Introduction: I want us to consider the Love of God. In the 80's a popular music group sang a song that I believe is the heartcry of our generation. They said, "I want to know what Love is, and I want you to show me". Our world is searching for Love but they dont really know what it is. Hollywood has romantisized it, our materialistic culture has applied it to things, inanimate objects, Art has vulgarized it, turned it into lust. Yet the world is still empty and hungry. What they are hungry for is God's Love. John says, "God is Love"> It is his nature, his being. How is God's love manifest, and how is it experienced. This is the most crucial question that can ever be asked. Micah tells us in our text. (READ)
What does Micah tell us about the Love of God.
I. GOD'S LOVE IS EXPERIENCED BY A REMNANT
In verse 18 he says, "........the remnant of His heritage" A remnant is a small portion of a larger body. Here the subject is the nation of Israel, God's chosen people. Of all the people that have ever called themselves Jews, only a small portion a remnant will be saved to experience the Love of God. The rest will be cut off because of sin and unbelief.
This principle of the remnant doesnt just apply to Israel, it also applies to the world. Jesus said, "broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that enter in thereat....Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it." Of the masses of humanity that have existed since adam, only a small portion, Few will experience the saving Love of God.
Oh dont get me wrong, God loves the Whole world. Many are called but few are chosen. Only few will respond to and experience this love..
What a blessing to be a part of this remnant that experiences the Love of God in Christ Jesus. But of this remnant I believe that there is a smaller remnant still. Those who are fully penetrated by and possessed by the Love of God. Those like the apostle Paul who can say in honesty, "that they are constrained by the love of Christ". These are the apostles, the martyrs, the saints throughout the church age who have distinguished themselves as saints among saints. Some are well known others are obscure, but all are possessed by the Love of Christ. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when motivated by the love of Jesus.
DL Moody was a great evangelist from Chicago. He went to England once and met a young man there that wanted to preach in his church. Moody agreed thinking that he would never see him again. To his dismay he recieved a letter that said the young man would be in his town shorlty and wanted to take him up on the offer. Moody was going out of town that week and agreed to let the man preach, but he warned the deacons to be ready in case it was a real flop. When Moody returned from his business his wife informed him that revival had broken out in his church and that "he needed to be converted". The young man preached every night on the same text, John 3:16, speaking of the love of God, from his heart. Moody went and he said he was indeed converted. He said I used to preach the judgment side of the cross, now I focus on the grace side of the cross, I used to preach mainly on the wrath of God, now I preach he said on the love of God. His life and ministry were forever changed. We need to experience a renewal of the Love of Christ in our Lives.
Are you a part of the remant that has experienced the Love of Christ. Do you want to be a part of the small remnant that is totally possessed by the Love of God. Pray that God will make it so today.
II. THE LOVE OF GOD IS EXPRESSED IN REMISSION
The greatest demonstration of God's love to man is in remission, or forgiveness, pardon. Why does man need pardon. Because all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Micah uses three terms to describe our sinfulness before God.
a)INIQUITY---This is intentional or unintentional disbodience to God's law. Yes you can sin unintentionally. You can be living a life of sin against God and not even know. The apostle paul shared his testimony with Timothy. He spoke of his days as a persecutor of the church. He said, "who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, but I recieved mercy because I did it ignorantly and in unbelief." Paul thought he was doing God a favor when he was persecuting the Lords church. Some of the hardest, cruelest, slanderous people in the world are religious people who think they are right with God.
b)TRANSGRESSION---This is open rebellion against God. You may say, well I dont remember a time in my life when I was openly rebellious against God. Oh, what about those times when you were paritally obedient. Saul was commanded by God to kill all of the amalekites. He did, except he kept back Agag the King. He was told to kill all of the livestock. He did, except he kept back the good stock to sacrifice to God, yea right. Samuel confronted him in the name of the Lord and called Sauls partial obedience rebellion. He said, Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubborness is as idolatry. Because you have rejected God's word, He has rejected you as King of Israel. Our half commitment, our partial obedience is total disobedience in God's eyes.
c) SIN---finally he calls it just plain old sin. Straying from God's way, living without regard to God, doing our own thing. Isaiah described us as Sheep who have gone astary each one going his own way. Sinatra glorified by singing, "I did it my way." Doing it my way is sin and result in separation from God in this life and for eternity.
This is the state of all men. David said, "enter not into judgment with thy servent for in thy sight no man living is justified." What has God done about our sin? This is his greatest expression of Love to us. Micah names three things.
a) PARDON---In our culture this means turning you head at a wrong done. But this is not the meaning of the word here. Here it means to lift, to carry, to take, or to bear. God did not just turn his head at our sin, he lifted our sin, he carried and placed it on Jesus, the lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Jesus staggered under the weight of our cross as he made his way to golgotha. Burdens are lifted at Calvary!
b) PASSED BY--this is equivalent to the phrase pass over. It refers to passing over in judgment. The only way that God can do this in our lives is if we have a blood covering. In Egypt God was going to judge Pharoah for his sin by killing the first born in every home. The only way this judgment could be escaped was if a lamb, a spotless lamb was slaughtered and his blood placed on the lentel and the door post of the home. When death passed throught the streets, it would pass over those homes that were covered by the blood. Jesus willingly became our blood covering, our lamb. His blood is our safety from judgment for our sin. John said in revelation, that "Jesus loved us and washed us from our sin in his own blood." OH the blood of Jesus that washes white as snow.
c) Cast it in the depths of the sea---To a jew this meant that a thing would never return if it were cast in the depths. The Father chose to forget our sin, to bury, and never hold it against us again, for Jesus sake. It is finished.
God's greatest expression of Love is in remission.
A monk announced to a village that he would be preaching on the Love of God, without saying a word. The people filled the little chapel that evening and the monk waited till it was dark to start the service. The sanctuary was pitch dark, only one torch was lit at the front of the chapel. The monk took the torch and walked to the crucifix on the wall. He held the torch illuminating Jesus crown of thorns with the blood flowing down. Then he illuminated the bleeding nail pierced hands, then the bleeding side, then the bleeding nail pierced feets. Then he blew out the torch and left a silent crowd.
III. THE LOVE OF GOD IS ENJOYED IN RELATIONSHIP
In verse 18 Micah says of God that "He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy." God does not delight in wrath or judgment. He takes not pleasure in that. He delights in Mercy. The word "mercy" is the Hebrew word "Hesed". It literally means "lovingkindness". It is a covenant word that describes how God relates to those that are His. Loving kindness, goodness, tenderness. Everything God does in relationship with His children he does in Love.
Even his discipline is love motivated. He chastens those he loves.
He delights in you child of God. In Zephaniah 3:17 the prophet says, "He will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." The Lord rejoices in and even sings over his children as a mother embraces her nursing infant and sings sweetly over him. God delights in you!
His love for you is undying. He said in Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." He has always loved you, before you could do anything bad or good he loved you and he will never cease to love you for his love is eternal.
And we can never be separated from his love. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ, shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, for I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principlaities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
How shall we respond to such love. Let it fill you, controll you, draw closer to him, commune with him, walk with Him, Love Him, know Him, talk to Him, Obey Him, experience him, praise Him, serve Him! Amen.