Micah 4:1-8 was a text that revealed so much grace. Virtually every line of that text contained expressions of grace. I narrowed down what we discussed last week into five expressions of grace. They were as follows:
God’s promises provide grace. God promised that these things would happen so we are to know that they will occur because of the grace of God. They will not occur because God stumbles upon the right people with the right talents or abilities to bring these things about.
Grace is also seen in the fact that it is the Lord who will assemble, gather, make a remnant and reign over them. It is the Lord who calls and gathers His people.
Grace is seen in who the Lord saves. He saves the lame, those who were driven away, and those who were cast off. These are the most unlikely people to have the ability to be saved. These are the most unlikely of people to receive grace; but God grants them grace as a gift.
There is grace seen in how he saves them. He saves the very people who have sinned against Him. He saves the very ones who were cast off and who were driven away from the promised land. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)
Finally, we discussed how there was grace seen in the fact that God was King of this people and that his reign would be forevermore. God has the right and the authority to reign over this remnant. God has the will and desire to reign over this people. God has the grace to heal and to help this remnant.
When I consider last weeks text I cannot help but think that there is more that needs to be said. I cannot help but to consider that there is something more that needs to be understood and even responded too. Perhaps there is a caution to consider or a truth to recognize. This is what we will see in our text today.
Let me try to explain it in this way. Look with me at verse 8 which is where we ended last week. “And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:8)
In the first eight verses of Micah 4 there is so much grace and goodness that the message of the first three chapters can be quickly forgotten and dismissed. It seems to me that when Micah speaks of a future dominion and kingship that most people would want to get in line to be a part of this kingdom.
When I was graduating from High School a friend of mine invited me to go to a university where he was being recruited to play football. While I was there with him they treated me as if I was one of the recruits that they wanted to sign. After a while I came to believe that I too was part of that group who was going to get to play football in college, even though I clearly not going to achieve that level of play. So too, everyone would read Micah 4:1-8 and may conclude that they were automatically tied too and a part of this kingdom and this remnant.
In the ministry of Jesus we find that there is a price to be paid to be part of Christ’s kingdom. For example, we see this in a mothers request that her two sons sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in the kingdom in Matthew 20:20-28. Jesus hears this request and then says to her sons, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (22) HE was speaking of His rejection and His suffering.
Some who would get in line to participate in the kingdom of which Micah speaks would be the very ones whose sins have brought Israel to the brink of ruin and disaster in Micah’s day. After the presentation of the ‘Good News” by Micah in the opening verses of this chapter these very people may forget the message concerning the coming judgment upon this nation. Messages like we read about in Isaiah 10,
“Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!” Isaiah goes on to say, “What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain.” (Isaiah 10:1-4)
Micah’s words of grace in chapter four have not negated the destruction that he has said is coming. His words have not been a contradiction to the message that he has been preaching. Nor are these words of grace be taken as a mere bandage on a bigger problem as the false prophets would do. The entire message that Micah has preached is intended to provoke true repentance, trust, hope and a growing faith in the Lord and His promises.
In our text today Micah intends to remind this people that the future is going to be difficult, painful, severe, troublesome and desperate; and yet, God will accomplish the promises that He has made even though it may appear that he has hidden His face from them.
It is not always easy to see the hand of God when difficult times come. It is not always easy to see the face of God when dark times come. It is not always easy to know that God is with you when you go through the valley and the shadow of death.
David knew this to be true. Listen to what he says in Psalm 31, “Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.” (21-22)
In our text today, I see two things happening.
First, Micah is showing us the need to have genuine faith. Faith alone accesses all the grace of God. Everyone will be drawn to certain aspects of the grace of God and to the Lord’s promises but not all have access to them.
Secondly, Micah is affirming the totality of the message being spoken which will condemn the prideful and unrepentant; and will comfort the faithful remnant.
In what way does our text show us that all of this grace is accessed by faith? We see this in verse nine when Micah begins by asking several revealing questions. He says, “Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain has seized you like a woman in labor?” (v.9)
Let me make a couple observations about this verse. First, not all crying is a sign of either faithlessness. David proves this in the verse we mentioned previously, “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.” In previous verses David describes himself, “...I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” (9-10)
In this we see faith displayed by David in this psalm. We can see this throughout, but let’s simply consider Psalm 31:1-8. “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.”
This faith that is on display by David here is the same faith that the remnant in Micah’s day would display. It is not the faith that the majority of Israel possessed. The cries of the faithless are worse than an archer who has bent arrows. Their prayers miss their mark because their prayers are not even directed at God. Their cries are spoken because of the discomfort of their bodies and not because they have sinned against God. Remember Micah 3:4, “Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil.”
Secondly, notice that the faithlessness of Israel is evident in that they do not see the LORD as their King, nor do they regard Him as their counselor. Therefore, Micah asks, “Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished?”
This people was idolatrous and fashioned truth to fit their desires. They trusted in things that would be found to be untrustworthy when the days of judgment would come upon them that Micah is speaking about in our text today. When Micah says, “… for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon.” (10)
Or when Micah says, “Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, ‘Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion,’” (11)
God will use these things to humble the prideful and to condemn the unfaithful. Isaiah says to them, “What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help and where will you leave your wealth?” (10:3)` It is through all of this that Israel will begin to to see that there is no one to shelter, take refuge in and trust but the Lord. There is no where to look for help from except the Lord.
Isaiah goes on to describe this trust that would be produced through this hardship in the following way, “In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them (Assyria), but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.” (10:20-21)
What a tragedy it was for this faithless people to see God as neither their King or their Counselor. When they needed hope, grace and encouragement they would not listen to the words of Micah in our text, “There you shall be rescued; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.” (10b)
The remnant will not get lucky one day and simply escape from their captivity; they will be rescued at great cost to the LORD. They will be redeemed from the hand of the enemy through the cross of Jesus Christ. The apostle John speaks o5-f the LORD in this way, “...and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and ruler of kings on earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye has seen him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him...’I am the Alpha and Omega’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:5-8)
Nor would they be comforted with Micah’s words, “But they (the Assyrians) do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they (the Assyrians) do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion...” (12-13a)
Isaiah also spoke of this when he wrote, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I commanded him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few...When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.” (Isaiah 10:5-7, 12)
Micah is saying in our text today that God will create faith in some and punish the prideful, faithless and godless in both Assyria and in Israel because He is ‘the Lord of the whole earth’ (13) and his plans pertain to the whole world as we have seen in 4:1-8. The times of distress and hardship will come but faith can access the grace that will not only help them through it but this faith and grace will also make them capable to be victorious in the end.
Let me try to help you see this in the following way. Notice that in our text the word ‘NOW’ occurs three times (v, 9,10, 11). All of these ‘NOW’ statements are linked to the judgment that is coming. You can imagine the intensity of hearing this one time, but Micah repeats it over and over again and it builds the intensity and the urgency of the situation.
“Now why do you cry aloud?” This first use of it really is the foundational issue. Without faith in God as the Sovereign King and Counselor there can be no true biblical faith and no access to the grace that we all so desperately need This is where it all begins for each of us. Our faith cannot grow if we do not recognize Jesus as Lord. And our faith cannot grow if we do not seek His counsel in the scriptures.
Romans 10:14-17 – “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him on whom they have never heard? How are they to hear apart from someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Faith is not possible apart from Christ. And faith is not possible apart from the Word of God.
The second “NOW” statement is in verse 10. It says, “...for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon.”
The third “NOW” statement is in verse 11. It says, “Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, ‘Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.”
Each of these statements would crush a person whose faith cannot access the grace of God. These statements carry the force of the words spoken to Job that came one after another speaking of the destruction of his flocks, her servants and his family.
It was Job’s faith that allowed him to walk righteously through such a trial, and it is faith that allows God’s people to endure trials, access the grace of God and to be victorious in the end. Consider verse 13, “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the LORD of the whole earth.”