Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God has established Jesus as King over all the earth.

First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

April 27, 2011


Jesus Christ -- The Center of Our Faith: Part 4

Isaac Butterworth

Micah 5:1-5 (NIV)

1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.

2 “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.”

3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.

4 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. 5 And he will be their peace.

‘A siege is laid against us.’ So wrote Micah to the people of ancient Jerusalem. ‘Marshal your troops,’ he urged. Get ready for battle. Not that it would do any good, of course. It was a lost cause even before it started. ‘They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod,’ said Micah. In other words, they would not only defeat Israel’s king; they would humiliate him.

And that’s the way it turned out. After besieging Jerusalem for two long years, the Babylonian army broke through the wall of the city. The king tried to escape, but the Babylonians overtook him and brought him before their own king. The Scriptures then tell us: ‘They killed the sons of [Israel’s king] before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon’ (2 Kings 25:7). Truly, as Micah said, they struck ‘Israel’s ruler...with a rod’ and then some!

It was the end of the war, and God’s people had lost. And if that weren’t bad enough, it seemed to them as if God himself had abandoned them. Long years before, God had promised King David that he would ‘establish the throne of his kingdom forever’ (2 Sam. 7:13). God had said, ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel’ (Jer. 33:17).

But now their king was in shackles, a prisoner of war. And the palace and with it the temple and, for that matter, the whole city was reduced to rubble. Not only was there no king on the throne; there was not even a throne. So, in Psalm 83 we read, ‘You have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one. You have renounced the covenant with your servant [David] and have defiled his crown in the dust’ (vv. 38f.).

But now, in our text for today, Micah tells us that the line of David is not ended. God will keep his promise yet. ‘Out of [Bethlehem],’ God says, will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel...[and] his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth’ (Micah 5:2, 4).

Over the last several weeks, we have been talking about Jesus Christ and acknowledging him as the center of our faith. We have affirmed that he is the Prophet who speaks God’s Word to us and that he is the Priest who shows us God’s mercy. Now, today, we look upon Jesus as the King who rules God’s kingdom.

We’re using Micah, chapter 5, to frame our thoughts in this direction, and I thought it might be helpful to ask a series of questions -- three questions to be exact -- and to see if we find their answers in these words of Micah. So, let’s proceed along those lines and ask the first question, which is this: Micah speaks of a king. Who is this king? Can we identify him?

If we search our text for the answer, we will notice two things about this king. First, he will come ‘out of’ Bethlehem (v. 2). Second, his ‘origins are from of old, from ancient times’ (v. 2). If we ask who this could possibly be, if ask, ‘Who is this whose birthplace is Bethlehem, yet whose origins preceded his birth?’ then our answer is clear. It is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ -- the Messiah, the ‘Anointed One’ -- of God.

We know his birthplace to be Bethlehem, for the Gospels tell us so. Herod asked the scholars of his day, ‘where the Christ was to be born,’ and they told him: ‘In Bethlehem in Judea...this is what the prophet has written’ (Matt. 2:4f.). And was that not the message of the angel to the shepherds on that first Christmas night? ‘Today in the town of David,’ he said, ‘a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). ‘In the town of David:’ this is none other than Bethlehem!

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