Micah 5:1-5a | HE WILL BE THEIR PEACE

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He Will Be Their Peace

 

Micah 5:1-5a

Key Verse 5:4

 

“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.”

 

This section here is a prophesy about the coming of the Messiah. The first verse tells us what was to happen to Judah’s last ruler, before the coming of the Messiah. And verse 2 tells us of the birth of the final ruler of Judah (and of the world) who is Jesus the Messiah. What was happening in the kingdom of Judah at the time of the prophesy when Micah was prophesying in God’s name? The Southern kingdom was already captured and exiled by King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:1,2)  of Assyria. And the northern kingdom of Judah was about to be swallowed as well, and terminated as a kingdom. The Assyrians liked to assimilate any conquered nation among all the other conquered nations, so that no one people or nation could maintain their national identity. This way, there would be no danger of any conquered kingdom to rise up and rebel against its conqueror.

 

Now why was the southern kingdom in danger of being captured and exiled? The answer is simple. God wasn’t very happy with them. Judah’s rulers had abandoned God and were obsessed with wealth and position— like most worldly rulers who think that their kingdom exists only to serve them. So God was now prophesying through the prophet Micah that Jerusalem (the capital of the kingdom of Judah) with all its wealth and power, was about to be overrun by the enemy. And all the king’s armies couldn’t save the city and the country from impending destruction. But of course, the prophesy also has the good news side of things. And that’s what the prophesy in this section is all about— the good news in the midst of the bad news.

 

Look at verse 1. “Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.”  The ruler or king at the time, most probably was King Zedekiah, the last king in David’s line to sit on the throne of Judah. What Micah tells us in the following verses, is that the next king to sit on the throne would be the Messiah. Of course, according to prophesy, the Messiah was going to be from King David’s line. But the throne he would sit on was not going to be an earthly throne. It was a heavenly throne and therefore, the Messiah’s kingship and kingdom would not be a temporary one like all the earthly kingdoms, but it would be a permanent one, a forever kingdom, an everlasting kingdom, an eternal kingdom.

 

Isaiah the prophet, who was contemporary to Micah tells us who this Messiah is and what kind of kingdom he would rule. He said: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) If you look at verse 2, Micah confirms the Messiah is eternal— he is God’s Son, the King of Kings and Lord and Lords, “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

 

In verse 1 Micah tells us of the fate of the last king of Judah and in the following verses he tells us of the coming of the next King, the Messiah, but there were generations that passed before the Messiah came. So we can say that the prophesy in verse 1 took place almost 8th centuries before the coming of the Messiah and the last and Only King of Judah, and eventually the world as well. The prophesy here in these verses spans countless generations, up the coming of the Messiah, and even up to the time when God would bring the rest of the Jews into the Christian family. But that is not what we want to discuss today. The prophesy here clearly tells us what kind of a Ruler/King this Messiah would be. And what he would do.

 

Read verse 2. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” It tells us where the Messiah would be born. And this is very interesting. He will come from an insignificant town called Bethlehem. The reason Bethlehem is famous now is because we already know where the Messiah was born. He was born in Bethlehem. And that’s what put this small an insignificant town on the map. But way before Bethlehem was put on the map, it was a small town in the Israel. The only other thing that makes Bethlehem even a town to mention, was that King David, the greatest ruler of Israel was born there as well. But there was nothing special about it. The question then is why then would the glorious God choose this village above all other villages as the birthplace of his Son, the Messiah? The reason God chose this place was not because of its geographic or economical importance. But it’s precisely because it had no significance. And that’s the way that God is and that’s how he usually works.

 

The Majestic God— and that’s his usual way of working. He works through the small and the weak and the insignificant things in our world. Paul explains this well in 1 Cor 1:27-31 when he that: “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus… ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” God does this so that no one would boast that God had chosen this or that because they were impressive or because they deserve any special merit. God chooses that which is lowly because he shows no favoritism based on anything humanly significant or remarkable. A human king would choose a magnificent city to birth his son. But God chose Bethlehem— and found an insignificant stable in that town, and in that stable he chose an insignificant manger. He did that so that no one might say that the Messiah was to be born on the merit of anything other than that God is full of grace. God also chose you and me not because we have anything special in us, or because of what we have done, nor because there is anything impressive in our qualities— but because he is a gracious God. He chooses the lowly and weak things of this world so that we may have no reason to boast except in him alone. People make a big deal of their achievements, and boast in their own glory. They talk about conquests, even the most vile of conquests. They glory in what they can do and what they have done. But when we think about the God who chose Bethlehem as the birthplace of his son, we can only marvel about his grace. And we can give thanks to him, that when he chose me and you, we had nothing to boast in, so we are glad to boast only in God.

 

So we can say that Christmas began with a prophesy about an obscure and humble place like Bethlehem because God is not impressed with what impresses people. What impresses God are humble hearts that recognize his grace in humble places. I wonder if the way the world conducts Christmas these days really impresses God, if God is even there in the lofty and impressive displays of human extravagance and the honor we accord to them and to one another. 

 

The second thing that Micah tells us about the Messiah to be born is this: “Out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” What kind of Ruler will he be? Read verse 4. “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” The Messiah would be a Ruler who would rule his people as a Shepherd. When Jesus the Messiah finally came, he came to rule us. But he did not oppress us, nor did he demand to be honored and served and put on a pedestal as all human rulers demand. Instead he described himself very well when he said: “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.”  (Luke 4:18-19) This ruler shepherd came to bring us the gospel of God’s love and grace. He came to shepherd his flock and lead them out of the darkness of sin into the light of God’s love and blessing. He came to open our eyes that were blinded by the worldly glitter and to help us see the glory of the kingdom. We were spiritually lame, but the shepherd who came to rule us helped us get up and walk step by step with him, until we could make our way back home to God. That’s what Micah was prophesying about the shepherd to come. Jesus also described himself well when he said: “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

 

Jesus is the good shepherd whom all people are looking for even if they do not know it. God knew that no human ruler could ever shepherd his people, because all human rulers are selfish and self serving. So God promised to send a shepherd who could rule us perfectly— one who would love us as we want to be loved, and one who would understand our deepest heart and its longing, and one who would teach us the way of truth and restore us to be the children of God. And Jesus did so. After serving us through his life, he served us through his death. He is the Shepherd who did not withhold anything so that we would delivered from the power of sin and live for the glory of God.

 

Micah also told us how this shepherd would rule us. Look at verse 4 again. “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.” Jesus shepherded us in the strength of the Lord, in the name of the Lord God. In other words, Jesus shepherded us not by his own strength. He did so in the strength of God. Jesus was the perfect Shepherd because he did not rely on his own strength nor wisdom to shepherd us, but he relied completely on the strength and wisdom of God. In other words, he did not shepherd us in his own way, and guide us in his own path. He listened to God and did for us as God had instructed him. God himself gave him the strength to shepherd an impossible flock. When Jesus stood on the strength of God, God not only gave him the strength to carry all our troubles and weaknesses and selfishness, but he also gave him the wisdom to teach us the living words of God. Most human rulers lead in their own strength, and with their own wisdom. But Jesus taught us the Bible, and led us in the truth of God.

 

It seems that Christmas began with a prophesy about the coming of a Shepherd Ruler. When the world is in desperate search for a ruler who can rule justly and with love, Jesus perfectly fits the bill.

 

Verse 4 also tells us the outcome of the Shepherd’s leading. “And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” This verse is truly glorious. It looks to a time when all humanity will live in security, for there will be no longer any hostility among the nations against one another. And that would happen because the greatness of this Majestic Shepherd will reach the ends of the earth. In other words, his glory will spread throughout the whole world. And surely we have had a small taste of this already. When a person turns his or her heart to Christ, they may not have worldly security, but their real security is the Lord himself. Jesus gives us perfect security in the love and grace of God. When our hearts are in him, and he lives in our hearts, we sense a security that this world cannot give us. The Psalmist spoke of being secure in the Lord even amidst hostile enemies. He knew that his life was safely tucked in God’s hand, that nothing could touch him and his security in his God. People are looking for worldly security. But money nor position nor fame nor anything else can give them the security they really need. Only the Shepherd can give that security for the heart that’s searching for it in him.

 

But verse 4 talks also about a security that cannot be accomplished until the Messiah’s fame and glory have reached the ends of the earth. This will happen when finally the Messiah will return to rule all nations and all peoples who have found something in common with one another— and that is not language or political view or economic stability— but when they have found life in Jesus, through faith in him. The day will come when all people will worship only Jesus and live together in security. But until that day, we see how the gospel of Jesus our Shepherd has captured the hearts of everyone it has touched. When people turn their hearts to Jesus, somehow all the barriers of hostility are torn down. Wherever the gospel has gone, and people put their faith in Jesus, they have come into the family of Christ, the Shepherd King. In him there is no longer any difference between peoples and nations, cultures and barriers. They are all torn down because they have all come to belong to the Kingdom of God, with one King and of one kingdom. When Micah prophesied the birth of the Shepherd, he was also looking forward to the time when the Messiah will rule over all nations, a time when there will be everlasting security in him and his kingdom.

 

The Christmas story therefore, also began with a prophesy about the Shepherd King whose glory is so great that it will reach to the ends of the earth. Christmas therefore, is a time to declare— not the glories of men and nations—  but to declare the glory of the One and Only Shepherd King to the whole world. So Christmas is a message for all people to submit to the King of Kings, and to declare his glory everywhere.

 

Look at verse 5a. “And he will be their peace.”  Micah spoke of it earlier in 4:3 when he said: “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.” This is almost the same as the security he talks about in verse 4 but he adds peace to it all. He will be our peace. We all wait eagerly for that day when we will have the peace God speaks of once for all. And it will not happen until the Lord Jesus return. But the peace Micah speaks of is also another kind of peace as well. A certain peace must first happen before we can even think of the peace that will come upon the world. There must be peace between us and God. The hostility between God and us must be removed first. The walls of unbelief must be torn down. His judgment must be averted first. Micah talks about the coming Messiah who would bring peace— real peace— to the hearts of those who put their faith in him. Micah explains it more in 7:18-19 when he says: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” And that was the work of the Messiah Savior who was yet to come, who has already come to accomplish this peace for us. People think that they have many enemies— the IRS, the next door neighbor. But in truth our greatest enemy is our own sins, and the one who uses our sins to destroy our lives and leave us anxious, guilty, condemned and full of fear. Because of this, people have no peace in their lives— because their relationship with God is broken. And because of this, people can only face God’s judgment in the end.

 

But God is full of grace. And he promised a Shepherd who would be our peace. This the gospel which the messiah has brought us, the gospel of God’s peace— peace in our hearts— peace with God— where our hearts no longer fear judgment and insecurity and condemnation  but where our hearts are relieved to know that Jesus the Messiah came to shed his blood on the cross for us, so that once for all, to make peace for us with God. It was this shepherd who was prophesied to come. That is why the Christmas story is a story of hope and love and peace. For these are the things that the Messiah came to bring us. Christmas began with a prophesy about a Shepherd who would be our peace with God. This is our faith. This Christmas let us lift up our hearts with faith that he has sent the Messiah, and that the Messiah has the power to flood our hearts with his peace. Let us glorify him from our hearts this Christmas, and let his glory continue spreading to the ends of the earth. This is what Christmas is all about. May God bless you and grow your heart closer to him this Christmas season.

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