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11.08.20 When our Leader Elects Us Micah 5:2-51 Sermon Summary

by on November 10, 2020

Over the past several months we have listened to the major concerns of the Minor Prophets. In broad terms their concerns fall under religious corruption or the collapse of social justice. The solution they urge is “repentance,” the turning of our hearts to the LORD and then acting accordingly. 

Sometimes a minor prophet will promise a new leader. Micah does this. His new leader is King Hezekiah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His father Ahaz was a weak king. They ruled at the end of the eighth century as Assyria was attacking the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Hezekiah impressed Micah. He gave Micah hope—and not only Micah but Amos and Isaiah also. At first Hezekiah didn’t disappoint. He centralized worship in Jerusalem and suppressed unofficial worship practices in other places. He expanded the city limit of Jerusalem to accommodate refugees from North. He strengthened their defenses and took strategic initiatives. 

Now prophets are truth-tellers and they tell the truth about human sinfulness, about God’s righteousness, and about God’s faithfulness. These prophetic truths impact the future. Because humans are sinful and God is righteous and faithful, actions have consequences. Prophets speak of “judgment.” Because God is faithful and righteous, goodness prevails.

Prophetic truths often come as promises. Promises evoke faith. Faith orients us toward the future. We anticipate a time when truth and righteousness prevail, when religion is not corrupt and society is just. But what about unfulfilled promises? What if there is an extensive delay? What if we experience a traumatic contradiction, like the military might of Assyria?

What happens to the faith? What happens to the faithful? The promises remain but the faith and the faithful must change. We reinterpret the promises, maybe extend the fulfilment or broaden the scope so that the promises can be reapplied.

This is what Micah did. Long ago people demanded a king. God chose the young shepherd David. David became great, even legendary. He was the model of a faithful king and kingdom. He was strong in the LORD and a shepherd of the people. He made the nation secure and provided for all. 

Everything associated with David became sacred, including his birthplace Bethlehem. And God made a promise during this time in ancient Israel’s history: God would always provide a “David.” By Micah’s day, that was 200 years ago and things hadn’t gone so well since David. The faithful and their faith had been tried.

So Micah reinterprets the promise about David and he applies it to Hezekiah. To paraphrase Micah: “Do not forget Bethlehem, the little town of David. A ruler will come as of old. At the end of a woman’s pregnancy he will come. He will be a shepherd who gathers all God’s scattered children. And they shall live secure. He will bring peace.”

The faith of the people in the time of Micah could continue. Isaiah and Amos did the same thing. And so did Matthew about 800 years later. As we near Advent we remember Matthew quoting Micah: “King Herod called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:3-6)

Just as Micah had done with Hezekiah, Matthew reapplied the promise about David to Jesus. This is what the faithful do. We reinterpret and reapply God’s promises to our time and to our circumstances. It’s why we listen for God’s Word today. This is how faith is kept alive.

This week in the United States we elected our leader. Every four years this gives us a sense of control and a sense of freedom. This sense is an illusion. The Bible teaches that true freedom exists not in electing our leaders, but in the realization that the Most High God, the King of King and Lord of Lords, has elected us.

This is the promise about David as it comes to us in Christ. “I am always with you. I have chosen you. I have elected you. You are free from the fear of death and from the power of sin. You are free to become the children of God.”

Whatever our circumstances may be, in response may our faith apply this promise to our lives that we may hope anew for pure religion and a just society. Amen.

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