Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Judgment for most … mercy for some …"

Day #249

Scripture Reading:  Micah 1 - 7 ...

Sin against God always has consequences.  Micah declares, "All of this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel" (1:5).  Though Babylon would be the instrument of the LORD's judgment, "disaster has come from the LORD" (1:12).  Once God determines to bring His judgment, even on the people whom He had chosen for His own, it is inescapable.  God does not threaten in vain or without reason.  "Therefore, the LORD says: 'I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves'" (2:3).

The false prophets tried to stop men like Micah from speaking:  "'Do not prophesy,' their prophets say.  'Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will NOT overtake us!'" (2:6).  They were wrong then and they are wrong now.  Still, God reveals again that He is not finished with "Jacob," with the descendants of Abraham and Isaac.  "I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel ... Their King will pass through before them" (2:12-13).

God often mentions the "remnant," those whom He has chosen and in whom He will work to bring them to Himself by repentance and faith, through the work of His Spirit.  Mercy is such a marvelously beautiful thing!!  As the false prophets declare that all is well, Micah says, "As for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin" (3:8).  Even this is mercy, for unless there is an awareness of sin there will never be confession or forgiveness from the LORD, our God!  "Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, 'Is not the LORD among us?  No disaster will come upon us!'" (3:11).  There is no end to the ability of people to deny the truth.  But denying the truth does not change the truth.

In chapter 4, Micah quotes the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 2:1-5).  Here is the hope for the future that God gives to those who humble themselves and come to Him.  Have you asked yourself, "Why would God deal specifically with Israel and Judah again in a future time, just before the return of Jesus?"  The answer is simple:  Because He said so!!  God said He would save a remnant of these people and He will do it, for the glory of His Name.  Micah predicts that "in that day" (4:6) ... "the LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion ... the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem" (4:7-8).  Over and over the prophets point to THE King, Jesus Christ, God's Anointed One.

Yes, the nations will gather against God's people and Jerusalem, "but they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand His plan, He who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor" (4:12).  Surely, Micah is pointing to the gathering of the nations at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16. God's plan will be perfectly fulfilled, and He will show Himself glorious in the eyes of His people before all the nations of the earth.  In speaking even more specifically of Jesus at His first coming, Micah says, "They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod ... but you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" (5:1-2).

Israel will be abandoned - for a time ... but "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 their peace" (5:2-5).  In just a few short verses Micah speaks of the beating, the birth and the Millennial reign of Jesus, God's chosen KING!  In that day God will take vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations that have not obeyed Him by bowing the knee to His King! (5:15).

Many within Israel, like today, thought they could escape God's judgment by offering Him their religious offerings, but "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8).  God wants a relationship with His people and that happens ONLY when you are born again by His Spirit and you confess your sin and seek His face, loving Him because He first loved you in Jesus.  If that doesn't move you to humble yourself before Him and to act justly and love mercy, it is because your spirit is still dead in sin.  Because of that, nothing in this world will satisfy you ... truly satisfy you ... EVER!!!

As Isaiah wrote, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! ...  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55:1-2).  While those around him pursued evil, Micah testified, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD.  I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me" (7:7).  That is the confidence we can have as we approach our Father in heaven through faith in Jesus.  We have hope BECAUSE He is OUR God and we are HIS people, by grace.  We have received His mercy and we ARE SAVED!!!

"Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy."  Isn't this OUR God?  He is true to His promises.  "You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as You pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago" (7:20).  There will be judgment for most, but for the remnant ... for those whom God has chosen, there will be mercy ... and mercy is a beautiful thing.  If YOU have received God's mercy, give thanks, rejoice and remember, "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8).

"LORD God Almighty, Your judgment is deserved, Your mercy is not ... yet You DELIGHT in showing mercy to those who cry out to You.  I come to You humbly admitting my need and giving thanks that in Your mercy You sent Your KING, my Savior, Jesus Christ, to bear my sin, to take my place and to make ME part of the remnant.  Let my life be a display of Your power at work in ME, making me strong to resist temptation and to follow You, my God, in Jesus' Name, Amen"

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