Focal Passage: Micah 4:6-8; 5:1-9
In Instanbul, Turkey several years ago, a shepherd was briefly distracted on the job. He turned to see one of the sheep in the herd walk over to the edge of a cliff. The sheep jumped to his death. Then another followed, and another, and so on.
Before he could corral the herd, more than 500 sheep had jumped from the cliff, resulting in around $100,000 worth of losses. And it started with one. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned. Nobody is still certain what drew these sheep to a cliff.
God still wants the stray sheep. Micah shows a vision in which stray sheep have wandered away from the Shepherd. Scattered sheep increase vulnerability. The cliff never seems far away.
Instead of the doom and gloom in the opening chapters, chapter 4 opens with a hopeful promise. God wants His sheep back in the fold. When sheep are not scattered, they are safer, protected.
Hebrews 3:13 reminds us that the fellowship of others gives us spiritual protection, and we are less easily deceived and hardened by sin as when we are detached from fellowship.
The Great Shepherd that David speaks of in Psalm 23 knows his sheep’s tendencies. As “sheep” in God’s flock, we must know our tendencies. And we can equip others to know our sheep’s tendencies.
As we’re part of the Church —the most world-changing, difference-making global enterprise in the world, we must be ALERT, not ALOOF!
We can’t love, live and lead half-way. We must love Jesus first and love others second. If we do this the other way around — putting our love for others ahead of our love for Jesus — we become people pleasers and self-righteous. Everyone becomes disappointed, and no one is really helped. They are left hopeless.
Hope is essential to life. Does your life reflect the hope you have in Christ? Is it evident to others around you that HOPE is yours? As I’ve traveled to different areas of the world, I’ve seen glaring hopelessness.
Many of them are hopeless because of a religious heritage that does not include forgiveness or eternal life in Jesus. Many are forced to pursue criminal activity or prostitution just to survive.
But America is filled with hopelessness too; we’re just better at masking it. We have the potential to live in decent homes, drive decent vehicles, have some decent clothes and most of us have a cell phone with several or more apps at our convenience.
In all this decency, convenience, and comfort, many people aren’t any happier. Many are just on the lookout for the next big thing that might deliver on hope they still haven’t found.
The only folks I know with hope are those who are aware of what Christ has done. Micah gives a glimpse of a promised hope. Even though many had rejected God’s commands and covenant, Israel will be restored when the Messiah reigns on earth and finally fulfills the covenant promises made to Abraham and David. There will be REAL hope for the troubled world in which they live.
When the Messiah appears, He will govern and discipline. Their oppression wouldn’t immediately get better, in fact, it would get worse. But hope will be on the other side of it. God will not abandon His people. B&R