"Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you."
God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day--he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that "the thorn in the flesh" might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God's grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.
"My people shall dwell in quiet resting places."
Peace and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord's people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that his words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of his word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of his grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of his people, and when we draw near to him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to him to be the return of peace to our spirits.
"I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
'Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah's name,
'Tis stable as his steadfast throne, for evermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh."
Today's reading: Daniel 11-12, Jude 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Daniel 11-12
1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)
The Kings of the South and the North
2 "Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. 4After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
5 "The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. 6 After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be betrayed, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her....
Today's New Testament reading: Jude 1
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
The Sin and Doom of Ungodly People
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord....
Micah, Michah, Mica, Micha[Mī'cah,Mī'chah, Mī'că, Mī'cha]—who is like jehovah.
- An Ephramite who hired a Levite to be priest to his image (Judg. 17; 18 ). This unworthy character brought great calamity to Israel. Dr. C. I. Scofield says of Micah’s consecration of the Levite that it affords a striking illustration of apostasy. “With his entire departure from the revealed will of God concerning worship and priesthood there is yet an exaltation of false priesthood. Saying, ‘Blessed be thou of Jehovah,’ Micah’s mother makes an idol; and Micah expects the blessing of Jehovah because he has linked the idolatry to the ancient levitical order.”
- The head of a family of Reuben (1 Chron. 5:5).
- A son of Mephibosheth , grandson of Saul (1 Chron. 8:34, 35; 9:40, 41).
- A Levite of the family of Asaph ( 1 Chron. 9:15). SeeMICHA.
- A son of Uzziel, a Kohathite (1 Chron. 23:20; 24:24, 25).
- Father of Abdon whom Josiah sent to enquire of the Lord when the Law was found (2 Chron. 34:20).
- The prophet surnamed the Morasthite, and called Michaiah in the V.L. (Jer. 26:18; Mic. 1:1).
The Man of Strong Convictions
Micah prophesied during the reign of Jothan, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Mic. 1:1; Jer. 26:18 ). He was a younger contemporary of Hosea. He is called “the Morasthite” since he came from Moresheth Gath. Micah, unlike Isaiah, was no politician. He did not censure the habit of looking to Egypt or to Assyria for help. He denounces the depravity of the nation, and threatens the vengeance of God. Isaiah prophesied to royalty, Micah ministered to common people, the sort who heard Jesus gladly. Isaiah was a courtier; Micah, a rustic from an obscure town some twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem.
Micah was probably a yeoman, farming his own plot of land, and in vivid sympathy with the class to which he belonged. The land hunger of rich men, always to be deprecated, was positively dangerous to a country like Palestine with little foreign trade, relying mainly on the produce of the soil for the support of its citizens. The grasping avarice of large landholders doomed to poverty a considerable part of the population, and so Micah stands out as a preacher to the poor and oppressed. He regarded selfish luxury, joined with oppression of the poor, as the crowning sin of Judah. The people were heavily taxed, the Assyrians demanding large payments in tribute to satisfy their lavishness in their architectural magnificence. Thus Zion was built up with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity (Mic. 3:10). Because of such exaction and idolatry, Micah was called and empowered to declare the judgment of God (Mic. 3:8).
Micah was a man of strong convictions and corresponding courage, and as a true preacher, uncovered sin and pointed to the coming Christ. As a prophet he went against the stream and uttered truths the people did not want. For this he was consequently stoned—the usual lot of a faithful prophet. His cry, in essence, was:
Back to Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2 ). In other words, back to the Messianic hope. Back to David, who did so much for the nation, and to whom God promised He would raise up the Messiah. Back to David, the constant ideal of the monarchy. The Messiah of Israel’s coming golden age would be like David.
Back to ethical righteousness (Mic. 6:8). Micah brushed aside all former ritual in favor of a righteousness given by God, and that had a heart for the need of others. It was a righteousness based upon God’s salvation.
Back to the prince of peace ( Mic. 4:1-3; 5:2-7). Micah heralded the message that the reign of the Messiah was Israel’s only hope of peace. We know it to be the only hope of world peace. The Messianic predictions form the most significant passages in Micah.
The most outstanding incident in Micah’s prophetic career was his preaching which led to the reformation under Hezekiah ( Jer. 26:18). When king and people sought God and repented, He turned from the fierceness of His anger. The humble crofter of Philistia was chosen as God’s messenger to the people, and the secret of his power was the fulness of the Holy Spirit (Mic. 3:8).
The book Micah wrote is characterized by deep spirituality, with a simple, but not rugged style. Sin and corruption, the sighing and agony of the people over the misrule of men in authority, the insistence on return to God, are all dealt with in no uncertain tones (Mic. 1:2; 3:1; 6:1 ). Broadly speaking, Micah’s prophecy can be divided thus:
Chapters one, two and three—judgment.
Chapters four and five—comfort.
Chapters six and seven—salvation.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. - Luke 2:7
Sometimes a name is just a name, and sometimes a name captures someone perfectly. The ancients inclined to choose names carefully, so as to make a lifelong statement about a person's identity. "Jesus" is a name so familiar to us, that we easily forget that it was a name with an extraordinary significance. The name an angel announced should be given to Mary and Joseph's new child. And what a name! "Jesus" means "the Lord saves."
He does indeed.
Call him Jesus, the angel said, "because he will save people from their sins." None of us can save ourselves anymore than a person sinking in a rowboat can save himself by pulling up on the side of the boat. We need a savior, and not just a theoretical savior, but one who really has the power of God to separate us from the tyranny and the guilt of sin.
Now for good reason we associate the saving work of Jesus with his sacrificial death on the cross. But there would not have been a saving sacrifice if there had not been an incarnation. Bethlehem was the start of the mission. We don't need to wait until Good Friday and Easter to celebrate the savior. The saving started at the birth of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph could not have understood all this, of course. They were obedient and named the newborn Jesus, "the Lord saves," but how and when that would be was a mystery to them. Not so for us. This side of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus we know the extent of the saving love of God.
Prayer for today: Lord, make me more aware today of my sins, and help me know that they shrink before the powerful person of Jesus.