12/23/2018 6:46:00 PM
It's the Sunday before Christmas and this week has, for me, been particularly busy. As a pastor, this week is always busy but this year feels a bit different. There has just been "more" of everything this week. There are more distractions and phone calls from sales people. There have been more visits to the hospital and rehabilitation centers. There's been more worry about the world we live in, from concerns about finances to worry about hate crimes impacting our local high schools. This has been a week of just "more." And after a week like this, I don't have the energy to even open up my Bible. But even in these moments, we can discover a bit more about who God is for us. And, based on our reading from Micah 5:2-5a today, our God helps us be resilient.
This text is one you might have heard before but you might not know it's context. Micah lived in ancient Judah (the area around Jerusalem) and was active from 737 to around 697 BCE. This time period was extremely volatile, filled with wars and extreme violence. The Northern Kingdom of ancient Israel was conquered by the Assyrian empire in 722 and its population forcibly relocated to other parts of ancient near east. This action effectively eliminated 10 out of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Assyrians then turned their attention on Judah and Jerusalem. Their armies overran Judah, capturing 36 out of its 42 fortified cities. When it appeared as if all hope was lost, Micah shared this word. Micah said that a future king of Israel would come out of the city of Bethlehem. At the time, this prophecy was a ridiculous one to make. The Assyrians had captured Bethlehem and were laying siege to Jerusalem. Micah's words were more than silly; they seemed an impossible probability.
Yet his words pointed to what it’s like to be with God. Our relationship with God is what makes us resilient. Our trust in the One who is never far from us is how we are able to get through those difficult moments in our lives. The God who inspired Micah to make a ridiculous prophecy in the face of utter destruction is the same God who chose to be even more ridiculous by living a very human life. There is no experience in our lives that Jesus won't go through with us. There is no moment of utter defeat when the God who created the universe won't carry you through. And even though God's promise won't necessarily manifest itself in the ways we expect, the promise of presence, love and hope is a promise that God does not break. We are able to go through the difficult times because God is with us. And the God that gave Micah his words is the same God who is with you right now.