As I continue my daily read through scripture, I am walking through the minor prophets…all those short books at the back of the Old testament. The reading plan is one book a day right now for most of these books though some are spread out over a couple of days. The prophet Micah prophecies during the reign of three Judean kings, a ministry of somewhere between 20-25 years. He tells of the Lord’s judgement and forgiveness. The Lord scatters His people for their sins, but He is also the Shepherd-king who in His covenant faithfulness gathers, protects and forgives them.
Amid the woes, destruction and denouncing, there are two passages that stand out for me. The first comes in Micah 5. By this point in the book Micah has turned from pronouncing destruction, to hope. The Lord will rescue Zion. He will gather His scattered flock. And there is new hope, not just for God’s chosen but for the whole world, think John 3:16. This hope comes to the world by means of a new David. Listen to verses 2-5. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming is from of old, from ancient of days. And He 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 shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace.”
God is making a promise for all people, not just Israel. King David was born in Bethlehem and this One who is to come will be born there as well. Bethlehem means house of bread. And if we go to John 6:35,41 we see that Jesus calls Himself the bread of life. As bread sustains us physically, Jesus offers and sustains spiritual life. Not since King David had Israel had a king who ruled with justice and in the power of the Lord. This is good news for God’s people. As for the coming from of old, we know Jesus has been since the beginning and will be forever. And because of Jesus, the One who’s coming is promised here, we will spend eternity with Him.
We see a picture of this shepherd in Psalm 23. The One coming will rule and protect His people, just like a shepherd does. He will rule by God’s power and authority and God’s people will be secure. The peace that is promised to us can also be found in Philippians 4:7 and in John 14:27. “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.” This is the peace Micah speaks of here in his prophecy.
The second passage that I am mindful of comes from Micah chapter 6. After the prophecy of One who is coming to save God’s people, Micah takes another turn. We move to a courtroom like setting and God asks His people what He has done to them that they have turned from them. This is verse 3, “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me!” The Lord continues on with several ways in which He has protected His people. And then the question gets asked…with what shall I come before the Lord? The sacrifices proposed increase in value as the prophet seeks to give what is needed to please God. He ends with the offer of 10,000 rivers of oil and his first born.
But this is what God wants. This is what the Lord requires of us; “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” Walking humbly means to walk in faithfulness to Him. Three things: do, love, walk. Doing justice means we treat others with truth and honesty. Injustice is something God hates. That is why Jesus overturned the tables in the temple. The poor were being exploited in their wanting to come to the temple to worship God. Many of the prophets speak of injustice…dishonest scales, charging interest that was exorbitant, taking advantage of the poor, widows and orphans. People who are marginalized are very special to Jesus and neither He nor the Father will tolerate injustice. Loving is a challenge for some. It is easy to love those we like but not so much those we don’t. Jesus didn’t say we had to like people. He said we were to love them. That means we treat people like we would want to be treated. It means doing for others even when we are not required or asked. It means doing what is right. And we are able to do all of this because we walk humbly with Him. It is in our walk that we grow to become like Jesus. It is in the challenges that we draw closer to Him. It is in prayer, study and reading His word that we come to know Him better and better.
One has been promised, and He has come. In Him we have abundant life now and eternal life after we leave this place. He has told us how He wants us to live, and those three things will bring hope to others and glory to Him. Check out the Book of Micah. It is a short read and you will have a chance to draw a bit closer to our Lord.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W