Last week we looked at the first great section of Micah’s oracle of hope, the promise of a time in Israel’s future when the true worship of God would be experienced by the chosen people and it would change the world. It will be a time when reconciliation and peace will reign and God himself will teach men and women, boys and girls. Last week I said that day was inaugurated in Christ, when he came and when the Spirit descended upon the Church to empower her to proclaim the eternal Word, Jesus Christ, to the nations. At the moment of the church’s inception, people of every tribe and tongue had swarmed to Jerusalem and they left having swarmed into the ranks of the church by the preaching of the Apostles.
The book of Acts tells us that (Acts 2:41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. And a few chapters later we find the number of worshippers having grown to 5000 (Acts 4:4). Truly, “the mountain of the Lord’s temple [was] established as chief among the mountains [that day]…and Many nations [came and said] Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” and be taught his ways (Micah 4:1,2).
This morning we pick up in Micah 4:6-8. Please rise and hear God’s word.
READ MICAH 4:6-8
Again we have reference to “that day”: That time in the distant future from Micah and his people when amazing things will occur. It is a time when the days of the Church will reign and be established. And who will make up this church, this temple of the Lord? First, it will be made of people God gathers and assembles. God will choose who is part of the body of Christ? The words gather and assemble are synonyms but they are also agricultural terms, used in shepherding. The shepherd gathers his flocks to lead them to fresh valleys, good water and safety. Furthermore, the shepherds assemble at certain times to shear the sheep and water them from the wells (Genesis 29:8 Jacob & Rachel at well).
Let us never forget that our hope begins in God calling us and gathering us into his sheepfold, into the body of Christ present in the world. For if he hasn’t called us, there can be no hope at all in “that day”. Second, we need to remember the people worshipping in the temple of the Lord, that is worshipping in Christ, are lame people, exiled people and people of grief. God’s worshippers are people who stumble. They are weak and in need of help.
It has always struck me funny in the western church that we try to be so strong and independent, we try to live like we don’t need anyone else. Our corporate prayer lives are minimal, and our desires to join together and study the word, memorize it, or work together as a witness to the world are greatly lacking. This attitude, so prevalent among many Christians is like witnessing a lame person walking alone? It is painful to watch, as they struggle to pull themselves along the path, painstakingly making each movement. But have you ever seen a group of lame people walking together. It is beautiful as they help each other along and bear each other’s load. They are weak alone, but strong together. In his church God has chosen to gather a bunch of weak people together and to strengthen them in Christ and with one another. We are all members of one body, each in need of the other (1 Cor 12:12-27), and we become one body because Jesus makes us into his body. He gathers us and makes us into a body, fit and pleasing. Are we allowing ourselves to be gathered and assembled? Or are we living like lone sheep?
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, (Luke 4:18-19) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” We are the poor; we are the prisoners; we are the blind; we are the oppressed; we are the lame, and as Micah says; and we are also the exiles. Without Christ, we are poor in spirit, prisoners of sin, blind to sin’s effects, oppressed by sin’s rule, lame from sin’s power, and exiled from God’s kingdom. In Christ, we become the scattered people of Judah being drawn from the 4 corners of the earth. Isaiah prophesied at the same time as Micah saying, (Is. 11:12) He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.
Literally this happened when Ezra and Nehemiah returned to the Land with the exiled people from Babylon, but Spiritually it happens when Christ calls his people from sin into life, from the nations into the promised heavenly Jerusalem. The church is, by definition, full of broken hurting people; but they are broken, hurting people who have hope. As these people, we have hope for forgiveness, hope for an end of pain and suffering, hope for a life where God will accept us and guide us and lead us. We have hope that we are the remnant. We have hope that walking together is better than walking alone!
And according to Micah, the remnant will be “like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can escape” (Micah 5:7-8). Micah says this remnant can have hope for they will depend on God, they will be victorious, they will be powerful, and in 7:18, they will be forgiven. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?
The remnant will survive God’s judgment and remain forever, even though they will have to suffer the same trials that the world suffers. But they will have been chosen by grace according to Romans 11:5 and saved according to 9:27. Rom. 9:27 ¶ Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. Rom. 11:5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
Jesus, who is the restored King, rules the remnant. He governs, those who are called by God and enter into the temple of the Lord, with gentleness. Jesus reigns over them in glory and majesty. He rules them as a good shepherd standing on a watchtower looking over the flocks as they graze. He rules his church as the great shepherd who binds up the lame, clothes the naked, and strengthens the weak. Listen to how Ezekiel 34 puts it,
Ezek. 34:11-16, 22-24, 29-31 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. 29 I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31 You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
It is just such images and allusions that Jesus is referring to when he says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…” (John 10:14). So people of the church, take heart, God has gathered you. God is reigning over you. God is strengthening you and holding you in a secure salvation, for Christ is the rock and his dominion shall not end. His kingship has been restored and his people can trust in him.
Take heart, Jesus is your watchtower. He is your stronghold. And as he rules, you can be assured his dominion will never end. The king has come; Let us rejoice for we are safe in him.