Thursday, December 25, 2014

How Could Micah Be So Confident?

I will bear the indignation of the LORD
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication.
Micah 7:9 
Micah (speaking for Jerusalem as a collective whole, see Micah 6:9) ends verse 9 with complete confidence that the consequences for his sin are only temporary. He is totally convinced that a day is coming when he will no longer sit in darkness and feel God’s anger toward him for his sin. But rather he will stand in the light and see the righteousness of God.

But how can Micah be so confident?
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 
Ezekiel 18:20
This verse is absolutely clear that the consequence of sin is death. By his own admission at the beginning of verse 9, Micah (speaking as Jerusalem personified) has sinned against God. So we would expect for him to die based on this verse.

But Micah doesn’t talk like a man on death row who knows that justice means the end of his life. Instead, he talks like an innocent man who knows that justice means he’s going to be set free. 

How is that possible?

How is it possible that, on the one hand, God has promised that the soul who sins against Him shall die? And then, on the other hand, that He will bring salvation to His people who have sinned against Him?

To hope is to wait on God to fulfill His promises. But how is it possible for God to fulfill both of these promises (Ezekiel 18:20, Micah 7:7)?

How can Micah truly have hope in God?  How can anyone have hope in God?

The answer is Christmas.
There is therefore now no condemnation [guilt] for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [incarnation] and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh [death on the cross].
Romans 8:1-3
God fulfills His promise that the soul who sins against Him shall die by sending Jesus to be born and live as a human and then condemning Him by putting Him to death on the cross for our sins. And He fulfills His promise to save His people by giving eternal life, joy, and peace to everyone who trusts Jesus as Lord.

Micah knew this promise well.  He knew that God was one day going to send a Savior who would be the fulfillment of all of God's promises.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.
Micah 5:2-5
God is an immortal spirit who can’t die (1 Timothy 1:17). But 2,000 years ago God was born as a human baby named Jesus in a little town called Bethlehem so that He would be able to die for our sins and give us eternal peace and security if we trust Him as Lord.

Because Jesus (the innocent) was counted guilty we (the guilty) can be truly counted innocent.  Micah probably didn't know that God was going to send the Messiah to die, but he knew that somehow the Messiah would be the fulfillment of all God's promises.  That's why he was so confident.

Knowing much more than Micah knew, should we not be much more confident?
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
2 Corinthians 5:21 

...until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication [righteousness].
Micah 7:9

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Cannot Be Robbed of God's Providence

Whether for correction or for his land 
or for love, he causes it to happen. 
Job 37:13

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:38
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these.
Isaiah 45:7
"We cannot be robbed of God's providence." This was one of the sayings current in the household of Thomas Carlyle, apparently much on the lips of that brilliant woman, Jane Welsh Carlyle. In it, the plummet is let down to the bottom of the Christian's confidence and hope. It is because we cannot be robbed of God's providence that we know, amid whatever encircling gloom, that all things shall work together for good to those that love him. It is because we cannot be robbed of God's providence that we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ---not tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword...
Were not God's providence over all, could trouble come without his sending, were Christians the possible prey of this or the other fiendish enemy, when perchance God was musing, or gone aside, or on a journey, or sleeping, what certainty of hope could be ours? "Does God send trouble?" Surely, surely. He and he only. To the sinner in punishment, to his children in chastisement. To suggest that it does not always come from his hands is to take away all our comfort...
The world may be black to us; there may no longer be hope in man; anguish and trouble may be our daily portion; but there is this light that shines through all the darkness: "We cannot be robbed of God's providence." So long as the soul keeps firm hold of this great truth it will be able to breast all storms.  A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly troubles.

--B. B. Warfield, 'God's Providence Over All,' in Selected Shorter Writings of B. B. Warfield (2 vols; ed. J. E. Meeter; P&R, 2001), 1:110; quoted in Paul Helseth, 'Right Reason' and the Princeton Mind: An Unorthodox Proposal (P&R, 2010)
This is from a man whose wife was struck by lightning and permanently paralyzed on their honeymoon.  When he talks about not being robbed of God's providence, it wasn't detached theory for him. It was the only consolation for his soul.