Recently I finished the construction of my mother-in-laws three season porch. However, there is something about it that bothers me every time I go into the room. It has to do with the floor. When I was installing this special laminate floor I found that some of the joints would come apart. This would often cause me to take apart rows of flooring and redo them.
When I finished the floor there were no issues so I completed putting on the door trim and all of the base. Unfortunately, since that time there are now two spots where the floor has separated again. To fix it I will have to remove the base trim and pull up some of the flooring. It is a big job and I am not looking forward to it.
Why do I tell you this story? Because last week in my absence Andy Lickel filled this pulpit. In doing so, he put on some of the trim pieces. I had told him that I thought his sermon would be around the beginning of Micah 6 but by the time I left I had not completed Micah 5..
As many of you know, I preached through Micah 5:9 before I left and Andy preached on Micah 6:1-5. This meant that we skipped Micah 5:10-15.
Do we discuss Micah 6:6-8 today?
Do we go back to Micah 5:10-15?
Or do we try to cover all of these texts together in one sermon which was my initial intent?
As I sat down to type out this sermon it became evident that I should only try to deal with Micah 5:10-15. In doing so, we will lay the groundwork for understanding Micah 6:6-8 better next week.
As a result, it could be said that this week we are going to back up and complete the floor. I am not going back because the trim was installed wrong. I have gone back and listened to Andy’s sermon twice this week and I enjoyed it more each time. I have also heard that many of you enjoyed the sermon last week. I am going back in the text because I had left the floor incomplete.
Just before our text today in Micah 5:3 we read these words, “Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth...”
I would like to make three observations about this verse. In doing so, we will be swept up into our text today.
- God gives them up by being unresponsive to their prayers and by not accepting their religious acts and sacrifices.
- God gives them up by bringing judgment upon them (Micah 5:10-15; Romans 1:24,26,28)
- Simultaneously to this God is actively pursuing their salvation
(Observation 1 – when God gives people up it may mean He becomes unresponsive)
First, my natural inclination when looking at this verse is to think that to be “given up” may mean that God becomes indifferent towards his people. And to some degree this may be true. We have seen this already in 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.”
To be clear, God never becomes indifferent towards people. It is not because God is apathetic that He does not answer their prayers but because of the condition of their heart and disposition towards Him and His Word. If at any time a person will repent and respond to the preaching of the gospel they will be saved!
Jeremiah 3:22 - “Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.”
Amos 5:4 - “For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, ‘Seek me and live!’”
Matthew 23:37 - “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
We will see next week in Micah 6:6-7 that God will not respond to even the most extravagant of sacrifices and religious acts if a persons hearts and actions deny Him and His Word. Micah writes, “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
These words sound so familiar with the conversation that Jesus had with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-31. The man comes to Jesus and says, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (17)
All of us find ourselves asking how we are to come before the Lord.
We wonder with what shall we come before Him with?
What good work would please Him?
What does God require of me?
(Observation 2 – When God gives people up it may lead to calamity)
The words, “He shall give them up”, do not mean that the Lord is passive, apathetic, indifferent or non-responsive to His people.
When the prophet speaks these words he is saying that they will be judged for their sins. They will be humbled as a result of what lies ahead. I say this because of what we read in our text today. Look at Micah 5:10-15,
And in that day, declares the Lord, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; 11 and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; 12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes; 13 and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; 14 and I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities. 15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.
In these verses we see that before God would send the promised Messiah the Lord would be actively executing vengeance upon His people because of their idolatry, misplaced trust in other things, and because of their propensity to listen to false prophets.
Verse 10 says that the Lord will cut them off from their horses and destroy all of their chariots. This generation is like the people that King David spoke of in Psalm 20:7 when he wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Micah’s audience did not trust the Lord; but they put their trust in other things (wealth, military).
Verse 11 says that the Lord will cut off the cities and throw down all of their strongholds. Can you imagine for a moment what Micah would be speaking of here?
Some of us have seen the pictures of Britain and France which were destroyed during the bombing raids during World War II.
Or we can consider the devastation that we have seen on televisions that the Bahamas have experienced this past week.
This is how the book of 2 Kings describes the fall of Jerusalem of which Micah speaks, “...the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. All all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.” (2 Kings 25:8-10)
In Micah 5:12-13 we see a time when the LORD would cut off sorceries, the tellers of fortunes, their carved images and their pillars and their Asherah images. As a result of all of this, they would no longer bow down to the work of their hands.
The motivating force behind all of this is seen in Micah 5:15, “And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.”
We see this fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”
(Observation 3 – When God gives them up He continues to act to save them)
God gives the people up; and yet, He actively calls them to respond to His Word so that they might be saved.
We see this clearly in the verses we just looked at from 2 Chronicles 36:15 when Babylon comes to execute judgment upon this people, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by their messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.” In this way we see that even when a people are being “given up”, the Lord is still reaching out to them persistently with His Word. He does this even while they are mocking, scoffing and despising His prophets and His Word. This always results eventually to the loss of the remedy for our sin and its consequences.
We see in Micah 5 the when a people is “given up” that God is still proceeding with his plan of redemption and with his righteous acts. In Micah 5:3-5 we read these words, “Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth...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 there peace.”
Even during times when the majority of people are faithless and disobedient God still acts righteously to save. This was the primary point being made in last weeks text. God gave four examples of His faithfulness to disobedient people in Micah 6:4-5. He gave these examples to show how He does righteous acts even when a people may not realize it.
- He redeemed them from Egypt despite Israels grumbling and faithlessness
- He gave them faithful leaders: Moses, Aaron and Miriam
- He reminded them of Balak and Balaam
- He reminded them of the journey between Shittim to Gilgal
Micah 5:10-15 is clearly about God in His wrath and anger, executing judgment.
For those who are faithless, this is a terrifying passage.
But is there something that the faithful can be encouraged by in this text?
I think that there are two things that can encourage God’s remnant people in this text.
First, God will do through this judgment what no one else was willing or able to do.
Secondly, What God does through judgment upon the unbeliever, He will do FOR the believer through the means of His steadfast love, mercy, and grace.
God will cut off, root out and destroy all things that dishonor Him and His Word. He does this against the disobedient and idolaters as He does here in our text today.
He also does this for those who respond to Him in faith and obedience. The LORD will share His glory with no one else. Isaiah 42:8 - “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Therefore, God exalts Himself far above all idolatry and falsehood.
Consider that some of the greatest kings that Judah had failed to cleanse these things from among God’s people. Consider king Asa in 2 Chronicles 15:16-17, “Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days.”
Consider Jehophaphat, king Asa’s son, “Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah...He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 20:31-34)
According to these verses, what kept the people from pulling down these high places? We were told, “...the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.” It is only the LORD who can do this work. Only when people set their heart upon Him will these idols and falsehoods be torn down in our lives and in our communities. Apart from the LORD we are powerless to do this.
I will admit to you that I have been encouraged to consider this week that I have a need for the LORD to come into my life and cleanse my temple. I need the same Jesus who began and ended His three year ministry by cleansing the temple to come into my life and do the same. I need Him to come in with strength and power to remove idols, to remove things that cannot truly protect me, to remove falsehood and deception from my life.
John 2:15 – “And making a whip of cords, He (Jesus) drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.”
What sin, what passion, what deception, what falsehood, what idol do you need the Lord’s help to remove from your life? If we will look to the Lord and pray He can overcome, root out, destroy, cut off such things. (In Matthew 21:13 Jesus cleansed the temple a second time and He said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer...’”)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus. Listen to how the gospel had so transformed these people as recorded in Acts 19:23-27,
“About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Just as Christ so powerfully saved and redeemed those in Ephesus, He continues to do that for us as well.
Our response to all of these things this morning ought to be to turn to the Lord so that He can display His strength, His power, His ability and His resolve to free us from the things from which we have been enslaved. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. The Lord delivers us from slavery to sin; so that we can do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) This is the very thing we will explore next week.