligent are you in seeking its message for your daily life? The truths of the Bible are acknowledged and followed today only by faithful followers of Jesus. Either the majority of people living now continue to reject or they are ignorant of the absolute truth of Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation. When Jesus returns, the whole world will have to acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Christians who suffered and died to spread the gospel will be vindicated and rewarded for their faithfulness. Christians today should be diligent in their study of God’s Word and obedience to His will in anticipation of Jesus’ return. We should continue to seek God’s truth!
Micah offered hope for the faithful remnant of Israel who would return to the land following the Babylonian exile. The prophecy was partially fulfilled when Cyrus of Persia allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem. The complete fulfillment of the prophecy awaits the second coming of Jesus Christ and the full establishment of God’s kingdom. Meanwhile Micah teaches us that…
II. We will enjoy God’s security! (4:3-4)
1. The peoples of the nations will come to the Lord to settle disputes and seek arbitration. “He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.” What Micah said about these Gentiles’ actions condemned the attitudes and deeds of the Israelites in Micah’s day. The Israelites perverted justice and did not seek to judge according to the Lord’s will. In the glorious future of God’s kingdom, judgment will be righteous; and no one will be treated unfairly. The Lord will be completely impartial. The world will be submissive and obedient to the Lord’s rule and decisions. Micah also promised a universal peace in God’s future kingdom. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” This is a promise that was only a dream in Micah’s day and still is up to the present. The peace of the future will be permanent; on that day God’s people will never again train for war. The instruments of warfare, swords and spears, will be transformed into instruments of agriculture, plows and pruning hooks. Instruments of destruction will be redirected toward tools of production. The future kingdom of God promises absolute security, “no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken”! The picture of each man sitting under his grapevine is a portrait of provision and safety (1 Kings 4:25; Zechariah 3:10). There will be no one to frighten him because evil people will not take part in that perfect environment. The false prophets in Micah’s day, for a bribe, promised peace; but only submission to the Lord can provide true peace and security. The future kingdom of God in heaven promises that we will enjoy God’s security!
EXAMPLE: Many philosophers, writers, and so-called religious persons have offered the hope of utopia here on earth. Each has a theory of how peace and security can be obtained by all. They want to return to the paradise of Eden, but they have forgotten how Eden was lost. Adam and Eve lost the perfect world through disobedience to God. Paul said it correctly when he pronounced, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV) Paradise can be regained only through faith in Jesus Christ. All who put their faith and trust in Him will share in the perfection of the future kingdom of God. This promise enables Christians to live with confidence and assurance in today’s uncertain world. Believers know for certain we will enjoy God’s security!
How important are truths about security in God’s kingdom to you? Micah then turns to the results of the sins of the Israelites. They continually refused to listen to the true prophets of God and instead placed their trust in fine sounding words instead of the truth. They would reap what they had sown. Our nation today could well face the same results. We need to repent, turn back to the Lord, and…
III. Accept sin’s consequences! (5:1)
1. The context of this verse began in 4:9, in which Micah predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the coming of Babylonian captivity. Micah also may have had in mind the siege of Jerusalem by Assyria in Hezekiah’s reign. He tells his listeners, “Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us!” However, it was too late! In some translations, they use the term, “daughter of a troop” in referring to Jerusalem. The NIV uses “city of troops.” Micah is addressing the people of Judah who would come under attack. The suffering would be so severe that they would slash themselves in grief. Zedekiah, here called the judge of Israel, was king at the time of the Babylonian attack (2 Kings 25:1-7). The phrase striking on the cheek with a rod referred to humiliating punishments in the Old Testament, Lamentations related the willingness of those who were willing to humiliate themselves before the Lord, “Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.” (Lamentations 3:30 NIV) Some commentators believe the reference of Micah is about Jesus since He was struck on the cheek by His tormenters and is mentioned in the following verse. Jesus was not struck by an invading enemy, however; and the reference better fits the circumstances of Judah’s humiliation at the hands of the Babylonians. Just as believers need to do today, the Israelites needed to accept sin’s consequences and realize God was in the process.
EXAMPLE: People do not readily acknowledge that much of their suffering could be the result of their sinful choices. Those in Judah had no one to blame but themselves for their punishment at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Christians today often suffer as a consequence of their foolish or sinful choices. Disobedience has predictable results. These consequences may include physical illnesses and injuries. They also can include psychological and emotional distress. They always include spiritual consequences as a loving Heavenly Father intervenes to discipline rebellious children. Suffering also can be the result of the actions of others around us. A believing remnant was in Judah when it fell to Babylon, including godly individuals such as Jeremiah and Daniel. They did not suffer exile for their sins but for the sins of others. Christians living in today’s culture that rejects God can suffer when God’s judgment falls on their disobedient nation. We must be faithful in the midst of suffering, responding in a way that testifies of our confidence in God’s providential plan. Believers need to accept sin’s consequences and realize God is in the process!
Micah prophesied the birth of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem in the land of Judah. The prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born some 700 years later. Micah declared one day Jesus will purify the land of idolatry and punish those who opposed the faithful remnant of Israel, and His greatness will be recognized “to the ends of the earth.” The fulfillment of this prophecy will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Micah, meanwhile, teaches us…
IV. To keep holding on to God’s bright promise! (5:2-4)
1. Bethlehem Ephrathah was located about four miles from Jerusalem. Jewish scholars later quoted Micah 5:2 to the magi and identified Bethlehem as the birth place of the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-6). Bethlehem was a humble village described by Micah as “small among the clans of Judah.” The fame of this little town, however, would change dramatically. God promised that, “out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” The Messiah would be ruler over Israel for God. The total fulfillment of this prophecy awaits the second coming of Jesus when He will establish Himself as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16)! Jesus came first to provide salvation through His death and resurrection and promised to return to establish His kingdom. That His origin is from antiquity, from eternity points to the Deity of the Messiah. Jesus Christ is eternal, without beginning and without end (John 1:1). He was David’s Son (descendant), but He was also David’s Lord (Mark 12:35, 37). “Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.” The Lord would abandon His people to their impending judgment in Babylonian exile. The “labor” relates the painful experience they would suffer. However, like childbirth it will be followed by a time of great joy. Micah said the Messiah “will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” The corrupt political and religious leaders in Micah’s day told the people they were secure. In reality, they were headed for war and destruction. Only the Messiah would bring lasting peace and security for citizens of God’s kingdom. God’s people need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!
EXAMPLE: The angels first brought the message of the birth of Jesus Christ to shepherds keeping their flocks in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). “Peace on earth” was a promise associated with the birth of the Son of God (Luke 2:14). Jesus offers peace today for every believer (John 14:27). What He offers is peace with God through His death on the cross, and peace of mind, as we trust God to care for us in this world. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise of peace, however, will be realized only in the heavenly kingdom of God. We will finally live in the safe environment that all desire but that can never be achieved by human governments or armies. In the kingdom of God we will be in our Savior’s presence, we will be ruled by Him, and we will never experience danger or fear again. The return of Jesus Christ is the great hope that sustains us and encourages us as we face the uncertainties and struggles of our daily lives. We need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!
Believers need to continue to seek God’s truth! Believers know for certain we will enjoy God’s security! Believers need to accept sin’s consequences and realize God was in the process! God’s people need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.