Summary: Jesus taught us how to walk in God’s ways
On our journey through the Bible, we have come to the book of Micah. Some of you may not be familiar with this little book at all, and others may be wondering why we would focus on Micah at Christmas.
Some of Micah’s words may be more familiar than you realize. In January 1977, when President Carter was inaugurated, he quoted from Micah 6 in his inaugural address: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
(Photo) Back in 1959, the Soviet Union presented to the United Nations a 9-foot, bronze sculpture of a man beating a sword into a plowshare. On the base of that sculpture are words that come from Micah 4:3, “We shall beat our swords into plowshares.”
As for Christmas, one connection, among others, is that the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is based on the verses beginning in 5:2.
So during this month, our messages will be drawn from this Old Testament book.
We don’t know much about Micah. The first verse says he was a prophet during the years of several kings: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, about 700 years before the birth of Christ. A prophet is one who tells people how it is between them and God. Unfortunately, even though God told them so, the people didn’t always listen.
The political scene was not pretty. Off to the north and east, a country named Assyria was gathering steam, crushing every nation in its path. Already, Assyria had advanced to the border of the northern part of Israel and soon it would invade and overrun that country, too. And that is when Micah comes on the scene with a message from the Lord.
When something bad happens, there are two things we want to know: why it happens and how long it will last. In other words, we want an explanation and a word of hope. Sometimes we don’t get either one, but in this case, Micah provides both.
Let’s begin with 1:3. “The Lord is coming.” That almost sounds like Christmas, doesn’t it? We sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.” And as John says in his gospel (1:14), “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” Every time we celebrate Christmas we are reminded that the Lord has come.
Micah’s words let us know that God has not forgotten his people. Whether they are naughty or nice, God is coming to them. Sometimes it may seem like God is a long ways off, that he is stuck up there in heaven, that he doesn’t care a stitch about who you are or what you are going through, but be assured he has not forgotten you. “The Lord is coming out of his place,” Micah says. He cares about you and he cares what you do.
Again and again, I hear stories about kids and young men, especially, who are angry because their fathers never paid any attention to them. Their dads were not there to serve as role models. They were not there to cheer their kids on in their accomplishments. They simply were not there, and these kids would give anything to know that their earthly father even thinks about them.
The good news of Christmas is that God does think about you. He has not forgotten you. He has stepped out of heaven to meet you where you are. Ponder that as you celebrate Christmas this year.
But that is only one part of the story. If we read on in Chapter 1, we see why God is so concerned about his people. They have not been living up to his standards. They have not walked in his ways. (V.4,5). Kids, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but when I was your age, we lived in a big, old, 2-story country farm house and sometimes my brother and I got noisy and rough in our room upstairs. After a while we heard Dad’s voice booming up the stairs, “Boys, if you keep on with that noise, I’m coming up there.” And we knew 1) that he had not forgotten about us and 2) that he had a standard for us. When we heard the stairs start to creak, we knew we had crossed the line.
Micah was telling these people that they had crossed the line with God. They had not been walking in his ways and that is why God was allowing this big country of Assyria to overtake them. Verse 5 says that they had sinned. What had they done?
Verse 7 talks about images and idols that had become their objects of worship. Remember the first of the 10 commandments. “You shall have no other gods before you.” Number two says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol or bow down to it.” They had violated the first two commandments. Their primary allegiance was no longer to the God they promised to serve. And Micah told them that God was punishing them.