Sermon: Micah IV – A New Hope

I don’t say it enough, but it is a joy and privilege to be called by God to share his word with you each week. I thank God for you, that as we seek to hear God’s word and respond in faith, we get to do it together. As Pastor Olga knows, this series through Micah has been a challenge in many ways, but I continue to see that God still speaks through his Word, and I am thankful that we get to listen together.

So if you would, please turn with me to Micah, chapter 4. Micah 4, beginning in verse 1. Micah is in the Old Testament with Jonah and Obadiah on the left and Nahum and Habakkuk on the right. Micah 4, beginning in verse 1. But before we hear God’s word this morning, please take a moment to pray with me:

Father, may your Word be our rule,

Your Holy Spirit our teacher,

and the glory of Jesus Christ our single concern. Amen.

If you are able, I invite you to stand to hear God’s Word.

Listen closely and listen well, for these are the very words of God:

In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s Temple

will be established as the highest of the mountains.

It will be exalted above the hills,

and peoples will stream to it.

Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the temple of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

so that we may walk in his paths.”

The Law will go out from Zion,

the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will judge between many peoples,

and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.

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.

Everyone will sit under their own vine,

and under their own fig tree,

and no one will make them afraid,

for the Lord Almighty has spoken.

All the nations may walk in the name of their gods,

but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God, forever and ever.

“In that day,” declares the Lord,

“I will gather the lame,

I will assemble the exiles,

and those I have brought to grief.

I will make the lame my remnant,

those driven away a strong nation,

and the Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion,

from that day and forever.

As for you, watchtower of the flock,

stronghold of Daughter Zion,

the former dominion will be restored to you,

kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.

Why do you cry aloud –

have you no king?

Has your ruler perished

that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?

Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,

like a woman in labor,

for now you must leave the city

to camp in the open field.

You will go to Babylon,

there you will be rescued,

there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.

But now many nations are gathered against you.

They say, “Let her be defiled,

let our eyes gloat over Zion.”

But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord,

they do not understand his plan,

that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.

Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion,

for I will give you horns of iron,

I will give you hooves of bronze,

and you will break to pieces many nations.”

You will devote their ill-gotten gain to the Lord,

their wealth to the Lord of the all the earth.

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. (You may be seated)

Hopelessness

One day a man name Jairus came and fell at Jesus’ feet, begging him to heal his little daughter. Jesus went with him, but was interrupted. while Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

Seeing no hope, Jairus’ friends thought to do the nice thing and told Jesus not to bother coming to the house. Seeing no hope, the people who wept and wailed turned to laugh as Jesus told them Jairus’ daughter would live.

Without hope, life turns easily to resignation, cynicism, or bitterness. We cover it with distraction – going to all the fun parties, all the sporting events, but underneath it is fear. We mask it with bravado, dull it with alcohol, or attempt to drown it with stuff, but its there. The more money we have, the more creative ways we have to suppress it, but there is truly only one solution – one cure – for the hopelessness we face in this sinful world. That hope is found in Jesus Christ.

Promised victory

Through the lips of the prophet Micah, God promises Hope. If you have been with us for the last few weeks, this is quite a turn. Micah has been speaking boldly and sharply about the reality of sin and God’s judgment upon it. In the face of their own sin, the just judgment of God, their life and future looked bleak. Yet God promises Hope by showing Micah a future that is different from the present.

He gives Micah a glimpse of redemption, a glimpse of what that day will be like when God acts decisively in history. Remember that prophesy is not primarily about predicting the future, but revealing the very heart of God. So when God gives Micah a glimpse of what is to come, God is promising that he will make it so. This future is God’s heart for his creation and God promises to make it happen.

He shows Micah a future filled with hope, because, one day, God’s word and worship will be the center of all life.

In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s Temple

will be established as the highest of the mountains.

It will be exalted above the hills,

and peoples will stream to it.

There will come a day when Mount Zion, where the temple of the Lord once stood will be the tallest mountain in the world. I take this to mean that at the Lord’s coming, the very physical landscape will re-arrange itself. The physical geography will shift to match the spiritual geography. The worship of the Living God will be the highest, the most significant, the greatest priority, in the physical world as well as in our hearts. There will come day when worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will not be a once-a-week thing, will not be pushed to the side by all the pressures of this life, will not be squeezed in amidst the busyness, will not be an afterthought or even a wonderful aspiration, but will be THE thing, the center, the joy of our lives.

There will come a day when people will stream to worship the Lord. Not simply out of duty, but out of devotion,

Many nations will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the temple of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

so that we may walk in his paths.”

The Law will go out from Zion,

the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

There will come a day when the nations will come to praise the Triune God and come to learn his ways and walk in his paths. I believe God showed Micah a day yet to come, but I also believe that God showed Micah a day that has dawned in Jesus Christ.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.”

The birth of the Church, where the Gentiles are grafted into the people of God, is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Micah. The nations have begun to stream to the worship of God. People in America, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Namibia, Laos, Japan, Syria and other places around the globe all worship the one true God.

God revealed to Micah that there would come a day when the people who streamed to learn of God’s ways would walk out and live in faithfulness to God. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The Law will go out from Zion, the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Those who streamed to worship will carry the Word with them when they head back to their homes.

God revealed to Micah that there would come a day when the Messiah will bring peace and remove fear.

He will judge between many peoples,

and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.

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.

Everyone will sit under their own vine,

and under their own fig tree,

and no one will make them afraid,

for the Lord Almighty has spoken.

There will come a day when conflict and division will no longer rule over our daily lives. He, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will come to judge between right and wrong, between just and unjust, and will bring peace between peoples and nations.

There will come a day when swords will become plows and spears will become pruning hooks – a day when tanks are converted into combines, and where assault rifles will be melted down and made into cultivators.

And Scripture promises that when Christ comes, there will be peace, prosperity, and safety, but even more so, no one will make them afraid. When Christ comes again, there will be no more fear, no more reason to be afraid.

There will come a day when the people of God will finally, fully walk in the ways of God.

All the nations may walk in the name of their gods,

but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God, forever and ever.

There will come a day when the Lord will bring healing to his people.

“In that day,” declares the Lord,

“I will gather the lame,

I will assemble the exiles,

and those I have brought to grief.

I will make the lame my remnant,

those driven away a strong nation,

and the Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion,

from that day and forever.

As for you, watchtower of the flock,

stronghold of Daughter Zion,

the former dominion will be restored to you,

kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.

God will gather the lame, gather the weak, assemble those who grieve, those who are driven to the edges and restore his people to wholeness and blessing.

There will come a day when the true king will come, when Jesus returns, and wholeness and justice and peace will flourish and the glory of the Lord will fill the earth.

I don’t know about you, but hearing of that day sets my heart longing for Christ to return. Come, Lord Jesus and come soon.

In the face of hopelessness and struggle, God promises eternal Hope. He promises hope by pulling back the veil on a future that he promises to bring about. A future when the redeemed of God from every nation will stream to worship the Lord. A future where God’s word will no longer encounter resistance but govern the whole of our lives. A future where peace and justice will reign and fear will be driven away. A future where the lame and scatter will be gathered and restored. A future where the long, hard struggle will be over.

God promises hope in Christ. This unveiling of the future should not produce in us some generic hope that the world will get better and that things will work out in the end. Instead, the vision of Micah invites us into a fervent hope in God. God is redeeming and will finally redeem the world in Christ Jesus. In Micah’s vision, God in Christ will bring about this future. It is Christ who brings peace, Christ who gathers the lost, Christ who teaches the people true discipleship and obedience to God. The hope Micah proclaims is hope found in Christ alone, in the promised Messiah, who always keeps his promises.

Present Struggle

Yet, in the present, there will be struggles. After pulling back the veil on the future, the Lord reminds us through Micah that this future has not yet arrived. Now, there is still struggle. The people of God still have pain, they still cry aloud. They will still go into exile, be carted off into Babylon.

Why do you cry aloud –

have you no king?

Has your ruler perished

that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?

Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,

like a woman in labor,

for now you must leave the city

to camp in the open field.

You will go to Babylon,

there you will be rescued,

there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.

Now, there will be struggles. I know some of your struggles, but not all of them. Some are raw and gut-wrenching like Jairus and his daughter. Others slowly simmer – job insecurity, fracturing of families, and loneliness. The constant, daily battle with addiction. The ever-present struggle with sin that so easily entangles us.

Micah proclaims hope in the midst of struggle. Now, there will be struggles, but no matter how great the opposition, no matter how long the struggle, God will bring his people to wholeness and blessing. They will go into exile, but in the very place of their trial, there they will experience deliverance. There you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. The promise of God is his love and faithfulness both at the end of all things and here and now. In the struggle, there you will be rescued. In the pain, there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.

Through the lips of the prophet Micah, God promises hope. It is a hope that comes from seeing a glimpse of that great and glorious day when Christ returns and the kingdom will come in its fullness. It is a hope that sets our hearts on fire in longing for the day of full redemption. But Micah also proclaims hope in the struggle. Hope here and now. Hope that not only our eternal destiny, but the whole of our lives are in the gracious hands of God.

[Jesus] went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep?” But they laughed at him.

After he pout them all out, he tok the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “little girl, I say to you, get up!”) Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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