Through the Old Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Micah 4:1-8; 5:1-6 – The Lord's plan

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

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In the midst of Israel's unfaithfulness to the Lord and the Assyrian threat to destroy the nation, God speaks words of promise through his prophet Micah. The day will come when God will visit his people again and restore the glory of his temple – his dwelling place among them. Jerusalem, which has been humbled, will be exalted by God. In that day, the nations will stream to it not to wage war against God's people but will come seeking to learn about the living God; "They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks" (4:3). The Lord will gather together his wounded exiles and will reign over them (4:6-7).

Micah chapter five amplifies on this promise. God is going to raise up a new king who will rule over his people. Like David of old, he will be born in Bethlehem. Unlike David, his "origins are from of old, from ancient times" (5:2):

He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the LORD,
    in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace… (5:4-5)

We know that this prophecy of Micah was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the advisors of King Herod understood that Micah 5:2 prophesied the birth of the Messiah, David's greater Son, who was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Matthew 2:5-6). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has come to gather together a people for God from every nation on earth and make them one people, living securely under his care. He is our peace who has broken down the walls of hostility between ourselves and God and brought us into the embrace of the Father. He is our peace who has broken down the barriers between peoples of very different backgrounds, even people who were once enemies and at war with one another, and has made them one united family (Ephesians 2:14).

Did you notice that in Micah 4:6 it is the Lord who says, "I will gather the lame…"? Jesus is the Lord come to visit and redeem his people. God has come to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to identify with us in all our weakness and need. He went to the cross on our behalf, bearing the judgment we deserved, so that we could be reconciled with God. He suffered the hatred of a divided world – Jew and Gentile – that he might heal the divisions that mark this world bringing peace and security.

Christ has come, he has died and he is risen, but we know that the work of reconciling a divided world to God and to each other is far from complete. We who have come to know the living God through the Lord Jesus Christ have been entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We are to be a people who tell the world the good news concerning the peace and security that is to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Looking at the world around us with all its hatreds, conflict, oppression and destruction, we know that this is a message our world needs to hear. Millions, or rather, billions of people are longing for peace and security.

Father God, we thank you that the words spoken long ago through the prophet Micah find their fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you that he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and has brought an end to the conflict between you and ourselves. We thank you that he is the Good Shepherd who came to seek and to save those who were lost. Lord, many still are lost and need to know your saving power; many still suffer in situations of conflict and need to know your peace. Help us to overcome our fear and to proclaim your message of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace to the warring peoples of our world.

Peter Misselbrook