Break Through and Pass the Gate
Scripture Text: Micah 2:12-13
Have you ever received bad news? Surely, we all have. We do not like to receive bad news but we sometimes do. Have you experienced a particularly troubling time where you wondered if it was ever going to get better? No doubt, many of us have. In the midst trouble, we may sometimes wonder when it will ever get better. We may ask ourselves, “When will this end?” Maybe you have been there and wondered, “How will I be able to get through this problem?” Life is full of situations and oftentimes very difficult circumstances that challenge our belief in “a better day.” When these times happen, we may hope for something better but it may be difficult to see it.
That must have been on the minds of the Israelites who listened to Micah’s prophecy. Micah told God’s people, the Israelites, that God was going to punish them for their disobedience, rebellion, and oppression of the weak and innocent. God had put up with His people’s ungodly behavior long enough and was going to bring upon them a particularly terrible punishment. The means by which God was going to do this was through a ruthless and wicked people who would destroy the nation. Micah spoke God’s warning to the Israelites that this trouble was coming their way and that there was no way they were going to be able to escape from it. They were about to reap what they had sown, and it was not going to be pleasant. Once this terrible judgment occurred, you might imagine how Micah’s readers wondered if there would be any relief from this impending doom. Would there be a better day in Israel’s future?
Indeed there would be. In the midst of trouble and judgment, there was hope. Within his prophecy of God’s judgment on the Israelites, Micah abruptly announced a promise of restoration that would come after the nation’s destruction. Micah’s message to the rebellious Israelites was that God was going to punish them, but He was also going to save them. While the false prophets of Israel had rejected God’s Word about Israel’s destruction, Micah’s prophecy turned out to be more than judgment on God’s people. The same God who holds us accountable and brings judgment to the oppressors, will surely save His people in the end. The first main section of the book of Micah ends in chapter two with two verses about the Shepherd of Israel who gathers His sheep into the protective fold and leads them out as their triumphant King. There are three things I would like to mention from the passage and follow them with a question:
- God Will Surely Gather His People
- God Will Raise a King to Lead His People
- God’s People Will Follow Their King to Victory
I will follow up these statements with the question: Who is this King?
God Will Surely Gather His People
In the preceding passages, God had spoken through Micah to His people that certain judgment was coming upon Israel. Because of years of disobedience, rebellion, and oppression of the poor and innocent, God was going to punish His people. Because of wicked and greedy men and bad leaders who had led the people astray, the whole nation of Israel was going to be punished. But there was hope. There was going to be a better day. Verse twelve of this passage begins with God saying to His people, “I will surely assemble all of you.” God’s promise to His people was that He would gather them all together one day. Micah mentioned three ways God was going to help His people:
- He will assemble them
- He will gather them
- He will set them together
All three of these statements basically say that God was going to bring His people together again. The first thing to notice about these statements is who is making this happen. It is not the Israelites who will gather themselves. They cannot say that they would restore themselves following the nation’s destruction. It is also not another nation that swoops in to save them and bring them back to their land. Their Savior was going to be God! God, who judged His people and punished them, would also be the One to assemble them again as His people. God will assemble them. God will gather them. God will set them together. It will be all of God’s doing!
While the nation was going to be displaced and exiled to another land, God would bring His people back together again. However, while the whole nation was going to be punished, not all of the Israelites would be brought back together. God said through Micah, “I will gather the remnant of Israel.” Not all of Israel would be gathered – only a remnant, a portion of the nation. The people who would be restored and brought together as God’s people would be a chosen group from within the whole. Micah’s prophecy regarding this remnant is like God’s message through the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 10:20–21 In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
And so, there was hope. God would restore the nation with His people. The example God gave about gathering His people was that of “sheep in a fold.” God will set His people together “like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture.” God’s judgment on His people would result in them being expelled from the land. But as a pasture is full of sheep, so will the land once again be filled with many of God’s people. The sheepfold was a protective area for the sheep to rest during the night. God was going to be the protective Shepherd of His people. God would gather His people together like a shepherd gathers his sheep. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied the same:
Jeremiah 31:10 Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
God Will Raise a King to Lead His People
Whereas God spoke of what He was going to do to save His people in verse twelve, Micah prophesied in verse thirteen who would lead God’s people into this “gathering.” God would appoint a person to be the people’s king who “passes on before them.” This king would lead God’s people out of captivity. This king would open up the way and lead God’s people out of the lands where they have been scattered. In fact, we might call this king “the Breaker” – the one “who opens the breach.” He would lead his army out from an enclosed city – a place of captivity. God was going to set a king over His person who “breaks through” for them. Though God had judged them for their sin and rebellion and there was no way they would escape that punishment, God will also call a leader, a king, to lead His people to salvation.
Imagine being forced to leave your home, your own country, and made to live in a different land. Imagine that you are held captive in a foreign city – you are a prisoner in a foreign land. You cannot leave. You cannot go back home. This was the reality of what Micah prophesied concerning the Israelites. A fierce enemy, the Assyrians first and then the Babylonians, were going to attack the nation and exile the people to a foreign city. This was God’s punishment for their disobedience and sin. So devastating was the destruction, the Israelites were not going to be able to recover by themselves. But, God was going to raise up a leader, a king, who would break through the bondage God’s people would be in. This king would lead them out of captivity and into freedom. This was God’s promise of salvation for His people. There was hope!
God’s People Will Follow Their King to Victory
Micah refers to the king as the one who breaks through the people’s captivity, who opens the way and goes before the people. However, this king was not the only one who “breaks through.” This king also enables God’s people to “break through and pass the gate.” He leads God’s remnant out of the city of bondage and they follow Him. Not only does he “open the breach” and “go up before them,” God’s people follow their leader out of the city of bondage and into freedom. Imagine being locked up in a place with no way out. Maybe this is prison or some place with walls that cannot be breached. God’s promise to His people was that He would enable them to break through this wall and exit the place of their confinement. The king would break open the gates of the city so that the people can follow him out.
So while God’s people were punished with exile for not following God, Micah prophesied that this remnant of the nation would be saved. They would follow their king out of captivity, out of bondage, and into victory. Sometimes, the path to victory is through hardship and trouble. Sometimes, in order to get to where we should be, we have to go through some challenging experiences. This was certainly true for the Israelites. Though God was going to punish His people with exile, the nation was gong to be destroyed, and the people scattered, God was also going to gather them together, and set up a new king to lead His people back. The people in turn were going to break through their bondage, pass through the gate of captivity and into victory and freedom. Through trouble and hardship, God’s people would see a better day. A remnant would be saved.
Who is the King?
And so, after reading Micah’s prophecy concerning Israel’s future king who would gather His people and lead them to victory, we may ask, “Who is this future king?” Who would God send to lead His people out of captivity? God could have raised another king like David to lead His people to victory. In fact, the Jewish people in Jesus’ time expected such a hero. But, Micah answered this in the very last statement of the passage:
Micah 2:13 …Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head.
The King who breaks through and goes on before the people, who leads the remnant of God’s people to also break through, is none other than the Lord Himself. In the Old Testament, the LORD (in all capital letters) represents the covenant name of God that He gave to the Israelites. Micah was saying that God Himself will lead the remnant of His people to salvation. The very one Who punished them with defeat, captivity, and exile will be the same one Who rescues them and leads them back to their own land. The faithful remnant of God’s people would follow their God (the Shepherd-King) to victory.
What Micah prophesied hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. God’s very own Son is the Savior of mankind who brings God’s people together and leads them to freedom. Jesus was born in order to set the captive free. You may ask, “What captivity am I in? What kind of bondage am I in?” It is sin! Sin holds us captive. We are naturally under the bondage of sin with no way out. The result of sin is death. But God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, in order to set His people free – to be free from the consequences of sin. And Micah’s prophecy is still being fulfilled as King Jesus will one day return to gather His people, the Church, and lead them to everlasting victory where sin no longer corrupts us and death no longer hurts us. Yes, in that day, the remnant of God’s people, the Church, will have victory and go on to live forever with her King, with Jesus Christ.
In closing, Micah prophesied that Israel’s sins were going to bring God’s stern discipline upon them. This is a warning for us today. Sin brings judgment. People reap what they sow. God stands as a witness against us – against our breaking His Law. But, the good news of the Gospel is that our Heavenly Father sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our debt of sin. Our sinfulness and rebellion to God was so serious that it cost the life of His own Son. It should have been us facing God’s wrath, punished for breaking God’s Law, but Jesus took our place. Sin is serious. The consequences are great. But the grace of God is real and available to anyone who accepts it. The God who judges us and punishes wickedness, is the same One Who gathers His people and leads them to freedom. Won’t you come to Him today? Won’t you turn from doing it your way and turn to the one and only Savior who offers forgiveness and reconciliation to God. His name is Jesus Christ. This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.