Micah - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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Sermon Notes > Topical > Christmas 2018
Micah prophesies the future


The Messiah is Coming

Reading: Micah 5:1-15

Does your view of God match up to the view put forward in the Bible? The Bible has a lot to say about God and some of our contemporaries don’t like what they hear; I wonder, "Do you?"

Men and women basically don’t like the God of the Bible because the God of the Bible is a God who will persist in interfering in the affairs of the world he has made; he calls men and women to account for their behaviour; and he declares not only what he has done but also what he will do about it.

The Bible does not present us with a picture of a spectator God who is passive, remote and indifferent. If that were the picture the Bible gave then no-one would see God as a threat. But if he sees everything and knows everything he is a threat to the sinner and sinners have a habit of trying to hide from such a God as the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden illustrates.

One way of hiding from this God is to deny him – either to deny he exists or, if he does exist, to deny his qualities and abilities. So some people, for example, will deny his power by arguing that miracles are impossible while others will deny his knowledge by maintaining that he can’t know the future. To admit that God knows the future (that in part depends upon the decisions that we as free agents make) would imply that God had not only an ongoing interest in the world he made but that he also exercised some control over it as well. And many do not wish to allow him that.

But what we personally like and feel comfortable with is a poor way of assessing what is actually true. The fact is that the Bible presents us with a God who amongst other things inspires prophets to speak for him. Part of what he had them say concerned making announcements of what he had predetermined would come about in the future.

The fact of prophecy and especially of prophecy-fulfilled challenges our perception of God. Is your God big enough to do this? For let me tell you the God of the Bible is!

This morning we are going to consider what one prophet prophesied about the coming of the Messiah. His name was Micah and he wrote a little more than 700 years before Jesus was born at Bethlehem.

Micah and the Coming Messiah
The Jews of Jesus’ day did not have any problem with the idea of God knowing and revealing the future. When they read Micah’s writings they understood him to have written prophecy concerning the Messiah and there are two separate references in the NT that demonstrate this.

Firstly, there is the visit of the wise men from the east come to worship the new-born king whose star they had seen in the sky. You’ll remember that they went quite naturally to the capital city of Jerusalem where they expected a new born king to be – but no-one there knew anything about such a baby. Herod summoned the religious experts to ask them where the Messiah was due to be born and being Bible students they knew the answer. Micah had prophesied that he would be born in Bethlehem. See Mt.2:1-6 quoting:

Mic.5:2 "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 over Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days."

Secondly, when there was some dispute about whether Jesus was the Messiah, some said he couldn’t be. They thought Jesus came from Galilee and the Scripture taught that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem

Jn.7:42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?"

It is time to look more closely then at this prophet Micah whom the Lord used to speak hope to a troubled nation.

Micah spoke to his nation, Judah, in dark days. The LORD was displeased with his people and had Assyria and Babylon waiting in the wings to function as instruments for the implementation of his divine justice. God’s people were powerless and humiliated; everything pointed towards the likely elimination of David’s kingly line. Into this situation of utter helplessness Micah has a message of hope to bring: God had a new work to begin.

That new work is outlined in v.2 where the LORD speaks of his plan to raise up a new king. This king would in fact be a new David, a new shepherd-king! However though the coming of this new king was certain it would not be for the immediate future, there would be a certain delay, a necessary period of waiting before this king would come (v.3). Micah was writing prophecy. That certain delay would be of 700 years duration!

What will you make of this if you don’t want to admit prophecy? How will you explain it all away? And yet do you realise that to admit that God knows the future and in some way exercises control over it brings with it a challenge as to how we live. Prophecies and their fulfilment serve as divine signposts pointing to important truths and realities that God does not want us to miss.

Micah’s Messiah in Detail
Micah describes the coming king for us in 5:2 and then adds further detail in 5:4

Mic.5:2 "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 over Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days."

Mic.5:4-5"And 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."

Let us underline what Micah tells us in these verses:

  • Where he will come from – Bethlehem.

Yes, it is true that David originally came from Bethlehem but it was Jerusalem that David had made his capital and it was Jerusalem that was known as his city. What does Micah imply by identifying Bethlehem as the place the Messiah will come from? After all Bethlehem was such a tiny place. Even though more than 100 towns/villages are recorded as being allotted to Judah in Jos.15 – Bethlehem is not listed among them.
When Micah declared that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem he was pointing to the fact that when he did come the Davidic dynasty would no longer be ruling, the throne which was located in Jerusalem had been lost.

So a new work by a new king will be necessary and it will all begin in Bethlehem, that place you’d struggle to find on a map, little insignificant Bethlehem. How typical of God to choose the unimportant over the well-known! How he delights to chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong for in this way his glory shines the more brightly.

  • His origin – he has a past and a lineage/a family tree. The Messiah goes back to David and to David’s earliest days when the LORD chose him and made promises to him while he was still at Bethlehem:

2Sam.7:16 "And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’"

The Messiah then, this coming king would belong to the house of David, he would belong to David’s dynasty and would himself be a son of great king David. And yet as Jesus himself pointed out other portions of Scripture tell us he would be no ordinary son of David – great David’s greater son would also be David’s Lord!

  • He comes with purpose:

a. The Messiah will come "For the LORD".

The Messiah is first and foremost the king that God wants. And the Messiah serves God! It is by means of his serving God that benefits accrue to his people.

b. The Messiah will come "To be a ruler over Israel".

This calls for some explanation. At the time Micah prophesied God’s people, the nation that had been known as Israel, had been divided into two groups. The larger part was in the north and was still known by the name Israel. This part of the people of God would go away into an exile from which it would not return. The smaller part on the other hand was to be found in the south and was called Judah. It was in Judah that Micah exercised his ministry.  

Now Micah, gazing prophetically into the future sees the Messiah as ruling over Israel where we might have expected him to say over Judah. Micah was not however referring just to the northern part either. What he had in mind was the reunited people of God (and this was an important theme to the prophets). Nb. he rules over and not just in Israel and he does so for the LORD.

c. He will accomplish his purpose

He takes his stand as a shepherd – cf. the Good Shepherd of Jn.10:1-16 or the chief Shepherd of 1Pet.5:4.
Standing here points to a watchful activity. This shepherd has at heart the interests of his flock and takes the necessary precautions to ensure that they are protected and provided for.

He does not act in his own strength but:

  • In the strength of the LORD

  • In the majesty of that name

Thus he has everything that he needs to carry his work through to a successful conclusion – how could it be otherwise with the limitless resources of omnipotence?

  • Because of this his people can dwell (sit) in peace

The fact that this strong and alert shepherd assiduously carries out his task his people can enjoy the benefits of his efforts. Sitting down in peace denotes rest and safety – with such a shepherd the sheep can have nothing to fear! They will know freedom from their enemies.

  • His greatness extends to the ends of the earth and this is what guarantees his people’s security. There is no limit to the scope of his authority and power:

cf.Is.9:7 "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."

It doesn’t matter where the sheep might be located in the world for the shepherd’s authority, influence and power extend there too. This means for us practically that we will never find ourselves beyond the reach of his strong, loving care and provision.

  • He secures peace for his people because he himself is their peace. As Micah put it he is the One of peace or, as Isaiah put it, the prince of peace (Is.9:6):

  • Peace-maker between God and man

Rom.5:1-2 "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

Peace-maker between men see Eph.2:14-22 esp. v.14

Eph.2:14 "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility..."

  • Peace forever:

The work of this Messiah will not prove transitory in its effects, a mere flash in the pan, but the peace he secures for his people will be an abiding peace an enduring peace. Peace too in the Bible suggests more than the mere absence of conflict but it includes also the idea of everything being rightly organised and functioning as intended.

As we come to a close this morning let us do so with these words from the last book of the Bible sounding in our ears and let us be glad!

Rev.7:15-17 "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."


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