All Roads Lead To Jesus - Micah

Micah – Jesus is Our Peace
Reading: Micah 5-6

Just about every revolution has been sparked by disparity. The disparity is one of power which results in an increasing gap of wealth, justice, and voice. As the gap between the powerful and powerless increases so the numbers of those without power increase. As the powerless increase in numbers, their voice grows louder for change and equity. As their voice grows louder there is unrest and there is no peace.

The world finds itself in the middle of revolution because the human predisposition is to hold onto power and control. The powerful do not want to give up what they have worked for and so conversations cease. The powerful do what they can to silence the call for equity and the powerless do what they can to grow louder. It is only a matter of time before the powerless outnumber the powerful and revolution is the result. Every single empire has had a revolution that changed the face of power. They are often violent and horrific.

Micah was a prophet in the 8th century before Christ. He witnessed the fall of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria and grew increasingly concerned that the Southern Kingdom was headed toward the same end. Judah was in the middle of a prosperous age and a relative time of peace. It was during this time that many became poorer as the rich grew wealthier.

Micah’s prophecies show a great concern for the inequity in Judah. The rich were not sinful for being rich but rather how they used their riches and power to oppress those with fewer means. They used their wealth and power for their own family’s well-being without any concern for those who were struggling.

Prophets and priests enjoyed the riches of the temple while ignoring the needs of those that they served. Micah compared them to cannibals who fed off of the flesh of the poor. Rulers and judges stole property from those who had little means to fight back in a system that was designed to keep the powerful in control and the weak under control.

Micah predicted that if Judah continued down the same oppressive path as the Northern Kingdom of Israel that they would suffer the judgment of God. He spent a great amount of time describing the judgment of God in great detail as a warning and motivator for change.

Later in the book, Micah responded to God’s judgment with rhetorical questions. How might Judah repent and live in faithful obedience to the Covenant? Should they sacrifice more animals? Should they give more money to the Temple? Should they offer up their firstborn child? No. God is much more gracious and long-suffering. Micah says,

“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?”

One of the keywords in this verse is the original word used to translate “love kindness”. Some translations may say “love mercy”. But these words do not get to the heart of what Micah is saying here.

The original word that is translated here is ‘hesed’. This is the word used to describe God’s covenantal love for his people. We translate it as loving-kindness. We also have attached the concept of long-suffering love to the same word. The word ‘hesed’ was used to describe God’s steadfast love and his covenantal faithfulness. If we were to translate this verse literally it would say, “…to act justly, love faithfulness, and walk humbly before the Lord.”

You see, what Micah was saying to Judah was that they had forgotten the covenantal faithfulness and the steadfast love of God. They had forgotten that they were once powerless slaves and a nameless and godless people in Egypt. Their wealth, power, and positions were the result and blessing of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His covenant. But they had forgotten. They had not kept the Covenant. They had oppressed the poor and trouble was brewing.

The words of Micah called the people back to covenantal faithfulness. He said, “If you would repent and do what God requires of you then you will act justly, love the faithfulness that God has shown you in His covenant, and walk humbly before the Lord who has been good to us.” This kind of attitude before God is what would change the societal ills that Judah was facing.

Notice that Micah does not solve the problems of injustice with more laws and programs. Micah says that change will come with a change of heart. The change of heart happens when we wrap our minds around the covenantal faithfulness of God and how each step of God’s actions in history has been an act of love for His people.

Jesus has fulfilled the requirements of covenantal faithfulness that Micah outlines. We are incapable of doing what God has required of us. That is why there is one revolution after the next. That is why there are power struggles in personal relationships and oppression on every level of human existence. But Jesus, who had every right to squash the world, crush the Romans, and rule as an eternal king humbled himself, loved faithfulness, and did justice.

Jesus is all over the words of Micah. In chapter 5 we have one of the clearest descriptions of Jesus that we could ever hope for in the Old Testament. Micah says,

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 forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.
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.

Jesus is an unexpected deliverer born in the backwater town of Bethlehem. His birth and kingship were planned before the world began which is why he is “from ancient days”. He is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep and he alone will not only bring peace but be their peace.

I think these are words we need today. Jesus is our peace. He is our peace because he alone has perfectly done everything that God has required of man. Jesus walked humbly before the Lord when he humbled himself and took on human form and allowed himself to be crucified and buried for our sin. Jesus did justice by satisfying God’s justice on that Cross. The eternal Son of God provided a sacrifice of eternal weight. Jesus loved faithfulness by fulfilling the Covenant God had made with his people.

Because Jesus, the unexpected deliverer has done what God has required of man, he not only is our peace, but he brings peace. Those who have been united to Christ by faith have peace with God. This peace is possible because of the Covenant of Grace that God made with his people. Peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ is the basis for our walking humbly as Jesus walked humbly, our loving God’s faithfulness as Jesus loved God’s faithfulness, and our doing justice as Jesus did justice. The peace we have in Christ is foundational for seeking peace on this earth.

If we are seeking peace on this earth because of the foundational peace we have in Christ, we will look to stop oppression and seek justice in our culture. We will fight to have laws changed and to elect leaders who do not oppress the poor.

Jesus is our peace when we continue to battle for the things that he loves and we don’t see things changing as fast as we’d like. We will never attain those things fully in this life. But we will continue to be ambassadors for the things God has required of us. The church is called to be a bastion of the Kingdom of God until Jesus has put all of his enemies under his feet and returns to restore a New Heaven and New Earth.

Until Jesus our Peace comes again, we must continue to walk humbly before the Lord, love his Covenantal faithfulness that has sealed us for the day of Redemption, and do justice in every corner of life and culture.

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