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The crucifixion foretold! — Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31

The crucifixion foretold! — Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 9, 2017

What was the most memorable event in your life? What historical event do you remember more than anything else in your life; the one moment in time that will always impact you that you will always remember? Several thousand years ago something occurred that so impacted the lives of those who witnessed it that they had to write down exactly what they had witnessed and how it impacted them. It was the crucifixion of an itinerant teacher known as Yeshua Ben Yoseph; Jesus son of Joseph.

Many churches around the world will celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by crowds of people proclaiming him the messiah. Jesus would die within a few short days on a cross, crucified by the Romans because of the lust for power by Jewish leadership. However did you know that this event was predicted nearly a thousand years earlier by King David? Jesus’ crucifixion was foretold, let’s discover what David wrote and how it impacts our lives today…

Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31

In his life David was not perfect and in fact had sinned against the Lord with Bathsheba. I believe that perhaps this Psalm reflects how God was dealing with his sin. In our deepest trials God can often speak his clearest and in this moment I believe…

I. God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah! (Vv. 1-3, 6-8)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

1. During King David’s time if one sinned they suffered the consequences of their sin and one of them was that God would remove his presence from them immediately. So we find David, a man after God’s heart, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” because this is the way he felt! When we sin as believers God’s grace is sufficient and we never lose his presence! Yet we discover David did and not only felt “forsaken” but realized just how far removed God was because of his sin. He therefore asks in dismay, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” He has been in distress evidently for days and nights but God had not answered. The salvation David desired was not eternal but rather from his present condition! Yet David understood that God was “enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.” God was in control. Here in David’s words is eerily reflected what Jesus may have gone through as he was hanging on the cross. As David goes through his distress he begins to recognize, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” He understands just how far he has sunken in his sin. And in fact he sees that “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’” David, apparently feeling forsaken by God and ridiculed by his enemies, was confident that God would not fully abandon him. I believe that God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah!

EXAMPLE: David’s confidence came from his past experience and we learn that he knew God from his mother’s “womb”; that God had made him “trust in you even at my mother’s breast” (v. 9); and that “From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” Interestingly we know that Jesus was God before, during, and after his birth. And Mark’s Gospel reminds us that “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!’” (Mark 15:29-31 NIV) I believe God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah!

There is nothing worse than the feeling of helplessness when one is accused of something, you want to make it right, and yet those who falsely accuse you will not listen. David knew his sin was wrong and he desired to confess it and…

II. In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah! (Vv. 14-19)

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

1. David’s despair brought him to the point where he felt as if he were “poured out like water” and he cries that “all my bones are out of joint.” Perhaps in his anguish God allow this forefather of Jesus to see his descendant’s death. David had been promised by God that “He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:13, 16 NIV) But also within God’s promise to David there are words of punishment for mankind’s sins: “I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Samuel 7:14-15 NIV) The Messiah, David’s descendant Jesus would suffer for mankind. And like David when he cries out “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me” so would Jesus’. In fact as David continues in his anguish his words are used by the Lord to show the kind of death Jesus would die: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” And just as the Pharisees, Romans, and the dregs of Jerusalem surrounded Jesus as he hung on the cross David remarkably prophesies, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” Just as the Gospels share that Jesus’ legs were not broken by his captors and how the Roman squad assigned to crucify him gambled over his clothes David whimpers, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” And yet again in the poetic words of Jesus’ ancestor we hear the sweet melody of hope: “But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” Luke reminds us that “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46 NIV) How amazing to know that the words of David are remarkably fulfilled in the death of Jesus. In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah!

EXAMPLE: Isaiah longed for what David sang about; namely the Messiah who would come to rescue his people. Isaiah declared the Messiah would be “pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” And that “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death” and “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering”. However, “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities… because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:5, 9-12 NIV) And like with Isaiah in David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah!

Could David have understood the entire impact that his words would have? I do not believe so and yet this makes it even more remarkable. Yes he knew God’s promise and he knew God always fulfilled his promises, but David could not have completely understood how God’s promise would be fulfilled and how his own words of despair would bring such hope. And so finally we discover that…

III. David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah! (Vv. 27-31)

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.

1. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by palm branch waving crowds two thousand years ago no one but him actually understood what would occur. Jesus’ birth, life, and death were foretold by God because it was about him and how he would redeem mankind. David’s poetic prophecy reinforces what God had planned all along. And now we hear David as he declares, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” Some think that David was declaring that future generations would worship God because they remembered how David was rescued; I do not think so. I believe that when God’s people truly give themselves over to the Lord’s will and confess their sin as David did here and as God works in the lives of those he uses for his purposes as David was he gives them special insight into his predetermined will. God through his Holy Spirit is giving David these words and insight: “All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive.” Only the Messiah Jesus can do that! And now they will know it to be true because “Posterity will serve him (the future Messiah); future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.” I am reminded of the words God spoke to Moses concerning his promise, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.” (Exodus 34:10 NIV) David began his poem with words of his own personal despair but now that has turned to worldwide rejoicing! As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV) David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!

EXAMPLE: Again on that Palm Sunday so long ago the crowds had no full idea as to who Jesus was exactly, for if they did they would have done even more! The plan of God that began with the words of a messenger of God telling a young frightened virgin she would give birth to the Messiah was coming to fruition. Each plodding step that the donkey took brought the Messiah, the Lamb of God, God himself closer to his predetermined sacrifice. While the process would be horrifying, the outcome would be marvelous. David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!

Conclusion:

God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah! In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah! David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 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.

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Second Sunday of Advent – The peace of God! – Isaiah 52:6-10

Second Sunday of Advent – The peace of God! – Isaiah 52:6-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 4, 2016

Last week we spoke of how the Messiah would be called by the names of Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. There were those who incorrectly thought that the Messiah would bring about the end of war or that everyone would find bliss. Interestingly, there are those in our day who still have misconceptions of who the Messiah is and the peace he brings.

Isaiah introduces us to a Messiah who would bring peace to all mankind. He begins these verses by calling the nation of Israel to “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised (ungodly) and defiled will not enter you again.” Jerusalem’s pagan conquerors — the uncircumcised and defiled — would never again invade and pollute the holy city after the Messiah came. This is part of the peace he would bring when he came. Let’s discover this morning of the Second Advent, the peace of God!

READ: Isaiah 52:6-10

The world today thinks that peace comes from the absence of conflict that it can be obtained through gain or government, but Isaiah teaches us that…

I. The peace of God comes from Him alone! (v. 6)

Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.

1. God’s people would be freed from their chains, never to be enslaved again! Isaiah prophesied, “For this is what the LORD says: ‘You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.’” (v.3) No amount of money could pay the debt they owed! The Israelites did not fully understand that the enslavement God saw His people under was the rebellion of sin and that they could never buy themselves back without the blood of a sacrifice! No amount of ransom could buy them back from their enslavement to sin, only the blood of the Lamb would! This is why the writer of Hebrews would state, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and in offerings, you were not pleased… Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll– I have come to do your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:3-7 NIV) God would ask them, “And now what do I have here?” He answers his question by relating, “For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock, and all day long my name is constantly blasphemed.” (v. 5) while we may be shortsighted, God’s view is much longer. The Israelites willingly sold themselves into slavery for a pittance and those who enslaved them mocked God as a result! They refused to listen and repent. Yet, God’s plan all along was to redeem all people and his desire was that they would know how it occurred and who was responsible when happened! Isaiah is told by God, “Therefore my people will know my name; therefore, in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” When the peace of God came, all people everywhere would know who brought it about. This is why the angels rejoiced singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV) The peace of God comes from him alone!

EXAMPLE: Daily Bread’s Les Lamborn writes, “During the Christmas season, we wait. We wait in traffic. We wait in checkout lines to purchase gifts. We wait for family to arrive. We wait to gather around a table filled with our favorite foods. We wait to open presents lovingly chosen. All of this waiting can be a reminder to Christians that Christmas is a celebration of waiting for something much more important than holiday traditions. Like the ancient Israelites, many are waiting for Jesus” the peace of God. Isaiah teaches us that the peace of God comes from him alone!

God made the first move when he came as a baby. A star would appear marking the way, angels would proclaim him, and shepherds would witness to what they saw. Isaiah teaches us that…

II. The peace of God would be proclaimed! (Vv. 7-8)

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.

1. Here is a wonderful picture of rescue. The enemy has surrounded the city, they are encamped around the walls and there is no escape and it seems as if no one is coming to their rescue. Thousands upon thousands of the enemy’s troops are assembled and just when they are ready to step forward to fight, there comes a cry from one of the watchmen on the wall of the besieged, “Look! Look to the mountains there is where our help comes from!” And all eyes strain to see a lone runner from the foothills headed to the besieged and the enemy parts for him like the waters of the Red Sea for Moses. Isaiah declares, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Notice that the deliverance is not brought about by a larger army, more advanced weaponry, or a master general but by the beautiful “feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation”! And what is this message of salvation they proclaim to the those waiting for rescue and to the camp of the surrounding enemy? “Your God reigns!” As wonderful as the return of Israel from their Babylonian captivity, what utter joy will there be when the Messiah finally comes to Zion and proclaims, “Your God reigns!” Now, dear child of the King, you are the messenger of the Messiah in our besieged city, our occupied territory, and surrounded nation. You are the one with beautiful feet to proclaim the peace of God, you are the one running from the mountains bringing good news that that he alone reigns! “Listen!” Isaiah commands. “Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.” Those entrapped can rejoice, because “When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” Israel would see their Messiah coming to them, but some would not care or would refuse to hear him when he came. But whether they wanted to believe it or not he would come. And, they would see it with their own eyes. The peace of God would be proclaimed!

EXAMPLE: Isaiah was a watchman, Nahum was a watchman, and various men in various ways prophesized announcing the coming of the Messiah, the light of the world. John the Baptist was the last “who was sent from God… He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:6-11 NIV) And, now the last command the Messiah has given his watchmen on the wall who look to the mountains is, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”! The peace of God is to be proclaimed!

What joyous news, what a wonderful truth to proclaim, those enslaved and those surrounded by the enemy can be freed forever! Isaiah teaches us that…

III. The peace of God brings salvation! (Vv. 9-10)

Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

1. Over and over we find Isaiah telling the people to “burst into song” to “rejoice” because God would hear their cries for help. Isaiah tells them, “Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.” In the midst of standing in the ruin of their lives and the rubble of their city, the embattled and surrounded Israelites were to “Burst into songs of joy together”! How could they do such a thing? God has already “comforted his people.” In fact, the important message is that God has already “redeemed” bought back Jerusalem, meaning all of Israel. This is why John the Baptist’s papa, Zachariah, would break his silence by singing, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people!” (Luke 1:68 NIV) Isaiah wrote, “All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.” (Isaiah 14:7 NIV) Matthew would understand and reiterate Isaiah’s words by reminding us, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:16-17 NIV) The promise Isaiah proclaimed is the fact that God Himself would “lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.” God would show the entire world his power and ability to bring salvation through his Messiah. It is summed up in the majestic wonderful words of John, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus would say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV) The peace of God brings salvation!

EXAMPLE: There are folks who read the last chapter first when they start a new thriller. They may think that it takes the anxiety out of reading. So it is with Christians because we know the end of the story, we can be messengers of peace in the midst of utter chaos, calm in the face of disaster. We are to experience peace under pressure. Kingdoms may fall, friends may falter, churches may fold, oceans may rise, and mountains may crumble, but we can be at peace. How do we maintain such composure? By remembering that the “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NIV). In fact, just as Isaiah wanted the Israelites to be comforted that the Messiah would come, Jesus reminds us, “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelations 22:20 NIV) Today could be the day! The peace of God brings salvation!

Conclusion:
The peace of God comes from Him alone!
The peace of God would be proclaimed!
The peace of God brings salvation!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2016 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.

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Hope: A path to fulfillment! – Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4

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…

READ: Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4

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!

Conclusion:
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.

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