Micah: 4) The Lord's Kingdom

4) The Lord’s Kingdom

Text: Micah 4:1-16

 

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it or not, but Micah’s prophesy is pretty negative. As Micah looks at the current spiritual climate amongst God’s people it’s not looking so good. What Micah sees is the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. He sees Samaria raised to the ground, and it fills him with grief. But even worse he sees the same thing happening to the southern kingdom of Judah, he sees Jerusalem as well reduced to rubble. What Micah sees is the failure of God’s Kingdom …or does he? It certainly looks that way in the first 3 chapters, but then you get to chapter 4, the centre of Micah’s prophecy. And in chapter 4 Micah looks beyond the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and he sees the Lord’s Kingdom, and while the kingdom of Israel and Judah are a mess, the Lord’s Kingdom is magnificent. This morning we’re going to look at Micah’s vision of God’s Kingdom, and then we’re going to look at how God plans to go from the current mess to that majestic vision.

 

1) The Lord’s Mountain

Firstly, Micah speaks about the Lord’s kingdom in terms of the Lord’s Mountain. Verse 1, ‘1 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. (Mic 4:1)’ So firstly, we’re talking about ‘the last days’ here. Micah is looking forward into the future. The last days doesn’t necessarily mean that Micah is looking only to the end of history, rather he is looking into a future in which God intervenes and sets things right. So what does Micah see in this future?

a) The chief mountain

The first thing he sees is that the mountain of the Lord’s temple will become the chief mountain. The mountain that Micah is talking about is Mount Zion, on which the temple in Jerusalem was built. In fact Micah mentions Zion 6 times in our text: 4 times as a place, and 3 times as a description of God’s people, whom he calls ‘the daughter of Zion.’ In the ancient world temples were built on mountain tops and the taller the mountain the greater the god. Mount Zion isn’t actually all that high, just over 700 meters above sea level. But Micah’s point is that one day history will show that Israel’s God is the greatest God, exalted above all other gods. One day it will become clear that Israel’s religion is the religion, that Israel’s God is the God. One day God’s kingdom would be clearly seen in all its majesty and glory and power. The Prophet Daniel talks about, ‘35 …a huge mountain that filled the whole earth. (Dan 2:35d)’ According to Daniel, ‘44 …the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. (Dan 2:44)’ That’s what Micah sees, God’s kingdom filling the whole earth, God’s kingdom in all its glory.

So when will Micah’s prophecy come true? As Reformed Christians we believe Micah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus began God’s kingdom. This mountain that would fill the whole earth is in fact a picture of the church, and ultimately it will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again, to establish God’s kingdom in all its fullness. The kingdom of God has begun in the first coming of Jesus and the birth of the church, and it will be consummated in Christ’s return. So, do you belong to God’s Kingdom, is Jesus your king? Because any other mountain, any other pursuit, or goal, pales in comparison.

b) The attractive mountain

The second thing we discover about the Lord’s Mountain is that is attracts people. In verse 1 Micah says the ‘peoples will stream to it.’ And verse 2 says, ‘2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. (Mic 4:2a)’ There’s something about mountains that make people want to climb them. Over 3,100 people have climbed Mount Everest and more attempt it every year. The interesting thing about God’s mountain is that people will flow up it. Naturally rivers flow down mountains, and the truth is that naturally people move further and further away from God. But Micah sees a day when God will change people’s natural inclinations, so that instead of walking away from God they will in fact walk towards God. Jesus says, ‘32 …when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. (Jn 12:32)’ And Jesus does that by giving people the Holy Spirit who regenerates our dead hearts. What once seemed unattractive to us, suddenly becomes the most beautiful thing in the world. What once seemed too much trouble, too difficult, suddenly becomes our greatest joy. In fact, those who become attracted to God’s Kingdom call on others to join them, ‘come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord!’ One of the surest signs that someone belongs to God’s kingdom is this desire to bring as many others along as possible. Whereas in the Old Testament only the Jews got to go up to Mount Zion, Jesus calls all peoples to come to him. So why are these people coming into God’s kingdom? Micah gives us three reasons. The rest of verse 2 says, ‘2 …He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Mic 4:2b)’

i) God will teach us his ways

Firstly, God draws us to himself in order that he may teach us his ways. The reason we are so eager to come to church, is not just to worship and praise our God, but also because we want to be taught about God and his ways. We come to church in order to hear God’s word. Are you open to have your ideas about God, and yourself, and your priorities in life challenged and transformed by the Bible? As we draw near to God we grow in our knowledge of God.

ii) We will walk in his paths

Secondly, God draws us to himself in order that we will walk in his paths. It’s not enough to just learn more about God and how he wants us to live, we actually have to change how we live, we have to start living how God wants us to live. Knowing the truth only helps if we live it out. As we draw near to God we become more like God in how we think, speak and behave.

iii) To send us out with his word

Thirdly, God draws us to himself in order to send us out with his word. God’s word isn’t meant to stay in these four walls, it’s meant to go out into the world in order to change people’s lives. God calls us to proclaim the Gospel, the Good news about his Son, Jesus Christ. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus. We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ. We are called to seek and save the lost. We aren’t saved in order to be saved, but to grow in our knowledge of God, to grow in our obedience to God’s ways, and to proclaim the Good News of God’s kingdom to others.

In a sense Micah is rebuking God’s people. They loved to attend the temple services, but they didn’t come to be taught about God, and they didn’t leave resolved to walk according to his ways. Micah’s point is that unless worship involves a teachable spirit, practical obedience and proclamation of the gospel it isn’t really honouring God, it’s just turning up. Such Christians are referred to as the frozen chosen. Their minds are too closed to be taught, their hearts are so cold they can’t change, and they don’t share the gospel, because they figure if God chooses people it’s God’s problem, not theirs. But according to Micah God draws us to himself in order to teach us and transform us and send us out to grow his kingdom. I wonder how attractive we are? I wonder how attractive our church is?

c) The mountain of peace

Micah talks about the Lord’s Kingdom as being firstly, the chief mountain; and secondly, as a mountain that attracts people. Thirdly, Micah describes it as a mountain of peace. Verse 3 and 4, ‘3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. (Mic 4:3-4)’ Micah talks about this peace in three ways.

i) God will settle disputes

Firstly, God will settle disputes. Micah talks about how God will act as a judge or a mediator between nations.

ii) There will be no more war

Secondly, as you can imagine if God negotiates peace then you can be assured there will be no more war. In fact, the peace that God brings is so complete you won’t even need to stock pile weapons ‘just in case.’ You can turn your swords into plowshares, and your spears into pruning hooks. The weapons of mass destruction become weapons of mass gardening.

iii) There will be no more fear

And probably most significantly, there will be no more fear. Micah paints a picture of peace and contentment. You get to sit in the shade of a vine, you can hang a swing seat from a branch of your fig tree and enjoy the cool breeze. It’s a beautiful picture. In the midst of all the political turmoil of the late 8th century, Micah looks into the future and sees a picture of peace. But that peace is only found in God’s kingdom. It’s only found when people are reconciled to God and through God to one another. It’s only through faith in Jesus’ death on the cross that we know the peace that surpasses understanding, as Paul puts it in Philippians 4:7. It’s only as we become brothers and sisters in Christ that the motivations for conflict are removed. Our world will only know peace to the extent that people are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus says, ‘33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)’ In this world we find peace not in the absence of trouble, but in the person of Jesus. We find peace not in the absence of sin, but in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven in Christ. We find peace in the fact that we have peace with God, and because of that we can work towards peace with others. Paul writes, ‘15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. (Col 3:15)’ And ‘18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:18)’ God’s Kingdom is marked by peace. Do you know the peace that comes from faith in Jesus Christ? Do you work at building peace with others – are you a peace maker?

d) The eternal mountain

Finally, Micah describes the Lord’s Mountain as an eternal mountain. Verse 5, ‘5 All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. (Mic 4:5)’ According to Micah we’re all walking up one mountain or another, trying to attain self-worth, or meaning, or purpose, whatever it is we worship. And those mountains lead nowhere, they will all crumble and fall. But when we walk up the Lord’s Mountain, when we walk in the name of the Lord, we belong to a Kingdom that will last forever and ever. God’s Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom that will never fail or fade.

According to Micah the Lord’s Mountain is the only one that matters, it is the chief among all mountains. No other mountain is worthy climbing, so make sure you put Jesus before anything else. According to Micah the Lord’s Mountain is attractive, it’s something worth telling others about, it’s where you learn about God, it’s where you learn how to walk in his ways, it’s where God’s word, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is proclaimed. According to Micah the Lord’s Mountain is where you find peace with God and peace with others. According to Micah the Lord’s mountain will last forever and ever. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were marked by insignificance, they were unattractive, they were filled with strife, and they wouldn’t last, whereas God’s kingdom is filled with glory, beauty, peace, and eternal life. Which mountain are you climbing in this life? Are you climbing your own mountain to success and self-worth, or are you climbing the mountain of the Lord? Are you putting your faith in Jesus Christ, are you learning about God, are you walking in his ways, are you sharing the gospel? Do you belong to a kingdom that will never end

 

2) The Lord’s Plan

So the question remains: how will we get from the insignificant, unattractive, strife filled, temporary kingdom that Micah saw all around him, to God’s glorious, beautiful, peaceful, eternal kingdom? Well according to Micah, the Lord has a plan. In verse 12 we read, ‘12 …they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan… (MIc 4:12a)’ So what is the Lord’s plan? 

a) The Lord will gather the lame

The first part of the Lord’s plan is the gathering of the lame. Verse 6, ‘6 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. 7 I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation. (Mic 4:6-7a)’ God’s plan is to start with lame people. Micah certainly loves to use extreme illustrations. Last week he used cannibalism to describe the abuse of the weak. Well today he calls God’s people lame. He uses a physical handicap to describe people who are spiritually handicapped. And these people are lame in every sense of the word, they’re imperfect, they’re broken, they’re messed up, they fall short, they’re weak, in a sense they are just plain pathetic. And God takes these lame people and he gathers them together and he makes them into a strong nation. And that pretty much describes the church. Paul writes, ‘27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor 1:27-29)’ God chooses lame people, the foolish, the weak, the lowly, the despised, because the proud and the strong think they don’t need God. It’s only those who have been humbled whom God is able to exalt. God delights to reveal his power and grace in the lives of those who are weak and undeserving. Jesus says, ‘3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)’ God’s kingdom is built when God takes lame people and strengthens them by His Holy Spirit, and when those people go out in the power of the Holy Spirit to help other lame people. God’s plan is to take lame people and use them to help lame people. If people think Christians are lame, they’re right. In fact, everyone in this world is spiritually lame. But Christians are lame people who by the power of God are able to walk and help other lame people.

b) The Lord will rule

The second part of the Lord’s plan is that the Lord will rule over his people. Verse 7 continues, ‘7 …The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. (Mic 4:7b)’ Mount Zion in Micah’s day was ruled by human kings like Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings who messed up, kings who were imperfect, kings who made mistakes. What we need is a perfect King to rule over us, a king who won’t mess up, or make mistakes. And that king is Jesus Christ. God had always promised that one day the true king would come, one day the Messiah, the Christ would sit upon David’s throne. Back in Samuel’s day God’s people rejected God’s rule, but God’s Sovereign rule would be re-established over his people in the person of Jesus Christ. Later Micah prophesies, ‘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. (Mic 5:2)’ And 700 years later Jesus is born in Bethlehem, and the angels tell Mary ‘32 …The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. (Lk 1:32b-33)’ Unlike the kings of Micah’s day we are ruled by Jesus Christ, whose kingship will never end. God’s plan is achieved as people submit themselves not to earthly masters, but to Jesus. God’s plan is achieved as people pray, ‘9 …Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt 6:9-10)’ I want to ask you: Is Jesus your king? Have you submitted to his rule in your life?

c) The Lord will restore

So firstly, God’s plan is to take lame people and make them strong, and secondly to rule over them in the person of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, God’s plan is restore his people. Verse 8, ‘8 As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem. (Mic 4:8)’ Even though Micah sees the failure and the fall of Israel and Judah, he refers to them as the ‘watchtower of the flock,’ as the ‘stronghold of the Daughter of Zion.’ Sure they are lame, but God hasn’t given up on them, and because of that they are strong. Even though the kingship will end in Jerusalem it will be restored. Even though they will go into exile they will return. In verse 10 Micah says, ‘10 …You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies. (Mic 4:10b)’ The three r’s and I don’t mean reading, writing and arithmetic, which are in fact not 3 r’s, but an r, w, and a (obviously the person who came up with that couldn’t read)! No I mean the three r’s of God’s grace – restoration, rescue and redemption. The Lord will restore his people, the Lord will rescue his people, the Lord will redeem his people. That’s how God will build his kingdom, by taking people who deserve his anger, who deserve his wrath, who deserve his rejection, and instead he restores them and rescues them and redeems them. Micah’s language would’ve reminded his hearers of how God ‘8 …came down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians… (Ex 3:8a)’ of how God restored their fortunes, of how God ‘8 …redeemed them from the land of slavery. (Dt 7:8c)’ And for us as Christians it ought to remind us of how God restored our relationship with him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul writes, ‘13 For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:13-14)’ Jesus has redeemed us, he has paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ. That’s why we call Jesus our Lord and our Saviour. Jesus is more than just our King, he is the one who restores us into a relationship with God through his death on the cross for our sins. Jesus isn’t just the one who rules us, he is also the one who died for us. Have you been restored into a relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus? Have you been redeemed by the blood of Christ? Have you been rescued from your sins? That’s God’s plan for you – God wants to save you through faith in His Son, Jesus.

d) The Lord will release

The final part of God’s plan is to release his people. Verse 13, ‘13 “Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hoofs of bronze and you will break to pieces many nations.” (Mic 4:13a)’ God’s plan is to use his church as his instrument for changing our world. And again Micah uses the most intense imagery. Firstly, he’s calls us the ‘Daughter of Zion.’ But then he mixes that image with a cow, with horns of iron and hoofs of bronze. This isn’t a wilting violet, this is one mean mother. This woman is anything but lame, she’s a nation smashing machine. Often we think of the church as a bunch of lame losers, but that’s not the Bible’s image of the church. Rather Jesus says, ‘18 …I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Mt 16:18b)’ And Paul says ‘12 …our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God… (Eph 6:12-13a)’ And he goes on to describe Christians as warriors who arm themselves for battle. God’s plan is to turn spiritually lame people into spiritual warriors. Christianity is about bringing God’s peace in the midst of a deadly spiritual conflict, it’s about battling the darkness in our world with the light of Christ.

 

In the midst of the brokenness that Micah sees all around him, in the midst of the Assyrian invasion and the sin and rebellion of God’s people, Micah sees a vision of the Lord’s Kingdom. And it’s a Kingdom that dwarfs all other kingdoms, it’s a Kingdom that draws people towards it, to learn about God, to walk in his ways, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a Kingdom of peace, it’s an eternal Kingdom, one that won’t ever fail or fade. And God builds his Kingdom by gathering spiritually lame people and filling them with his Holy Spirit, so that they submit to the rule of Jesus. The Lord’s plan is to restore us into relationship with himself through Christ’s death on the cross, and God releases us to do battle against the darkness in our world, as we draw more people into his kingdom. I want to ask you this morning: Are you in the Lord’s Kingdom or not? Are you climbing the mountain of the Lord? Are you learning God’s ways, are you walking in his paths, are you sharing the Gospel of His Son? Are you allowing God to turn your spiritual lameness into spiritual awesomeness (sorry I watched Kung Fu Panda recently)! Have you been restored, and rescued and redeemed by Jesus Christ? Amen.

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