Hope Has Come
Micah 5:1-5 Hope Has Come
Our text is found in Micah this morning.
- I was playing catch up on the backstory of Micah.
- Taking a deep dive into this complex little book, drove me to lean heavily on a sermon preached by John Piper (From Bethlehem in the Majesty of the Name of the Lord), December 12, 1982 (I was 10; yes the early 80’s).
- We overlapped enough - to both credit and thank him!
- I assure you, Micah is still a fresh Word for you this morning!
It is the Sunday before Christmas, so I want to center on Micah’s Advent Prophecy.
- “Advent” from the Latin word, “Adventus” means “coming.”
- Christmas for Christians should be a double affirmation.
- “Hope” from our Bibles is never a wish - always a guarantee.
- And this “Hope” for believers has a name. Jesus!
- Hope has come and so beyond the shadow of a doubt, Hope is coming!
- Christmastime begs a double affirmation because the heartstrings are double-pulled in two directions: Joy and sadness.
- A spike of joy from present relationships mingled with the dip of sadness over lost relationships!
Joy and Sadness create normal emotion through Christmas and God’s Word offers handholds in the form of Advent Prophecy.
- Prophecy addresses both the Now and the Not yet.
- “Hope has come” and “Hope is coming!”
- This is necessary void filler tucked away in Micah 5.
Some background on what is a largely unfamiliar book.
- Micah 1 verse 1 sets the stage.
ESV Micah 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
- Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom: Israel
- Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom: Judah.
- Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (the Kings) reigned between 735 and 700 BC.
Times were bad!
- Micah is a contemporary of Isaiah when the enemy Assyria conquered Samaria.
- Assyria took 10 northern tribes into captivity (722 BC), while occupying Judah, and besieging, God’s holy city, Jerusalem.
Grasping this background makes sense of why this book jumps between “threats of doom” and “promises of hope.”
- Their situation warranted both messages!
- Not unlike our life struggles that God speaks into! Grace and Truth! Truth and Grace!
- Important to see pending judgment to understand our need for hope!
- Understanding what’s wrong – so as to long for what’s RIGHT!
ESV Micah 1:6-7 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. 7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return.
- Idolatry, led to injustices, which led to stealing and oppression!
- The Sin of Greed was widespread - down to Jerusalem.
ESV Micah 3:9-12 Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity. Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the LORD and say, "Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us." Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.
- Rulers hate justice, pervert equity, shed blood, and take bribes!
- Priests and prophets leveraged the crowds for money.
So, “Samaria will become a heap of ruins” (1:6) and that happened in 722 BC! In addition, Jerusalem will be exiled to Babylon (4:10) and that happened in 586 BC!
- Micah was long sense dead when Jerusalem fell!
- Idolatry, coveting, and perversion didn’t stop and their judgment came!
Still, Micah preaches “Hope.”
- Micah describes what God requires for glory to dawn over Israel.
- What does restoration look like?
ESV Micah 6:7-8 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah draws 3 requirements for restoration – to be right with God.
- Taken Last to First!
- Childlike dependence – “walk humbly.”
- A heart of mercy – “to love kindness.”
- An active life for those mistreated – “to do justice.”
- What Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not
ESV Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
- If promised judgments are at play and this dark, then where is the promise of mercy?
- Micah closes his book with words leaving no doubt about God’s mercy!
ESV Micah 7:18-20 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Stopping here makes Micah’s paints “Hope” to look like a Portrait without a Person!
- A storyline without a punchline.
- Broad not fine strokes.
If we are all being honest (at Christmas), we confess our own problem with false worship, called idolatry.
Our hearts are a “factory of idols” [John Calvin].
Also, being completely honest, we know we need MUCH MORE than an Old Testament warning to stir our hearts to turn away from the world and our flesh!
New Testament Christianity offers MUCH MORE. “Hope” for the Christian comes as a Person. The Lord Jesus.
Principle: Hope is a Person.
The Old Testament all points to Him – and Micah 5:1-5 paints his portrait as “Hope!”
Hope has come in Humility (vv. 1-3)
Micah 5:2 contrasts the littleness of Bethlehem with the greatness of the Ruler who will come out of her.
- Bethlehem is small – with a population of 300! (Up to 1,000).
- “Bethlehem” – south of Jerusalem.
- Meaning “house of bread” – known as a grain producing region!
- “O Bethlehem Ephrathah” (“fruitful” for “vineyards”) differentiates this town from another named “Bethlehem” in Galilee.
- Basically too small to count among the clans of Judah.
- We are not used to “Bethlehem” not being famous! It was OBSCURE!
Why would God do it this way?
- This is the line of David, David the Bethlehemite.
- This is real but misses the point of verse 2.
- Bethlehem is small.
- God chose something small, quiet, out of the way, to change the course of history and eternity.
Why does he do it this way? So no one can take the credit!
- God is absolutely free from us!
- Unimpressed about our perceived bigness.
- Does not care about our pumps our PRIDE.
- Magnifying His own freedoms and His own mercy!
God chose to replace King Saul, sending Samuel to this little town!
- Samuel worked through the sons of Jesse “older brothers” he set his favor on the “Baby of the Family,” not the oldest – my kind of moment!
- When God chose someone to defeat giant Goliath, it was little David.
- When he chose a weapon, it was a slingshot.
- Why? God does great work through little towns and youngest sons and slingshots and mangers and mustard seeds.
- Why? David’s encounter with Goliath tells us straight out!
ESV 1 Samuel 17:45-47 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand."
- God does not depend on man or his glory or achievement.
ESV 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
- God chose a stable so no inn-keeper could say, “He chose my inn!”
- God chose a manger so that not woodworker could brag, “He chose the craftsmanship of my bed!”
- He chose Bethlehem so no one could say, “Our city constrained God’s divine choice!”
ESV Romans 3:27-28 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
- The divine choice of little Bethlehem where Jesus would arrive is essentially the message of justification by faith apart from works of the law.
- Bethlehem means God does not save by our merit or achievement.
- God saves by simple faith – faith alone!
- The humility of Bethlehem exalts a humble King!
- If Christ came in any other way, we’d say, “This is all hype and not real!”
- A world-created King would make us skeptical!
- This King had to be unlikely, and perfect.
- Hope came! Wrapped in humility!
Hope will come as a King (vv. 4-5)
Any Jew, hearing Micah predict the coming ruler out of Bethlehem who would feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, would immediately think of two people:
- David and the coming son of David, the Messiah.
- David was from Bethlehem, a ruler in Israel, and a shepherd.
- The link between Messiah and David is a link of promise – applying to BOTH!
- With Micah’s promise over David, there is certainty!
Remember 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God said to David:
ESV 2 Samuel 7:12-16 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'"
- This prophecy speaks to David and to David’s immediate son Solomon but doesn’t stop there! This is Christ. A throne “established forever!”
- What’s amazing is how Micah makes this promise when Israel is sinking toward oblivion.
- The northern kingdom is being destroyed.
- Micah predicts the fall and exile of Judah.
When life feels like a giant contrast between your life and God’s promises, then you see how strong your faith actually is! Or isn’t! When life is caving in, we know how much we need God’s reassurances!
Life is filled with what’s shakable.
- The older we get the more shakable life is around us. Or, appears to be!
- Life is fragile.
- Alaskans, as much or more than anyone in our country, know about the fragility of life.
- The weather climate and often-harsher culture are daily reminders.
- And, this is not all bad! Right?
- The older you get the faster Christmas’s come and go!
- Micah is that two centuries of terrible circumstances – this does not nullify the Word of God.
ESV Isaiah 40:6-8 A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
- There is nothing more firm in all the world!
- The Word is sure! – Christ is sure!
Principle: Hope is a Person!
ESV Romans 15:8-9 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name."
For this to matter, Christ’s rule has to translate into our daily experience!
- Jesus is our Protector (v. 4).
- Verse 4, “He shall 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” (v. 4).
- This is a direct reference to the future millennial rule of Christ, where he will sit on the throne of David.
- This promise feeds the NOW as much as the NOT YET!
- Christ is our Shepherd NOW and He will forever be our Shepherd.
- Everyone in is this room needs a divine Shepherd.
- Valleys (of the shadow of death) come NOW and this Shepherd is your Hope!
- His rod and staff comfort NOW.
- Promises are for TODAY.
- First: “He shall stand” (v. 4).
- He won’t like around waiting for us to serve him.
- He is alert, working for those who chose him as their shepherd.
- Second: “He will shepherd(s)” (v. 4)
- What it means that He will feed his flock (v. 4).
- He does not leave us to find our own food.
- He leads us in greed pastures and beside still waters.
- No want is left unsatisfied.
- What it means that He will feed his flock (v. 4).
- Third: “…in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God” (v. 4).
- This strength does not run out!
- His omnipotent strength yours to live on!
- If you are trusting in Christ, omnipotent strength is on your side!
Walk like obedient sheep behind him and overcome every obstacle by grace and for joy!
- Finally, notice that, “he shall be great to the ends of the earth” (v. 4).
- Every knee will bow and confess him as Lord.
- The whole earth will be filled with his glory!
“Hope is a Person!”
“Why should you trust Christ to fill your void with “Hope?” Because He’s the only One who can!
- Glory wrapped in humility.
- Love this Hope. Love this Person!