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11.15.20 The Coming Kingdom of Hope Micah 7:18-20 Sermon Summary

by on November 16, 2020

There are two parallel and seemingly contradictory realities with regards to “the remnant” of ancient Israel. First, there is a remnant because there is a judgment. Second, there is a remnant because of grace. The remnant is a symbol of both judgment and grace.

We recall Paul’s metaphor of the burning edifice built on the foundation he laid. (1 Corinthians 3) He says even though the building may be destroyed, the builder will survive but only as one having gone through fire. He is a remnant.

For the minor prophet Micah, the message for the remnant is that forgiveness and mercy outlast sin and judgment. God’s anger is not forever, but the divine rather prefers clemency. God’s chosen nature is mercy and compassion, and it is active by suffering with us and eventually in our deliverance.

This is helpful to keep in mind when thinking about the divine promises as found in the Minor Prophets. Yes, there are predictions of judgment. Consequences follow our attitudes and actions. For the Minor Prophets, the main concerns were corrupt religion and the collapse of social justice.

But there are also predictions of mercy. Look back over these messages since June. From Hosea we saw that God the faithful spouse will seduce his people again, and the divine mother will once again teach her child to walk. From Amos we heard that the “booth” of David will be rebuilt and that God is a saving God. Last week we realized from Micah that God has chosen us for salvation.

In the Jonah story we were challenged: God can save, but will we participate? Hosea taught us that we participate by sowing goodness because doing so reaps goodness (Malachi and Amos say the same thing.) Micah told us how to sow goodness in the simplest of ways: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Haggai envisioned a return to ministry as he urged us to “consider” how we are doing and whether it is time to rededicate ourselves and our church (through our giving) to God’s mission. 

And this week Micah teaches us that mercy outlasts judgment, grace outdistances sin, and gives us the vision that our “sin will be cast into the depths of the sea.”

The remnant has suffered–at least there is a remnant!–but there will be more. There will be restoration.

How does Micah see that future so clearly? He sees the future so clearly by looking at the past. Our passage ends, “God will show faithfulness to Jacob, and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as God has sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.”

Looking back allows us to see forward. Rehearsing the stories “from the days of old” prepares us to see the coming “day of the Lord.” This is the last message on the Minor Prophets for the time being. We are on the threshold of Advent. In Advent we often hear from the priest Zechariah. Perhaps we can consider him to be the last of the Minor Prophets, because he summarizes so well the hopes of the Minor Prophets when he speaks for the first time after his son John the Baptist is born:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
    in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
    that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:68-79)

Let us remember God’s promises. Let us remember God’s deliverance. Let us remember God’s salvation through the forgiveness of our sins, through God’s tender mercy, and through the light of Jesus Christ.

Let our prayer this week be: Eternal God, your promises are ever new because you are not bound to our time. But to us, your promises can appear only “of old.” Many of us in this time are feeling the strain of waiting. We need your Spirit to renew our hope and to uphold us. Give us faith, we pray–the faith of Micah, the faith of Zechariah, and the faith of Jesus–all of whom trusted their lives and their times to you. May we be so faithful. Amen.

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