Author: reformanda

11. To what shall I liken this generation?

Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,

Read: Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35

Setting:

somewhere in cities of Galilee – Jesus’ “itinerant” ministry, after sending Twelve out (Matt. 10:5ff)

John Baptist’s disciples have asked question, received answer

Jesus continues instructing crowd – connecting dots from Luke 3:1-18, esp. verse 15

Person(s) being questioned:

probably not really directed at crowd – “this generation”

thinking out loud, talking to self but ok if others listen in – not intended to be private conversation

Question behind the question:

Why are you so committed to stereotypes?

Why do you behave so immaturely about such serious things?

Expected response:

Jesus probably did not expect a response

intended to answer his own question for benefit of those really listening

already knew attitude of majority toward John’s ministry and his

Jesus’ point:

people had idea (“the people were in expectation”), had rubric (complete Old Testament)

application to real life using wrong rubric – stereotypes promoted by religious leaders intended to maintain status quo

John – fasting, criticized/discounted for being too strict; must have picked up a demon out there in the desert

Jesus – feasting, criticized/discounted for not being strict enough; must be lowlife like those he associates with

were evaluating (both John and Jesus) in light of humanly developed standards – principle easily applies to any situation

should have been mature enough to use God’s standard the Bible to evaluate against, then accepted the evidence

didn’t mind using Bible to find promises that give hope, should have gone rest of the way… asked most important question – is what we are seeing a true work of God?

e.g., Edwards on Revivals: Containing A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northhampton, Massachusetts, A.D. 1735

Modern Application:

easy to construct mental image, stereotype of some kind – is ok when faithful to what is portrayed in Bible

should carefully evaluate at each use for something of this magnitude, going back to original for validation

easy application: they way they do things (church, evangelism, missions, music, outreach, mens/womens ministry) over there

doesn’t matter whether results appear favorable/positive or unfavorable/negative – is God at work?

second easy thing to do: judge validity of method by (apparent) results – Bible repeatedly cautions against that

where God / Bible prescribes method we must follow, responsibility for results is God’s

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Perverted Politicians

Micah 3:1-4

Micah focused in first two chapters on people as a whole without great regard for particular place in society. Changes here in chapter 3 – turns focus to rulers / leaders in different spheres of responsibility. Singles out in succession politicians, prophets, priests – those charged with leadership in two divinely appointed institutions… church and state.

“The three sections of this chapter each begin with a formulaic introduction: “Hear this” in both 3:1 and 3:9, and “Thus says YHWH” in 3:5. The first section, 3:1-4, provides accusations against the political leaders of the land (heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel). The second unit, 3:5-8, confronts prophets who do not speak on YHWH’s behalf. The third unit, 3:9-12, expands the judgment pronouncements, including not only the leadership and prophets but also the priests. …who act for their own benefit and not for the sake of the people.” Nogalski

Principles found here apply specifically to target audience, also have application to leaders in general throughout a culture… including home. Many have used Micah as basis for public activism – promoting issues of social justice relating to “underprivileged”. Miss much of Micah’s point when he frequently returns to God’s character, God’s mission in the world, God’s plan for his people, duty people of all kinds have to honor God by thought/word/deed. They make it about politics and legislation and while quotes from Bible may be prominent, God isn’t.

Easy to look at news, conclude that world going to hell in handbasket, come on Jesus, hurry up and rescue us – no, world not headed into oblivion by itself apart from God’s governing oversight. In light of that, God commissions messengers for benefit not only of his people but also culture / nation / world in general. Don’t have prophets today called by God in same way for same purpose as Micah. However… important aspects of prophetic ministry do continue today and are vitally important.

No matter what part of world you consider, plenty of bad behavior to go around. Take particular note of countries where public proclamation of Biblical truth is allowed vs where it is forbidden. Is one of significant means Holy Spirit uses to restrain evil, especially among leaders. Even where allowed, still need those with God-given courage and wisdom to proclaim God’s truth.

Here in our text, prophet claims attention of leaders, confronts with evil they practice, caution about coming repercussions.

A. call to attention v.1

listen up

not a subtle clearing of throat followed by timid “excuse me” – is command stated with voice of authority: “listen, you”

given Micah’s roots, probably had appearance of one belonging to class of people despised / discounted by audience

immediate response one of surprise.. that Micah had audacity to challenge power structure – had been able to intimidate into silence… similar to Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood big deal, one of long line of perps

when some kind of scandal / injustice uncovered, more revealed more outrageous – Micah doesn’t take time to start small

intends not only to get attention but also to keep it until done talking – had potential to put not just career but life at risk

Micah bringing charges against leaders all the way to the top – could have been taken as treason, punished accordingly

even where are freedoms and protections, those in power have their ways to silence critics when they choose

audience identified

no doubt who Micah was addressing, from whom demanded attention: leaders at all levels of government, central…outlying

“When a land in general is culpable of defection, rulers in Church and State have their own eminent guilt in it.” George Hutcheson – in this setting, nation defecting from God’s laws and expectations

nation as whole guilty before God, but God deals with individuals… individually as well as collectively – means individuals don’t escape responsibility by belonging to group

reminder here that those who make rules are not above rules – whether God is acknowledged or not, kings and presidents all under law of God

rhetorical question asked

two ways question can be understood: should you not understand principles / application of justice? should you not experience weight of justice applied to you?

answer to both: “yes”, given positions of responsibility and misuse of them – everyone, w/o exception, because of imago Dei understand basics of justice

“Beside the general obligation lying upon all men, (especially within the visible Church,) to know and obey the Will of God, it is especially incumbent to rulers and great ones among the Lord’s people, so to do; as being, by reason of their education, meanes, encouragements, leisure, offices, &c. enabled with advantages, and bound to know more than others, and to put their knowledge in practice, that they may be examples to others.” Ibid

none of listeners could have missed significance of question, most probably recognized veiled threat of retribution

is third question implied – are you really immune from justice? – tone of Micah’s voice could have helped hearers to know which nearest front in his mind

pleading with leaders to stop and think, are on self-destructive course, headed for certain destruction unless repentance

B. confronted with evil v.2-3

Micah didn’t pull punches, sugar coat words, speak ambiguously – came right out with it, plain / simple / rightly outrageous

perverted people

not expressed as opinion, take it or leave it – declares without apology the leaders guilty of crimes against God and humanity

disregarding God-given responsibility – were supposed to use power to uphold justice and do what was best for citizens

in order to do what is good, must love good / hate evil – their operating principles just opposite of that, upside-down – were not ignorant, had instead chosen to follow different worldview

not occasional or temporary thing out of ordinary – “these judges were always hating (participle=continuous action) the good and continuously loving evil” WBC

what they stand for diametrically opposed to God, his character – have worldview of own making, contrary to Bible

keep that in mind when have opportunity to participate in selection of leader – worldview matters and so does character

perverse actions

Micah and all those being oppressed knew exactly what kind of leaders they had – made it clear by ongoing actions

using figurative language here, probably little if any exaggeration – not actual cannibalism, although had same basic effect

were foxes minding the chickens, wolves dressed up as shepherds, yet with difference – foxes/wolves kill to satisfy hunger

2-legged foxes tormenting and terrorizing, misusing power to cause harm because they could… for pleasure, and gain

supposed to be using power and authority to protect, to heal from injury not cause it, and bring to justice evildoers

not only perverse people in power, have used that power to turn institution of civil government on its head so it works opposite to God’s intent

read Rom 13:1-5 – this the standard any government should strive for, regardless of time, place, belief system

supposed to maintain / promote what is consistent with character of God; instead were relishing inhuman cruelty

perverse desires

is one thing to do something distasteful that causes harm but is necessary – entirely different to cause harm and enjoy taste

picture painted by Micah – perpetrators acting out desire to cause harm, receiving pleasure from inflicting suffering, gratified by end result that brought profit

bottom line here: way of thinking, acting, desiring absolutely contrary to God and what was good; all they did tainted by their inherent perverseness

Paul was right: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9) – cannot use few good looking / sounding things perverted person does to justify overlooking the rest

human nature such that we do what we desire the most – actions are reflection of desires, indicator of loyalty

C. coming consequences v.4

rhetorical question answered

yes, they will know justice… in all respects, and no, will not be immune to punishment/judgment for their evil behavior

as God brings judgment on nation, will fall particularly on those in leadership who so displeased God… not to exclusion of others, just precise justice for them

would have opportunity to be taught by firsthand experience just what true justice looks / feels like, perhaps lex talionis

experience would include crying out for help… to no avail – the oppressed had done so to them and not been heard; now…

will receive no mercy

will be their turn, cries will fall on deaf ears… God’s – doesn’t sound fair, yet it does – God is supposed to hear and answer, yet…

they had refused repeatedly to hear God’s voice – have no sound basis to expect him to respond just because they changed

once again, another indication that God has limits – when individual / group presses beyond limits, God not obligated

must also factor into how God responds – how God relates… to his people – not just authority figure, caretaker, closely enough related that action against God’s people equals action against God

encouragement for God’s people

God does not give us liberty to take law into own hands, to act on our own as agents of justice; however, God is not asleep

God has perfect knowledge and understanding of how his appointed agents are behaving – he still has limits, what he permits before taking action in interest of justice

we can rest, encourage others to rest in confidence – if not before, then when Christ comes perfect justice will be carried out

God has power and prerogative to act sooner – he has in past, may very well do so in our day; either way we can trust him

and… we can each make our voice heard in public sphere… in a lot of different ways – conversation, voting, blogging, etc.

we can also pray: that God would raise up those who will graciously yet fearlessly proclaim uncompromising truth publicly for leaders at all levels of government to hear

 

What Shall I Do?

Exodus 17:1-7

Would be easy to come down hard on children of Israel – think of all their advantages. Had seen God do great and mighty things in Egypt and at Red Sea; could actually see evidence of his presence (pillar of cloud/fire); had ongoing 6 days out of 7 evidence of kind Providence. And had God’s personally appointed leaders to guide and intercede. Should have been piece of cake to just do what rightly comes next. Might even be tempted to think they didn’t need to exercise faith as much as we do.

Period of repeated testing – God puts in situation, gives opportunity for people to respond either rightly or wrongly. Most of time did not pass test, at least to start. Why Paul wrote as he did, 1 Cor. 10:5-11, instruction so we will not do what they did. And… keep in mind: we naturally have tendency to get comfortable here… in this world, with what it supplies. God has designed us for more – trials remind us fallen sin-corrupted world cannot fully satisfy. Not an hour goes by without something that makes plain we live in broken world – often try different solutions to make easier to deal. Then another thing goes wrong. In middle of situation, last thing we want to hear – “it’s a good and gracious gift from God”! Without hardship, like Israelites, would forget about looking to God for solutions.

A. They demanded God’s provision v.1-2

attitude of too many today – make demands instead of requests, get angry or maybe violent when demands aren’t met — obviously not new problem

no water

traveled by stages – number of waypoints on journey from Egypt to Sinai, would take Israelites 3 months to get there

number of considerations: sheep have their pace; the old, the young, the weak and sick needed consideration; size of group, method of camping, food prep

one of more significant details: is desert, approaching summer, people and animals both need adequate water, regularly – location of oases shaped journey

several days’ journey from one oasis to next, portable water supply well-depleted by time they arrived at Rephidim – not desperate… but close

no trust

God had provided abundant sweet water at Marah, was providing manna / quail daily, makes sense could trust God to meet new need – has pretty good track record

notice what has happened – if they ever truly trusted God, trust has quickly turned to presumption… taking God for granted

food / water has been there when needed, of course will continue – they need it so it ought to be available on demand

when it’s not there, figure whoever/whatever making it happen must have abandoned them – doesn’t occur to ask, no relationship based on love and trust

took Moses “to court”

has to be somebody’s fault – their needs / wants have top priority, response is frustration and anger when needs not met

not moaning / groaning that Moses overhears, whining because are uncomfortable – is in your face demand with bad attitude

no question, was a serious issue, shouldn’t minimize that – way God has designed us, we genuinely need water… often

problem was how they chose to try and meet need – people do exactly same today: have real needs, try to satisfy wrongly

challenge / rebuke from Moses

have all experienced interaction w/someone – know from beginning are trying to pick a fight: face, body language, words, tone

is how people approached Moses – usually puts person on defensive, escalates quickly, turns into at least shouting match

Moses, rightly, pushes back, seeks to make people think about what are really doing / asking – are demanding Moses do another miracle

expect their needs met first, perhaps also expect Moses to prove by miracle that he still has right to lead them – way out of line, over the top given was God who appointed Moses

real target – God

demanding their needs be met… immediately – any who were thinking beyond end of nose understood Moses couldn’t do on his own, would require God to take action

Moses, again rightly, tries to redirect people’s thinking – were really putting God, not Moses to the test, expecting God to prove his loyalty / demonstrate his presence

B. They disputed God’s protection v.3-4

complain

opportunity to reconsider attitude and actions does not slow them down – have a single focus, will only acknowledge one solution… theirs

instead press on, cranking up the volume, in process make themselves good example of bad example… repeated in Bible

behaving exactly how sinners usually do – compounding sin rather than repenting: remember Adam and Eve

God graciously gave opportunity for confession/repentance – instead started blame game, avoiding responsibility

charge with abuse

worded as question, probably sounded more like accusation: you just brought us out here to kill us – longer conflict goes, more outrageous statements get

no just cause for Israelites to charge either Moses or God with any kind of abuse – in fact, had good reason to appreciate

once again, another way selfish sinners respond to life – become more demanding, harder to satisfy no matter how good they really have it

ultimately disputing God’s good intentions for them

Moses not the ultimate leader – clear from everything Moses said to people: always said “this is what the LORD says”

to charge Moses with wrong intentions automatically brings God into picture, call God’s intentions / relationship into question

in this case, seems Israelites truly did have serious questions about God – at minimum, shows profound lack of maturity, still stuck in slavery mindset

taking discord/rebellion to new level

based on where Moses went with his plea to God, seems this not simply war of words – belligerent attitude being displayed

would have been incredibly foolish for Israelites to act on their impulses – Moses the only one who knew where they were going, how to get there

more significant: Moses the only authorized intermediary between people and God – at moment, Moses their lifeline

C. They doubted God’s presence v.7

bottom line

permanent reminder of rebellious behavior – name change: Massah / testing and Meribah / contention – people contended with both God and Moses, tested God

because couldn’t see kind of evidence they expected / wanted, they doubted God still with them, still providing for their needs

irrational doubt

no reason to believe they lacked for manna that morning, quail the night before – reason would say ask one who supplied that to supply water also

sin and self prevented them from acting / thinking rationally – looked at only one piece, jumped to conclusion from there

D. They received God’s grace v. 5-6

failed test

sure, they blew it… again, and God knew they would – He had something bigger in mind… for them and us, another proof of his faithfulness and longsuffering

another proof for God’s people, if they would heed, their greatest need not for water – was for God, the giver not just the gift

gracious provision

supplied instruction to Moses, told him how to proceed step by step – in process would reaffirm His choice of Moses

at same time would show people once again who really was supplying their needs – abundantly in face of severe rebellion

stunning picture

based on everything going on in minds of people, what they had to say, how they treated Moses… and God, did not deserve kind treatment

see what God did: he stood on the rock, Moses struck the rock, water came from the rock, the people drank the water

people only watched, did not participate in act of providing life-giving water – God alone provided what they did not deserve and could not earn

setting them up to understand – law given to them at Sinai could not provide salvation, would be gracious act of God also

apostle Paul makes connection: “they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1Co 10:9)

that rock pictured for Israel and us: Christ would be the one struck, smitten by God, afflicted (Isa. 53:4) – from Christ, sinful undeserving rebellious people receive water of life

We today faced with same question Moses had: What shall I do? May be people giving us hard time, may be other kind of situation where God puts us to the test. What shall we do? Who or what is first stop for us in seeking solution? Government agency? Physician? Financial advisor? Personal genius? Or do we run to the rock Christ Jesus? Seek shelter in him, provision from him for all our needs.

Just as important, how do we help others who are being put to the test? Fellow believers, experiencing some real trials, need to encourage them to run to the Rock also. Then those who are still trying their own solution – they may reject our counsel, must still direct them to Christ as the only one who can supply their need. He is the only one who can save, who can forgive, who can satisfy.

 

Future Regathering

Micah 2:12-13

People are funny. I know, you’re thinking “so what’s new?”! I include all of us in that broad statement. Even Christians, if only for short periods of time, fall back into bad practices. Things like – being anxious about what we cannot know, fretting about what we cannot change. Truth is, worst things we worry about… are ones that never happen. Instead of groundless fear and uninformed speculation, should look seriously at God’s word the Bible, take careful note of what God says he will do. If are comfortable making plans based on weather forecast, should have no problem whatever trusting God, planning accordingly. Especially when God speaks emphatically, as he does in our text.

Messages God expected his servants we know as minor prophets to deliver some of strongest in all of Bible. Harsh condemnation, threats of complete destruction, seems much of time God intends to wipe his people from face of earth, leaving behind no trace of their existence. Yet that is not God’s ultimate goal for his people – does not intend to abandon them, leave to sort out on their own, no matter how rotten and rebellious.

Because of both their inheritance from Adam, own personal sinful actions, people of Israel and Judah were ruined – in “an irrecoverable state of devastation and destruction”. WordNet As apostle Paul put it, Ephesians 2:12, “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Condition that describes all mankind as they come into world; remain that way until Someone changes them. God from before Creation has had intent not to leave all in state of ruin, rather to rescue and redeem from ruined condition those he has chosen.

Yes, are dire threatenings throughout Minor Prophets, sincere warnings from sovereign Lord of all things that will not tolerate wanton rebellion forever. At same time, intermingled with warnings are promises of deliverance and great glory. In every case, not about how God helps those who help themselves, is about how God does for his children what they are totally unable to do for themselves. True of present text: God declares what he will do… after his agents have brought God’s judgment against his people. Is a pleasant and promising picture of future blessing as God himself brings his people together again and leads them to victory.

Important note: frequently prophetic promises have dual perspective – partial or typical fulfillment in anticipation of later fuller/richer one. True of this text: near, fulfillment in Israel’s return from Assyrian and Babylonian exile – like other events, intended to show in miniature what God will ultimately do in big picture. God honestly communicating what he would do following judgment on his rebellious people. At same time, telling what he will do on global scale, gathering all his people together.

A. I will assemble

an emphatic declaration

same kind of verbal structure as Gen 2:17 – verb is doubled to show certainty: dying you will die; here… assembling I will assemble; next best thing to an oath in Jewish understanding

to be no uncertainty about the promise – it would be kept without fail: God’s people could count on God himself to keep it

btw, same kind of construction at beginning of next phrase – gathering I will gather the remnant; not only double word, entire concept repeated to emphasize certainty

strong reminder: God’s anger and how he expresses it is different from ours – at same time as judgment actually in process God graciously declares good purpose for afterward

looks to future after exile

in quotes “assumes” present course of corrective action will run out its course – no repentance forthcoming like with Nineveh

God wasn’t kidding when said he declares end from beginning, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’

what would come next for his people already part of his eternal plan – God can accurately reveal his plan: is his and he will follow through and do it

provides hope even before judgment

one of things lacking in human justice systems: no guaranteed outcome, no one able to give any kind of firm assurances – makes easier for those in confinement to maintain, even feed negative view of future

not so with God: graciously makes plain even before worst had come that would not be hopeless situation

once hard times that would certainly come had achieved God’s purpose, those faithful to him could rightly expect blessing

hope helps to make discipline more effective – minimizes “why change/repent if life never going to get better?”

keeps focus on YHWH

false prophets say what God will / will not do according to people’s desires, their own whims – totally manufactured, speculative, no genuine basis in fact or revelation

God himself declares what will / will not do according to his eternal purpose – makes sure Micah’s audience knows it is the true God who will graciously provide future for them

something need to keep in mind when God brings things our way – God’s purpose not to cause undue harm to his children

he keeps his end in view – “this is the will of God, your sanctification” – God’s goal / purpose for us is holiness, all he brings into our lives / brings us into particularly designed to bring about that end

B. I will gather

not a new promise

readDeut. 30:1-4

not an unanticipated circumstance – God told them 700 years before: both blessing and curse would be their lot, iow, they would disobey to point God himself would drive them from their land, scatter among nations

notice also, v.2, God’s purpose in disciplining: that they would “return to the LORD your God and obey His voice”

God bringing back from captivity conditioned on sincere repentance obedience – not simply because x # of years elapsed

important note: people (like us) unable to meet God’s expectations on their own – cannot along with children obey God with all heart and soul… unless He enables

if God left his people (or anyone) to straighten out on their own, would never happen – God must enable his children

not the entire people – a remnant

should have clued in people of Jesus’ day – “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”

God’s promise through Micah of a blessed future not made to all of Abraham’s children but to a remnant – select group that meet certain criteria God established

remnant in view here: those chosen by God who show their election by as Jesus said “doing the works of Abraham”

would be some fingered by God who returned to Israel after captivity (Ezra-Nehemiah) but greater number never went back

God also has in view spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who “are of faith”, who “are Christ’s”, thus Abraham’s seed

don’t underestimate what God will do

remnant in God’s view does not equal small – we equate remnant with leftover piece, too small to do anything significant

notice how God describes group he will gather together – “a noisy multitude of men” ESV, loud “because of so many people”

is significant that immense God of universe pays particular attention, not to main group of people, but to the remnant

cautioned by Zechariah not to despise “the day of small things” – under God’s direction will ultimately result in big things

scope of what God promises requires God

no human agency could achieve what is in view here – a regathering of a particular people from among the nations

true of ancient Israel, restoration to the land; more true of modern people of God, gathered into the church from all nations

C. I will bring them together

is all part of God’s particular plan

is to be hand-picked flock assembled together for specific purpose – not random gathering of whoever decides to show up

again, clear from repeated emphasis that God is prime agent – not “of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”

God never has only physical / temporal considerations in view – always more to picture, things of spiritual/eternal significance

delivered from and to

out of captivity – given military aggression toward Israel by Assyria, later by Babylon, no way Jews could rescue themselves

required intervention by outside authority – captors would not simply let them go (remember Pharaoh), needed to be delivered by God

into single group under God’s care – God not satisfied with knocking down prison walls, breaking chains… ok, now free to go

is way God has always operated – has specific destination / goal / purpose in view for people when delivers from captivity

shepherd / sheep relationship

not just former shepherd who described relationship between God and people this way – God himself taking position / role of shepherd gathering flock together

not only simple aspect of relationship identified, includes all elements that accompany that kind of relation – duties and responsibilities of a good shepherd

D. I, the Lord, will lead them

will be barriers

live happily ever after in pasture of God’s provision not last page of story – are insurmountable obstacles, barriers that enemies… including arch-enemy… put up

one who goes first breaks barriers

sheep have no “weapons” either offensive or defensive – are totally dependent on shepherd… who goes first to make way

no question who, the LORDa

is going to be YHWH himself who is at head of flock, overcoming enemies and obstacles, leading his people to victory

knowing / understanding this what reinforces hope and confidence – is all-powerful holy gracious God leading his people… along road he has already traveled

Heb. 6:19-20This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Not always an easy road – God’s people not insulated from hardships of human existence in fallen world among fallen sinful people. Yet even when corrective discipline, God’s work of sanctifying his people at its most intense, can/should keep this in view:

I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture;”

Important to remember in both our way of thinking about the lost, also actual conversation / interaction with them: must keep whole Gospel in view. For Gospel to be good news, must be some bad news first – sin and sinfulness and condemnation and judgment. While must accurately portray natural man’s condition as hoplessly lost in sin, must be careful not to leave individual without hope. God does not do that; yet he is careful to present good news of Gospel against proper backdrop. So must we, offering genuine hope through repenatance and faith in Christ to those without hope.

 

The Sabbath Observed

Exodus 16:22-36

Few days ago, in conversation, someone lamenting how things have changed since laws relating to Sunday commerce changed. Passing by box store parking lot, full of cars, safe to presume store crowded with shoppers. Not so long in past, was not like that. Even if people didn’t attend church, had some respect for those who did, at least token acknowledgment of Sunday as different. Might have been as simple as “my day”, “do what I want”. Now, often day just like all the rest, anything that interferes with pursuing personal desire is resented.

Might think only unchurched view it that way – wrong! Many professed Christians, including church leaders, have bought into mindset: giving even one hour to worship of God on Sunday is inconvenience that must be accommodated. Viewed as people giving something up to convenience God if they have to go to church on Sunday. Turned something good completely on its head.

Will come back to whole concept of Sabbath, one day in seven, when we get to 4th commandment in ch. 20. For now, consider some introductory principles from this scene in life of God’s people the children of Israel. Will make application of those principles to life of church.

A. a Sabbath to the Lord v.22-26

God’s provision

clearly a God thing, no other reasonable explanation – could gather what they needed daily for 5 days, then 2x on 6th day

not simply the way it happened to work out, purposeful provision from God – know because of quantity… and quality

what they gathered on 6th day was of different quality – kept for 24 hours without stinking, breeding worms, retained nutritional value and usefulness until next day

first indication that whatever 7th day might be like, God didn’t expect his people to make do, settle for 2nd best, eat day-old leftovers – 7th day not designed to be sacrifice for them

one more thing – God had told what he would do… remember promise and test?? v.4-5, gather daily, will be 2x on 6th day

their preparation

prepare whatever needed for meals for 6th day, set aside rest for following morning – on that day alone each week, manna would not spoil

would prepare meals for 7th day from store in cupboard, would be none in field to gather – following God’s instructions = full provision, full bellies

played out exactly as God promised – were able to prepare nourishing meals for family on 7th day… just like rest of the week

the purpose

not left to wonder, God told precisely – 7th day to be “a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD” – just as 10 Commandments address vert. / horiz. relationships, so this day addresses both

is to be day of cessation, solemn rest, complete rest… not with focus on self, “Sabbath to the LORD

character of day to be different from other 6: intended to have particular obvious pervasive God-ward focus… all day long

was to be holy day, distinct from others and set apart from common usage – things that commonly take time / attention not to have focus on 7th day, attention needed to begin shifting previous day

on 6th day, lay aside for 7th – prepare for next day, anticipate next day, have as much freedom as possible on 7th day for holy use

if Lord’s Day our one day in seven set apart as a “holy day of rest to the Lord”, need to begin preparing day before… at least

if it can’t wait until Monday, do it Saturday – purposely shift activities so Lord’s day doesn’t become like every other

then… purposely… fill day with things that encourage growth in holiness, in understanding God and his ways

B. a Sabbath for you v.27-30

firm reminder

had instruction, had example of many neighbors – gather on 6th day for both 6th and 7th, would be sufficient for both days

might think were somehow uninformed, had reason for being clueless – not so, will see in just a moment by God’s response

went looking for daily bread as if all days were same – probably had not gathered additional on previous day in anticipation

learned quickly, and were reminded by growling stomach all day, God said what he meant and meant what he said… exactly

sharp rebuke

wording of God’s question to Moses makes plain those who looked for food on 7th day not ignorant but disobedient

knew what God had instructed, intentionally chose to disregard it – acting as practical atheists, like God had nothing to do with their supply of food

had chosen to trust in own wisdom and expectations more than God’s promise – iow, displaying loyalty to self, trust in self, ranking self as more important than God

God’s question has application far broader than simply those people who went looking for manna on Saturday morning

before you get all over children of Israel for unbelief, when was last time you trusted in your own solution rather than seeking God’s wisdom, following his known expectations

before buying into all media hype about what took place in Las Vegas – attorneys and psychologists looking for motive, something to make Stephen Paddock a victim, politicians looking for excuse to change regulations – consider this: at its root he killed 58, injured 489 people because he refused to keep God’s commandments

answer to his problem, those like him, not found in government policies but in pages of God’s word the Bible – we call it the Gospel, accompanied by power of Holy Spirit

good gift

back to 1 day in 7 – look at what YHWH says about it: YHWH has given you the Sabbath – is one of God’s good and perfect gifts to his creation

spending that day in way that God expects does not mean we give up something – we receive something good from God

means when we misuse that day as children of Israel did, are despising a good gift and showing great disrespect to one who gives it

but wait, there’s more: God intentionally supplies daily need in abundance… the day before! – is to be a blessing, not burden

important connection between God’s gift of the day and his gift of provision – when we keep his one day holy, show we trust him to meet our needs during the other six

flip side – when we do as we please, just like Israelites, are showing we do not believe God will adequately meet needs

should rest from customary labors on that day… without resenting / grudging time given up or lost to holy activities

practical reason, too – trend from Adam on… get more and more focused on things we see, not taking time/effort for unseen

God graciously gives us entire day to not be weighed down with affairs of daily life – instead be lifted up by fellowship with him and his people, meditation on his word

C. provision to be remembered v.31-36

nourishing

need visual aid / reminder so lessons get passed from one generation to next – pot of manna served Israel, written Word today… that also instructs with visual aids (Lord’s Table)

God by his power alone supplied nourishment in place where were no other options – wilderness could not support that size crowd of people and animals

encouraging

intended to encourage succeeding generations – just as God supplied his people’s needs in desert, still able to meet need

God is same – all powerful, gracious, and faithful, does not lack either resources or ability, most important has desire to care for his people

ongoing

wasn’t only few days, even months until they acclimated – God’s daily provision continued for 40 years, precisely according to his calendar

5 days a supply for that day, 6th day enough for 2 days, 7th day none – precisely caring for his people… as he promised

Israel’s experience and record of all this given to us “for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4)

D. one day in seven

modeled by God Genesis 2:2-3

God didn’t need rest because he was tired, he treated 7th day differently for specific purpose – would do well to take note

Only the Sabbath, however, he sanctified, indicating perhaps that the climax of creation was not the creation of man, as is often stated, but the day of rest, the seventh day. The Sabbath is thus an invitation to rejoice in God’s creation, and recognize God’s sovereignty over our time.” TWOT

now, on this side of the cross, 1 day in 7 has enhanced significance – now commemorate 1st day of week and that through faith in Christ and his resurrection we are new creations… and God is still sovereign over our time

if God thought important to model 1 day in 7 before the Fall, we ignore at our peril – after Fall we need it even more

made for man Mark 2:27

Pharisees in their zeal and regulation had made day of rest a burden to God’s people – perverting use God had intended

God graciously lovingly gave us day for our good – that as we focus our time / energy / attention on him, he supplies our needs for week to come – spiritual as well as material

Do you have times, perhaps extended time, where you wonder if will ever get out from under burden of… fill in blank? Heard of someone the other day, had one of those light-bulb moments – I get it! You don’t just have to believe there is a God, you have to do what he says!” Try putting God’s priorities first, ordering week from first day to last according to God’s expectations, showing by choices you make on his day who you are really loyal to.

Are you basically in good shape? no real worries / burdens? good between you and God? Then count your blessings. Seriously. Intentionally think through all you have, that it is a good gift from good God, give him praise and thanksgiving. Then, here’s where it gets little harder, do all you can to encourage others to follow godly example so they enjoy richness of God’s blessing.

10. What did you go out to see? A prophet?

Matthew 11:9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

Read: Matthew 11:2-14; Luke 7:18-30

see also Luke 3:1-18, esp. verse 15

Setting:

somewhere in cities of Galilee – Jesus’ “itinerant” ministry, after sending Twelve out (Matt. 10:5ff)

John Baptist already arrested by Herod for reuke of illegal/immoral marriage (Herodias married 2 of her uncles)

John knew who he was, unsure about who Jesus was – was Jesus real deal or only an impostor

Person(s) being questioned:

the multitudes – ones following Jesus around throughout Galilee

were right there when John’s two emissaries asked Jesus the question, and heard Jesus’ response

knew how John had been acting/preaching… as the forerunner angel referenced to Zechariah – Luke 1:13-17

iow, John would be forerunner promised Mal. 4:5-6 – so… John a fulfillment of prophecy, asking if Jesus a fulfillment of prophecy also

Jesus answered prophecy question with prophecy answer – clear reference to Isa. 61:1 – implied: you are seeing this prophecy fulfilled, what do you think?

John’s disciples had their answer, went back to report; Jesus turned to crowd left behind, continued teaching, putting them on the spot

Question behind the question:

asks series of pointed questions closely connected to John, Herod, Jesus and prophetic promises – expecting listeners to think

what were their expectations? preconceived ideas? motivation? were they prepared for if this / then that connections?

if you really expected “this”, why did you respond as you did?

if you really expected to see a prophet, the prophet, then proper response would be…

are you seeking / hungering for truth… or entertainment?

ties in with expectations and motivation – often see what confirms expectations, respond accordingly

if you are hungering for truth, where does that truth lead?

if truth leads somewhere, need to follow to logical conclusion

Expected response:

Jesus gave expected response… for at least some of crowd – did expect to see prophet

Jesus also knew many went out to see John just for the spectacle, entertainment value

Jesus’ point:

if you go to hear / see genuine prophet of God, should expect to heed what he says – ought to result in some kind of change

John was identified by angel as forerunner, Jesus confirmed that identity – Matt. 11:10; if that is true, then… someone must be following, iow the Messiah

since that is true, are Messianic prophecies also being fulfilled? yes, indeed, what did John’s disciples hear and see – v.5

the one who has ears to hear will recognize / acknowledge who Jesus is, will accept him as the Messiah, submit to his rule

Modern Application:

same as Jesus’ deeper question: what are expectations? preconceived ideas? motivation? are we prepared for if this / then that connections when go to hear God’s word proclaimed?

also true, btw, when come to God’s word in personal devotions and study

point also the same: if you go to hear / see genuine “prophet” of God (one who proclaims God’s truth), should expect to heed what he says – ought to result in some kind of change

 

Hiding Jesus

Micah 2:6-11

Prophets have had uphill battle from beginning of ministry – called out of obscurity to do what no one else wanted to do. Usually for little reward except abuse and rejection, no positive fruits from their labors they could see. Micah like most of minor prophets, sent to rebellious people with kind of message were not interested in hearing. Certainly some obvious parallels in world today, not just in America. That’s because responses have strongest connection to human nature; circumstances lesser factor.

Pretty much universal principle – person who seeks out pain isn’t quite right. Pain tells us something is wrong, bodies designed to avoid things that hurt. True on non-physical level too – tend to avoid hearing what makes us uncomfortable. Often react pretty strongly to people who give bad news. Many take to next level – actively seek out what gives pleasure. See all the time in relation to physical / emotional desires.

Happens regularly in spiritual arena as well. For example – local church sent pastor and core group to start new church. In less than five years, except for pastor and fmaily, complete turnover in those attending. Neighboring church to that: attendance pretty constant, continual flow of new people. People moving from church to church, not putting down roots, seeking what will satisfy felt needs. More distressing: those in various levels of religious leadership who promote that sort of behavior – striving to make listeners comfortable at expense of Gospel truth. In process, pretty effective at hiding Jesus. Truth is many work diligently to hide real Jesus, present one of their own styling with everything objectionable stripped away.

Not new phenomenon, was alive and well during Micah’s day as well as every other. Pray God will keep supplying true prophets, pastors and others who courageously stand for God’s truth, who proclaim the real Jesus.

Micah’s language here somewhat stilted, abrupt – not always obvious who is speaking. Is clearly language of rebuke and warning, putting people on notice that God is well aware of their sin and intends to deal with it. In fact, is already in progress, agents God purposes to use to discipline Israel begun to move against her. As clear as danger is, Micah’s audience has no intention of heeding the warning. Rather, quite the opposite.

A. Don’t tell me that v.6

don’t get excited

people/false prophets take Micah (and any like him) to task – situation not nearly as serious as you claim, you’re exaggerating

used various arguments trying to persuade Micah was making much bigger deal out of things than necessary

God didn’t really mean when he said….; that was for then, for those people, not for us; we’ve developed beyond that mindset

common approach to message / messenger like Micah – try to minimize / ignore the bad, hold up / emphasize the good

don’t talk like that

really shouldn’t use those words in polite company, in public, around children / people of other religions / unbelievers

if really want people to listen, have to feed it to them slowly – build relationship first, then slide in key words one at time

nowadays have more questions than answers, ought to show folks you’re open to discussion – let’s talk, can try to reason way to consensus about what is true for you, for me

that will never happen

we’re God’s special people, have been for generations, God said so, that kind of thing can’t happen to us, God won’t let it

are all descendants of Abraham / people on Mayflower / Billy Graham – don’t have to worry about bad things for us

fill in any kind of name on badge – national identity, ancestry, church membership, charitable org, work of merit

based on practical or rational argument why calamity won’t happen, never sound spiritual reason given

goal not to figure out how to please God, have his favor – more about maintaining status quo, manipulating for a particular outcome, turn down volume on whatever increases sense of guilt

unless conscience thoroughly seared, everyone has knowledge of both God and guilt; knew Micah’s warning was really warranted, knew were guilty before God and in danger of judgment. Didn’t want to deal with guilt God’s way, so… limited options: make themselves the victim, someone else guilty, or… minimize/deny their own guilt

B. My God isn’t like that v.7a

another approach: redefine God into deity who is less threatening / dangerous, more easily managed, make it a matter of interpretation

God won’t run out of patience

remember all promises he has made, declarations about his character – slow to anger, longsuffering, forgiving, merciful

if God truly infinite in his being and character, then patience is infinite also – will never lose his temper with his people

he would never do that

God didn’t just make promises, he made covenant with Abraham… kind of covenant that gives goosebumps – can’t break that

promised the land, promised descendants, made all kinds of promises along with covenant – God can’t be God and not keep those promises

one missing detail

God never relaxed his expectations of obedience when he made covenant – yes, he obligated himself to be their God, they still obligated to do their best to obey

God never overlooks willful rebellion indefinitely – is incredibly patient but does have limits – Judah had reached theirs

another good thing to keep in mind: God never conforms to our definition for him, to what we might make up as an ideal. God is who he is, not who we want him to be. And… must not emphasize one aspect of his nature at expense of others – frequently the root of what becomes serious error.

Liberal denominations, for example – emphasizing issues of social justice, God’s love and compassion; give little attention to his holiness and righteousness. Consequently little about sin, need for repentance, much about good works and community service and tolerance.

What about closer to home? Churches focused on growth, new church starts, etc? Broad brush: many have Gospel motives included in mission statement but… consider two things – how they self-promote after startup, what is publicly proclaimed on regular basis. Too often distinctives emphasized to attract a following have more to do with personal tastes and temporal desires than sound biblical teaching. And… content of regular teaching geared more toward self-help how-to’s and little if any core Gospel truth.

If you want to go deeper, listen for descriptions of God those same reputedly evangelical churches proclaim – “God is not mad at you” (Joyce Meyer, Proverbs 31 Ministries)); “you matter, God wants you” (Rick Warren); and on it goes.

C. God wants you wealthy v.7b-9

you will be rewarded

all you have to do is… and God will reward you – God’s commands are formula to follow that automatically gets results

kind of approach even genuine believers can fall for – more interested in recipe than principles: just tell me how to do it

contributed to by full lives, distractions, competition for time and attention regardless of era in history

slight spin: God wants you wealthy, all you need is enough faith; God wants you well, same recipe; successful, same idea

and maybe sow a little seed with this particular ministry that God will be sure to return 10-fold, even 100-fold

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

ones most culpable – not those who fall for the line, rather those who spin the lies… the false prophets opposing Micah

because that’s what God wants, I must deserve… fill in the blank – this kind of clothes, that piece of property, what belongs to trusting and vulnerable people

sad fact: typical people gullible / greedy enough to fall for lies – “prosperity gospel” term may be new, principles are not

worked in Micah’s day, continues to be effective today – nobody catches on the prosperous ones are those up front… at expense of those in the pew

truth is “prosperity gospel” is false gospel, just as false as what Micah’s opponents promoted. They gain following because many want benefits God can provide without relationship he expects. The drawing card – the gifts, the goodies, not the Giver. Any reference to God made only in passing, in relation to what he will do if you make the cut.

D. your kind of preacher v.10-11

your turn is coming

false prophets and their followers convinced were exempt from hardship, would never come under God’s heavy hand of judgment

Micah’s warning: as they had mistreated others, they would be treated – actually even more severe, they would be forced to leave not just their property but the country

stripped of prized possessions would be carried off captives into exile, many never to see homeland again

you want comfort, not conviction

given choice would call pastor / attend church where were made to feel comfortable – “God loves you just the way you are and doesn’t want you to change a thing”

also given choice would silence all who spoke truth that convicted of their sin – try to write off as harsh, unloving, old-fashioned

you don’t want what you most need

most needed to hear truth of sin and condemnation, need for repentance to escape judgment to come – must be accompanied by true Gospel, God’s solution to sin and condemnation through repentance and faith

was last thing either false prophets or their followers wanted – would require them to abandon what they loved, their sin and its brief pleasures

Not sure exactly what Micah’s dates were – know from 1:1 during days of “Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah”. Warnings thoroughly rejected in time of Jotham and Ahaz; under Hezekiah, Micah and Isaiah did see movement to repentance among target audience. Means Micah carrying on prophetic ministry for 15 to 25 years before seeing positive response. Same may be true for us – praying for lost loved ones, co-workers, neighbors for years before God moves.

Meanwhile, must not give up, get discouraged, lose focus. Must keep eyes and attention focused firmly on Jesus, committed to following him, receiving from him all we need and desire.  And… keep Jesus in plain view for everyone to see. That is who they need the most!