Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Three Cures for the Controversy

Micah 9

Correction requires a corrector but what did this corrector, Micah, give as the cure to Israel's sinful condition? In today's post let us look at three in particular.

The first cure is a recognition that God cannot be bought off.

Micah 6.6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

The statement 'every man has his price' is found on over 67,000 web pages. It is a fallacious notion driven by men who themselves have a price, or by men who have experience dealing with men who have a price. Such people seek to get out of trouble, in some form or fashion, by buying their way out.

Agnus Dei, Francisco de Zurbaran, 1640
Centuries before our text God instructed Israel to offer Him numerous sacrifices but contrary to accepted notions of theology that sacrificial system was never about buying God off. It was about continually pointing people toward the ultimate solution to their sin, the suffering Lamb of God. Thus, to bring the symbol (a sacrifice) without an underlying understanding of and belief in that which it symbolized (Jesus) appeased God not at all. God has always been after our heart; He has always been looking for faith.

Not only were sacrifices insufficient to buy God off so was the offer of your own child to the service of the Lord in the Temple. Exodus 13 says that the first-born child or beast belonged to God – for His use. Later this individual service from every family was changed to the Levitical system, but a man was still responsible to buy back, to redeem his eldest from Temple use. But even if you allowed your oldest child to enter Temple service it would not alleviate your personal transgressions. You cannot give God a substitute for what He demands. God insists on specific obedience and you cannot buy Him off with anything else. Just ask Cain.

The second cure I find in Micah is that wondrous verse found in chapter six. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

To do justly is defined by the dictionary as 'to conform.' In the original language it carries the connotation of a legal term. It is similar in aspect to 'controversy' (which relates to a lawsuit) in which a judgment is legally passed and to which it is being adhered. God had a controversy with Israel. He had taken them to court. The judge would, of course, rule in His favor for He was acting in accordance with the Law and Israel was not. Thus, when Israel adjusted her actions to conform with the judge's bench ruling God's reasons for His great controversy with them would be over.

Next, Micah instructs us to love mercy.

So often, in the few areas in which you and I actually conform to God's Law, we look with scorn on those who do not. Yet we ourselves are so prone to wrong in other areas, and thus God is busy exercising His mercy just as much toward us as He is toward those we belittle. We must ourselves do justly – abide by the Judge's ruling – and at the same time extend mercy to those around us who are still struggling with sin against God.

Additionally, Micah tells us to walk humbly.

Perhaps the greatest negative example of this in Scripture is the Pharisees. They gave themselves to study and learn and apply the Law to the nth degree, yet in the resulting pride they missed the entire point. Their actions were correct in the extreme but their heart was faulty to the same extreme. We must absolutely do justly with mercy and humility or else our own heart will be wrong in the midst of our very conformity.

Humility is the prerequisite for the proper exercise of any spiritual activity. Name a spiritual grace. Can it be exercised in pride? Well, it can be but doing so accomplishes nothing actually spiritual in me. To walk through life's journey accompanied by constant humility is absolutely essential to the performance of every scriptural activity.

The third cure we find in Micah is broad, but accurate; we must eliminate sin from our lives. This was and is the ultimate cure to any controversy God has with us. It is a total cure, a complete cure, a permanent cure. So how was such a cure effected in Micah's day? The same way it is in our day: through the coming of Jesus Christ.

Micah 5.1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Jesus always has been and always will be the hope of Israel. In the original language His name means 'saviour', literally, 'Jehovah is salvation.' And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1.21) Jesus would save them from the penalty of their sin – hell. Jesus would save them from the power of sin – their old nature. Jesus would thus save them from both sin's condemnation and its curse.

I am currently writing my third book, tentatively entitled, 'Freed From Sin', a phrase we find in Romans 6. Sanctification is both done and being done. God is in the business of making us holy, of forming us into the sinless image of Jesus Christ. And while this applies most personally in our dispensation it also applies to national Israel. Jesus, it was prophesied, shall save his people from their sins. Has He done this yet? In a theological sense, yes, it is finished. In a practical sense, no, it is not yet finished. Israel is not yet formed into the image of Christ. But it will be. When you ask? At His Second Coming.

To us, as Gentile Christians, or to speak with more theological accuracy, as the Church, the Second Coming is almost viewed as the end of everything. However, to the Jews it is the beginning. It is the beginning of them finally becoming the people God intended for them to be all along.

We refer to this time, in our parlance, as the Millennium. Micah much to it as the ultimate cure for the controversy riling the relationship between God and His people. In fact, Micah spends almost one quarter of his book discussing God's ultimate redemption of and restoration of Israel under her Messiah, which, we know, takes place at the Second Coming of Christ as He ushers in the Millennium.

If you are so inclined, take a glance through these and you will see it quite plainly.

Micah 2.12 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.
13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.
Micah 4.1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;
7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
8 ¶ And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Micah 4.11–13
11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, That say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
12 But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, Neither understand they his counsel: For he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: For I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: And thou shalt beat in pieces many people: And I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, And their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

Micah 5.3–15
3 Therefore will he give them up, Until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; And they shall abide: For now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
5 And this man shall be the peace, When the Assyrian shall come into our land: And when he shall tread in our palaces, Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, And eight principal men.
6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, And the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, When he cometh into our land, And when he treadeth within our borders.
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people As a dew from the LORD, As the showers upon the grass, That tarrieth not for man, Nor waiteth for the sons of men.
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people As a lion among the beasts of the forest, As a young lion among the flocks of sheep: Who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, And none can deliver.
9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, And all thine enemies shall be cut off.
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, That I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, And I will destroy thy chariots:
11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, And throw down all thy strong holds:
12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; And thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, And thy standing images out of the midst of thee; And thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: So will I destroy thy cities.
15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, Such as they have not heard.

With respect, I do not care who you are, I do not care where you live, I do not care when you live. Your problem and my problem is the same – sin. Judgment for that sin is coming. And the solution is the same as it has ever been, both personal and corporate. The cure is Christ. We must tell men of Him. We must, with everything we have and in the power of the Spirit, yield ourselves until He is formed in us.

No comments:

Post a Comment