Monday, August 7, 2017

Four Lessons From the Controversy

Micah 11

We have spent three months in the rather obscure book of Micah. Allow me to share four final thoughts with you before we go.

First, God's people need shepherding. Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. (Micah 7.14)

The concept of God being our shepherd is found most famously in Psalm 23 but it is not found there alone. It is also found in Genesis 49, Numbers 27, I Kings 22, II Chronicles 18, Psalm 74, 78, 79, 80, 95, 100, and 119, in Isaiah 40 and 63, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 34 and 37, Zechariah 10, 11, and 13, Matthew 9, 25, and 26, Mark 6 and 14, John 10, Hebrews 13, and I Peter 2 and 5. That is a whole heap of a lot of passages. It is drawn most beautifully in Psalm 23, and I expect to devote a blog series some time to unwrapping that for you.

Beloved, we must needs understand we require shepherding. When God's people begin to get the idea that they know best themselves, and that they do not need protected, cared for, shepherded, or lead when they cease to yield or to follow trouble inevitably comes. We need the Good Shepherd, and must needs follow Him.

Second, God's people need to see their God as a big God.

7.15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.
16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.

Doctrinally speaking, I am a cessationist. That means I do not believe in the exercise of the apostolic signs of tongues, prophesies, and miracles. But I do still believe we have a miracle working God. He does things that are flat out impossible for us to do. He does them in answer to prayer, He does them to help us in time of need, and He does them to demonstrate His own power to a lost world. Do not be a timid, thumb-sucking, paranoid, pessimistic, defeated Christian. It is not worthy of the God we serve. He wins, no matter how it currently looks. God wins.

Third, God's people must needs remember God's mercy. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. (Micah 7.18)

It is fairly common for a sinner to think, 'Well, my parents, my wife, my children will not forgive me. God probably won't either.' Yes, it is common, but is also one of the most vicious of the devil's lies. He whispers to you, 'What you did is unforgivable. Even by God.' And you believe him.

Such a lie, when it is believed, leads to depths of depravity that were unthinkable in a former life because now you sin in despair. You forget the wideness of God's mercy. You forget the depth of God's mercy. You forget the longsuffering of God's mercy. And, as in other areas, you create a God in your own image. Since others cannot forgive you and you cannot find a way to forgive yourself you cycle ever deeper into a veritable pit of disastrous sin.

Beloved, never, never, never forget the mercy of God. If you are breathing you can have it.

Fourth, never-ending sin will surely someday end, and God will fulfil all of His promises.

Micah 7.19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

What a comfort the doctrine of the final sanctification of God's people is to me! What a comfort it ought to be to His people, whether the church of God or the Israel of God. There is a very bright future and that very bright future is certainly coming for His people.

I could have called this post 'Hope in the Controversy.' It is remarkable, is it not, how a book of such fierce judgment ends in such great mercy and hope? That is all of a piece with Who God is, beloved.

I hope these few months we have spent together in Micah have been as much of a blessing to you as they have been to me. I hope you have gained not only a better appreciation for this obscure book, but even more than that I hope it has given you a better knowledge of God. I want you to know better Who He is, what He expects, and how He operates.

Let us adjust our actions accordingly. 

Next week I will probably inflict some poetry upon you, as I tend to do between series, but following that a new blog series is coming your way on the subject of reading. Stay tuned... 

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