Who is Like the Lord? He Breaks Open the Way.

Midweek Advent 1

Who is Like the Lord?  He Breaks Open the Way

Text: Micah 2:1-2, 12-13

Imagine.  Imagine a time when a whole nation is corrupt.  Imagine leaders that are wicked and evil, who lead the nation astray because they lead by horrible example.  Greed.  Extortion.  Violence.  Arrogance and pride.  These are the norms for the leaders.

Imagine preachers of God’s Word that only preach for personal gain.  They preach what itching ears want to hear.  They don’t rebuke sin.  They profit off of their work.

Imagine a country filled with people that follow such crooked and corrupt leaders and preachers whole heartedly.  They even take it well beyond the evil of their leaders.  Imagine a country filled with people that lie and cheat and steal; people that are temperamental and violent, people that indulge in every kind of lust-gratifying adultery.

Imagine a country where leaders, preachers, and peoples alike worship any and every god imaginable except the true God—be they idols of other gods or idols of materials and possessions.

Hard to imagine?  Not at all.  Everything that was going on in Israel at the time of the prophet Micah is going on in our country today!  We can certainly relate to the sad, sinful state of his time.

Look at a brief description of the evil times in Micah 2:1 today:  Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!  At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”  These people were going far beyond pet sins and poor choices.  Many were planning sins.  They were putting conscious effort and thought into doing bad things.  They would sit up late at night in their beds and plot evil.  Then as soon as it was morning they would carry out the evil plans they plotted.

What kinds of things did they do?  Verse 2:  They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them.  They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance.”  When a person’s heart is empty of God’s peace and contentment it becomes filled with all kinds of worldly desires.  So the Israelites coveted, which means to want things you shouldn’t have, and they went ahead and took them.  They defrauded and cheated people.  They stole.  Homes, possessions, inheritance—no worldly possession or penny was safe.

We see again how similar America in the 2000’s AD is to Israel in the 700’s BC.  Cheating, defrauding, identity theft, extortion, stealing—these are all common and even expected in our country today.  Many people lie awake at night conjuring up ways to get more money.  No possession or penny is safe in a dog-eat-dog world that’s out to be rich and to keep up with the Joneses.

But lest we start pointing fingers or looking down noses at all the “sinners” of our time or of Micah’s time, we must remember what a product of our world we are.  Very quickly our conscience can become desensitized when it is bombarded by things that are common to our world.

How often might you see violence or fighting or murder on a video game, on a TV show, or in a movie and think absolutely nothing of it?  People beating each other to a bloody pulp in MMA fighting or WWE wrestling are things people pay to see.  There are blockbuster movie hits like The Purge, where the whole premise of the movie is that one day a year there are no laws and people cannot commit any reprehensible crime they want to purge it from their system.  People pay to see these movies.

Or we watch sitcoms like Friends, Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and more where the greatest interest is who is going to end up in whose bed next.  We read and talk about (and even post on Facebook about!) books like Fifty Shades of Grey.  The most sold magazine issue in the world every year is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  And while one of the most profitable magazines on the planet is Playboy, meanwhile the pornography industry makes billions of dollars per year.

Should we even start talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday?  These are days of the year when Americans show their true colors.  Now they can’t even make it through a whole day of family and thanksgiving time without shopping.  Not that shopping is wrong, of course.  But I would guess that there are a good majority of Christians that spend more money on one day (Black Friday) or spend more money on each of their children’s Christmas presents than they give back to the Lord in offerings in an entire year.  If we would spend more money on toys, tools, technology, and clothes in one Christmas month than we give back to God, what does that say about our hearts?

What about income tax time?  You’re a month away from being able to log onto Turbo Tax and change only a few numbers and get a whole pile more money back on your taxes.  It only takes one quick phone call to lie to your credit card company about fraudulent purchases to get money back.  And it is not at all hard to be dishonest on Craigslist or eBay about the quality of that car or washer and drier you are selling.

Like in Micah’s time, this is the world that we live in.  And before we realize it, sometimes without ever realizing it, we become products of the world we are in.  Why?  Because when a person’s heart is empty of God’s peace and contentment it quickly becomes filled with all kinds of worldly desires.  These are the kinds of things we lie awake at night and think about as we scheme to get more money somehow.

As God’s people, when we are not feeding our New Man in Christ, we are bound to feed our Old Man of sin.  That means when we aren’t living with contentment and peace and joy and love we are going to be living with greed and strife and sadness and anger.  That makes us just as sinful as the Israelites of Micah’s time.

The verses that are not in your service folder are several verses that follow where God announces a coming judgment and punishment for sin that would absolutely humble the sinful Israelites.  It was a judgment that could not be taken away and it was a punishment that the hard-hearted unbelievers could not escape.

We know today, as we were reminded this last Sunday, that another judgment is coming on Judgment Day.  That too is a judgment that will absolutely humble sinners.  It is a judgment that cannot be taken away and that will bring absolute punishment for the hard-hearted unbelievers.

These judgments of God against sin—both then and on the Last Day—absolutely make us thankful that God has more to say to us.  How sad and terrifying it would be if God stopped speaking after that.  But thankfully our loving God has more to say.

Look at verse 12:  I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.  I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.”  Imagine yourself looking at a mountain range head on.  There you see a small little mountain in front of you, but a much bigger mountain right behind it.  This prophecy is very similar.

Initially it has a smaller fulfillment.  God would gather a remnant of Israelites when they would return from their captivity in Babylon in the future.  But there is a greater mountain peak, a greater fulfillment behind this prophecy.

Ultimately God was promising that he would gather the people of spiritual Israel.  The Bible tells us that today true Israelites are those who believe in the Lord and follow his ways.  God was promising here that he would gather all his people (spiritual Israel) together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture.

That’s a picture that fits perfectly with something Jesus said.  He said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”  Jesus is the one who laid down his life for the sheep.  Jesus is the one who forgives his sheep.  Jesus is the one who feeds and cares for and protects his sheep.  And Jesus is the one who gathers his sheep into the sheep pen of his Church and finally into the eternal pastures of heaven.

The last verse also perfectly describes Jesus.  Here’s what God foretold about the Savior:  One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out.  Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.”  This verse describes one who would come and be a “breaker.”  He would break open the way and break through a gate.  This “breaker” would also be a king to go before us.  But he wouldn’t just be one to break open the way.  He wouldn’t just be a king.  He would also be the Lord himself leading us at the head.

This is exactly what Jesus came to do.  He came to break down the walls of sin that separate us from God.  He came to break down the gates of hell and break open the gates to heaven.  He is the one that conquered sin and Satan by his death and resurrection and is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the one who will lead us safely to our heavenly home.

At a time of complete and utter sinfulness in Israel, these words of God were an incredible comfort.  The Lord was going to send a leader—a Messiah, a Savior—who would gather together the remnant of people who still did believe in the Lord.  That Savior would break open the way to God’s eternal pastures in heaven, leading his people out of this sin filled world.

Just as the sins of Micah’s time relate so well to us today, so also this message is just as comforting to us today as it was to them.  At this time of complete and utter sinfulness in America, God gives us great comfort through these words.  God did send that leader, that Messiah and Savior.  It was Jesus.  That’s what we will celebrate at Christmas.  Jesus is our King who breaks open the way to heaven and who will lead us safely there.

What a loving and gracious God we have!  What a loving and gracious Savior we have!  It makes us ask the question that is our theme for Advent: Who Is Like the Lord?  It’s an easy answer.  Only He Breaks Open the Way to heaven.  No one is like our Lord.



About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on December 3, 2014, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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