Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hope's Peace

Part of A Thrill of Hope

Text: Micah 5:1-5a; 7:18-20

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days…. And he shall be their peace. (Micah 5:2, 5a). 

What We Really Need

It’s not uncommon to receive a Christmas gift that we don’t really need—or that we don’t even want. 

There’s something that we all need this Christmas. We all need hope. What happens if we have no hope? If we have no hope, we are filled with despair. We have no reason to live. We need to have good things to look forward to. If we are going through a difficult time, we need the expectation that things are going to get better.

Israel's Great Hope

The people of Judah need hope because they’re about to be attacked by the Assyrian army. So God, through the prophet Micah, gives them a message of hope: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (5:2).

The interpretation of both Christianity and Judaism is that Micah 5:2 is about the Messiah (i.e., the Christ). When Herod asks the chief priest and scribes “where the Christ was to be born,” they answer, “In Bethlehem of Judea,” and then they quote Micah 5:2: “ (cf. John 7:42).

The great hope of Israel was the coming of the Messiah. And God says it’s going to happen, and he’ll be born in Bethlehem.

God Keeps His Promises

The prophecy of Micah 5:2 was given in 701 B.C. Centuries pass, and the Messiah still hasn’t arrived. Is the Messiah ever going to come?

When waiting, if you wait long enough, you begin to wonder if what you’re waiting for will ever happen.

Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem until 700 years after the prophecy of Micah 5:2 was given—but he was born! “The hopes and dreams of all the years are met in thee [Bethlehem] tonight.” God keeps his promises. And believing God’s promises produces hope.

Micah 5:2 says that the Messiah’s “coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” “From ancient times” probably points back to the ancient line of David. (Micah 5:2 and 4 certainly make us think of David: he was from Bethlehem—“the city of David,” Luke 2:4—and he was a shepherd.)

God kept the promise he made to David: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12-13; cf. Luke 1:32-33).

Micah 7:20 says, “You have shown faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”

We too are waiting for the coming of the Christ. We’re waiting for his second advent. It’s been 2,700 years, and we’re waiting for the day when “he shall be great to the ends of the earth” (5:3). Is Jesus ever going to return?

God always keeps his promises, but the when and how of their fulfillment often don’t meet our expectations (e.g., small and insignificant Bethlehem).

Hope and Peace

Micah 5:5 says, “And he [the Messiah] shall be their peace.” There’s a connection between hope and peace. If we have hope that things will get better, we can have peace—even during extremely difficult times. Hope gives us peace. 

We all need hope. What is your hope in?

There are little hopes—good things we look forward to. But is life nothing more than looking forward to a few good things before we die? There are little hopes, and there is ultimate hope.

The people of Judah were waiting for a Messiah to trample their enemies underfoot. But what does Micah 7:19 say? “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot.” God’s plan was to trample their sins underfoot. How would he accomplish this? By allowing his Son to be trampled underfoot, to be crucified. “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5).

We can have ultimate hope because of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Do you have hope—ultimate hope, hope that extends beyond this life? Is your hope in Jesus? Do you have the peace of hope?

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