Text: Micah 4:1-8
Edmund Hillary and Mr. Tenzing were the first men to reach the top of Mount Everest. Hillary, who had climbed many mountains said something that has become one of his more famous quotes, “I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain you can’t grow, but as a human I can.”
I can appreciate Mr. Hillary’s words in view of what he was attempting to accomplish. Climbing Mount Everest would be difficult enough under normal conditions; but it would be hopeless, impassable and insurmountable if at the same time you were attempting to scale its cliffs to reach the top, you discovered that the mountain itself was growing taller.
In Micah 4:1-8 we see by the use of figurative language that Micah describes a mountain that continues to grow. We see this in verse one, “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills...”
When I first looked at this text all I saw was the work, dedication and training that might be involved in making ones way to the top of the Mountain of the Lord. I will be honest with you that if any of you were to come to me and ask me to go up to the top of Granite Peak in Wausau, I would be tempted to decline.
When I read the words in verse 2, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob...”, I find myself thinking that the person telling me to do this would have to be full of enthusiasm and passion to make me agree to go on such a journey. The reality, however, is that it takes far more than enthusiasm and passion to get us to venture out on this expedition – it takes the grace of God.
We will see very quickly all of the grace that is evident in this text.
It is this grace that Micah shows us here that has inspired me all week.
It is this grace that has captured my attention and captivated my thoughts.
It is upon seeing this grace that I have come to appreciate the fact that God’s grace is sufficient in our weakness to get us to the top.
In Micah 4:1 we read, “It shall come to pass in the latter days”. When we are told that this promise will come to pass in the later days, we should not imply by these words:
that it will not come about till the people make it happen
It will not happen until there is some progress made by the people that they don’t possess now
It is not a matter of men sitting around planning as to how to make this work
that it will not happen because there are too few qualified and capable people
To ascend to the top of this mountain a person will need more than: luck, skill, strength, stamina, more than ability. None of these things will give a person any chance at getting to the top.
He will need the grace of God.
This will only happen because the LORD of hosts has spoken this promise (4:1 and 4:4). Because The Lord has made this promise, He will provide grace to every person who is called to ascend this mountain. Without the promise there would be no grace. Without the grace of God, this endeavor would not even enter into our minds.
When Sir Edmund Hillary set out to scale Mount Everest in 1953 he was a part of an expedition of 400 men. Of that group only two men reached the summit. These men planned for so long for this journey. All of this planning, all of this work, all of this commitment; and yet, only two men reached the top of the mountain.
When Hillary and Tenzing arrived at the top of the summit, they stopped long enough to take some pictures, make an offering, and to look for any evidence of a couple men who attempted to reach this 29,500 foot peak a couple decades before but who never returned home. In all, they spent less than 15 minutes at the peak.
One of the pictures that was taken at the top of the summit shows Tenzing waving his ice pick attached with the flags of the United Nations, Britain, India and Nepal. They wanted to acknowledge all of the nations who played a role in this accomplishment. Notice in Micah 4:5 that it is the Lord alone who will get the glory for what is going on here. It says, “For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” At the peak of this mountain there are not many flags on display; there will be just one banner acknowledging the Lord.
At the summit Tenzing left a box of chocolates as an offering and Hillary left a cross given him by another climber. But Micah reminds us that there will not be anyone giving glory to another god on the mountain that he speaks of.
We see grace in verses 6-7 when we are told that the Lord declares that He will do four things.
“In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time fourth and forevermore.” (Micah 4:6-7) In these verses we see that this gathering and assembling is a work of God.
As I consider this gathering together of this people I think of the story of Noah. Noah was obedient to build the ark and then God establishes His covenant with Noah. “But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you.” (Genesis 6:18-19)
The Lord called all these animals to the ark and Noah, the one God made a covenant with, brought them into the ark so that they would be kept alive. In Noah’s day, the Lord gathered and assembled all who were to be saved.
In the day of GRACE that Micah is speaking of in our text the Lord Himself will again call, assemble, and gather a remnant who will shelter in Christ Jesus who is the mediator of a new covenant. All who shelter in Christ are saved. (John 10:16, 18b – And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd...This charge I have received from my Father.)
Grace #3 (Grace in the promise, grace seen in that the Lord assembles)
We also see grace in the people that the Lord makes this promise too.
He does not promise to receive those who are strong
He does not promise to receive only the powerful.
He does not gather those who are self-sufficient
He does not gather those who are capable.
Instead, the Lord gathers and assembles the lame, the afflicted, those driven away and those who have been cast off.
“In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time fourth and forevermore.” (Micah 4:6-7)
On a plaque on Liberty Island you will read these words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Jesus spoke similar words as these in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We are a people who desperately needs grace. Like David every believer should be quick to say, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped...The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” (Ps. 28:7-9)
The Lord’s remnant will always be partaking in the grace of God. (1 Cor. 1:31 – Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.) When the remnant become self-sufficient and prideful, the Lord will humble us and make us dependent upon grace. [The Lord humbled Jacob by dislocating his hip so that he walked with a limp that never went away. Then he gave him a new name – Israel.]
Another way that we see the grace of God in our text is by noticing the manner in which the Lord saves. He does not simply save those who have sinned against other people; He saves those who have sinned continually against Him.
In our text today we see that the people that God is going to save are those who have been driven away because of their sinfulness and hardness of heart towards God. The Lord saves those who had become His enemies, “But lately my people have risen up an an enemy.” (Micah 2:8)
Micah says, “In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted...” (4:6). In Micah 4:7 we are told that these are a people who were cast off because of their sins. But now God will graciously and mercifully call them to Himself and make them a remnant and a strong nation.
God loves to save even the ‘worst of sinners’ (1 Tim. 1:15). The apostle Paul persecuted the church, and in doing so he was persecuting Christ Himself. Listen to how Paul will describe the grace that was granted to him, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him to the Gentiles...” By God’s grace Paul is now one of those individuals who is saying to his generation, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.” (4:2)
David knew that when he had sinned it was against the Lord. He said in Psalm 51:3-4, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
Paul would go on to preach these words, “...for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-26)
We also see grace in the fact that He will be their king and that He will reign over this remnant.
v.7… and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion.
v.8 ...the former dominion will come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
Isaiah, Micah’s contemporary, describes how things would be during the time when Israel and Judah were being cast off and afflicted by the Lord. It would be a time when there would be no leaders. There would be no one would desire to lead this people.
“For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: ‘You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule’; in that day he will speak out, saying: ‘I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of this people.’” (Isaiah 3:6)
But the Lord is Israel’s true King! Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.”
What grace there is in the fact that the Lord is their King. He alone can heal and restore what sin has destroyed. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of out God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (61:1-3)
Because the Lord is the King and because of the Grace that He abundantly gives, we are told twice in the text that this kingdom and His reign will last forever. “from this time forth and forevermore”. (v. 5 &7)