There was a sermon that was preached a decade ago by a well known minister to 7,000 Christian counselors. This sixty-three year old minister began to speak to them about his own bouts with sin, personal weakness’ and temptations.
If I were to read to you the transcript of the message that he had given to these Christian counselor’s it would reveal that this minister sought to bare his soul to that audience by saying things like:
- I am a sinner!
- I am a man who must crucify the love of praise every day.
- I am a man who is prone to freeze up emotionally when I am tired. And then I feel instinctively justified in blaming someone else.
- I am a man who loves to praise God in the great assembly; and yet, feels a great restraint upon my spirit when I am in my own living room.
- I am a man who never feels sure of his motives, including the ones I feel right now about why I am doing this?
After all of this, we would read these words by the minister, “This is a serious talk!”
It would be hard to pick up on the nuances of this sermon if you were just looking at a transcript. But as this sixty-three year old minister stood behind the podium and spoke of his sins the people were laughing after each of his confessions. For example, when he said, “I am a sinner!” the crowd of 7,000 people laughed.
After the preacher confessed, “I am a man who must crucify the love of praise every day.” The crowd again laughed even louder.
When he admitted, “I am a man who is prone to freeze up emotionally when I am tired. And that he feels instinctively justified in blaming someone else.” This crowd erupted in applause.
When he said, “I am a man who loves to praise God in the great assembly; and yet, feels a great restraint upon my spirit when I am in my own living room.” they roared.
Finally, when he said, “I am a man who never feels sure of his motives, including the ones I feel right now about why I am doing this? They burst out again in an awkward laughter.
And this is why the preacher stopped and said, “This is a serious talk!” and later admitted that he was not used to being laughed at.
For whatever reason that this happened, one thing is clear: a people who can laugh at sin cannot in that moment understand God’s grace, mercy and steadfast love of God.
Because of this the minister then said, “I thought maybe the reason that I said what I said, was because I wanted you be to open to what I would say here today. And I thought that if I was open to you, you would be open to what I have to say. At a deeper level, which I hope is true, I listed those sins that are true; and though they make you laugh, they make me cry. And I mean that, so you got to stop laughing like that.
My other reason for telling you about the besetting sins in my life, is because I want you to know as I begin that I love grace. I love the grace of God. I desperately need the grace of God every day of my life. So I am not talking hypothetically about the grace of God.”
Micah is having a similar experience in our text today. Our text in Micah 7:7-10 states,
“But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I will rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like mire in the streets.”
You may recall that last week in Micah 7:1 the prophet Micah said, “Woe is me!”, but now in Micah 7:8 he says, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy”.
Micah is in misery; his enemies rejoice.
Micah is hopeless; his enemy revels in his suffering.
Micah is in despair; his enemies celebrate.
Micah is empty on the inside; his enemies boasts spill fourth from a merry heart.
Between the misery and the rejoicing of his enemies Micah looked to the LORD in Micah 7:7 and he has an appropriate response now in our text today. He looks to the LORD who is holy, righteous, perfect, just, Almighty and eternal and in that moment he becomes aware of his own personal sin against the LORD. He acknowledges that his sin justifies the indignation of the LORD. We see this in Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him...”.
For many people, sin is a matter of jest; but to Micah this is no laughing matter. It is for this very reason that the sixty-three year old minister referred to in the introduction said, “though my sins make you laugh, they make me cry.”
When we look to the Lord, as Micah has done here, we become aware of our sins. This is one reason why when we take communion and consider Christ in His redeeming work we also take some time to confess and repent of our sins. These two things go hand in hand together.
Let me give four observations regarding the words, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I will rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.”
#1 - Our text reminds us that all believers are to set their eyes upon the LORD and draw near in faith through His Word. This is the objective of every person in the church whether young or old.
1 John 2:12-14 – I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
#2 - Our text reminds us that we will never outgrow our need for repentance. The most mature people in scripture are consistently found to be repenting in Scripture. Micah is coming to the end of his ministry and he is showing us that a faithful believer looks to the Lord and repents of his sin. Confession of sin is far from being a bad trait. On the contrary, this may reveal that the person is looking to the LORD and loving Him.
Let us consider the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” To this point this church sounds a lot like what we have seen in Micah. But consider what Jesus says next, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
In our passage Micah has shown us many works that perhaps the church in Ephesus had stopped doing. In doing so, they had fallen from what characterized a loving relationship with the LORD. The church in Ephesus was commended for their works, their toil, their patient endurance and their fight against evil; but they had abandoned the love that they had at first.
We have seen Micah...
look to the LORD,
wait upon the LORD,
pray to the LORD in faith and expectation,
he saw his sin and confessed it to the LORD
In this way the LORD was a Light to him and Micah was confident the LORD would bring him into the Light. (1 John 1:5-10)
Are you continuing to display these traits in your life? Are you continually repenting and walking humbly before the LORD? Or is your heart indifferent, hardened or even jovial towards sin?
#3 - Notice what Micah says in verse 9, “when I fall, I shall rise” (v.9) Let us consider four things concerning these words.
First, it is so easy to have very little tolerance and patience for the sins of others. Micah could have looked at all the wickedness around him and neglected the sin in his life and only blamed them for what was ahead. When a nation has wandered away from the LORD, the place to start is to look at our own hearts and to deal with the sin there. Then our own families. Then reach out to the nation.
Micah sought to be righteous in a faithless generation. Micah seemed to remember verses like Proverbs 3:33, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.” Or verses like Proverbs 3:25-26, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes. For the LORD will by your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Micah looked to the LORD and rested in Him. Micah expressed many works of faith. He trusted the Lord to protect the righteous so he looked to the Lord and dealt with his own sin.
Micah acknowledged that there would be times that he would fall. The prophet Micah is a mature minister at this time. Yet, he admits that he will fall and that he has determined to rise up again. Proverbs 24:16, states, “...for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”
How are we to rise after a fall? Is this done by our own effort and determination? Are we to raise ourselves up by our own bootstraps?
Micah says, “...the LORD will be a light to me...He will bring me out to the light.” (8-9) Micah’s situation is like Joseph when his brothers threw him into the pit. When they cast him into the well he was unable to free himself. He cried out to his own brothers but they did not respond to his cries. (Genesis 42:21) They ate a meal and plotted against him.
In contrast to Joseph’s brothers, Micah knows that the Lord will respond to his cries and deliver him from this dark pit and prepare for him a meal in the presence of his enemies. Micah 7:10 – My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets. (Ps. 23:5; Genesis 43:26-34)
#4 - Lastly, consider that not only will the LORD be a light to Micah in his troubles but that the LORD will also bring him out of the darkness and place him into the light. The Lord does both of these things for all of us. He comforts us in our trials and He also lifts us out. God’s grace along the dark path while he brings us into the light.
Philippians 1:6 - “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
In our passage we see a sharp contrast between Micah and his enemies. We see:
Micah has looked to the LORD
he waits upon Him
He is confident that the LORD will answer.
Micah trusts that when he sits in darkness the LORD will be his light (8).
Micah is aware of the indignation of God against his sin (9).
Micah is confident that the LORD will one day plead His cause and execute judgment for him and the LORD will bring him out into the light.
In sharp contrast to all of this we see Micah’s enemies scoffing at his faith saying, “Where is the LORD your God?” (v.10)
Today as we celebrate communion we declare to our own hearts and to the world that we know where the LORD may be found.
At communion we look to the cross where He died,
we remember the tomb where He was buried,
we celebrate the fact that Jesus has been resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins
and now He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.