W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
MICAH'S SEQUENCE AND SPIRITUAL DEPTH
PLAN AND PERSPECTIVE
Time for a Biblical Look at the World
There are in certain seaside resorts in particular, such elements of peace and loveliness, such varieties of sight and sea on a common theme, yet not lacking in an individual sensitivity, that it becomes almost a religious act to put it into words, and heightens peace to regard it with awe in the presence of God, who made it.
Such is found in Micah. Its themes are numerous, but sequential from Chapter to Chapter; yet even in this, there are individualities, as when one sees a spotlight from the heavens, moving through a gap in the clouds, to give variety to a misty or sun-set scene.
Moreover, in this there is reward in wisdom. Let us then take the scene as it comes, and regale it to the heart, Chapter by Chapter. Already a presentation on Micah is on this web-site (Galloping Events Chs. 1 and 8 ) , but this present Chapter is in less detail in one way - for it makes no attempt to cover the book at all comprehensively, even in outline; yet it gives more attention to the sequence of the Chapters in Micah, and the significance of this sequence, lest its point be lost and its wonder remain unrealised, or at least, inadequately appreciated.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER SEQUENCE
The Indictment of
Annunciation of Ruin
Judgment on Samaria is a major part of the immediate thrust in Chapter 1. Why ? It was because, the apostate Northern kingdom, schismatically separated from the day of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and equipped with flamboyant provocation to the Lord, with an altar of golden calves, as if to display the yearning for the times and/or gods of Egypt in fraudulent use of the Lord's name, sits as "the transgression of Jacob." It typifies it, makes of sacrilege a virtual religion, daring to traduce the Lord's name by such antics.
In this polluted atrocity, the affront to the Lord was rather like tweaking someone's nose, slapping his face, and pushing it then into a horse trough. As revealed later, it has many characteristics, criteria of eminent pollution; but for the present it is all expressed in one sentence, highlighted in one flaming phrase.
This systematic buffoonery and illicit innovation was continued for hundreds of years. One of the golden calves of idoolatry was in Dan and one in Bethel. As if this appeal for judgment (RSPV, YES, I'll come to it, says the rough answer of Samaria) were not enough, Jeroboam had started this religious riot with two main features, prominent and explicit.
As we read in I Kings 12:27ff., one of the schismatic king's motives was to dissuade his people, the ten seceding tribes, from return to Judah, this with Benjamin the Southern residue of the nation, the rump left to the South, which nevertheless possessed the Temple. Would that prove too attractive ? Would his people wander South ? Would such a thing aggregate ?
Like a sound renegade, wiser in his day and generation than the children of light (that is, better at manipulation and manoeuvre in his dusty dealings that blind), he foresaw the danger to his regime, and sought to avoid it by a bold move. He would establish a type of altar in his own land, for the bulk of what had been Israel, and give it some kind of traditional seeming background. What better than have them dwell on their slave days, when the whole nation had lived for some centuries in Egypt, and even beyond that, to be reminded perhaps of the pre-slave part of their time in that land, a visit which had begun so well. In some such way, he might be able to institute a desire, a lust for power, position or establishment such as a nation of that size might suggest, when Israel had become a powerful component in it! Hence, the concept to use calves, symbol of one of the Egyptian gods, and the explicit one chosen in the earlier rebellion, while Moses was still alive (Exodus 32:8), came thundering in like a cataract into the turbulent mind of Jeroboam.
This is what Jeroboam, the fesity rebel did, in parallel with the rebellious act earlier enabled by a misled Aaron, long before (Exodus 32); and indeed practically the very words used then (Exodus 32:4), were those used by the seceding Jeroboam (I Kings 12:28). Ignoring the horrendous results of the last excursion intobrazen idolatry and the programs of confusion, he referred to these, his new calves saying, "Here are your gods, O Israel, who led you out of Egypt." If Aaron had been weak to indulge the people, Jeroboam, moreover, was strong magnetically to mislead them, while their anger with K ing Rehoboam was still hot.
Confused ? Contrary to fact ? Inane ? Certainly, but if you investigate false theological nostrums of our own day, such as Barthianism and Neo-Evangelicalism, you find exactly the same: confusion and a sort of spiritual illiteracy, which WILL NOT face the realities their contrivances slight, the confusions they induce, and the end of that way*1. Much that sounds like the original is kept, but with it there are provocative additives which give short-shrift to anything but philosophical traditions, cultural clichés, or advanced 'thought' which has nothing to do with taking the word of God in its own integrity, with no additives from the canons of unbelief.
Here then we find the two schismatic postulates of Jeroboam.
The first: give them a LOCAL sort of religious symbol, so that they will not feel that they MUST go, in religious mode, to Jerusalem. Hence the place will not induce possible devout leanings which could lead them actually to return politically.
The second: IN giving them a local religious symbol, CHOOSE ONE which will have a traditional past, a proven appeal, a confusing concept in it, so that though it is manifestly rebellion (it is hard to make black look white, but a type of grey is far easier), yet it will have some leverage from things that went before, some attraction from a former way of life which can then perhaps be induced to appear quite a good substitute for the present one. Freemasonry has something of this, using in some modes, scriptural elements and subverting these by the additions and perspectives which though manifestly in rebellion from the God of the Bible, yet weave Him in here and there, like some kind of tapestry*2.
These then were Jeroboam''s schismatic postulates: give them a site and structure to which they may turn in a racial or national setting, objectify it; then, make sure in so doing, that it is an apt alternative which, however confused, some will allow to lead them as they did in Aaron's day, when even Moses was present (in their midst, though not at that moment in the camp, being on the mountain, communing with the Lord).
It then becomes easy to understand the meaning of Micah 1:5:
"What is the transgression of Jacob ? Is it not Samaria ?"
(that land in which these potent notions were objectified in the golden calves).
That however is not all. Thus although 10 of the 12 tribes had indeed gone to the Samaritan schism, in King Rehoboam's day, yet this was by no means to indicate that the residual two with the centre of Jerusalem did not have their own degrees and devices of implicit dissent, or indulgent wandering. Orthodoxy must be of the heart as well as of the tongue; it merely means that you keep to the God who lives and is no invention. It may be only in tongue, and not by faith, in verbal orthodoxy, or it may be in reality, spiritual orthodoxy, or simple faith in the God who having revealed Himself and His power, offers verified covenant to any in the human race who come to Him in those terms of approach.
There must always be something of this kind when you deal with reality, not vague nostrums and notions, but actual, applicable distinctives derivative from the very nature of the One concerned. When of course people let themselves drift in no known direction, then they can move anywhere; but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the safe passage through the sea.
Indeed, the tongue can have its own accidie, barrenness, the heart its own slack laxity, and the rule of regulatory religion (as to some extent once in Britain in later stages) can become more and more of a formality, unless revival and restoration of heart be added to the consolidation of of structure. Jerusalem which had NOT indulged in the set-piece provocation of having national idols installed, but had kept to the Temple as commanded, and its didactic symbols in sacrifice and worship, had moved in spirit and in various marauding actions, apart. This, it was to mount over the years, except when reforming kings such as Jehoshaphat came to rule.
Accordingly, we find in Micah 1:5, this addition to the charge:
"And what are the high places of Judah ? Are they not Jerusalem ?"
High places were unauthorised sites for worship, which tended to have local or schismatic or salacious or imaginative additions, so that for all the ostensible goodness, there was in the very fact that these places were inventions outside the central unity in Jerusalem, the point that they were there for a reason. That, it was not just for convenience, but a spreading of the mind, of the spirit into diverse, devious, insidious or invidious, casual or interesting connections with SOMETHING ELSE.
Before the Lord, there are just two things which you can do: Worship Him or something else. If you are married, you are either married to your wife, or to something else. If the formal connection remains, but the spiritual reality is something else at the marital level, then this simply adds hypocrisy to hollowness. Adultery of the SPIRIT is the case when the One concerned is God Himself. Hence Jerusalem could become responsible for the errors, because hof its laxity, its winking at what was known and not corrected, so that the whole became another form of rebellion, not ostensible as in Samaria, but reprehensible nonetheless, and in the end, where did this go ? It went to the point that they crucified their LORD, their God in human form, and did so AT RELIGIOUS BEHEST (Matthew 27:20, John 11:47-50). That, it was not done in Samaria, but in Jerusalem.
The Indictment of the Nation
Denunciation of Waywardness
We come now to more detailed matters. Thus the attitude to prophets, what is it ? It is one of derogatory, derisive degradation. They are held in disregard, disparagement their meat, disjunction their drink. It is both familiar, without respect, and dismissive: as if the prophets were some kind of religious furniture which had gone out of vogue.
What does Micah say in 2:6, in his review of contemporary attitudes under divine condemnation ? This:
" 'Do not prattle,' you say to those who prophesy, so they shall not prophesy to you."
The meaning ? First notice that the literal term which may be put as 'prattle', a good idiomatic effort for translation, is in fact worse.
"Do not drip!" is what they are actually saying. Like poorly turned-off taps, leaky fittings, they do not quite contain whatever-it-is that is in them, and so DRIP. It is the height of contempt which is being shown, issuing like an evil, spurting fountain, from the depths of cynicism.
The divine response is this: Very well, as they rush in these last stages of hot-headed relish and renegacy to their ruin, there will be a dearth of prophecy, and they will face things suddenly, without the buffer that they might have had, if they had heeded the prophets whom, in patience and pity, the Lord sent. No, with this people they will not engage in a verbal squall, returning insult for insult (Micah 2:6). Where are you going ? the Lord searchingly appears to ask. He puts the point piercingly:
"If a man should walk in false spirit and speak a lie, saying 'I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,'
even he would be the prattler of this people."
The meaning is this: You are so sozzled with evil spirit, like an utter drunkard, that if we were to research to find what you DO want in the way of favoured speakers, advisers, spiritual counsellors, you would select quite happily someone whose gods, whose issues, whose interest, whose sphere of approach is in the domain of drink, of getting drunk. THIS, this would be your dripper, your prattler; for it is not as if you are without desire, but rather you are without wisdom, and only perverted religious instincts will you heed.
One wonders to what extent many of the highly paid and favoured ex-politicians and the like, on the 'lecture circuit' are in fact modern parallels, where people seek and gain at a price, what is neither necessary nor relevant to the basic needs, which being bypassed, leave the 'wisdom' of our times, a witless wonder or way to wander, far from the canons of truth and necessity.
Thus false prophets enough are to come to Israel, while the true ones, whose word is gained from the Lord (as in Jeremiah 23:16ff.), who if heeded, would have brought joy and deliverance, may indeed be squashed into corners, objects of the crooked smile while folly raises her head as if Miss Universe were she! In other words, the prophets will not descend to mere verbal quips and insult-distribution (Micah 2:6), as if part of some degraded political process; but their speech will soar over the bent heads of those whose interest is the dust, whether they hear or forbear, and this of course, is just the point made in Ezekiel 2:4ff..
"As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse - for they are a rebellious house -
yet they will know that a prophet has been among them."
One way in which they were sure to know this, at the extremity, would be in the destruction of Jerusalem, then soon to follow. That is only one of the difficulties of being heady and high-minded, illogical and illusory, like the Dawkins' anti-God machinery, exposed in some detail in Dr Jonathan Sarfati's The Greatest Hoax on Earth (cf. News 411, Secular Myth and Sacred Truth), just as this type of thing has been exposed so often and in so many universities by speakers such as Dr Duane Gish (cf. From Fish to Gish, by Lubenow, which gives some detailed account). If you will not return to logic, to truth, to rationality, and in particular to scientific method (Scientific Method, Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation, Lights and Perfections Ch. 9), even at the most elemental level, then the end comes quickly, as Hitler found. You have to re-adjust your universe, as Stalin found in the matter of Lysenko (cf. Sums, Summits and the Sum Ch. 1). You are bunkered up at last, by your own blindness.
For ancient Israel, its systematic negligence and brazenness made the impact of devastation - which comes when reality is continually resisted on enough fronts for long enough, even within the divine mercy and longsuffering, the more grotesque for the nation. Indeed, it was suddenly diminished, until the point came when the army which beat it, left a Governor to look after them, who in turn was summarily murdered by some bloated brigand, who did not care for him. How they ever recovered is a marvel; it is a signal that with God all things are possible, even with those who at one stage concentrated on being 'impossible' in their ways, that is, profoundly disaffected and insistently governed by illusion, with knowledge of the same, in part or in whole, a mere variable before doom.
Japan found it, she also, in her time, as did the USSR, as did Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, each with its gods, its ways, its blindnesses and its patent ferocities, reason to one side, God apart, as they blared their blatancies.
It is well to consider. In Micah, that Israel was given just such an opportunity. It is always wise to heed while the time is provided, a a thing prized in heaven, when it is a turning with the heart, and not with some pseudo-concealed self-interest. Godliness involves worship, not of means to get what one wants, but of God with the heart's desire to love Him and both find and do what He wants, and that with zeal, an d faithfulness not fidgets.
With Israel, the nation, despite it rampant, closet or open rebellion, North or South in terms of emphasis, there was to be an eventual solution. The Lord at the end of this Ch. 2, speaks of an eventual return after their fall.
Summary of Sentence
The end of this Chapter is extremely impactive:
"Therefore because of you, Zion shall be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest."
To whom is this addressed ? It is to
"You heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel
who abhor justice and pervert all equity,
who build up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with iniquity" (3:9).
It incorporates in the testimony of folly, the fact that "her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money." Despite this, they "lean on the Lord" and say, "Is not the Lord among us!"
Picturesque if painful is the false prophetic vogue. They are those who "make My people stray" (as in Luke 11:47ff.), with various elements of unbelief and confusion. This they do,
"While they chew with their teeth," and yet, "prepare war against Him who puts nothing into their mouths:
therefore you shall have night without vision and you shall have darkness without divination" (3:5).
Chewing with their teeth, in this voracious mode, seems to refer to eating up what they savage, enjoying the profits of wrongdoing. It is apt especially in this, that with their teeth they SHOULD have been enunciating truth, giving warning, exhortation, protecting the afflicted and exposing the evil, that it be corrected. While so extravagantly enjoying themselves and relishing their own personal survival, according to the normal idolatry which puts self ahead of what is right, they still like to speak as if God were in their midst. What they SHOULD have been doing is shown in the words concerning God, "who puts nothing in their mouths."
If they had been called and come, if they had NOT being uncalled, belaboured Israel with trash instead of truth, if they had proclaimed truth with those lips, uttered it with those mouths, articulated it through those teeth, otherwise employed in self-satisfaction, then how different it might have been (Jeremiah 23:22). But it is not so: they follow a different paradigm, another course, an impure program.
In other words, THEY seize much for their mouths, in evil ways, for their own welfare amidst crookedness; but what they SHOULD have been doing, is this: collecting what God has to say and delivering that. It is output, and not intake which should have been the case, and specifically, output from God in truth, justice and righteousness.
WHY does God put nothing in their mouths ? Do you send out a flawed bullet ? How would He put in their mouths what they disdain or fill them up, who use even divine things for personal gain! As in Jeremiah 23, these prophets ran, though He did not send them, but if they HAD presented the things of stable truth, and if they had caused them to hear His words, the things of God, then they would have turned the people from their evil ways.
Hence the greater responsibility is theirs (Jeremiah 16:22).
The Millenial Masterpiece in Mastery from the Messiah
With that delightful movement from light to shade and back again, bringing things to light that were hidden (as if outside the screen in a display of some large multi-picture composition from photographs) to light, and then returning to the theme, bringing perspective and challenge alike, the latter invoking the former, the Lord now turns suddenly to a new brightness.
We find the millenium as in Psalm 72, 2, Isaiah 2, 11, 65, Revelation 20, instituted by His coming as in Isaiah 59 (with Romans 11, which cites from Isaiah 59 at the crucial point). It arrives. It is sudden. It is operative. It is here, in this glorious phase of divine revelation, ratification, sovereign rule and glorious power, that having humbled Himself to the Cross, He arises to secure the vision, to anoint the blessedness. Here, in this, He does not merely to propose to the earth, its healing, but shows it what it has missed, and moves to succour, to teach, to reach personally with a grace no more tolerating the vicious rule of the rodent ulcers of licentiously misused liberty, past the dynamic of the damned.
Now, as in Micah 4:3-4, HE will teach, and He will judge between many nations; "from Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Thus in this Micah Chs. 4-7, there is a series, each segment, chapter, a model of brevity and wit, wisdom and progression. A SEQUENCE is here, with the usual shafts of lights here and there, providing perspectives, on the horizon, as when a vast ocean front arrives and shafts of light pierce it from the sun above it, another and another meteorological thrust following in sheer power and unobtrusive yet patent glory, a succession of wonder.
Here in Micah 4, it is the millenial glory*3, while in Micah 5, it is what in the glories of salvation, provides the means to this direct exposure, this flowering of the outcomes of salvation on the earth, the way to it, and to all deliverance for any person on this earth among the sinners that are mankind, in Adam's kind. In Micah 5:1-3, in Bethlehem, a small city for a small deposit. It is one in the form of God, the eternal and everlasting deity of beauty, love, righteousness and holiness. Fashioned in human format, He is exhibited here (Romans 8:1-3), along with a large deposit of incandescent irony in this, that Israel to whom at last He DOES come, whacks His face (Micah 5:1), though their Ruler and Judge, He is.
This introduces the realities of Psalm 22 from before the day of Micah's prophecy, and of Isaiah 49-55 after it; and Micah 5 then moves through His evangelical majesty, to revisit the millenium, the road to which (Micah 4), is from Him (5:3). Indeed, the thrust in this Chapter, pausing on His advent and salvation, then moves on the recurrent theme of Israel's eventual deliverance (despite their striking their Judge, the Eternal God, on the cheek when they had the opportunity - 5:1). Thus, in 5:5-6,9, their vaunting enemy is daunted, the Assyrian (largely modern Iraq) being summarily vanquished, and all of whom this is but the type, the entire assemblage of godless nations, as in Micah 7:15ff., come into view as awaiting their come-uppance.
Thus, WHEN the Lord is finished with the fruits of His incarnation in salvation, then He will move to the application of power to smash Assyria (Iraq) which dared in the days of Sennacherib, to destroy Israel in its northern segment and to menace the Temple; and appears here in the post-incarnation period (5:1-3) as a renewed menace (5:5ff.). Met in 1991, this prophecy is one part of the prelude to the millenium (Micah 5:10-15), the immediate prelude to which is the advent of the God of pity and pardon in overwhelming power (Micah 7) as in II Thessalonians 1.
It is not that Israel will be free from purging, but quite the contrary (Micah 5:12-14); for it is statedly to be no more a site for belligerence and self-affirmation, God Himself her protection, to enable her continuance (cf. Deuteronomy 32:36ff.). Her provocations in idols and boasted power will be no more (5:13); for it is God who is, in His peace, Her ruler (Micah 4:2-3). What began as the apostles (Jews) in the Christian Church, and an assemblage who in turn brought with others, the truth of the Gospel of this same human-born Messiah to the nations, throughout the Age, ends in a joint joy in Christ from Jew and Gentile (Isaiah 66, Micah 7:19ff., Jeremiah 16:19-21, Isaiah 19, Isaiah 11:10). The recidivists, the renegades, the rebellious, however, who dispute the rule of God, the regality of His presence, the grace of His favour, the mercy in which He delights, whether directed as an Israel at last coming home to the Lord in Jesus Christ (Zechariah 12:10), or at God Himself quite immediately (Isaiah 2, 24) will be subdued.
The message in Psalm 2 as in Micah 7, in I Thessalonians as in Revelation 19, in Isaiah 24 as in Habakkuk 3, and Psalm 96:13 is one.
He who comes is
in mercy profound,
in plan precise,
in godliness the
in peace profound;
given to man the
liberty to hate or love, to spawn evil or to produce fruit for some few
given the door for
mercy for any to enter through the greatest prodigy of all time,
brought life and immortality to light,
the knowledge of it throughout the earth (Matthew 24:12),
as a basic project,
neither will He decline from His METHOD, His MATRIX of mercy,
nor His residual fires of judgment.
where mercy is disdained, dismissed or by man for his own soul, deleted.
Indeed, He is coming out of His place (cf. Psalm 96:13 with Micah 1:3) in judgment,
as He did (Micah
5:1-3) before that great day, to save,
in a profundity of mercy at once personal to Himself, and most costly.
But what is it like ?
It is like the child of a rich parent, inured to gratitude, lost in self-love, thrilled with the world,
or anaesthetised by it, unwilling to look
at the basis of his good fortune or the way of life that realistically relates.
God will by no means abandon any of His plans,
whether with and through Israel,
either as a funnel for the world-wide distribution of His testimony,
or later in its critical failure with Christ, as an example, both of the reward of folly and of His own faithfulness to deliver,
or concerning the Gentile nations.
He will neither prove a liar to Abraham (Genesis 12:1ff., 17:7-8,MIcah 7:20), nor witless in the method of providing His own mercy; nor will He allow man to tell Him what to do (Galatians 1:8-9, Isaiah 41:1-3). His excoriation of Israel in this last reference is not other than His challenge to this world (Acts 17:29-31, II Corinthians 10:1-5).
Let us hear it from Isaiah 41.
“Present your case,” says the Lord.
“Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
“Let them bring forth and show us what will happen;
Let them show the former things, what they were,
That we may consider them,
And know the latter end of them;
Or declare to us things to come.
Show the things that are to come hereafter,
That we may know that you are gods;
Yes, do good or do evil,
That we may be dismayed and see it together.
Indeed you are nothing,
And your work is nothing..."
He has chosen, He has
acted, He has wrought. As Micah, Isaiah, the Psalms, Zechariah, Jeremiah
for instance, foretold, so has history unfolded, like one of those fern
fronds, which all compressed in beautiful geometrical preparedness, then in its
season unfolds with intricate precision, and reveals the plan in its gentle
waving as it becomes the larger mode easier to see, pleasant to
and then with its spiritual leadership in limbo, directly through the Gospel centred in the Lord Jesus Christ
The nation of Israel, having despatched the Messiah, first suffered removal by Rome, a plight forecast in Leviticus 26, and then dispersion. Then with its spiritual leadership in limbo, the Lord in His own sovereign power and ineluctable lordship, moved directly through the Gospel centred in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not as if Israel had been forgotten, but in this bypassed; nor did it fail to give for all its unfaithfulness (Romans 9), the very scriptures in which the predictions and criteria of these things were, over the centuries, presented. It fell, but God continued.
For all that, its fall was one to be remedied, as in Micah 7:15ff., and in time it was to be, as it has been, restored to its land (Ezekiel 36 cf. It Bubbles Ch. 10). Moreover, as in Isaiah 11:11ff., Micah 4, Ezekiel 37, this was to be followed by a spiritual restoration (Ezekiel 36-37, Zechariah 12:10-13:1), as it will be, just as the Gentiles also were to find - as many among them do find - in Christ their joy and peace (Isaiah 11:10, 49:6, 42:6, Jeremiah 16). The Lord at the helm, present and ruling, will, when the dynamics are done, make of the land of Israel a centre of the irenic in the millenium period. Not that this will exalt its misfeasance, or make it pre-eminent (Isaiah 19), for it is the LORD who is alone to be pre-eminent (Isaiah 2, Deuteronomy 32).
In this way, as Paul shows in Romans 11, the mighty and effusive, the glorious and complex plan of God is fulfilled, the Jews in and then unfaithful, removed like a branch from the basis in the Bible given, the Gentiles grafted into the self-same base and basis, and warned not to exalt themselves, since there are generic rules and procedures, and if Israel fell, it is not that the Gentiles might become arrogant. Rather must they humble themselves lest they too fall (as in the main, they have fallen); for if Israel's spiritual departure was a horror, a grief, yet how much more will its restoration to the Lord be ground of acclamation of His mercy (Romans 11:15,25).
The time for peace eventually comes (Micah 4 through Micah 7), when all humbled, God alone exalted, the Gospel is in place in this orb, the Lord ruling on this earth, before it is at length finished; before Mark II, a new heavens and a new earth is given (Isaiah 65, Revelation 20:11, 21:1) in which righteousness dwells (II Peter 3).
As to Israel, no more militaristic (Micah 5:11ff.), nor having need to be (Micah 7:15ff.), its believing remnant, a substantial body, will be given rest (cf. Romans 11:25ff.), now neither a seedy substitute in good works that confuse salvation and sanctification (as Romans 10 indicts), nor a rag doll for the teeth of the tediously hypocritical nations, who cannot let her alone. This is to some extent readily understandable; for Israel is an historic symbol of the present power of God, despite her betrayal through murder of the Lord Himself. HE has brought her back as He promised (Micah 2:12, Isaiah 49, Deuteronomy 32, Ezekiel 36ff.), so fulfilling His Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:7-8, Micah 7:20). In this millenium,
It is God Himself, the LORD who became incarnate, who will teach (Micah 4:2-3). It is in parallel to this, that HE will also judge (as in Psalm 72, 45) and subdue all iniquity in His own rule, as the earth finds its much vaunted prowess, result of the glorious power of God's creation in the first place, and that of man in particular, not at all exalted, but rather brought to the dust (Micah 7:15ff., Isaiah 2:10-22). The self-vaunting nations can now learn to lick the dust (Micah 7:17), a more fitting object to bite, with the acrid viciousness of their venom, than Israel.
Now fittingly and emphatically, ONLY the Lord will be glorified (Isaiah 2:17-18). Instead of worshipping himself, 'nature' or any other creation, man will learn that essential to any rational religion, not to say revelatory truth, is this: that we learn to "Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he!" (Isaiah 2:22). In this Isaianic Chapter, there is total contrast of God in His purity and man in his fall; and utter emphasis that as to the word given, this is the word of God (cf. Isaiah 59:21, Micah 1:2). It is to all the earth, as Micah declares.
But what of this deep exposure of Isaiah 2:22 ? It is not a specified man that this segment searches out, but the whole human race (Isaiah 2:10-11).
"The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day,"
we find again in 2:10-11. One of the chief lessons for man is not to make of himself the basis of any lesson. It is time to look to his Creator (Isaiah 45:22ff.).
From this truth, there is no escape. With, then, Israel and Jerusalem for the singularising centrality, and God alone for vindication and glory, the millenium proceeds, both (Micah 5) in its incarnation cost as a prelude (one central to the grace and to the glory of God) and in the divine expression of direct rule on this earth, in the conclusion of the matter, as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 2, 72 and Psalm 110.
What then of Jerusalem ?
This, at the same time as being made central (Micah 4, Isaiah 2), as HIS place of incarnation, of death in human format, of the cross, of resurrection, as of His being pilloried and dismissed, carnally dispensed with, ditched, decried, defamed, amid the nations to none of whom is glory attached, yet provides no nationalistic glory for Israel or its own ways (cf. Isaiah 30:8ff., 65:13-15, 62:1-3). No, neither Israel in itself nor to the others (cf. Ezekiel 36:22, 37:23-28, Isaiah 19). will be glorified; for ONLY the Lord Himself, who alone remained faithful, will be glorified in that day; for to Him alone does it belong. He alone has been faithful, munificent in mercy, great in power, constant in word, utterly faithful in demeanour.
What He did, and in intensity, where He did it, where He suffered and ruptured death for Himself, for others, dispensed with sickness at will and died for sin to perform the ultimate cure for all who receive it, all this is in Him who so acted, the ground of immortality for His people. This applies without discrimination, whether to Jew or to Gentile, who believe, and here lies the profound focus, the realities never out of mind, the power never out of hand, all things smitten which smite, all things written performed, as always with the Lord (cf. Matthew 5:17-20).
Jerusalem ? THIS VERY PLACE will be the administrative centre, just as it BECAME a centre IN ORDER to be a unification depot for truth, so that mere multiplication of gods and ideas might never be given sanction. The truth is one, the Lord is one, and whether in symbol in Temple worship at the first, or in substance in the Messiah, Jesus Christ at the last (cf. I Corinthians 15:20ff.), there is history, there is the word of God, there are orders, commands and consequences. Indeed, it is partly because of the use of Jerusalem both for symbol and sacrifice, ultimately of the Lord Himself, THAT Jerusalem's betrayal of its divine trust was so complex and complete a horror (cf. Micah 3 and its summary end, Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.).
The vision of Micah 4, 5, 7, bypasses history to find its culmination in divine majesty and human submission. Jerusalem is a geographical centre-piece. That is scarcely surprising in this. Let us review it. It is not ONLY the place which the Lord chose for a unified centrality in His testimony, including the symbolic attestations in the temple and the ways chosen for it in sacrifice and worship, but ALSO the place where God, having come to earth as Jesus Christ, Himself manifest in the flesh, died! Do some revisit the graves of deceased relatives ? What then of the slaughter site for Jesus Christ ?
I personally have no desire to visit Jerusalem for this purpose, since my Saviour, this same Jesus Christ, rose. His body refusing to rot, in its arisin, it dismissed death, not indeed as a banality, but as a bane. In this epic attainment, He bore the sins of those who present their sins to Him (for as John 8:24 shows, those who did not, do NOT participate, refuse to believe, these therefore KEEPING their sins, duly die with them). It is in the attainment of the atonement, by and in Him who bringing immortality to light and dismissing death as a looming destiny for man, that one glories. Yet Jerusalem, the place is a reminder, old in its reflections, new in its contemporaneity. It is a focus symbolic both of the Lord's faithfulness, reliability and immovability. What is yet to unfold there, as indeed what is unfolding now, is a graphic illustration and an historical exhibition of the realities which rule.
The Lord will certainly visit it (Zechariah 14:5) and His rule will be manifest through it (Micah 4:2-3), this magnificent irony vindicating His victory: WHERE they rejected and set Him at nought, there, in that very place, on that site, HE will as God show what the High Priest could not swallow! That ? It is that HE is the peace and power for Jerusalem, for the Jew and the Gentile; for there is now for anything in the spiritual domain, a NEW NAME, as there is for Israel as in Isaiah 62:2, a thing made necessary in view of their SPIRITUAL disestablishment as in Isaiah 65:13-15. The name relates to Christ, the Greek form for the Messiah, and so to Christians. If the false prophets who seek to steal this name have made it for some a thing of horror, as in the Inquisition of Romanism over its centuries, or in the tame and tasteless debasements of so many modern, unbiblical theologies, then this is what theft does. The one who steals may put on display what does not belong to Him. Let us therefore look not at the waves of false christs and false prophets in considering what God has done, but at the word of God, the Bible, at Jesus Christ, and avoid the confusion of theft and distortion, with truth and peace.
What then of the Gospel ?
It is now THROUGH and not against their fallen and raised Messiah, and in this way ALONE, that they will be given their SPIRITUAL place (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1); for this Messiah of Isaiah 49-55 is indeed He who alone can dismiss the burden of sin. So far from their national relationship to Him (born, as prophesied, in Bethlehem - Micah 5:1ff.) producing a certain elevation, as some of Israel and others seem still to imagine, it is a matter of shame even when He was so nearly in their very midst, and YET they dismissed Him.
The wonder, nay the marvel is this, that He is prepared to provide atonement for them as for any, and has indeed arranged for its day and way, in common with all who find Him through His work on the Cross and from the tomb, and will accept any of any race, without works to achieve it, but only to attest it. One example came, and that not least, even from amid His tormentors as He died. WHEN He would be in His kingdom, would He remember this wrong-doer ? He was asked. There was a cross (for deserved judgment) to cross (for vicarious sacrifice) communication. Such was the request of the crucified man, which he made to Christ.
Remember him! In reply Christ made Satan defunct in His clamours. Why, on THIS VERY DAY, He intimated, He would not only remember Him, but that same criminal, pardoned and at peace, would be with Him in paradise. He need not wait to an unknown future for some hope somehow, somewhere, some time. The gift was immediate, the result that day would be savoured and found. Crucifixion would become a prelude to a crown (II Timothy 4:5).
The overwhelming grace shouts to the hills from this word of Christ (Luke 23:14 cf. Lights and Perfections in the Lord Ch. 6).
This was said in Jerusalem. Here was one more reflection from the glory shed there. It was in that ONE place to centralise, which is Jerusalem (cf. SMR p. 823 - and see Deuteronomy 12:5-11, 14:23, 26:2, Joshua 9:27. I Kings 8:29, Psalm 78:68, 132:13-14, and II Chronicles 7:16, 33:4), first chosen for the prelude in the Old Testament, a cohesive scene, a specially fitted city, then used in fulfilment, in the New. It is that ONE PLACE where He died and rose dismissing the unholy terror of death and bringing life and immortality to light: it is there that there will be no diffusion, but concentration. In other words, what Jerusalem has incorporated in its midst and history, the good and ordained things, these will be shown in its continued use in His rule.
This emphasises the unchanged nature of the Gospel, the vindication of His victory and the rebuttal of any attempt to bring in new 'christs', fraudulent and unsubstantiated Matreiyas, Islamic counterparts, proposals of sects, inventions of desire, propositions of pollution, related by aspiration to biblical truth from the first, but denied authenticity by having no rational basis (cf. SMR pp. 995-1026, More Marvels ... Ch. 4.
This is the central site, accordingly, in Micah 4, in its depiction of the millenium, that time when the earth WILL be filled with the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11, Habakkuk 2:14), when the Messiah will bring to destitution what brings destitution, and work in the realm of redemption on this earth, to display its fruits, surpassing David's time by being personally present as King (Jeremiah 23:5, Isaiah 11). This is not by gradual assimilation (II Thessalonians 1), for the opposite is proposed (Matthew 24:11ff.); but by sudden and transcendent power, following the reception of His own people, from the times of accelerated persecution on this earth (cf. Revelation 11, 13, 17, 19, Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 2,110, Ezekiel 36ff.). On this millenium and considerations relating to it, see Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 8, and index for many entries.
As in the spirit of Psalm 72, the Lord declares, "I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation: so the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion" (Micah 4:7). The idle efforts of Islamic militants to scare, snare, terrorise, bash, smash, slice through Israeli buses of children, bombard from territory given to them in concession (Gaza strip) and the like, will not be able to secure Jerusalem because it has another divine purpose. Indeed, Zechariah 14:1-3 has already been fulfilled as a prelude to the coming of the Lord: for it WAS cut in half, and the UN was against its integral use as the capital of an Israel which in 1947 was to be placed in bits and pieces in Palestine,
What then of the nations ?
That, it is now fulfilled prophecy. The chance to make of it an international city, that is a thing the Arabs, heckling Israel, recklessly in 1947 refused, when the UN, as part of the all nations to assault Israel, offered it blithely to them as a plan. Is it that this world has a systematic memory lapse on this point ? Or is it not rather that it would rather see anything disrupted than Israel established, a thing of numinous dread, historical fear, commercial problematics because of oil, that of the Arabs, and violence, that of jihad, willing to strike for its place, to rule by fear as heretofore, when Islam threatened Europe in the earlier centuries of this Age.
As to the assault on the status of Jerusalem, this author has seen it in a long life-time: denied, dismissed, handed over to others, refused by them. It has been seen in the efforts of many countries to delete Jewish residence there, again and again. Indeed, it is to be stressed, that it was not only the active nations, a group which invaded, but those who from the sidelines through the UN, who assailed it, each in his own way, all in synthesis grisly and ungoverned. But God governed. Israel was not extinguished in its land. Just as this world as an international community, resolved that Jerusalem would NOT be Jewish but an international city, so God resolved that it would not make it an international city, without roots; and as usual, God won.
Whether it is in self-sacrifice on the Cross and resurrection of the body bashed, or in determination of rule on earth in an act of foretold divine mercy, it is He who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). Without that, there would only be hell, flattery, subtlety, charm, arms and the like. God does not alter because of man, but acts in Himself, and in history, and has so acted once and for all, for his deliverance. Those who know better know nothing but their own insularity and particularity, divorced from the only source of wisdom, human atoms disjoined, dust in the mist (cf. Isaiah 2:22, and 40!).
Thus the surrounding nations, the confounding nations, the whole enterprise of the nations was made a site for invasion by sanction or arms or both. Israel was alone in the world, as spectators in it continued to breathe, and watch and wonder. Such was the case in 1948 following the 1947 cut-off by the UN, of Israel's hopes.
The UN failed it, contradicting the League of Nations' assignment; but God did not fail it, though it had failed Him (Ezekiel 36:22). It met plenty to wonder about as in 1948, the humanly impossible was made to occur, precisely as predicted in Zechariah 12:4ff., where God's own power purchased the situation, and the core of savage unbelief, whether applied with the drone of UN hypocrisy or the engines of war, was evacuated. Israel won back section of the land which had been robbed from it, in terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, on the one hand, and the League of Nations post-victory affirmation on the other. In 1967, Israel won control of Jerusalem altogether. Thus could Luke 21:24 be fulfilled, that the time would come, as Christ declared, that it would no more be under the heel of the nations. THAT, it would be - as it now is - a testimony that His regal return is not far off: it is "near" (Luke 21:24-28).
This is not all that has happened in that regard (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, more comes continually. But why is there such an effort to take it all over ? why does this world want to grab it, with some exceptions now, occasionally, such as the US in Nixon's day.
Is it not ludicrous, this movement of mouth and weaponry towards country-genocide, which acts directly or indirectly, all at once or in bits, as more and more is exacted and extracted back from Israel, in infractions and abuses which seem to dominate so much of international diplomacy in its dicta, and Arab talk.
Is it that those who want to practise Islam, or to have it high in place, have no land (such as is found in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria in a vast circle of geographic containment) ?
Is it not the case that Jordan actually offered citizenship to Arabs after Israel gained a small part of what had been formally offered to it, and then rescinded this because the place offered (after all, in Jordan where large tracts of the land had BEEN part of the Palestine offered as homeland to Israel for its occupancy), was misused for attacks on Israel, and even led to the bring of civil war, causing much strife!
There is in fact a ridiculous religious competition. Man actually tries to contend with his Maker, as if inane. As to the God of the Bible, HE is NOT to be permitted to make arrangements with Abraham, whatever the purpose! (Genesis 17:7ff., cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4). The WORLD has spoken, the nations have acted. War has been declared (cf. Revelation 19:19).
However, God will not trade insults (as we saw in Micah 2:6, earlier), but He has spoken clearly, and will deal with what seeks to deter His will, overturn His proclamation and delete His due, divine, discretionary mandate. Israel has not yet repented as in Zechariah 12:10ff., and hence is in the midst of the conflict, though it is sustained till the day dawn when in many of its people, the heart will repent and the eye will discern "Me, whom they pierced" . There is thus a complex but readily understandable situation. Its resolution hastens (cf. Revelation 22:20), and though the nations rage, yet the divine plan will be fulfilled to the uttermost part (II Peter 3:9, Revelation 6:9ff.).
Israel is a servant (who strayed); but it is not the servant who is the criterion, but He who appointed her. Here lies the endless fiasco, where one exalts himself, another puts him down, but God holds up His plan. It is time the nations turned their eyes to the cause of it all, to God, to the Gospel in which Israel served a preliminary part in presenting the word of God in the Old Testament, and relenting, repented, instead of 'taking God on', as if sanity had joined hands with sin, to ensure no mercy. THIS is the way of mercy, that God does not yield His plan, His purity, His modes or preaching, His use of history, to any; and those who want to have this world their own way, and their lives in their own hands, merely mouth the prelude to their own judgment and hate their own mercy.
Yet if the nations insist, who can pity them ? If someone insists on walking in front of a tram, who can sorrow too hard, for it was in his own will that he did it. Calamity inevitable may be a grand cause of sadness; but calamity invited is something else.
The ONLY reason why the invaders of Israel's land have had past success for some time, before their powers were dismissed dismally at the end of World War I, is that Israel having killed their Lord, in the flesh, about as extreme as action as is possible, far more so than for a US citizen to kill a President, were as foretold, deprived of their nation (Leviticus 26:33). That is the way it was to be, and that is the way it happened. It was all mandated, understood and applied both in principle and in practice. People can mock God and His word; but HE does not vary, nor does His word fail in any point, to come to pass (Matthew 5:17-20). Those who realise it and teach it, do well: just as do those who warn of snake-bite, and teach its remedy.
As Jesus indicated (Luke 21:26), and indeed Deuteronomy 32, Isarael was however to return to this, its land, by an act of divine bounty which is - if one may say so - so utterly typical of the grandeur of the Lord's mercy (cf. Micah 7:19ff.). HE will be faithful EVEN IF they were not (cf. Titus 2:13). That is the tenor indeed of Ezekiel 36:22 in the course of describing their eventual return to their land, first with their feet, and then with their faith in large numbers (cf. It Bubbles, It Screams, He Calls ... Ch. 10). This was to be, as it is to be, the prelude to a profound initial judgment (Micah 7) and their experience in its time, of the direct rule of Jesus Christ on this earth (Ezekiel 37:24ff., cf. Jeremiah 23:5ff., Psalm 72, Isaiah 11).
Nor is this to be for them alone (Micah 4:3). This will in its time be translated into eternity following the general resurrection, where all things having been fulfilled, the surpassing splendour will be eternal. Alas for folly, so likewise will come the end of unbelief in the Lord (cf. Isaiah 66:24), also translated into eternity.
Other gods have had their day and way, but "we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever" (Micah 4:5).
That is the final outcome. The grounds in the Gospel are not special to Israel, but their mode of being kept as a nation, by the faithfulness of God and His keeping His promises is indeed very special. It goes back a long way. This breed, this brood, it will not depart till all is fulfilled (Matthew 24:34-35). As the predictions include Israel to the end, so God preserves them to the end. Hitler thought otherwise; but he was not to preserved to the end, nor did the promised 1000 year Third Reich, manage it. Stalin promoted a ludicrous chance basis to an historical idea of what law required; but it did not endure much over 70 years, a little life-time of inane witlessness in which a nation, having told God to get out, found out what this is really like ...
Israel, however, unlike Nineveh and Babylon, and the eminence of the Egyptian empire, did continue; and the rancour against it has been vast. God is like that. The humanly impossible is a specialty, since the human norm is sin, and His way is salvation.
So we have by His grace, been able to look at Chapter 4 in terms of the sequence 4-7. Let us now turn in particular to Chapter 5.
Messianic Birth in Lowliness, the Divine Smitten,
the World Subdued,
the Price of Peace
Suddenly, once more, in that mist-piercing beauty by which we find sudden domains before our eyes, with a scenario the interest of which this Chapter is intended to display, we find ourselves no more in majestic power and imposing dominion, in the millenium (Revelation 20, Micah 4). Rather the lowly and the humbled, the assaulted and the virgin-born appears suddenly on the screen (Micah 5:1-3). Deity in babe form ? The Eternal come into personal contact with man as man! What is this ? WHY the sudden change ?
It is because in the brilliant pity and deep wisdom of God, the love of truth and the truth of love, the interplay of justice and mercy, the lowness of men must be met by the lowliness of God. Thus we see the eternal Word of God, whose goings forth have been from eternity, the Judge of Israel, smitten on the face, clouted (5:1-3).
What a strange contrast ? That is that between sin and the celestial. That is how far God was willing to go to redeem from sin. This is the WAY for the DAY, the time depicted in Micah 4. It is the method for the millenium through murder, for eternity through the Eternal taking on the temporal, as specified more fully in Isaiah 52-53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 11. It is the might that would GIVE right, that mercy might overflow, by securing it for all who are to be His children, through allaying guilt in death, meeting sin's sentence vicariously, and doing it with no mere display, but with the acute and sharp pangs of actuality AS a man, incarnate (Isaiah 53:4-6).
It is clarity through confusion, wonder through wickedness, plan through evil purposes and triumph through this (I Corinthians 2:6-8), that "in all their affliction, He was afflicted" (Isaiah 63:9); and this, not here merely in a figure, but in truth and fact, for this is He who in His own body on the tree bore our sins (I Peter 2:23-24), that is, the sins of those of us who, like myself, believe in Him as He is and is presented in the Word of God, as Saviour who DOES the saving Himself, and Lord who rules by His word.
SINCE however, Israel did this, it
hated the holy, lambasted the pure,
detested Him who was its mercy AS A NATION (Isaiah 49:7):
"Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labour has given birth;
then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock, in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God and they shall abide,
for now He shall be great to the end of the earth, and this One shall be peace," Micah 5:3.
This has happened, in this, that He did give them up. Israel has already been in GEOGRAPHICAL labour for the restoration of the land to herself, enough for the present, and in particular, of Jerusalem as in Luke 21:24. That Jewish national restoration to Jerusalem, as Jesus the Christ indicated there, is a certain signal that His OWN return is near. Before He comes back to rule on this earth (as in Zechariah 14:5), however, He will bring about a grand repentance in Israel, amidst all her furnaces of affliction (12:11-13:1). This, His return, is impending, since with Jerusalem regained, we know that HIS RETURN IS 'NEAR'.
How heavy is the burden that Jerusalem gives to the nations who seek to control, direct her! (as in Zechariah 12:3), as Obama for one is finding, in his misdirected efforts to demand and obliquely to rule, as did Clinton, as did Bush, although these have differed considerably in their approach! There IS no international resolution based on the Koran as (to use Obama's point, a Holy thing), or on any other sect or segment, religion of man or synthesis of religions. It is found not in unholy assault on the Bible, on its doctrines (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff.), but in heeding the counsel of the Holy One of Israel, who as man has visited this earth, not to secure the elect of Israel alone, but those of all the world (Isaiah 49:6, 42:6).
Resolution, then, without the biblical prescription ? without the only verified, validated testimony of God as Speaker that this world possesses ? (cf. SMR, with DEITY AND DESIGN, DESIGNATION AND DESTINY, and LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST, Who Answers Riddles, and Where He is, Darkness Departs).
It cannot be. Is it not enough that the three chief laws of physics must be manipulated or contravened, for anti-creation*4), but that the word of God must be denied concerning Israel, which has exhibited its truth in detail for some 3500 years!
Resolution ? GOD is going to do it Himself. One of the main grounds for the continued conflict in Israel and its surrounding, snapping nations, is not at all that it has not given up large amounts of the land stolen from it, in terms of the gift of a homeland from the League of Nations following the Balfour Declaration of 1917, so that most of it is out, the largest part to Jordan, and the rest is under continued harassment. Nor is it the aggravation that instead of THEIR being kind to their neighbours, as was in the tenor of the original Declaration, as those in control, they are subjected to genocidal efforts to eliminate them at a national level, not once, but constantly by a cadre of surrounding nations, with many plotting constantly against them. While they seek not to be obliterated by this treachery, they are condemned for not using white gloves, for not enduring endless bombardment from territory which they freely gave to the Palestinians, the Gaza strip.
Destructive of peace as such considerations tend to be, there is a much larger ingredient in the war which rumbles, like a misdirected song, repetitively playing on some neglected gramophone. While Israel has gained some land despite British betrayal in 1948, and despite being under immediate multi-national assault for daring to have ANY in 1948, as later from the expedition of Nasser, who thought it would be better if Israel were planted in the sea somehow or somewhere - what it has is menaced. Indeed, other options have been seriously proposed, as one in Africa! by the meddlesome, Israel has kept a modicum, far less than half.
There is a ground more important than these obvious inequities and gross inequalities, where effectual greetings to enemies are a one-sided affair, as is land restoration (it goes only one way); and assault is continual.
The religious arena is the main one here; for when God and false prophets meet, whether in Jeremiah's day, or now, there is no small ruction. It is not normal for a Shepherd to welcome the teeth of wolves on lambs; nor does God set small store on false prophets seeking to take over an appointed land, however much its occupants have failed Him (cf. Isaiah 51:21-23, which comes amid the Messianic passage in 59-55). Nor is it merely Israel in view here; the matter is international, though the matter has issue at the local, Middle East level.
The thrust of Islam is CONTROL so that all, in a conflict, must end with the Allah notion as the ruling one*5. They MUST have this and CANNOT. Their God does not have ultimate power, since this belongs to God, the God of the Bible, of truth in testimony, alone (cf. SMR pp. 829ff.). Hence there is a traffic jam, as they keep on trying. They keep on failing. Zeal without knowledge (Romans 10:1ff.) is like that, whoever it is that has it. It is like a piece of meat in front of a cat. It MUST get it, but if that meat is partially withdrawn by a stronger hand, then it cannot.
The measure of frustration and reaction can increase. Ahmadinejad, following Dr Matathir's just observation of the failure of 50 years or so, of the Islamic multitudes to humble Israel, is trying to escalate the matter, talking of destruction while simultaneously moving towards the means to fashion a bomb which could be used in an attempt to do this.
It is a power rise which is in view. You see this sort of thing, where God permitted, indeed in part enabled Senncherib to arise to power, to use his innate evil as a tool to perform certain operations. When however this same Sennacherib became boastful, indeed effervescent and flighty, when power had gone to his head, and reckless heedlessness to his feet, defamation to his mouth, God took notice of him, to proceed to deal with him also. The case was that in which he sought to take the ancient capital of Israel, Jerusalem. He used guile, craft, propaganda, as Moslem militants do today, getting this to do that, and so on.
However the wise King Hezekiah was in charge in the Lord, and presenting the case in the Temple to God, found an answer through the prophet Isaiah. God would turn back the Assyrian host, like a bull with a ring through its nose. In a remarkable historical incident, he did, a huge loss occurring to the armies of Assyria, while the King was later murdered IN his temple, BY his sons!
So with the Moslem menace to Israel. It has come through many mouths, some rulers, many people, much firing, many deaths, much pillage and extreme deception and treachery. It harasses Israel, as it must, since that COUNTRY (it is national, not racial - the apostles were Jews) has yet to repent, just as the Lord would have ALL to repent and come to reconciliation with Himself. It does not however succeed. Thus both parties have something to learn, and in THIS matter neither shows large signs, as yet, of being quick on the relevant uptake ...
When however, Israel seems quite lost, then God will act (as in Deuteronomy 32:36ff.). It is all there, just as the miracles and words, the work of the Saviour, were in no small measure predicted, that He would be betrayed was foretold, that He would be pierced in hands and feet, murdered in this way by national wickedness and abhorrence: all this was told. No one bothered to heed it, among the enemies. THEY trusted in themselves. That is why it COULD not work. Idols and selves do not make infinity. THAT however is the measure of the power of God, whose patience, extreme as it is, whose mercy, vast in multitudes of blessedness, is delightful - and HE delights to show it (Micah 7:18ff.), seems often mistaken for weakness. That is far from the truth: what He decides and determines, He does.
His plans are open. They can be read. It is important not to ignore them, any more than a tidal wave, when the waters withdraw for the onset. This world, in morals, in worship, in beliefs, in strategies, however, largely ignoring what God has to say, finds only dust and upset, moments of hope and gleanings of desire; but it is thwarted. Its little moment comes (Revelation 13), but it goes, like a sunset.
In the dawn, that is over.
You see the divine action in the Bible, then as in Isaiah 66, Micah 7, II Thessalonians 1, Revelation 19, Habakkuk 3, where power supervenes when freedom has had its last lavish opportunity, and evil as in the days before the flood, cannot have enough of itself (cf. Genesis 6). The finite power cannot overcome the infinite. One would have hoped this would be realised; but false prophecy and allure to folly makes it seem otherwise to the desperados of undivine dynamic. They end quite simply by making war on God (Revelation 19:19), and to this feat, many already are setting their hand, in government and feisty propagandas. There is no lack to warning (cf. Revelation 19:17ff.), as there is to those who race foolishly through cities in cars not made for the feat, as if they were race-tracks. The heady desire takes hold, and life pays.
Micah 7:15ff., indeed, compares the power which God will use in this confrontation, to that He deployed in the days of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Pharaoh has a cultivated, learned, laxly religious, multi-idolatrous society, not unlike our own in its humanistic, naturalistic, pagan practice at the present time. He repeatedly met confrontation with confrontation, only to be abashed. At last it cost life, much of it, to families, to army. When you escalated to infinity, it is useless to oppose the finite; and when you believe a lie, what is unable to sustain itself in comparison with truth, then you are at war with reality already.
God has made it plain: GOD will act. He has allowed all things in the tests and determinations in history to have their appointed place (cf. Acts 17:26ff.), and there is after this prodigy of multiplied opportunity for EVERYTHING to be tried, an END. God is on record. It is useless to fume, fret, fulminate, dictate, orate, and try to secure by flamboyant and outrageous deceits, the deletion of God, or the overthrow of His words. In particular, the downfall of Israel, bombing it from the very land given in a peace gesture by it, even this will not suffice. Blaming it for daring to seek to remove this threat, as a propaganda device, this also will not do. No treachery will succeed. MUCH turmoil and trouble and some seeming success is to come; but the power in the end will be ultimate and that simple fact will remain clear.
God said it, invented Israel, conducted it as a site for showing the international peoples the only way of salvation, told through the prophets of Israel of His sending of His Son and precisely why and where He would do it, did it, commissioned the Church, decommissioned Israel spiritually because of its intransigent hostility to His very face in Jesus Christ, but continued the unconditional assignment of the land ULTIMATELY, where He had first made it (Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7, Ezekiel 36ff., Zechariah 12ff.). After Israel has finished suffering according to the conditions of the covenant once made (Leviticus 26), and WHEN repentance at last comes to the nation as in Zechariah 12, THEN so will divine deliverance. They are exceedingly close.
God has indeed explicitly said what He will do when ISRAEL appears stripped of power (Deuteronomy 32:36ff.). Read on in Deuteronomy in order to see. Let no one be confused. This is not a way to glorify Israel, for NONE will be glorified in these terminal events except the Lord (as noted in Isaiah 2), and Israel, while used, will not be configured as a success story (Isaiah 19), yet will remain a site of attestation and a place of assignment. God says it, it happens. The fumings whether from the USA (recently reaching a high point from Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State) and from Iran, though very different in kind, are BOTH directive.
God has His own mind, and this hardly is surprising, since He made our own! (cf. Lights and Perfections). He has spoken, often, clearly, with application and confirmation (cf. Isaiah 45ff.). He has, moreover, with the power that is His, given in a sublimity of love and sacrifice, all that is needed for man to be restored to his place in God's image, and indeed even to be adopted into His family. Nothing lacks but repentance among men, and restoration through faith in the King of Eternity and the Christ who is His perfected expression.
As in the case of Jerusalem, as outlined above from Micah, there is warning. On the other side, there is a certain heedlessness. This time, it is not so much with Israel, as with the Gentiles as major focus, that ruin is pressing. Israel is being directed as if it were baggage. It is God's property, as many will find out. So for that matter is every one of us, and what we do with ourselves, individuals, families, cities, nations, world populace, has its effect. Indeed, there is vast ruin to come as in Revelation 19, Micah 7. Already we are seeing merely natural (created) power being given to man sufficient to make religious clowning into catastrophe.
This then, Chapter 5, gives the depth of the divine commitment by humility and through sacrifice, despite the enmity of Israel, to bring His light not only to that nation, but to the Gentile nations as well (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Micah 5:8, 66:18ff.); and indeed, to perform ALL that He has promised, since He is faithful. What He says, He means. While God may use figures, as we all may, yet this is not to delete the reality of His speech any more than that of the rest of us: it is rather to make more graphic the underlying fact. WHEN He told Abraham in Genesis 17:7ff. what He was going to do relative to an assignment and commission, it is not something else, as Micah 7:20 reminds us. Indeed, even the blessing through Abraham to all nations (Genesis 12), this is before us now, to the point that the afterbirth of false christs and prophets is now coming down, with blood, as the world abandons more and more the integrity of Jesus Christ, and tries to fight its way out of its own self-made and self-inflicted fires.
In Micah 5, we find not only this introduction to the power in Micah 7 to come in its way and in its day, but the meekness of Him who has His own ways of reaching, teaching and organising mankind (5:1-3), in justice, peace, truth and mercy, centred on the Cross and its acceptance as the sacrifice on the part of Jesus Christ, for sin, once and for all (Hebrews 9-10, Romans 3:23ff.., Ephesians 2).
Thus when Assyria (largely modern Iraq) got out of hand, as happened with Saddam Hussein, God would send a group of nations to deal with the matter ( 'shepherds' being the term used). They did (Micah 5:5ff.). But we are moving to Micah 6, and must not pre-empt.
Basic Principles of Living
Do you have to be astute even to pronounce it ?
The opposite is the case.
The Lord has "a controversy" with the nations of the earth, AND with Israel. HE brought Israel out of outright and downright fraud in the case of Egypt, playing host in reply to enormous blessings through Joseph, and then turning the prospering Jewish people into slaves. Did the Lord not redeem Israel, using the sacrificial lamb, its blood on their very door posts, when they were still slaves (Exodus 12), and what has been His omission ? In what had He failed ? How is it that in this way they have repaid Him ? This He asks, Did they not fall to the enticements of the Moabite king in the day of false prophet Balaam! (Numbers 22). Are they still bemused, immersed in foolishness, aflame with a false fire!
Simplicity then awaits them: the Lord puts it at its most elemental level. THIS is what He looks for from a redeemed people.
Thus does He speak in Micah 6:6-8.
Symbolic sacrifices have personal and teaching value, as symbol is matched by faith to the realities in view, as explained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the Psalms and the prophets.
However, SINCE these ARE symbolic, though their place is eminent, yet it is not quite pre-eminent. That leads one to the source of the prescription, of the symbols, of the commands, of the predictions in the Psalms, to the Saviour Himself, the principles, the prescriptions, the paths of life, in peace and in truth.
The Lord Himself met justice (cf. Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 52-53), because it is elemental in the Lord, as sure as truth and equity, peace and goodness. So He died that we might live (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), with preliminary in Micah 5, detail in Isaiah 49-55, as in Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 69, 72, 110 and others*6). That being so, is it to be imagined that this very God would not want in those for whom He would go to such pains, and now HAS gone, this very justice in their lives, so that they might be just persons!
Further, since all mankind has failed, and lives only by divine mercy (Psalm 51), would one not categorically expect that one should also show mercy to others! Again, if one is created and then renewed in the Lord, sin pardoned and grace given (cf. Micah 7:19ff.), ought one not to walk before God, not as rascally moral ragamuffins, but as people who know that weakness is of man, strength is of God, in whom they should continually seek the sort of strength which is His alone! (Psalm 105:4).
Ought one therefore NOT to experiment with false prophets, other lords (cf. Isaiah 26:13) ? Is this the way to show gratitude, aptitude, understanding, coherence, or any idea at all of the life God gives ? How much confusion is even possible!
In fact, Israel had become reminiscent of Ahab, that great desolator and wilful king of Israel to the North of earlier days. Therefore "you will bear the reproach of My people." In other words, what is prescribed for so reckless a case, so persisted in with such elaborations as found in 6:9-12, will fall like a tilted wall that can bear no weight.
It was not something abstruse, but all but incredibly simple: yet they seem as blind before it.
Poignancy of the
from Judgmental Ruin,
Through the birth and sacrifice of Christ,
to His help
and Final Coming in Awesome Power
To Settle Things
BECAUSE it is like a crooked wall (Amos 4), or in modern terms, like the Gulf of Mexico oil breach constantly compounding its effects in the entire oceanic region, day by day, hour by hour, it will have due effect. The evils have become inveterate, the deadly dynamics wrought by hearts inconsolable, eruptive, self-assured.
YET there is heard now a voice (Micah 7:1ff.). Hows remarkable its musings!
It appears that of a personified Israel, but not of all, rather that of the remnant, a residue of Israel who still mourn their sins, seek their Lord and realise their failures and follies. The desolate state of the nation is not contested ... "the good man is perished out of the earth," and as to the evil, "they hunt every man his brother, with a net," (Micah 7:2). In this, one is reminded of the Queensland case reported this May, where a murder was wrought by one brother on another, two shots evidently fired from close range into his head from behind, when the murderer was upset that his older brother had found out about some kind of liaison with the Klu Klux Klan, which he had, evidently through his teacher. Allegedly the teacher helped in the quiet burial of the murdered youth. Reportedly, the youth indicated that, given the same circumstances, he would do the same again.
This is merely illustrative in a simple way, of what this world is doing in multiplied millions of cases, using propaganda, philosophy and slaughtering now thousands, now hundreds, scores, wounding at will, led by disaster, aided by the contagion of ideas. It is precisely as forecast in Revelation 6, a killing surge almost like an icon, as this world churns to its burning; but not before some necessary actions are taken.
Amidst great evils as ancient Israel approached judgment, then, there is this voice with its meditations, as found in Micah 7:1ff..
"Do not rejoice against me, O my enemy,"
we hear the repentant voice of the Jewish remnant crying (Micah 7:8).
"When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.".
This confidence is not without basis:
"I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him,
until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me.
He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness."
This is like a prelude to the Jewish awakening to come as in Romans 11:25. First the stirring of confidence - the LORD will, as often foretold, arise to deliver from evil enemies intent on destruction. The darkness is realised: there has been some colossal error in the land. But there is likewise going to be a new light for Israel or its remnant, and in this, they will find in order to be with Him, not their own righteousness, but HIS as in Psalm 71 (Micah 7:9 cf. I John 2:1-2). They will make mention of HIS righteousness and His ONLY (Psalm 71:16, Romans 3:23ff.).
Then as repentance pours in, and the divine gift of righteousness moves in through Christ the Redeemer, suddenly it is found that a physical, a geographical thing happens also. Whereas their land had been desolate, and they had long mourned, yet now there is hope (cf. Isaiah 49:19ff.). It seems that in this interval they looked in vast numbers on their pierced Lord, as Zechariah 12:10 indicated, and that the Spirit of grace and supplication having come to Israel at this point on a large scale, there is no longer this vast tension with God, but rather a towering power.
First (Micah 7:14), they are told to LOOK AFTER all these who come to the Lord, shepherds of the human flock doing their due diligence to show care and concern. Then the Lord WILL ACT, just as He promised and premised in Deuteronomy 32:34-43.
"Is this not laid up in store for Me!"
He declaims (Deuteronomy 32:34).
"Vengeance is Mine and recompense .. for the Lord will judge His people,
and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone ...
He will say, 'Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge ' ...
"Rejoice O you Gentiles with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants,
and render vengeance to His adversaries.
He will provide atonement for His land and His people."
So amid repentance amid His people, come after thousands of intervening years since the Prince of Peace, their King and Messiah was killed, He will deliver. He remains faithful; He will have compassion. He will use pure, imperial power after all these centuries (Deuteronomy 32:40ff.), yes these millenia, to smite the irrepressible, the hateful and the reckless enemies of Israel, who have for so long in one form or another, acted as if intoxicated with the chance to abuse her. Vast in scale and magnitude, there is nothing which this power does not utilise in its ministrations of rebuke to the nations, of deliverance to Israel.
"According to the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt
will I show to him marvellous things."
Here, after the musings of 7:1-10, there comes the invigorating response, the reply of deity to this lowliness of heart and repentant attitude of spirit. Here is a change of person. Before, the remnant of Israel is in brooding humility, musing before the Lord. In &:12ff., it is the Lord who is replying with solicitude, as in Deuteronomy 32 in precisely a similar mode, placing blessing on blessing on this prodigal son: not wasteful by any means with a material inheritance, but with a spiritual one! (cf. Zechariah 11:11-15).
In this way, the scope and level of divine power in view is signalised, even with a comparison to one of the best known of all events from antiquity, the plagues and sea parting at the Exodus. In such a vast scope as that will the deliverance for Israel at last come.
Result (as with Pharaoh): total devastation of the attacking power, misusing Israel. There is NO favouritism in this. If anyone would like to have the the second built temple, with trillions of treasure originally, newly refurbished, extended, with vast works, even this utterly destroyed by a crass enemy, people out of touch with their God, a foolish people (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21), then speak up. If someone would also like to have it thus, that for millenia it would lie overturned, replaced by an idol temple, a standing rebuke to their lack of faith in the true God; if anyone would care to have one third of his people destroyed systematically with vile humiliation, and to suffer persecution in various modes, civil and religious, for centuries, then put up your hand. There is, I say, no favouritism in this; but mercy and justice, truth and pleading, results for attacking truth, and opportunities for restoration.
Would someone, being of one race, like to have what is wholly antagonistic in religious principle, keen on making second class citizens of the original kingdom, imposing power by scimitar, then by bomb ? Is it appealing, attractive ? Indeed, the Lord has made it clear that WHEN He fully restores Israel, it will be apparent that it was for their sins that they had been driven back and because of His mercy that they are defended and restored (Ezekiel 37:27-28, 36:23-24). His very mode of restoration (as in Ezekiel 38ff., Micah 7) will be so eloquent that the deaf should take note!
But would someone like share with the Jews, to have militant Moslems subordinate the land for centuries, making Jews into second class citizens, and then suffer from the acme of horror in Hitler, enduring the plight while on the other side, millions for long were not freed from Russia ? If so, then this is an extraordinary preference. Most people would not deem this favouritism! On the contrary, the plight of the Jews over time is one of the centrepieces of the history of the entire human race. The rebuke of its molesters and of the whole spirit of molestation is sure (Micah 7:17):
"They shall lick the dust like a serpent. They shall move out of their holes like works of the earth.
They shall be afraid of the Lord, our God, and shall fear because of You."
Thus, as in Ezekiel 37 (where soon Christ comes to rule - 37:22ff.), as in Isaiah 65, with a parallel result, there will come a sanction against the attacking societies, and woe betide those who join them. Thus the Lordship of Isaiah 11 and Micah 4, of Psalm 2 comes into force.
Further, now is the time for considering the spectacular mercy of the Lord. We are led to this in Micah 7:18-19, immediately following.
In fact, He DELIGHTS in mercy, longs to show it as one might long to rest a tired back, when shearing in a shed in a hot Summer. Where we seek relief from weariness, HE seeks scope for mercy: He loves to bring it into place. To provide for suffering man, is God's delight. It has a slight complication. There simply is no PLACE for mercy, where repentance has not come, and readiness to receive it is not present. It is hard to force down someone's throught when there is intense resistance.
God is both able and willing to join these things together simultaneously; but it is not to any stony heart that this mercy comes. It comes where it enters, as foreknown from the first (Ephesians 1:4). It comes with the surging force (cf. Zech. 12:10-11), the spiritual impetus that at last finds site for mercy, place for forgiveness, readiness for relief in remedy, indeed in redemption by that same Jesus Christ whom Bethlehem received, the infant, whose cheek was smitten in lèse-majesté, whose offers were demeaned, even mocked in death.
Nor is this mercy to the Jew only (cf. Isaiah 55, 42:6, 49:6, Jeremiah 16, Romans 2-3)! It is there, and whether for nation long holding itself apart, or for an individual soul, it is there. It may linger, but to the seeking soul, who yearns for the Lord with the whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13), it is there. It may wait, but it DOES come when the heart repents and asks in faith. Want it ? it is there. Do not want it ? Why worry! If divorce from God is delicious to you, eat it up.
Micah ends with an apostrophe to the Lord, an ascription of praise in the relevant themes, for such a case as this:
"Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage ?
He does not retain His anger for ever,
Because He delights in mercy.
In this way, in sequence in the book of Micah, the millenium of grace and power (Micah 4) is followed by the means to this, in Micah 5. The the results of such means, including the devastation of the old enemy of Assyria (Iraq) is found in the same Chapter. The nature of living true to God is then outlined, so that first the WAY to peace and stability is shown (in the Messiah, Ch. 5, and in practical application of it, in Ch. 6). ). There we learn that THIS is the way of life, for those who belong to this same Messiah, is most briefly but pointedly indicated (6:6). Next comes the application of salvation to the nations of this world, and the levelling of those who level Jerusalem, horrific in hate, meeting their fate, those who cannot forbear, but holding Israel in their mind's eye, become habitual aggressors. As in Isaiah 51:21ff., so in Micah 7, so in Deuteronomy 32.
When this interplay has been put into order and finalised (cf. Ezekiel 36-37), then the triumphant practicalities of the promises of God, right back to Abraham, are remembered, discerned (Micah 7:20). WHO is a God like You! comes the cry. He passes over the transgression of the remnant of His people, for since they now believe in Him, the Saviour, HIS payment is THEIR cover. He then HAS provided an atonement for their land. It was there, but they would not receive it, but now in repentance is restoration, and in humiliation is holiness, in unfaithfulness is faithfulness from the Lord (cf. Ezekiel 36:22).
The land is back for them and they for it. All things are composed, and the death site for Christ, becomes occupation central for His return.
Nearly all of this has already happened, and when you see the rest, then as Ezekiel 36-37 annotates it,
"And the nations will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore."
THAT sanctuary is the One who bonds to them, it is the Lord who is the Messiah Himself. It is the LORD HIMSELF who is that sanctuary, and it is He who will be in the midst of both Jew and Gentile, through one Gospel of grace, in which God only will be glorified; and many will learn their lessons with renewed vigour (cf. Zephaniah 3:14-20). Their whole history, their story, the romance of grandeur with Solomon, and ruin; of restoration and revival, of bringing vast blessing to the world and meeting sour disturbance by rejecting that very blessing for themselves, the relief of restoration and the joy of joining with all the saints, even as many as repent, this becomes the end of a saga. It is this which Paul so delights to meditate upon - as in Romans 11:25-36.
On these topics, and those like them, see for example:
SMR 704, 732B, 821, 938, 1031C (the term 'neo-evangelicism' is preferred);
The Biblical Workman Appendix 3, and also Ch. 8,End-note 2;
Member Contribution 14;
Light of Dawn Ch. 2;
Joyful Jottings Ch. 1,
Let God be God! Ch. 12
SMR 362, 732B, 821, 832-833, 861-862 ( see also, in SMR Index also Barth, Brunner, Niebuhr).
Know the Lord. Know the Bible, Know His Will ... 31-33, A Word on the Bondage of Freemasonry.
The period applies, for whatever actual term the symbolism of Revelation indicates (cf. cf. News 87, with Christ Jesus: The Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 1, *4). It will endure long enough to display what is attributed to it, and those who would excise the scriptures which uniquely refer to it, suppress them, re-charter them under some other name, give them some imported or erratically imputed sense, merely display their illicit autonomy of interpretation.
It is in fact a crucial part, not of some philosophical notion about God, but of God's declaration about God and His heart, ways and wisdom. He insists that His rule will be such that while the evil molesters are summarily despatched, the poor, the needy, the oppressed will be delivered. For once, there will be justice and equity, in the beauty of holiness, and His mouth will give more than words (cf. Isaiah 11:4); while the abundance of peace will be like a sunset in its quiet calm (Psalm 72). Without therefore surrendering for one moment the meekness of His grace, as displayed in the incarnation, the Lord Jesus Christ will indeed act to protect and move to inspect, direct and enhance what man has for so long in so many ways with such nil wisdom abused, confused and subordinated to pure wilfulness.
Like an antique
car polished into loveliness, before the NEW ONE (II Peter 3,
Revelation 20-21) is delivered,
THIS earth which saw
crucifixion (for its sins, available to all who believe),
resurrection (to smite its fear), a prototype for any who believe, and
the power of the Holy Spirit (a call to all the earth, and an enabling of those who are His, known in His pervasive love for all from eternity),
will see in bodily form this same Jesus, who will come in a manner parallel to that of His going (Acts 1:7ff.), and His ways of wisdom will be paramount, not for mere perception, but for enactment..
It is He who will come in a manner parallel to that of His going (Acts 1:7ff.), and His ways of wisdom will be paramount, not for mere perception, but for enactment..
See Creation, and Remodelling, in That Magnificent Rock as marked.
See Divine Agenda Ch. 6.
See Joyful Jottings 22 -25 and biblical indexes on Psalms.