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Micah 5:7-15: The Coming Remnant Print E-mail
Micah
Sunday, 31 December 2006

The term ‘remnant’ refers to something leftover.  Most of us have the remnants of the holiday season in our homes right now.  For example, maybe you still have decorations up that need to be taken down and returned to their home in the attic.  Or maybe you have numerous Tupperware bowls in your fridge full of the remnants of Christmas meals.  Perhaps you have an overflowing trash can full of boxes and paper and everything else that comes with the season.  Now, I do not know if I can rightfully say that all of this could be called ‘remnants of the holidays,’ but you at least get the idea.

The Old Testament writers often speak of a ‘remnant.’  Of course they mean more than just the leftovers, but nevertheless the idea is similar.  When the prophets speak of the coming remnant of Israel, they are often referring to those who will be ‘leftover’ after the judgment of God falls on the nation.  Thus, those who return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile are referred to as the remnant (see Ezra 9:8-9, 15).  Yet, the biblical writers also speak of a continual remnant of God’s people that He will preserve throughout the ages.  It refers to a group of people that God will set aside for Himself.  Today, following the New Testament writers, we call this group the Church (see Acts 15:17).  As we saw last week, Micah speaks of God’s plan to send a coming Ruler who will faithfully rule His people.  We identified that Ruler as Jesus Christ and His people as all those who repent and believe in Him, or the Church.  In our passage this morning, Micah speaks more about this coming remnant, those who will be liberated and ruled by the promised Messiah.  He has mentioned them implicitly and explicitly already (see 2:12, 4:6-7, 5:1-6).  Yet, in 5:7-15 he gives us further description of these people.  So, then, what does he tell us about this coming remnant?

First, the coming remnant will be instruments of blessing and judgment among the nations (v. 7-9).

Micah tells us that the coming remnant will dwell among the nations.  This is the ‘where’ of their existence.  Look at verses 7a and 8a.  These people will not be limited to Israel or Judah.  No, they will extend to the nations.  This is exactly what the Jerusalem Council was about in Acts 15.  Paul and Barnabas are reporting to the Church at Jerusalem of the many Gentile converts.  James then quotes the prophet Amos who had spoken of a time when the Gentiles would be a part of the future remnant.  He concludes that that time has come with the preaching of the gospel to the nations.  Thus, this morning as we sit here being converted Gentiles, we can affirm the words of Micah that the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples.

Yet, this is not all that Micah is saying in these verses.  Not only will the coming remnant dwell among the nations, they will also be instruments of blessing and judgment there.  This is the ‘what’ of their existence.  Let’s consider these separately.  First, they will be instruments of blessing.  Look again at verse 7.  Micah likens the remnant to dew that covers the ground in the morning.  He points out that the dew is not controlled by man.  It is a blessing that we cannot bring about.  Rather, we simply hope and believe in God’s promise to sustain the natural world, which He has done and continues to do faithfully.  The dew is His blessing.  Likewise, the remnant will be His blessing to the nations.  As His people dwell in the midst of many peoples, they will be a great gift of the Father to the nations.  The remnant will be instruments of blessing.

Yet, the remnant will also be instruments of judgment.  Look at verse 8.  In this verse, Micah calls the coming remnant a lion that treads down and tears in pieces.  These are descriptions of judgment.  Not only will the remnant be an instrument of blessing, but they will also be an instrument of judgment among the nations.

We must ask at this point: how is the Church an instrument of blessing and judgment to the nations?  Paul answers this question for us in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.  Look at those verses with me.  Paul tells us that we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  As we preach the gospel to our friends and family and neighbors, we are either a pleasant fragrance or an unpleasant one, we are either declaring to them the words of life or the words by which they will be judged.  Thus, the Church through preaching the message of Christ crucified is an instrument of blessing and judgment among the nations.  Like the morning dew which we do not control, we are God’s chosen blessing to the nations.  And like a roaring lion among helpless sheep, we are God’s judgment against those who will not believe in our message, the gospel of Christ. 

After writing this, Micah addresses the Lord in verse 9.  Look at that verse with me.  He longs for the Lord to rise up against all His enemies and believes that this will surely come to pass.  He is writing to encourage his readers in their trust in God, which leads us to his second description of the coming remnant.

Second, the coming remnant will trust in the Lord (v. 10-15).

As we have mentioned, Micah has repeatedly accused Judah, particularly her leaders, of continual disobedience to God.  In verses 10-15 he accuses them of their lack of trust in God.  At the time of Micah’s writing, all Israel was trusting in ‘others’ and not in God.  Yet, God will not allow this lack of trust to continue among His people.  He will raise a remnant that will trust only in Him.  This is the ‘how’ of their existence.  Yet, how will He do this?  By eliminating their trust in all the ‘others.’

First, He will end their trust in their own strength.  Look at verses 10-11.  The Lord is going to cut off their horses, their chariots, their cities, and their strongholds.  The Lord had blessed Judah and Israel with strong armies and fortified cities.  Yet, His blessings were being turned into a curse because the people trusted more in the blessing than they did in the One who had blessed.  Thus, they had turned a good thing from God into a source of sin and rebellion.  So God was going to remove this blessing and although this would be difficult, it would be best for the people.  Sometimes God removes or withholds the good and the better so that He might give us what we truly need, which is always the best.

Second, He will end their trust in fortune tellers.  Look at verse 12.  The people of Israel and Judah wanted to know the future and used evil means to know it.  This was against the Law and a clear indication of their lack of trust in God.  They trusted in fortune tellers and forsook the Sovereign King of the universe.  Yet, God will bring this to an end and raise up a remnant who will trust in Him.

Third, He will end their trust in foreign gods.  Look at verses 13-14.  The worship of foreign gods was always a plague to Israel.  As you read through the Kings material you see over and over again their struggle to put away these gods.  In the end, they were simply hedging their bets.  Since so much of their existence depended upon things outside of their control (like rain), they gave themselves to any god they thought might help them.  Of course, this was a complete slap in the face to Yahweh.  Again, they forsook worshipping and trusting the true God for bowing down to the work of their own hands.  However, Yahweh would bring an end to this as well.  He would raise up a remnant that would worship Him alone and place all their trust in Him.

Finally, He will end their fear of disobedient nations.  Look at verse 15.  Although this could possibly be a reference to Israel’s trust in foreign nations (like Egypt), it is probably simply a call for Israel not to fear these nations and to trust in God’s victory over them.  The coming remnant will witness God’s deliverance and trust in Him.

Micah is telling us that their will come a day when God’s people will not trust in their own strength or in fortune tellers or foreign gods.  Rather, they will trust in Him, the One who will deliver them from all of their enemies.  In other words, the coming remnant will trust in the coming Ruler.  Thus, the Church is called to trust in Christ in every way.  God is constantly stripping away our trust in anything other than Christ.  At times this will be extremely difficult as He takes away or withholds the ‘good things.’  Yet, we must remind ourselves that He is doing this for our own good.  He is eliminating from our lives everything that competes for the allegiance that He alone deserves.  And even though it is hard, in the end, it is best and it is for our good.  After all, He is raising up a remnant that will trust in Him alone.

So, what does all of this mean for 2007?  I mean, what does Micah’s words in 5:7-15, written 2,700 years ago, have to do with our lives today?  Simple, we are to labor and strive to be the faithful remnant that He speaks of here and throughout His book.  We are to be instruments of blessing and judgment to the nations.  How do we do that?  Again, as Paul tells us, we do that by faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We tell people that God is holy and that they have sinned against Him.  We tell them that He sent Christ into the world to live a perfect life and to die on a cross for our sins.  We tell them that God raised Him up from the dead and seated Him in the heavenlies.  And we tell them that only those who repent of their sins and believe in Him will be saved from eternal Hell.

To some, by God’s grace, this message will be the fragrance of life and salvation.  To others, it will be the fragrance of death and a message of judgment.  Yet, our call is to proclaim this message faithfully as God continues to use even us to raise up His remnant.  And as we labor in this task, we must not trust in our own abilities, our own methods or arguments, our own buildings or structures, or anything else that we have made with our hands.  Rather, we must trust in the Lord alone who sends us like the dew to the nations, we must trust in the One who sends us like lions among the sheep, we must trust in the One who will deliver us from all our enemies.  May our prayer for 2007 be this: Lord, remove anything (even good things) that causes us not to trust in you.  Raise us up as the faithful remnant that Micah spoke of and use us as You raise up others…for Your glory alone.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 07 January 2007 )

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