Love Came Down with Peace

vista of Mont TremblantA good friend of mine once pronounced, “I will know I am healed when peace fills my heart”.

Like my friend, Micah the prophet lived a fierce pursuit of peace during turbulent days of King Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, as he suffered Israel’s choice to turn from Almighty God to pagan gods en masse.

By the end of Micah’s ministry, Assyrian demolished Samaria and peace was an elusive currency, especially for a man who agonized in prayer for his nation.

Sometime during this violent season churning with distress and judgment, God whispered to his servant Micah, “ Son, I know it’s tough right now. But wait till you see what I have in store…”.

First, Micah encountered the truth that no nation’s apostasy could ever diminish God Almighty:

Let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.(Micah 1:2-4).

No one is higher, bigger, stronger, mightier or more lovelier than God.

Next, Micah encountered the Big Picture:mont tremblant

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”(Micah 5:2)

Before the foundations of the earth were ever laid, God prepared a Kingdom plan that would overrule and outlast any other.Peace was coming through a person, not by an army of Micah’s longing.

I can almost see Micah’s eyes widen and draw deep a quick breath when God revealed to him His plan to establish His King , who would rule forever with mercy, compassion and provision:

He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.(Micah 5:4-5)

With renewed passion, Micah challenged his nation to cease their apostasy and return to their merciful God.  With disconnected appeasement, the Israelites instead offered numerous sacrifices to get God’s attention, when He had never broken His gaze. Micah lamented their choice:

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?(Micah 6:6-7)

img_2324Pitifully, Micah protested no amount of sacrifices would be accepted for the sin of Israel. Instead, Micah exhorted Israel to change their ways:

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy,and to walk humbly with your God?(Micah 6:8)

In Hebrew, these words wield sledge-hammer precision to demolish Israel’s religiosity,  “He has explicitly published, decreed and informed you, nation, what is excellent, moral, pleasant and of most benefit!  What does the Great I Am, Lord Jehovah, seek with follow-through from you?  Render sound judgment, cling to mercy as your lifelong love and carry humility as you walk before your One true God.”

Goodness. Quite a mission statement. Life with God in three succinct phrases: Be just. Be merciful.  Be humble. Three clear directives to demonstrate a people who loved God.

2014-10-10 07.44.26Sadly, Israel would not turn. Micah devastated by the loss surrounding him, concluded his lament with worship of His merciful God:

Lord, who is a God like you? You forgive sin. You forgive your people when they do what is wrong. You don’t stay angry forever. Instead, you take delight in showing your faithful love to them. (Micah 7:18-19 NRIV)

God delights in showing love to us. Micah knew His God.

2015-03-21 13.50.19Hundreds of years later, as promised, the Good Shepherd was born to Israel.  When Jesus announced His identity as Shepherd and Ruler, He confirmed Micah’s promise:

I am the good shepherd and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep.”(John 10:14)

Jesus our Shepherd, established His Father’s Kingdom by giving His life for His sheep. To Micah’s desperate cry,  “What can appease God in the face of our sin?”, Jesus answered,“I will pay.  My sinless life is the only offering my Father accepts.  My Father loves Me because I lay down My Life that I may take it again.  I love you because I lay down my life for My Sheep.”

Our Shepherd is the Prince of Peace.  As we believe we are His sheep, that He already paid, once and for all, the sacrifice for our sin, peace comes like a flood. When we grasp, in ever increasing degrees, this unmerited unlimited love that God extends to us through Christ’s humility, justice and mercy, peace moves in to stay.

cuba orangeLet’s pray:  O Lord Jesus, help us to hear Your voice today.  Holy Spirit, teach us justice, mercy and humility that we may be true sons. Father God, we cry out to you, may the God of peace, who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us complete in every good work to do His will, working in us what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever”.(Heb 13: 20-21) Amen.

This Week’s Reading:  Micah and Nahum

Next Week’s Reading: Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai

Study Questions:

  1.  What steals your peace and what do you need to do to find it?
  2.  Do you know Christ as your Prince of Peace?
  3. Do you know the God of peace who works in us what is well pleasing in His sight?
  4. How did God give Micah a different perspective in his current circumstance?
  5. How does God shift your perspective?