In seasons of conflict, it’s good to be reminded that Jesus is your peace. More, that in due course he will bring peace to all.
Last time we looked at Micah 1-2 I said that the prophets take a bit more work for us than other parts of the Bible. Part of the reason for that is the fact that you need to know quite a bit of Bible history. There’s another reason: Sometimes the prophets speak about the future, and it’s not always clear at first when they’re speaking about. We’ll see that a bit here.
But when we dig in, and put the effort in, we shouldn’t really be surprised that there are wonders here. Richer, I think, than you could have guessed.
When the Lord is king (Micah 4:1-5)
Chapters 3 to 5 are a unit within Micah. Even so, the book as a whole is actually a collection of Micah’s writings and sermons originally given over decades.
In chapter 3, the moral bankruptcy of Israel is exposed. First the leaders are judged. The very people who were supposed to care for and shepherd God’s people, they actually fleeced them. They expected everything to be fine – that God would rescue them from trouble. They were wrong.
Then the false prophets are singled out: They made stuff up for anyone who’d give them money. Their visions would be cut off; God would be silent to them
All the political and religious (and hence cultural) leaders. All abusing and misleading the people in their care under God. And still they had confidence in God, but like a lucky charm, or protective genie. But their ways were not his ways.
In Micah 4:1-5 we get a picture of what life under God’s reign would be like. In fact, what it will be like.
Read Micah 4:1. It’s not clear when this will be. For some, this might be a “millennial age”. For others, the new creation. Either way, it’s clear we’re not there yet.
The mountain of the LORD
The mountain imagery is especially important. In the Ancient Near East (ANE), deities were understood to live on top of mountains. The sea represented death and chaos, but you could climb up, up, to approach gods in their high places.
- The Bible also uses the same imagery, very helpfully.
- At the Exodus, God brought his people up from the chaos of the sea, from slavery, up to his very presence at Sinai – but only a few could approach him there.
- The Tabernacle was strangely tall – a moveable mountain.
- The Temple was built on a hill – God’s holy mountain.
- “Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?” is a question built on all this imagery.
- Jesus calming the storm at sea is no coincidence.
- The writer to the Hebrews makes much of it in Hebrews 12 (plus Ezekiel, Mt of Transfiguration, others).
So the point of v1 is to compare God’s reign with the pathetic, twisted rule of the leaders and prophets of Micah 3. God will have global political, religious and cultural dominance.
And people will come. Read Micah 4:2.
It won’t be the coffee, the music, or the ambience. People will delight to approach God for his word, his laws. Easy to see why the devil always works so hard to twist God’s words, to undermine their authority, erode your trust. Also alarming to consider your own lack of appetite for God’s word, if a love of it characterises his reign so much.
God will put everything right
Read Micah 4:3.
That word “mediate” is literally “judge” – but not in a punitive sense. He will bring justness, righteousness. He will put right. When everything is under God’s rule, all wrongs will be put right. There will be no need for war, vengeance, retaliation. Swords will become ploughshares. Tanks will be stripped down and repurposed as tractors.
These words are also found in Isaiah 2:4. They were contemporaries in Jerusalem, so we can’t know who wrote them first. It doesn’t matter, obviously. The Isaiah verse is inscribed under a statue at the UN. Nixon was sworn into office with his hand on that verse.
But however sincere politicians may be, that kind of peace can only come about by God’s hand. It will be his work. Still, we pray for peace nonetheless.
The next verse makes it all personal for you. Read Micah 4:4.
We all know what it’s like to have a good day. Everything done, no-one needs anything from you, time for rest. A day when everything is put right – even if only briefly. But when the world is right (v3) your world will be too (v4). That’s so important we’ll come back to it in a moment.
We need to get over an obvious question first: Isn’t this all pie in the sky? Isn’t it all just “jam tomorrow”?
- No, not entirely. Though obviously not here in full.
- Because the kingdom of heaven isn’t a place, it’s a reign.
- Wherever someone bends the knee to Jesus Christ, his kingdom reign is there.
When they go abroad, some people like to take Yorkshire tea, or Marmite, or Jaffa Cakes – a taste of home, wherever they are. You might not experience the perfect world of v1-4, but you can taste it wherever you are. Read Micah 4:5.
Before you can grasp this in your heart, we have another thing to look at: Christmas!
The king from Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-5)
Clearly, we’re not yet wholly in Micah 4:1-5. Neither were Micah’s readers. In fact they were told they weren’t about to be, either. In the rest of the chapter they’re actually told they’ll be going into exile in Babylon (100 years in the future). It would get much, much worse before it got better.
Then in Micah 5:1 there’s an image of God’s people under siege, Jerusalem under attack. But this time, the answer is surprising. Read Micah 5:2.
- You might remember some wise men visiting King Herod asking about the king to be born in Jerusalem.
- Matthew 2:3-5 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote…” – and quoted Micah 5:2.
Bethlehem was a tiny village. In lists of towns of Judah in the Old Testament, Bethlehem isn’t usually listed because it’s so small, so insignificant. You might well ask why God should even choose such a ‘nothing’ kind of place as a promise for this ruler to come? Why not from Jerusalem, the capital city, in the line of other kings and home to the Temple?
Wonders from weakness
So often, God produces wonders and miracles out of weakness.
- Bethlehem, a ‘nothing’ kind of nowhere.
- Ancient home to a young shepherd boy, the least among his brothers, who ended up being God’s anointed king.
- This “ruler” whose “origins are in the distant past” had to be from Bethlehem because he is as much the fruit of God’s promise to David as he is of David himself.
- This ruler will fulfil 2 Samuel 7.
- He’ll be one to rule over God’s people, according to God’s promise.
- He won’t be just another king in a line of failing kings. He must be born in Bethlehem to go back to God’s promise to David.
- Born in obscurity, into the family of a joiner from Nazareth.
And, like David, this ruler of God’s people would be a shepherd’s heart: Read Micah 5:3-4.
All his people will be one flock. V4 “he will stand”; “his people will live there undisturbed” is literally “they will sit”. The shepherd will lead his people to green pastures where they will sit, rest, in peace, secure.
And “he will be the source of peace” is (lit.) “he will be their peace”.
Jesus is your peace
Now we have three powerful things to pull together.
- God will, one day, bring peace to the earth – weapons turned into farm tools. No more war, fighting.
Everything made right. You can sample that peace now.
- Second, when that happens, it will bring peace to all God’s people. Everything made right for you, personally.
- Third, that future is bound with the birth of a child in Bethlehem, 2000 years ago, in David’s line. A child of promise, to save his people from our sins, whose kingdom will never end.
Jesus is the one who is your peace. He’s the one who fixes you.
Jesus became broken so that you might be whole. He became Son of Man so that you could be a child of God. We all like sheep went astray, and the LORD has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all.
What will that peace feel like? What does it mean to sample it now?
- Ray Ortland spoke recently at the North West Gospel Partnership on Jesus bringing that rightness to you.
- Jesus said that he would go and prepare a room for you in his Father’s house. For you.
- As you enter that room, you’ll look around in wonder: “Look! It’s perfect! He really thought about me.”
- As you drink that in, and turn around, he’s there.
- Now, sometimes, when you hurt, it’s enough for someone you love simply to touch you, to hold you.
- So he reaches to you. Jesus holds you. You sink in.
- There are no words needed. You have just learned what it means to have “rest for your soul”.
- Every anxiety you ever had seeps out like tears, gone.
- Every worry, every hurt, every offence. All gone.
- You’re left with him. He is your peace.
- He will fix you.
A hunger for Christ
Thinking this through generates an ever-richer appetite for Christ himself. Not an abstract idea, but the man Christ Jesus, my Lord. He is your peace.
Meditating on him, spending time with him, is your sample of heaven. And, in the process of thinking about him, he is fixing you now. Pains, worries, anxieties – they’re still there, but they’re different when you walk with him.
Your lack of physical health is revealed when you try to walk up and down mountains. Your spiritual health is likewise revealed when you’re in spiritual terrain, not in easy flat days.
Those Christians who draw nearest to Jesus, nourished by his presence, living under his kingdom reign, they are the ones who most bless others.
Read Micah 5:7. Those who most reflect the peace of Christ will be like refreshing rain or dew on parched grass – blessing many, many people around them.
Read Micah 5:8. Those most confident of Christ’s help in this life will move confidently for him, trusting him for strength. And if someone wonders what gives you confidence in life, the answer will be clear, confident and strong: “Jesus is my peace.”
Jesus, your king, will one day reign in perfect peace over his people in the world. As you draw near to him – more and more – you become an ever-stronger outpost of heaven itself, shining in a dark world.
And the peace he gives will be yours now and for ever and ever.