Micah 5-6 BETHLEHEMS MESSIAH - THE SEED OF THE PROMISE
Covenant = an agreement, a contract, a commitment or promise
A covenant is between two parties.
A covenant must be entered into freely.
A covenant needs to be read carefully
A covenant expects both parties to keep their promises.
A covenant becomes null and void when breached.
A covenant becomes null and void when one party dies.
A covenant often has clauses to cover penalties for breaches.
In Micah 1-4, the prophet addresses God’s covenant people, accusing them of persistent unfaithfulness and declaring the coming judgment. Repentance is the only way to return to live under the covenant, and avoid the consequences. But the people and their leaders prefer to retain only the forms of the covenant (temple sacrifices, feasts, etc) while living their lives to suit themselves. The leaders and prophets have been corrupted by riches and power and don’t want to know the truth – especially when it is bad news. But they need to face the truth that “There is no future outside of the covenant. Each new generation needs to make that commitment. As Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve….”
In chapter 2 and 4 Micah gives a message of hope in the midst of the bad news. The Lord is the Sovereign King who will gather His people (faithful remnant) and give them a future full of peace and security. Only those who enter and remain in covenant relationship with the Lord can be heirs to these promises.
A: GOD IS FAITHFUL, KEEPING THE COVENANT
Now, in Micah 5, God’s purposes are to be fulfilled in a person – the Messiah. Despite a bleak future with exile being imminent, Micah 5 reminds us that God’s purposes will not be frustrated. The coming disaster to two capital cities of the divided Kingdom – Samaria now, and Jerusalem later – is countered by the promises associated with a third city, Bethlehem. It will be the birth place of the One whom everything in the Old Covenant (Testament) was pointing to. He is the seed of the Promise, the son of David, the Messiah, the son of God, the prince of peace; the person in which all the promises are to be fulfilled. God remains faithful to His promises despite the unfaithfulness of this generation. Even as the future seems bleak, there remains the opportunity for the people to repent and receive the mercy of God. In the end, the Northern Kingdom had to go to preserve Judah, and the seed of hope. Ironically, Babylon will become part of God’s plan to preserve the faith and keep His promises alive, when Judah does eventually go into exile like the Northern Kingdom. Zerabbabel, the leader who leads the Israelites back from Babylon, is a descendant of Jesus.
B: NO FUTURE OUTSIDE THE COVENANT
Bethlehem’s Messiah will be a King and a Shepherd who will gather His people and deal with His enemies in good time. The Israelites of Micah’s time were His people by name only. They persisted in getting caught up in the world and its practices – and so breaking the covenant. The consequences of living outside God’s protection and blessing were really starting to have an impact. They will soon discover just how inadequate and unreliable all their substitutes for God are when things get tough. False gods, advanced technologies, mighty fortifications and ungodly wisdom will not save them. The question is, “Will His people humble themselves and repent, or not?” When repentance and humility are what is needed, self-justification is a step in the wrong direction – away from God.
C: LIVING ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT
Micah 6:1-8 returns to the problem of God’s covenant people not living according to the covenant. Rather than living under the Dominion of the Lord as a nation, they were getting into bed with other nations. Rather than doing justice and loving mercy (kindness) and walking humbly with God (whom they claimed to worship), they preferred to keep only the outward forms of the faith. Their hearts were elsewhere, for there was no personal ownership of the Old Covenant..
Isaiah referred to them as “People who honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Jesus used these same words to describe the people of His generation.
The Old covenant promised blessing to those who kept it, and curses to those who stray from it. Why? The covenant was about returning to our proper place under the dominion and protection of the Lord. Outside of that place, we are fully exposed to the consequences of a fallen world. Just as Adam chose to disobey, so he and all who followed him must choose to respond to God’s invitation to return.
D: A COVENANT HAS TWO PARTS
Firstly, God invites us to be saved by placing ourselves under His dominion and trusting in His mercy and provision. Each of us has to take personal responsibility to choose whom we will serve.
Secondly, when we accept the invitation, we are committing ourselves to live our lives under His dominion and according to His will.
There is no covenant without both parts.
E: JESUS BRINGS A NEW AND BETTER COVENANT
In the New Covenant we know that the One mentioned in Micah 5 is Jesus. He gave us a better covenant with better promises. When He died, we died and so we are no longer under the condemnation of the Law or sin (curses). When He rose from the dead, we were raised to a new life in Him. All that He inherits we share in. We are saved by putting our trust (faith) in what He has done for us (grace), and empowered and transformed to be like Him, by the Holy Spirit.
Phil 2:12,13 reminds us that we must work and will before God will work in us to will and to work…
1. What are some of the covenants (written and verbal) that we make with others? What is the relationship between a promise or covenant and trust?
2. What does it truly mean to be a disciple of Christ in the New Covenant? The Beatitudes extend the Law to our hearts motives/Love your enemies.
3. Would you be classified AWOL and deserving of discipline at the moment?
4. Do you retain veto power in certain areas your life?