The Bright Daybreak of Peace and Brotherhood
Scripture Text: Micah 4:1-13
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The Reformer Martin Luther once said, “The prophets have a [strange] way of talking, like people who instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next so that you cannot make head or tail of them or see what they are getting at.” In many respects, the prophet Micah does exactly that. This sermon series is called “The Gospel in Micah – Where Justice and Mercy Meet.” What we find in the prophet Micah is God’s judgment against His very own people but also God’s mercy and salvation for the very same people. Throughout the book, Micah goes back and forth between those two concepts – judgment and mercy. Thus far, we have seen much about God’s judgment, so it is about time to see some of God’s mercy in Micah.
Today’s passage paints a picture of a better and brighter day. The title of this sermon is “The Bright Daybreak of Peace and Brotherhood,” which I borrowed from another Martin Luther – the late Dr. Martin Luther King. In speaking about the darkness of racism and war, Dr. King said the following:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
In the midst of the racism and war of his time, Dr. King would not accept defeat. He believed in a brighter day. Like Dr. King, I do not believe that mankind is tragically bound to the starless midnight. Mankind is not bound forever by racism, war, even sin. The bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood is upon us. Never believe that a situation is hopeless, because we serve a powerful God Who is in the business of changing lives and performing miracles. Now granted, sometimes we must change in order to be obedient to what God would have us to do. But the good news of the Gospel is that there is a better and brighter day.
For the Israelites in Micah’s time, God had pronounced judgment on them and war was coming. They had turned away from God and had very poor leadership so God was going to punish them. But, God did not leave them without hope. In this section of Micah’s prophecy, God revealed a time in the future where He would be the true ruler over His people and all nations. God would replace Israel’s wicked leaders with His own ruler, a Prince of Peace, who would usher in God’s reign and peace to the whole world. Though life brings trouble and pain, sometimes because of our actions, those who place their trust in Jesus Christ have the assurance of a better day. There are five (5) things that I would like to point out about this better day:
- God Will Draw All Nations to Himself
- God Will Teach His People Righteousness
- God Will Establish an Everlasting Peace
- The Weak and Afflicted will be Strong
- Pain and Misery Will be a Thing of the Past
God Will Draw All Nations to Himself
The very first verse of this passage speaks of a time and place where God’s people will “flow” to Him.
Micah 4:1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it.
People have debated about when Micah was prophesying. What is the meaning of the “latter days”? It at least meant a time when the Israelites returned to their land from exile. However, it may be more accurate to view this time as when Jesus came or when God’s kingdom will be established. The New Testament reveals to us that the latter days began during Jesus’ time on earth and will reach their fullness with the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21-22).
In these latter days, God declared through Micah that the “Mountain of the house of the Lord” would be the highest of all mountains. Have any of you been to the mountains? North Carolina has some of the prettiest mountains in the country. As with all mountains, the rivers in North Carolina flow from the mountains to the ocean. There is a natural flow of water from the mountains to the ocean. However, notice the flow with the mountain of God – it is a flow to the mountain. Rather than streaming to false gods, as they have done, in these latter days, the nations will flow to God to worship Him. We see this confirmed with Jesus’ statement about the cross:
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
Jesus was raised upon a cross so He would draw people to Him. We read in chapter six of the Gospel According to John that the Father draws people to the Son. The Father desires to restore people, to bring people into His fold, to adopt more children into His family. In these latter days, God is drawing people to Himself. He is gathering a people who will flow to Him and enjoy peace, joy and eternal life.
God Will Teach His People Righteousness
Not only is God gathering all nations by drawing them to Himself, He is making a particular kind of people – a holy people. God gave the Israelites the Law to provide His requirements for being holy. The Israelites failed to keep the Law and God punished them. In the future, however, God will teach His ways to His people.
Micah 4:2 …many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The nations who will flow to God, the peoples who will be drawn to Him, will learn God’s ways and will walk in His paths. God Himself will teach His people how they are to be. We see this accomplished in the New Testament through the work of the Holy Spirit who came to be a Helper to us, to teach and convict us. Jesus told the disciples “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13) The Holy Spirit does not just fill us with head knowledge, to just know the things of God. There is an expectation to follow God and to obey Him. Notice that in the latter days, the people will flow to God so that God will “teach his ways” and that they “may walk in his paths.” Knowledge of God’s ways prompt right behavior.
God Will Establish an Everlasting Peace
Peace shall also be a defining characteristic of the latter days.
Micah 4:3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore
We find that Micah 4:1-3 is almost the same as Isaiah 2:2-4. The two prophets of God, Micah and Isaiah, were contemporaries and each shared the same expectation for the latter days. Both saw the nations flowing to God. Both saw God teaching His Law to His people. And both saw that God would provide an everlasting peace. Both used figurative language of turning weapons of war into implements for agriculture. The people will remake their instruments of death into implements promoting life. They would not need weapons of war for there will be peace.
People of all ages have read these words and wished for a time when we will all just get along. People naturally desire peace, but we have not see it yet. Even those who lead people into battle, kings and generals, desire peace and unity. For instance, the General Robert E. Lee once said the following:
“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union …Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.”
General Lee did not desire war. One of the most memorable quotes from General Lee is about how terrible war is. He once commented on the Battle of Fredericksburg:
“It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”
War is terrible and it is unfortunate that we have it. The Israelites had already experienced numerous wars and at the time of Micah were facing the future destruction of their nation and people at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Even today, the Jewish people face threats from all sides, from people who desire to wipe them off the face of the earth. The good news of the Gospel is that one day, the Shepherd-King will gather His people and lead them to victory and will be the Prince of Peace who will usher a new era of peace for all. God has promised this.
The Weak and Afflicted will be Made Strong
Not only will there be peace, but God promises strength to the weak.
Micah 4:6-7 In that day, declares the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore
God mentions His covenant faithfulness that the weak and afflicted will not be so in the latter days. For the Israelites, God promised to re-gather the exiles and restore them as a strong nation. The Israelites who returned from exile in 539 B.C., however, never experienced this strengthening. They never became a strong nation. Spiritually, we can read this as weakness because they continued in sin. This forces us to read Micah’s prophesy in light of Jesus Christ. When Jesus came, He established His church as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, but also a strong nation. Jesus once told Peter the following:
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
What a wonderful promise for the Church that is. Hell itself will not prevail against her. Those who were once lame, those who were once afflicted, even those punished by God, will be made strong in the latter days.
Pain and Misery will be a Thing of the Past
Lastly, pain and misery will not exist in the future.
Micah 4:10 Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
For the Israelites who were about to face a ruthless nation and were going to be exiled to a foreign land, pain and trouble would continue to be a part of their lives. That is true for us now. Pain and trouble is very much a part of our daily lives. Some of us experience more of it than others, but we can expect it at some point. The promise of God is that pain and trouble will one day be a distant memory. The Israelites may have shout loudly in anguish, much like a woman in labor, but they would experience a rebirth. They had forgotten the Lord, but God would not forget them. He promised to rescue them and to redeem them from their enemies.
This passage gives us hope. Life presents many challenges and trials to our faith and temptations of sin. Someone offered a good observation about trials and temptations. He said we tend to “flee” trials, those painful things we have little control, but allow temptations to linger. It should be the other way around. Sometimes we choose to embrace sin rather than resist it and bring pain and misery on ourselves. At other times things are thrust upon us because we live in a fallen world where the Enemy and Deceiver (Satan) prowls around like a lion seeking whom to destroy. Pain and trouble are unfortunately a part of this life. But the good news of the Gospel is that one day, our God, our Savior, our King, will return and place all enemies under His foot, and the last enemy to be destroyed will be death. Pain and misery, sin and death, will be things of the past.
In closing, we can be assured that the future is bright. Though life brings trouble and pain, sometimes because of our actions, those who place their trust in Jesus Christ have the assurance of peace in a future where righteousness reigns, where the weak are strong, and pain and trouble are a thing of the past. Jesus Christ is the answer. Do you believe that the answer to mankind’s problems is Jesus Christ? Just think, what would this world look like if everyone had a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ? What would your life and relationships with one another be like if you had a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ? I am not talking about some head knowledge of salvation, where you recited a prayer once and are saved forevermore, but a real deep intimate relationship like you might have with your wife or best friend. That is the kind of relationship that God desires with us and that is the kind of relationship that truly changes lives. The bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood is found in a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. Do you have it? Do you desire it? May it be so? 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.
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