It’s like a string of dominoes. Only worse, because when a set of dominoes fall it’s much easier to pick up the pieces and rebuild. But when you endure a cultural collapse—that’s another thing entirely. Most busy themselves with the blame game. Fingers are pointed. Wrongdoers are called onto the carpet. And all the while CNN continues to roll footage of the smoldering cinders of society, as the rest of us are left to ask why?
The Bible tells us that the problems of this world are the by-product of man’s corrupt heart. Did we know, back then? In the garden, I mean. Did we know that when we ate the forbidden fruit, when we felt its juice roll down our chins—did we know the set of dominoes that would tumble into our children’s future? Or did we even care to ask such questions, held captive by the tyrannical regime of self.
God, in His unfailing wisdom and love, had a plan. He would reach into this broken world of ours to lift a man’s gaze away from self and toward the horizon. Abraham would be the father of the nation of Israel. His innumerable descendants would reap the benefits of God’s unconditional blessing. A few hundred years later, Moses came into the picture. After rescuing His people from slavery, God gave them a set of laws to follow. God would never take back His blessings, but the only way for Israel to enjoy life with God was to do things God’s way. The book of Deuteronomy is essentially a series of sermons—something of a revival meeting before the people entered the Promised Land.
Time shifted for the nation of Israel. The people had allowed something of a regime change to take place. They had turned from the worship of God to dependence on foreign idols. And so when we open the book of Micah, the scene has shifted. We have abandoned the big tent revival for a courtroom drama. God is now taking the stand against His own people.
Micah’s name meant “Who is like God?” The people were about to get a very personal answer to this question. If you were with us in Sunday’s message, one of the points that we brought out was that personal choices have public consequences. Sin rarely impacts just the individual. In Micah 1-3, we see that the idolatry and corruption of man’s heart had something of a ripple effect, impacting the religious and political landscape of Micah’s day.
But here’s the good news. The gospel represents something of a regime change. In Micah 4, we see that the tables turn. God would be in control again, so long as we fix our eyes on His horizon:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. 5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5)
Micah 4:3 is one of my favorite verses—“swords into plowshares.” There’ll be a day when we turn our M-16’s into farm tools and our Abram’s tanks into tractors. What man means for destruction God can use to cultivate life.
The name “Zion” is used here to refer to Jerusalem. But Zion has other, lasting implications as well. Zion and Jerusalem refer to God’s Holy City, a city that endures even in God’s new creation:
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering… (Hebrews 12:22)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)
The future looks rocky for the nation, but God promises that a faithful remnant will be held together by His grace:
6 In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; 7 and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. 8 And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem. (Micah:4:6-11)
Are you beginning to see what’s happening here? God’s reversing the effects of idolatry. He’s healing the wounds the people have inflicted on themselves. That ripple effect we saw earlier? Sin’s worst effects became evident at the cross. The worst of it has been dealt with—paid by the blood of Jesus. This means that God now reaches back through the ravages of sin and heal every raw wound—effectively setting the dominoes back into place.
God has a massive plan for total regime change. And with this change comes renewed strength:
9 Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? 10 Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. 11 Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth. (Micah 4:9-13)
God wants us to be far-sighted. He wants us to see the grandeur of a city that far outshines the greatest of our monuments. And He wants to forever be our true, exalted King.
In Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings series, we see an elaborate snapshot of this same shift. The people of Middle-Earth have finally dealt with the evil Lord Sauron, and now the kingdom is presided over by her rightful king:
“In his time the City was made more fair than it had ever been, even in the days of its first glory; and it was filled with trees and with fountains, and its gates were wrought of mithril and steel, and its streets were paved with white marble; and the Folk of the Mountain labored in it, and the Folk of the Wood rejoiced to come there; and all was healed and made good, and the houses were filled with men and women and the laughter of children, and no window was blind nor any courtyard empty; and after the ending of the Third Age of the world into the new age it preserved the memory and the glory of the years that were gone.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King: “The Steward and the King,” p. 266)
This is what the whole world will look like. The gospel promises a day when God’s city descends to earth, when Jesus comes back to rule and reign, when you and I are able to rest in the peace of God’s eternal kingdom. And until that day, there is no amount of suffering, no amount of injustice, that can rob us of the joy of this promise.