Micah was written by the Prophet Micah to the leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem during the reigns of three kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Micah the prophet is remembered as the prophet of authentic worship/service to God and social justice.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
c. 760 – 715 B.C. Ministries of Amos and Hosea in Israel
c. 750 – 735 B.C. Reign of Jotham, King of Judah
c. 735 – 715 B.C. Reign of Ahaz, King of Judah
c. 715 – 686 B.C. Reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah
c. 740 – 681 B.C. Isaiah's ministry in Judah
c. 740 – 710 B.C. Ministry of Micah to Jerusalem & Samaria
722 B.C. Fall of the Northern Kingdom
710 B.C. Sennacharib's invasion of Judah
c. 875 – 600 B.C. Assyrian Empire at its strength
Micah spoke out against the oppression of the people by both spiritual (prophets and religious leaders) and secular leaders. Selfish coveting is for Micah the source of all sorts of evil. He describes Injustice primarily in three activities: in coveting what belongs to others, in perverting justice, and in hypocritical religiosity. Micah can be divided into three sections:
– Chapters 1-3. After pronouncing doom on the capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem, and the peril of continuing to ignore living faithfully in response to God while still claiming to be God's people, he exposes their sins and ultimate destruction.
– Chapters 4-5. Micah predicts the future restoration after the destruction, including the expectation of a new Davidic king who would usher in a period of peace and security.
– Chapters 6-7. Micah ends with predictions of hope to and redemption through the promised Messiah, in the form of a prayer and confession of sin from the people.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
Morashtite or Moresheth
– A small town near Gath about 25 miles southwest of the royal capital in the beautiful hill country of Judah, commanding a broad view across the coastal plain to the
Mediterranean. Judean kings maintained five fortress cities within a
radius of less than six miles round about Moresheth.
– Capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
– Capital city of the Kingdom of Judah.
Mountain of the Lord (3:12)
– Also referred to as Mount Zion; the place where the Lord will establish His kingdom on earth. (See also Zechariah 8:3.)
Bethlehem Ephrathah (5:2)
– The predicted place of Jesus' birth, the city is located in the "hill country" of Judah, and was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
– The prophet's name, in its long form "Micaiahu," is commonly translated "Who is like the Lord?" And his pursuit of the ministry in response to this question continued the prophetic tradition of calling the people of God into a closer walk with Him. Little is known of Micah, the prophet, other than he was from the
town of Morashtite and he prophesied during the reigns of 3 kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. What holds true for all the prophets holds true for Micah: His life has disappeared behind the word which he was sent to proclaim.
- God reminds Israel in Chapter 6 of His deliverance through Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and reminds them of His
righteousness through the counsel of Balak and Balaam.
Micah uses a play on words to describe the Assyrian triumph through
the nation in Chapter 1:
– Literally "House of Dust" ... "roll yourself in the dust"
– Literally "pleasantness" ... "Pass by in naked shame"
– Literally "going out" ... "the inhabitant...does not go out"
- Literally house of removal ... "Its place to stand is taken away from you"
– Literally "bitterness" ... Becomes weak waiting for good
– Literally "the beginning of sin"; the rebellion of Jacob
– Literally "possession of Gath; inheritance"
– Literally "lie" ... "shall be a lie to the kings of Israel"
– Literally "inheritance" ... "I will yet bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah"
Familiar Passages in Micah
- 4:1-5 They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore. (3)
- 5:2-4 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." (2)
- 6:1-8 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? (8)
- 4:5 For all people walk each in the name of his god,
But we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
Forever and ever. (cf Zech 10:12; Josh 24:15)
Nahum means "Prophet of Comfort." He is the seventh of the twelve
Minor Prophets. His prophecy, received by a vision, was of God's
wrath and judgment against the Assyrians for rejecting the previous
generation's example of repentance as a result of Jonah's message,
and returning to their evil practices. The result was punishment and
ultimate destruction for their treatment of Israel.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
c. 875 – 600 B.C. Assyrian Empire at its strength
c. 790-770 B.C. Jonah's ministry to Nineveh
722 B.C. Fall of the Northern Kingdom
710 B.C. Sennacharib's invasion of Judah
c.742-681 B.C. Ministries of Micah and Isaiah in Judah
c. 640 -621 B.C. Zephaniah's ministry in Judah
c. 663-609 B.C. Life & ministry of Nahum in Israel to Ninevah
c. 626-585 B.C. Jeremiah's ministry in Judah
586 B.C. Fall of Jerusalem
Nahum was a poet and wrote lyrically. Nahum's original poem is recorded in Chapters 2 and 3. It is a book about judgment, as can be seen in each of the three chapters:
- Nahum 1: Judgment Is Announced: God is Righteous
- Nahum 2: Judgment Is Executed: Nineveh is Destroyed
- Nahum 3: Judgment's Reason: Nineveh's Guilt
Nahum's writing testifies to his belief in the righteousness of God. The
Assyrians had been used as God's "rod of mine anger, and the staff in
their hand is mine indignation" (Isaiah 10:5).
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
– Little is known about this minor prophet other than he was an Elkoshite. Most historians agree that likely he came from Elkesei beyond Jordan toward Begabor and was of the tribe of Simeon. He was a poet who possessed a remarkable style of writing and who described in unforgettable language the fall of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, in 612 B.C. His contemporaries were Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk. He was likely influenced by the prophecies of Isaiah (compare 1:15 and Isaiah 52:7).
– People from a region on the Upper Tigris River, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur in modern-day Iraq. The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. The most powerful and best-known nation of these periods is the Neo-Assyrian kingdom, 911-612 B.C. The Assyrians were one of the first groups to convert to Christianity, along with the Armenians and Ethiopians. They went on and played a big role in spreading Nestorian Christianity to the Far East. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman empire was collapsing, and during World War I, the Assyrians, like the Armenians, claim a genocide was committed against its people during the period of 1914-1922. After the
creation of Iraq, the Assyrians refused to sign loyalty to the Iraqi monarchy, and demanded to be recognized as a nation within a nation. Eventually, this led to the Iraqi government committing its first of many massacres against its people.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
- Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Its founder was Nimrod, who lived shortly after the flood (Gen. 10:8-12). Nineveh reached great importance around 900 B.C. Shalmaneser III of Assyria defeated King Ahab of Israel in the battle of Carcar around the year 843 B.C. Jonah was sent to Nineveh around 800 B.C. to turn them from their cruel ways. In 722 B.C. the whole northern kingdom of Israel was brought into Assyrian captivity under Shalmaneser and Sargon (2 Kings 17). Finally, the great city was conquered and totally destroyed in 612 B.C. by the Medes under Cyaxares (king of Media; modern-day Iran) and the Babylonians under Nabopolassar (father of Nebuchadnezzar II).
There was rivalry between Assyria and Babylon from the very
beginning. Babylon is the picture of worldly might in a religious
garment. Assyria pictures the haughty, cruel and high-handed world,
which knows nothing but her own importance. They became allies
in 614 B.C. after the Medes destroyed the city of Assur. The alliance
was sealed by the marriage of Nebuchadnezzar to the daughter of
A few of Nahum's prophecies:
Nahum 1:8-9, 3:19
Nineveh's destruction would be permanent - In 612 B.C. (about
2600 years ago), a coalition of Babylonians, Scythians and Medes
conquered the heavily fortified city. It ceased to be an important city
from that point on.
Ninevites would be drunk in their final hours – Fulfilled 612 B.C.
According to the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, "The Assyrian
king gave much wine to his soldiers. Deserters told this to the enemy,
who attacked that night."
Ninevites would be wiped out - Nineveh's destruction in 612 B.C.
marked a permanent end to the Assyrian Empire. The city itself
never again rose to any significant importance. Today, Nineveh is an
archaeological site in Iraq.
Nineveh would be hit with a flood - According to the Greek historian
Diodorus Siculus, who lived in the First Century B.C., heavy rains had
caused the Tigris River to overflow and flood part of Nineveh. The
flooding destroyed some of Nineveh's protective walls. That might
have helped the attacking forces conquer Nineveh.
Nineveh's fortresses would be easily captured - Ancient Babylonian
records say the fortified towns around Nineveh began to fall in 614
B.C., about two years before the total defeat of the Assyrian empire.
Nineveh would be destroyed by fire - Archaeologists unearthed the site
during the 1800s and found a layer of ash covering the ruins.
Nineveh's army officers would desert - Babylonian records claim that
Assyrian army members did flee from the battle.
Habakkuk is the eighth of the twelve minor prophets and the last of
the five prophets who are known to have prophesied in the Southern
Kingdom of Judah before the exile. It was written during a time
when Judah was in blatant rebellion against God and the strength of
Babylon was rising around them. Three of the five prophets, Isaiah,
Zephaniah, and Jeremiah, focused the majority of their message and
ministry on Judah and Jerusalem. The fourth prophet, Micah, focused
more on the common people "living in the western foothills of Judah."
Habakkuk was the only one of the five who didn't prophesy directly
against Judah, but encouraged people to "live by faith in the dark days
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
c. 875 – 600 B.C. Assyrian Empire at its strength
722 B.C. Fall of the Northern Kingdom
710 B.C. Sennacharib's invasion of Judah
c.742-681 B.C. Ministries of Micah and Isaiah in Judah
c. 612 – 598 Time of Habakkuk's life and ministry in Judah
605 B.C. First exile of Jews to Babylon
586 B.C. Fall of Jerusalem
The book of Habakkuk was written to assure God's people that evil does not endure forever. It is the only minor prophet who did not address the people directly. It is written more as a journal of Habakkuk's questions of God and God's answers. The book can be divided into four sections:
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
- The Burden (Chapter 1)
- The Watch (Chapter 2:1)
- The Vision (Chapter 2:2-20)
- The Prayer (Chapter 3)
– No personal information is known about Habakkuk. His name means "embrace" – in the comforting sense. Scholars have placed him possibly as a temple prophet or a guardian to the Temple of Solomon. His contemporaries were Nahum and Zephaniah. He was likely one of the first group to be taken into exile in 605 B.C.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
– One of the 12 tribes of Israel, and one of two tribes that comprised the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Its capital was Jerusalem.
– Also known as Chaldea. The nation of Babylon was at its peak of power during Habakkuk's writing. He watched as they invaded and conquered all the surrounding regions and eventually captured and destroyed Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah.
Watch and Wait
- The pivotal verse in Habakkuk is Chapter 2:1: "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts. I will look to see what he will say to me and what answer I am to give to this complaint."
Lessons from Habakkuk -
Verse to claim in times of difficulty -
- God can handle all of our questions but He may answer only a few.
- The bottom line of faith is not to silence all of our doubts so that we never struggle again, but to make us sure of God and confident of His care.
- Waiting strengthens our patience and lengthens our perspective.*Chuck Swindoll, Insight for Living
Though the fig tree do not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength (Hab. 3:17-19a RSV)
Behind me is the Temple Mount. This is the scene from many of the stories in the Old Testament, from Abraham to Zechariah. Before we begin our next flight of "The Bible From 30 Thousand Feet" let's get this background.
We have a full agenda for this journey, there's three Old Testament books ahead. We'll see Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk; these prophets speak to the nation of Assyria
I've got to tell you something, you are hardcore devoted to Bible study. I mean, just think about it, it's Wednesday night, it's summer time, there's a lot of things you could be doing and you're here at church, studying the Bible. Not only that, if you would have told your friends I'm going to go to a Bible study tonight on the books of Micah, Nahum and Habakkuk, they would think you are a kook. It sounds like you are on drugs or something.
But I love it, I love your appetite for Bible study, and I believe the Lord is going to reward that. He's a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Now these three books that we have before us tonight, and I've chosen to go through all three, it's only 13 chapters total. So it's not that many, we can do this. And this is an overview; this is "The Bible From 30,000 Feet." So we're going to get an overall view, sweep in for a few verses, give summaries of chapters and move on.
But I've chosen to put these books together because all three of these prophets are God's representative to the same nation, and that is the nation of Judah. Remember the southern kingdom; the kingdom of Israel has been split in two; the northern ten tribes and the southern two tribes under the name of Judah. And so these three prophets speak to Judah. Micah speaks to the common people of Judah, the farmers out on the fields, the people who live in villages, the commoners.
Nahum speaks to the collective of Judah, all of the people; kings, rulers, as well as commoners.
Habakkuk is a book for a clergyman in Judah, Habakkuk himself. This prophet wrestles with some issues and it's really a little dialog between this prophet, this clergyman, and his God.
So all three books are a message or three messages to Judah; in fact, if I were to give this message tonight a title, I would call it, "Hey Judah!" I know, that's just how my mind thinks, but God is speaking through these prophets to that one nation.
In the first book Micah, I would say the theme is, God is moving; God is moving. That is, it's a reassurance that God will be equitable to all believers. Yup, judgment is coming, that's assured. However, after that the future is going to be glorious. God is moving and His plan includes some temporarily chastisement, but a whole lot of future blessing and glory. So God is moving; that's the theme of the book of Micah.
The book of Nahum, the theme, the Ninevites are going, the Ninevites are going, and this book provides comfort to worried believers, comfort to worried believers. Worried about the trials that assail them, the enemies that attack them, it's a reassurance that God will handle your enemies.
Then Habakkuk is a book that speaks that the Babylonians are coming, So the Ninevites are going but in Habakkuk the Babylonians are coming. And this is a warning to smug believers; arrogant, prideful, detached, aloof, it's a warning to them that God is very, very active, and God has an answer, but it's not going to be a pleasant one.
Now, in the book of Micah, if you have ever wondered this question, when you are going through a trial. How many of you have ever gone through a trial in your life, raise your hands? You better all raise your hands. If you ever wonder in a trial, is there life beyond my trial, is this ever going to get any better, am I ever going to see the reason for this, then this book is for you. Because this speaks of God's plan temporarily but also ultimately, as God deals with the nation of Judah.
Now, I mention that Micah was to the common folks, right? These people were oppressed. They were oppressed by enemy armies coming in and messing with them. They were oppressed by rulers. They were exploited by the wealthy class. So they really had it rough, and this prophet speaks to them about a few different issues.
Verse 1 of Micah, chapter 1; "The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth; [we know what that is, its 20 miles west of Jerusalem], in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah; [those three kings], kings of Judah, which he saw concerning; [notice] Samaria, [that's up north now], and Jerusalem, [that's down south]."
"Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it! Let the Lord God be a witness against you." And you notice this is written in courtroom language, as if a case is being brought before God, the judge, and He is bringing the case Himself as the witness. "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, the valleys will split like wax before fire, like waters poured down a steep place."
Do you guys remember that song, in your presence Lord, the mountains melt like wax; it's one of the, the phrases and the song we used to sing around here? This is where that comes from. It's a picture of God swooping down via the Assyrians on Samaria, and later on the Babylonians on Jerusalem, and exacting His judgment.
"All this, verse 5, all this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?"
The prophet comes, primarily his message is for Judah, he's saying, hey Judah, I've got a message of judgment but a future blessing for you. Now, in addressing Judah he mentions Samaria as well as Jerusalem; Samaria is the capital of the northern kingdom, Jerusalem is the capital of the southern kingdom. Why does he mention them both, because they are partners in crime? Because both of them are involved in some of the issues I mentioned, including adultery, including oppression. And so companions in sin are destined to be companions in judgment.
These two cities are named primarily because as capital cities they exert tremendous influence on the villages of that area. These were the centers of influence, this is where all the people lived, this is where all the trend started. It's not very different than today. The centers of influence in the United States, people talk about New York City, that's where the fashion starts, or Los Angeles, California, that's where the trend starts.
As Peter Drucker who did marketing, years ago he used to say, if you want to test a product do it in Denver or Albuquerque or Iowa, because he said, if it fails, nobody will know. That's why places like Albuquerque, and Denver and Iowa are test markets. But Los Angeles, New York, some of these places are epicenters of influence, and because they are centers of influence back then, Samaria and Jerusalem, they are named. They are named because the nation is corrupt, because in large part these centers of influence have corrupted them.
You might say then, the nation up north and down south is rotten from the core; not to the core, from the core, it starts in the core and goes outward.
Not too long ago I bit into an apple. As I took a bite and swallowed it, I noticed I was looking at a wormhole. You know what the problem was, no worm. You guessed it. I had swallowed the worm. Now, I didn't see it, it wasn't there wasn't a hole on the outside of the apple. And then I did a little research, because I was fascinated, how did I eat a worm and not see it. I discovered that a worm will lay its egg on the apple blossom, it will hatch in the core of the apple, and the worm will dig from the inside to the outside, that's why I didn't see it, that's why I swallowed and ate the worm.
That's how corruption works. It starts on the inside, it's an inside job, and then it permeates outwardly; so with these two nations; Israel up north and Judah down south.
Chapter 2, verse 2; "They covet fields, they take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. And so they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance." This is the upper class seizing land from lower class. Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time."
Now, you know God was really great in the Old Testament, to protect the Israelite landowner. If an Israelite landowner, because he became poor lost his land and had to sell it or become a slave, there was this great stipulation called the Jubilee Year. And then when the Jubilee Year came, all the land that you had to get rid of reverted automatically back to you. So God was protecting the land of the poor.
However, some of the rich people would disregard the land; seize the land from the lower class. We even read about this back in the book of Kings, when one of the kings of Israel named Ahab, married to a creep named Jezebel; actually they were made for each other, two peas in a pod, two creeps in a pod. Ahab was an idol worshiper, his wife Jezebel was an idol worshiper, but there was a guy in their land named Naboth. Naboth had a cool vineyard, it was so green, it was so beautiful, it was so fruitful, and the King Ahab, he wanted it so badly. And he tried to buy it off the guy, and the guy said, I'm sorry; I'm not going to sell it.
He goes home, he pouts like a little baby, I wanted that vineyard. His wife says, you are the king, take it. That's exactly what he does, he takes it by force, and part of the judgment that fell upon King Ahab was because of this very sin that is named in this book.
Go down to verse 11, "If a man should walk in a false spirit and speak a lie, saying, I will prophesy to you of wine and drink, even he would be the prattler of this people."
Here's the skinny on this verse. God is saying, this people, these folks would rather listen to false prophets under the influence of alcohol than true prophets like Micah, under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The only preaching they'll tolerate is some false prophet saying, thus sayeth the Lord dude, let's party, let's have a kegger and they thought, I like this preacher. Those are good messages he's giving. That's the gist of this verse.
By the way, there's nothing new under the sun. I hear today talk among some Christians who love to talk about their liberty in Christ. I have liberty, I can do whatever I want and nobody can judge me; whether it's being loose morally, sleeping around with someone, or drinking publicly. And you know if you say, you know brother that stumbles me. Don't talk to me about stumbling, I have -- it's all about freedom.
And so if you preach a message on, you're free to do whatever you want. They go, I like this guy. But if you talk about, sin is sin, corruption is corruption, thus sayeth the Lord, like in these days, it's not often tolerated.
Go down now to chapter 3 and look at verse 5, "Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets; [He just made reference to them, He zeroes in on them now]; Who make my people stray; Who chant Peace while they chew with their teeth, But who prepare war against him Who puts nothing into their mouths:"
"Therefore you shall have night without vision, you shall have darkness without divination; The sun will go down on the prophets, the day will be dark for them."
"So the seers; [that's what they were called in ancient times, the prophets], shall be ashamed and the diviners abased; Indeed they shall cover, all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God."
There are always, in every generation, are too huge dangers among God's people. Now, there are more than two, but two that come to mind in light of these verses. Number one, wolves from the outside, number two, false shepherds from the inside. Even Paul warned the church at Ephesus, I know he said, after my departure, savage wolves will come in, not sparing the flock. They'll arise from among your own group and they will rip you to shreds. They won't care about you, they won't want to nourish you, they don't have your interest in mind.
Verse 12, "Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountains of the temple like the bare hills of the forest."
Did you know that this verse that I just read, Verse 12, saved Jeremiah's life? We've already gone through Jeremiah, but in the book of Jeremiah, this verse is quoted. And one of the people in a courtroom setting, almost ready to put Jeremiah's life out, to kill him, quotes this verse, and says, you know, wait a minute, we shouldn't really touch this guy, because in the days of Micah from Moresheth, he said; and this verse is quoted, Zion is going to be wiped out, and nobody killed him, nobody destroyed him, nobody hassled him, they just didn't listen to him. Let's just not listen to Jeremiah. So it's interesting that this verse was quoted in Jeremiah by one of his enemies and had spared his life.
But, but notice the truth of the verse; It says, "because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field and Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins." You know, Israel at one time truly was one nation under God. They weren't divided, there were 12 tribes with the central love for God, not two nations split from each other, with two different areas of worship; one nation under God.
But as time went on, they turned from the very God they claimed to worship and be under. Does that ring a bell? It does. I always see certain parallels at certain point of Jewish history with the United States of America. We call ourselves one nation under God. Our coins say, in God we trust. Really? Do we as a nation by and large trust God? Are we truly one nation under God? I know we used to be, and I know a lot of people who love to rewrite American history want to leave quotes out like one I am about to give to you.
The early part of our nation, in 1643, the Constitution of the New England Confederation stated this; listen to this quote, "Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim." You want to hear what their end and aim was back then? Here's their goal, here's their end and aim, and that is, "Namely, to advance the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity and peace."
I dare any politician to say that today, and see how far he or she will get with that as an agenda. At one time that was the national agenda.
So because of you Zion is going to be plowed like a field. Judgment is coming. God is moving. Remember that's the theme of this book.
If this book were to end right here, it will be a sad and bleak ending, but it doesn't end here. What God is going to say is that, my plan for you doesn't end with your trial, your affliction, your judgment. I've got a whole lot of blessing and glory coming up.
Verse 1 of chapter 4, "It will come to pass in the latter days; [21 times you will find that verse or that phrase in the Bible, latter days, its a technical phrase], that the mountains of the Lord's House; [that's Mount Zion], will be established on the top of the mountains and exalted above all the hills and people shall flow into it."
"Many nations will come and say, Come and let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us his ways and we will walk in His paths, for our of Zion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
"He shall judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
You go what; I've, I've heard that before, in fact, it sounds like Micah copied Isaiah. It's almost word for word, Isaiah, chapter 2. If you're familiar with that, it's almost word for word. So the question comes, every commentary you read, who copied who? Because by the way, they were contemporaries. Did you know that at this very time that this guy is speaking to the common people of Judah, Isaiah is speaking to the court in Jerusalem, so they're, they're interfacing with each other, they knew each other.
Now, I don't know if Isaiah saw what Micah wrote and said, that's cool, I bear witness to that, I'm going to write that in my book. Or if, if Micah thought, you know, Isaiah has got something there, I, I would like to put that portion in my book.
Or here's a better explanation. How about this, the Holy Spirit of God superintended the writing of both books, and the Holy Spirit of God thought that this is so important to truth, He wanted to mention that, not once but twice, because you might forget it reading the book of Isaiah by chapter 66 and onto Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Daniel, you've forgotten that. You come again to this truth, it's like, oh yeah, God has this great eternal plan of glory that will cover the whole world, but it will center at Jerusalem. God is moving. God is the plan that will include this little, this this little town, I would say, little town, but it's a big town now of Jerusalem.
Now, notice in verse 1, at the end it says, "The peoples will flow into it." I just want you to notice this word. Isaiah used it and so did Micah. The word flow speaks of a spontaneous movement, with a, a heart's desire to do something. You're not compelled to do it, you want to do it. There will come a time when people all over the world will want to go Israel.
Now today a few people want to go to Israel, crazy Christians, that's about it. I remember the first time I told my mom, mom, I'm going to go live in Israel. She goes, oh no, please no, you don't want to do that. There's a war over there. Every time I've taken groups; I've gone now 31 times, without fail, somebody will go, I don't know if you want to go this time, because this time it's really bad. There's terrorism over there. Well, there's always that, and it's been going on since then. But there is coming a day when the world, nations of the world will spontaneously desire to go up to Jerusalem, because the Messiah will rule and reign from there for a thousand years and the world will be at peace. This is primarily what it's speaking about.
Now, go over to chapter 5, because God's future plan includes a little town not far from Jerusalem, called Bethlehem.
Chapter 5, verse 2, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah; [or it's it's there were two of them, two Bethlehems and this one, Ephrathah, is the one by Jerusalem and Judah], though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you will come forth to me the one who is to be the ruler in Israel, whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting."
Okay, we know what this means. We know that this is a prediction. It speaks of the deliverer, the future deliverer of Israel to be born in Bethlehem. The house of bread, that's what Beit Lechem means, the bread basket of Israel. The bread of life will be born in the house of bread. There's a deliverance that is coming. The ultimate deliverance will come from the one who will be born in Bethlehem.
Now, this prophecy came, get this, 700 years before the events of the gospels took place, 700 years. So how did God do it? How did God pull it off? How did God pull off having his Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem? Easy. He played chess. That's right. He, He looked at the world, which is to Him like a giant chess set; He's in charge, He can move any player wherever He wants to, and there was this little nothing of a guy named Caesar Augustus; he thought he was something, he was just a pawn on God's chessboard. God says, I'm going to put something in his heart that all of the world that he operates over is going to be taxed, a census is going to take place.
So Caesar Augustus thinks he's making this earth shattering census, this order, which causes the populations of the Middle East, in mass, to move. It means that Joseph and Mary up in Nazareth now have to pack up everything and go all the way down to Bethlehem, because they are from the lineage of King David and they have to register in that town. I know she's pregnant, but we have got to do it, it's the law.
So they get on a little donkey. Joseph probably walking by their side, her side and walks from Nazareth down to Bethlehem, pregnant as all, get out. If that donkey slips, or if there's complications in the pregnancy, Jesus Christ will not be born in Bethlehem, but He was. It was all arranged and even written about 700 years earlier.
Notice the description of this one who will be born in Bethlehem of Judah, "Whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting."
Okay. So there's going to be somebody born in a town in Bethlehem, but His goings forth are from everlasting. You get what that means? It means He preexisted before He was born; He lived before he was born. His goings forth are from old, from everlasting. Same truth Isaiah said, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the government will be upon his shoulder." It speaks of the incarnation. He always existed, but then He was born in time and it was in this village.
By the way, just so that there is no mistaking it, the ancient rabbis, way before Jesus was every born, understood Micah, chapter 5, verse 2, to be Messianic. They write about it in their commentaries. This they said must speak of the deliverer, the Messiah who is to come. They understood Micah 5:2 as being Messianic. And, and to fortify that, by the time we get to the New Testament, there is no question in the Jewish minds where the Messiah is going to be born, right?
Remember when the wise guys or the wise men came from the east into Jerusalem, and Herod's all flipped out because these wise guys are in Jerusalem, and, and they say, well, we've come to worship the king of the Jews, we've followed a star from the east. And so he gets all flipped out and he goes to his Jewish scholars, the scribes and says, tell me, where's this Messiah going to be born? Immediately they quote Micah chapter 5, verse 2, in Bethlehem, of Judah.
Here's the most amazing part. They understood, these scholars, these scribes, they understood the Jewish expectation. They knew the prophecies of Micah. They believed the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Now you have these Persian kings following a wonder and a sign saying, we're here to worship the king of the Jews. You would think, wouldn't you, that they would just have enough motivation to get off their spiritual duff and walk five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem just to see if this really was it or not. No record of that, no record of that.
The wise men go, the shepherds will, go but not these Jewish scholars. You can be so book smart and life dumb by not putting into practice what you are supposed to know. And these scholars were a case in point. Here's the prediction, they knew it, they quote it, they knew the expectation, they never experienced it.
Look at verse 4, verse 4 and 5 speak clearly about the second coming.
"He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace."
Now, I, I quoted the first part of verse 5. This is where sometimes verses in the Bible aren't organized right. The verses and chapters were not in the original documents, they were added hundreds of years later, and actually, 'this One shall be peace' should be the end of verse 4, and verse 5 should begin; because it's a whole separate thought, "When the Assyrians comes into our land, when he treads in our palaces, then we will raise up against him seven shepherds and eight princely men."
Here here's the thought of these two verses. The character of the deliverer who is to be born in Bethlehem will be that of a shepherd. He'll be wanting to feed His people. He'll be wanting to nourish His people. He'll be a good shepherd. In contrast to the Assyrians, who will be like evil shepherds, evil rulers, oppressive dictators. Not this one. This one will be peace. This Messiah will bring peace.
Actually, one of the most beautiful descriptions of Jesus Christ is when He said, "I am the good shepherd."
But between the first coming of the shepherd and the second coming; verse 4 and 5, is a cross, where the shepherd dies. In Jesus' own words, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The shepherd dies and then will come again; and we're still waiting for that to happen, to rule and reign over the earth.
Now chapter 6, again picture a courtroom here; Micah, the lawyer, brings the case. Now, chapter 6, the defendants, Judah, they have some questions, they respond by suggesting four different outward modes of worship.
Now watch this. They ask first, "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the Great God."
To bow before the Lord is the sign of humility, right? That's what it's intended to be when you bow before a king, you're showing humility and you're showing the loftiness of the king. And so it was common in worship to bow down.
What are they suggesting? They're saying, Lord, what is it you want; do you want intensity in my worship? You want me to bow down, right?
Did you know though that sometimes intensity in worship, even bowing down, could be done out of pride and not humility. You know it's possible to be thinking this, I'm going to bow down right now in this worship service, and as I do it, I know that people are going to be watching me, and they're going to be thinking, man, he's humble. Look how humble he is, he's bowing before the Lord. If that thought enters your mind, and if you haven't dealt with it right and your motivation is so that people will see you and think that you're humble, guess what? You ain't humble, you're prideful. You're doing it so that people will think you are humble and notice it.
So they're thinking of outward worship. You want intensity of worship, you want me to bow down, is that it? Notice what the rest of the verse says.
"Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?"
Or I would say, Lord, what is it that You want? You want quality of worship, right? You want the very best, right? Did you know in Leviticus, chapter 5, every Passover, God said you have to bring a yearling, a year old lamb, without spot, without blemish, the highest quality? And so let's ask ourselves, is that what God demands from us, the highest quality of worship, the best sounding praise? I believe that's important. I believe our worship ought to be the highest quality, the best sounding.
But if it sounds good and it's high quality, but the condition of our heart isn't right, it's a clanging symbol, right? It's an empty sound. Empty trucks make the loudest noises.
He goes on, verse 7, "Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousands of rivers of oil?"
Wow, can you imagine? Now they're asking, what is it You really want God, quantity in worship? Do You want intensity? Do You want quality? Is it that You want quantity? Should I be praying more and sacrificing more and doing more, is that what You want?
He goes on, "Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" Human sacrifice; God forbade human sacrifice among His people; it was a pagan practice but it showed severity, austerity.
So Lord, is that what You really want? You want, You want me to be austere in my worship, You want me to even sacrifice, like the pagans do, their children, You want me to do that?
Now, God is going to answer all their questions. I don't want intensity. It's not that I'm after quality, it's not that I really want quantity, I'm certainly not after austerity, I want reality, I want real authentic worship. Look at the next verse, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?"
These three elements deal with reality now, the reality of daily life. It sums up the whole law, doesn't it? Loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, loving your neighbor as yourself. You could sum all of that up in these three little words. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
Micah prays in chapter 7; I'd like you to go to chapter 7, verse 14. Micah the prophet has a personal petition, he says,
"Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your heritage, who dwell solitarily in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old."
"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity [I'm down in verse 18, I skipped] Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy."
You see that question in verse 18, its a play on words. My son mentioned at the beginning of this service tonight that the word the name Micah means "who is like Yahweh", "who is like God." And so here's a Hebrew play on words of the name Micah, Miykayah is the Hebrew, Miykayah. Who is liken to God? So who is a God like you?
Verse 19, "He will again have compassion on us, He will subdue our iniquities." I love this "You will cast all our sins in the depths of the sea."
I love what Corrie ten Boom used to say. She said, when God buries our sins in the deepest sea, He then posts a sign that says, no fishing allowed; that's the mercy of God.
So you don't ever have to go before God and say, God, I know I confessed that sin last year, but remember, remember how bad that was? God's saying, why bring it up again, I've chosen to push that away and not have that in my memory. It's in the deepest sea, its gone, no fishing allowed, don't go fishing there, don't allow anybody else to do it.
Verse 20, "You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from the days of old."
Now, here's something in passing and then we will get quickly to the next book. The last three verses of Micah are put together every Yom Kippur with the book of Jonah and read in the synagogues. Moreover, once a year on the afternoon of Jewish New Year's an orthodox Jewish person will go down to a stream of running water; they call it living water, and empty his pockets; I would empty my pockets but my keys will fall out, I'd empty the pockets, symbolically emptying his life of sin, and he will recite these verses, verses 18 through 20. This is in Jewish called the Tashlich, the Tashlich, which is the Hebrew, you will cast, from verse 19, where it says, "You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea." I like that, You will cast, empty your pockets.
Here here's the message, here's the idea. God has a big eraser, let Him use it, enjoy it, live in His mercy and His grace.
So back to the question, is there life beyond your trials? Oh yeah. But the trials are to give you a fuller life, you see. Remember what Peter said, he said, in this we rejoice, even though for a season, if need be, you are grieved through various trials. How many have ever been through not a trial but a season of trials; it's like, okay, one after another, why isn't God good? Oh, this is the goodness of God. This is a severe mercy. You're going to rejoice again. It's just a season, if need be. So Micah, God is moving.
Now, the next book, Nahum, the Ninevites are going. And the theme of this is, comfort to worried believers. Now, the book of Nahum is completely devoted to the destruction of Nineveh. You go, why would who would love this book, Jonah. Jonah would love if this was his prophecy; he'd of dug it.
It wasn't though. It came a 150 years later. Now, here's the deal. The Ninevites did what 150 years before Nahum? They repented. The whole city turned; 150 years later they went back and they got worse. So whereas Jonah was all about God's mercy to Nineveh, this one is all about God's destruction because they have gone back and they have gotten worse.
"The burden [verse 1] against Nineveh." "The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite."
Where is that? Where is Elkosh? Anybody know? I don't know. Okay. Know I have a thought though. There are three different places people pick up. Elkosh, some have thought is about 25 miles north of Nineveh. I don't think so, he's Jewish, he's not going to live there.
Number two, they say it's probably a town in Judah. But there's no nothing on record.
The other thought is, there's a place in ancient times around the Sea of Galilee, called Elkosh, that some identify as the New Testament, Capernaum. Now, to me that makes sense, because Capernaum is Hebrew for Kafar Nahum, which means the Village of Nahum; so Capernaum, Kafar Nahum, could be the village, Elkosh, where this guy grew up; just a little trivia, Bible trivia for you.
Verse 2 "God is jealous." Now here is the character of God described.
"God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, He reserves wrath for His enemies; the Lord is slow to anger."
Boy, what a switch that is, God is jealous, He's going, and then, but He is slow to anger. Now, I know some of us just sort of laughed at that, because of the way I, I dealt with that segue, however, it's true. He's been patient a 150 years, that's slow to anger, that's slow to anger.
"And great in power, He will not at all at acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet."
"He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, and the flower of Lebanon wilts."
So if God can make Israel and Judah wilt in judgment, He can certainly make Nineveh, the Assyrian empire.
It says God is jealous. You know, there's a lot people, they think God is passive, weak, detached. Well, how come God didn't do anything? We'll get to that in the very next book, by the way. Here it says, God is active, eight times in the Bible, God is called jealous.
You go, that's not a very good word to describe God. Don't think of it in terms of human sinful jealousy, think of it in terms of, God wants no rivals. I am the Lord your God, you will have no other Gods before me or besides me. I'm it. I'm the only one, and I don't want any ideals. I don't want any substitutes. I'm God.
And that truth speaks of the next truth, mentioned here that God is jealous. He's also slow to anger. Slow to anger. Peter said, He's long suffering, long suffering. You should always say that word, looooong suffering. He goes on to say, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to everlasting life or repentance.
Verse 7,"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who trust in Him."
Martin Luther found this verse to be of great comfort during the Reformation Period, he said, it's overflowing with consolation.
Verse 8, "But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness He will pursue His enemies."
Now, this would be a comfort to the Jewish people in Judah. Because the, the Ninevites hounded them, hassled them, dogged them for years, threatened them. So to hear that the Babylonians and the Medes have sacked Nineveh and the Assyrian empire will be like hallelujah to them. You know, ding dong, the witch is dead, which old witch, the wicked witch, the wicked witch of Nineveh, gone.
Chapter 2 verse 3, "The shields of his mighty men are made red, the valiant men are scarlet, are in scarlet. The chariots come with flaming torches in the day of His preparation, and the spears are brandished."
It's well known in history that the Babylonians and the Medes loved the color red. Now, nothing on the people wearing the red shirts tonight, it has nothing at all to do with them, but in ancient times wearing red was meant to intimidate people.
I'm looking at people wearing red tonight, I know, you're not intimidating, you're so lovely. But they wore red, and they took their shields, made out of this bull hide leather and they painted them red to intimidate the enemy, and here's the real reason, so if any of their blood got on their shields, the enemy wouldn't see it, it would blend in. They wouldn't know if they are hurt or not.
"Take the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold, there is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize."
Verse 10, "She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; much pain is in every side, all their faces are drained of color."
Now, you see back in verse 10, notice these three words; she is empty, in Hebrew Bukah. Desolate, in Hebrew Mehbukah. And waste, Mehbulakah. Okay, so listen to it, this is how it sounds, Bukah, Mehbukah, Mehbulakah. It sounds weird, doesn't it? It's intended phonetically to sound like breaking pottery. And that kind of syncopation in phonetics can sometimes do that. So don't we read it in English, but in the Hebrew it's powerful. They're going be shaking and breaking, is the idea.
Verse 1 chapter 3, "Woe to the bloody city! [That's Nineveh]. It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs."
"The noise of a whip and the noise of rattling wheels, of galloping horses, chattering chariots, horsemen charged with bright sword and glittering spear. There's a multitude of slain, a great number of bodies, countless corpses, they stumble over the corpses."
Do you remember what God said to Jonah?
"Go to the city of Nineveh [this is Jonah chapter 1] and cry out against it; for its [anybody?] wickedness has come up before Me."
Now, this prophet says it's a bloody city. See, they were known for their brutality. Ashurbanipal, King Ashurbanipal II, Tiglath-Pileser II and III, these Assyrian kings did things like impaling people on long poles. Sticking a pole through their body, up into their head while they were alive, and then hoisting them off the ground; that's the precursor by the way of crucifixion, that's where it was started. Or taking skulls, decapitating and building pyramids of skulls, hands, nailed to the walls of the palaces, brutal, grotesque treatment of bodies, they were known for it. So you understand this gross description, "Woe to the bloody city!"
Verse 12, "All your strongholds; all your strongholds [notice this], are fig trees with ripened figs: if they are shaken, they fall to the mouth of the eater."
See the description of the walls falling down. Your walls that you trust in are so weak, they're going to fall down like ripe fig trees emptying itself of the figs, falling easily.
Verse 13, "Surely, your people in your midst are women!"
I really don't want to comment much on this. This is a different era then when this was written, but clearly this is a verse meant to be sarcastic. He's speaking to these great armies and warriors of the Ninevites and God's saying, you are a bunch of women. I don't have to comment on that, I'm just telling you like it says. The idea would be you scare more easily than you think you mighty warriors. "The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; fire shall devour the bars of your gates."
Now, the book of Habakkuk, we're going to make it, trust me. Habakkuk is a puzzled prophet. He's puzzled. He's facing an issue we all face; ready, here it is, have you ever thought this. How can a loving God who is suppose to be all powerful allow evil to exist?
Wait a minute, if evil exists, it must mean, if there's a God, that He's not all loving, or it must mean that He's all loving but He's not all powerful, because He might be all loving and want to fix it but He can't fix it because He's not all powerful. Or maybe He's all powerful but He won't fix it because He's not all loving. That's the dilemma he's in. It's called theodicy; how do we deal with evil in the world with the thought of a good and all powerful God.
And what's worse is, why do good people suffer? Wouldn't it be a lot easier if only bad people got diseases and only bad people got in car accidents and got killed, and, and only murderers and child molesters got cancer and, and Parkinson's disease? It would be a lot easier; it would be some sense of celestial justice. Why do good people as well get these same kind of things?
Habakkuk 1, "The burden [or oracle of judgment] the burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw."
"O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" and You will not save."
You know what he's bugged about, his own country. He's so mad. God, I can't believe it, this country of ours, Judah, is such an evil country, You don't seem to do anything about it. Now hold that thought.
"Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; and there's strife, and contention arises."
"Therefore the law is powerless, justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds."
It was the time of national deterioration and degradation. There were godly people suffering, wicked people prospering, and he prayed about this, and waited a long time. And what bugged him is not only that, but God was silent for a long time. Now verse 5 God answers him.
"Look among the nations and watch -- Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you."
"For indeed I am raisin up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation, which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs."
God, you never do anything to, to manage the evil in our nation, I can't believe it. God said, well, actually, I am going to do something, I'm going to spank you so hard, and I'm going to use; get this, I'm going to use the Babylonians to do it.
This is not what he expected to hear. What he expected God to hear was perhaps; send I'm going to send you a revival like in the days of Josiah, the good godly 16-year-old king who brought restoration to the temple sacrifices, that's probably what he expected, but not this. Verse 12, look at this, the prophet speaks to God.
"Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You've appointed them for judgment; [remember the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, the bad guys], O Rock, you have marked them for correction."
"You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when wicked the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?"
Look, I know we're bad, and I just complained that we were bad, okay, but they're really bad, they're like so bad, and You're going to use them.
Okay, I'll give you an equivalent. It's not going to be comfortable, but I'll give you an equivalent. Here we are complaining about our nation. We used to be one nation under God. We used to worship and love the Lord. Now we are away from the Lord, right? We talked about deserving judgment and all that. So what if God said, okay, you're right, I'm going to use the radical Islamic nations to punish you Americans.
We're not comfortable with that thought, just like Habakkuk was not comfortable with God using up using Iraqis, Chaldeans to punish the Jews at that time. That's the equivalent of it. It would be very unnerving to hear that.
Chapter 2 verse 1, "I will stand my watch, I will set myself on my rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected."
This is good policy. When you don't know what to do, shut up, and wait on the Lord. This is very good policy. When we don't understand what's happening, stop and think, think it through, think of all the options.
Number two, remind yourself of what you know to be true. Verse 12 he does that. I know You are righteous God, I know You are good, I know all those things, there are certain things that are unshakable, that I know about you to be true. Do that whenever you face a similar crisis.
And number three; commit your problem to the Lord. I'm just going to wait and see what God is going to tell me now.
See that there comes a point with Habakkuk where your reason can only take you so far, then you have to say, I commit it now to the Lord, I don't understand this. So I'll do my best and commit the rest.
Verse 2, "Then the Lord answered me and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on the tablets, that he may run who reads it."
In other words, take notes. Write legibly, write large, make it large print. So I want everybody to read this, even the old people, who they don't have their reading glasses four thousand years ago, I want everybody to read this is, this is going to be a large print.
"For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
"Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by His faith."
And let me sum this up. God is giving his answer. Number one, God will judge evil eventually. And here in this chapter, verses 5 through 19, God says, Babylon, the one I'm going to use to spank you, I'm going to judge them. I'm going to go after them, because they want to kill you and destroy you. So I'm going to deal with evil. I'm going to deal with that bad group of people over there, eventually I will deal with evil.
Number two, the future will be glorious. Verse 14, "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
And number three, in the meantime the just shall live by faith. Verse 4, deliverance will come, it won't come immediately, but it will come; now you just wait for it.
Now, needless to say, verse 4 is one of the most important strategic verses in the Bible. Paul the Apostle quotes it three times in the New Testament.
Martin Luther, this is what he looked at. He was a monk in Erfurt, Germany, working his way to heaven, working out his salvation till he came upon this verse. He found it in the book of Romans, crossed referenced it with the book of Habakkuk, and it weighed heavy on his soul. I don't have to work; I trust; I live by faith.
Chapter 3 verse 2, "O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of years! In the midst of the years make it known; but in wrath remember mercy."
Verse 16, "When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When He comes to the people, He will invade them with His troops."
Verse 17, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be in the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls - Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
You see what he is doing. He's looking ahead to what God predicted. He sees the Babylonians invading the land, ruining their crops, taking their flocks away, trampling on the vineyards and on the olive groves. He sees the Babylonian destruction. That's what he sees.
He says, you know what, I'm going to rejoice, means, I'm going to jump for joy, not in what's coming, but in the Lord who has a plan for the Babylonians who are coming; for us and for them.
I don't get this Lord, I don't understand this, but whatever You're doing, revive Your work in the midst of years, do what it takes. Keep Your word going and revive us along the way. And even though I don't get it, and I see the destruction, I, I rejoice in You. I trust in You.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, next time you face a trial, I guarantee it won't be as bad as what we are reading about. Your and my typical response is to say, how can I get out of this? Who do I call? I have got to get out of this. Stop and ask. What can I get out of this? Because actually it could be that you are not supposed to get out of this. If you get out of this, you won't learn what you are supposed to get out of this.
So instead of how can I get out? What can I get out? And it will lead you to this conclusion, rejoice in the Lord. Suffering in the hands of a loving God can be used for ultimate good.
Before you go, I've heard that before, I don't like it. Know that that's the same philosophy as how God operates. That's what the cross is all about. The most vicious horrible thing ever done in history was to put God on a cross. It happened to be though the very best thing that could happen for the world because now our sins can be washed away and now we can be right with God because of that finished work on our behalf. All we have to do is believe in Him, trust in Him, and have everlasting life. Same message, Old and New Testament. The just shall live by faith.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank You for this time of going very rapidly through three men who spoke to Judah, to different groups in Judah, with different themes to Judah, but above it all was a God who loves us, and who redeems. And I pray for anybody tonight who has come, who doesn't know You personally, who's experiencing hardship, but they're not walking with You, they can't make sense of anything but could it be that in their anguish You brought them here and in their struggle You brought them here. And could it be that You brought them here because You want to bless them in this time of trouble and bless them with the ultimate gift, which is everlasting life, and then they can start to see how their life fits together.
Lord, I pray for those who are here tonight, who don't walk with Jesus; either who don't know Him at all or have fallen away from Him, that they be restored to You tonight.
And as we are praying right now and you want to give your life to Christ, have your sins forgiven and have purpose, real quickly, I want you to raise your hand up in the air. I want to see your hand. I want to pray for you as we close this service.
You're saying, I'm releasing my life, I'm letting go tonight. I'm not going to hold on any longer. I'm giving my life to Christ, or I'm coming back to Jesus Christ tonight.
You raise your hand up, raise it up so I can see it. God bless you sir and you ma'am, yes, and a couple of you behind them, toward the back. Amen!
Anybody else? Do business with God tonight. Make it right with Him. Give your life to Him tonight. Anybody else, anyone else?
Heavenly Father, we thank You for those who have done this, and, and we pray Father, their lives would forever be changed. In Jesus' name, Amen! I want you to stay seated, will those people you mind, you don't even have to come forward. If you, if you raised your hand, will you just stand to your feet right now? I'm not doing this to embarrass you; but I'm going to ask you to say a prayer, with me. Those of you who, yes, several of you have stood up around the room; now right where you're standing, right where you're at, that's right; thank you Lord for bringing you tonight; thank you Lord for bringing you tonight. I see about seven or eight of you, I want you to just pray where you are. Just close your eyes and say Lord I give you my life I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me, I trust in Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead; I turn from my sin; I turn to you; I want you as my Savior; as my Lord; in Jesus' name, Amen.