1 1 Micah 4:1-2 The Mountain of the Lord How many of you like to go to the mountains? I love the mountains. As a child my mother used to take my sister and me to the mountains of NC. I went to university in the mountains. When I was in college and had a free afternoon, I would often go to different places in and around Boone and climb different mountains. It was rewarding to finally get to the top and look around. From the top of a hill or a mountain your perspective changes. You can see everything around. In the Bible, we see some very important mountains. The Garden of Eden was on a mountain (Gen. 2:10 with Ezek. 28:13-14). God spoke to Moses on a mountain called Sinai. Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Horeb, which is also called Mt. Moriah. Our passage today speaks about another mountain, which is simply called the Mountain of the Lord. Let s read Micah 4:1-2. You may wonder what a mountain has to do with the birth of Christ (since this is supposed to be a Christmas sermon). Well, I think it will be obvious as we observe 4 truths about the identity of this mountain. 1. The Mountain of the Lord is an exalted mountain. Before looking at the identity of this mountain, notice quickly that Micah says this mountain will be established in the latter days. Look at v. 1: It shall come to pass in the latter days... So, Micah is looking forward to a future time when this mountain will be established. When most people read the words latter days they immediately think of the very last days before God establishes his ultimate rule on the earth. But, when we come to the NT we see that the last days began with the coming of Christ. In Acts 2:17 we read, And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. This is a direct prophecy of the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost over two thousand years ago, which is still happening today. Heb. 1:2 says, But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. In other words, in a general sense, we live in the last days, days which began with the birth of Christ. Now, in those days God will establish a mountain that is unlike any mountain that we have ever seen with our eyes or climbed with our legs. Look at v. 1. It shall be the highest of the mountains and it will be lifted above the hills. Let me ask, Does this mean that another physical mountain, greater than Mt. Everest, the world s tallest mountain, is going to be formed in these days? Is God going to cause great movements under the earth where another physical mountain comes forth? The answer is NO because Micah is using mountain as a picture, as a type of something to come. Notice in v. 1 that this mountain is called the mountain of the house of the Lord. In v. 2 this mountain is also called the house of the God of Jacob. In v. 7, this exalted mountain is also called Mt. Zion. Now, what do these places have in common? They are places where God Himself met with his people, culminating in the Temple, which was often called the Temple Mount. So, Micah speaks of a future place, where the Kingdom of God itself will flow from such an exalted mountain. There is a story in John cp. 4 when Jesus passes through a certain town called Samaria. And he stopped at a well of water outside the city. A woman came to the well and he said to her, give me a drink. And being a Samaritan woman, she was surprised that a Jewish man would speak to her. But during this conversation, Jesus spoke to her about eternal truths. He said to her, if you really knew who I am, you would ask me for water and I would give you living water, water
2 2 that would overflow into eternal life. She said, Where do you get this water? Are you greater than our Father Jacob, who built this well? Then she said, Give me this water. I want it. And as the conversation continued, she changed the subject. She started to talk about mountains. She said, Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship. You see, the people in those days knew of the great mountains, the places in the Bible where God spoke to his people, and they were thinking in physical terms. But, notice what Jesus said next. He said, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father... The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. In this conversation, we have the answer to my question, Is God going to establish a highly exalted physical mountain like the mountains in this world? At the end of the conversation, Jesus gives the answer. The woman said, one day the Messiah will come. He will teach us. Then Jesus said, I who speak to you am he. You see, Micah s exalted mountain, the place where God Himself dwells with his people, is none other than Christ Himself. He is this mountain. Look at Micah 5:2-5: 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... And then in v. 4: 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. 5 And he shall be their peace. Isaiah the prophet said, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). One day Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders about the great Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He said, I tell you the truth. There is ONE in this place that is greater than the Temple. Today, Jesus is the high and exalted mountain of Micah. (Matt. 12:6). He is the ancient of days! He is Lord of Lords! He is King of Kings! He is the sovereign ruler of all. He is the highly exalted mountain of the Lord! Today, you might ask, What does the mountain of the Lord have to do with Christmas? And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). 2. The Mountain of the Lord is for all nations. Look at the end of v. 2 and then v. 3. And peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob... In this prophecy Micah looked forward to a time when ALL the peoples of the world would worship God on this mountain. This is one of the themes of the prophets. Since the fall of man, nation after nation has not sought the Lord God, but instead have walked in their own ways. And though there were individuals that found favor in the eyes of the Lord, like Seth and Noah and Abraham, there was no nation as a whole that followed after God. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God... There are none who seek after God. There are none who do righteousness... (Rom. 3). But, God chose a people, Israel in whom He would show his special love and display to the world his great power. After delivering them from Egypt, He gathered them at Mt. Sinai where He gave them the Law. He instructed them. He cared for them. He blessed them.
3 3 Now, think about something. Did God do this for any other nation besides Israel? It doesn t take but a second to answer this question if you ve read the OT. Yes, we see fleeting moments of repentance with Nineveh. And yes, occasionally with individual kings we see true worship. And yes, we see a few proselytes here and there coming to worship the God of Israel in the temple. But, in the OT, did God ever show or do or consider another nation in the same way He did Israel. Did God ever display his steadfast love on another people as he did Israel? The answer is NO! Micah and the other prophets speak of a time when this will not be the case. In Isaiah 54, right after chapter 53 which is one of the most beautiful prophecies of the Messiah in Bible, he says in vv. 2-3: Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. In 60: 1-3 he says, Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Do you remember what Paul said to the Ephesians, a church of Jews and Gentiles? He spoke of the mystery of the Gospel of Christ that had now come to them, Gentiles, strangers to the covenants of promise, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel. About this Gospel he said in 3:5, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed... This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. It is interesting that one of the events Matthew highlights in the story of the birth of Jesus is the wise men. Who were they? They were Gentiles from the East. Here we see the prophecy beginning to happen. We also remember Simeon from Luke s story. Jesus was brought to the temple in Jerusalem for his dedication. And this old man, with great joy and anticipation, picked up the child into his arms and said, Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32). Today, Satan is bound from blinding the nations as he did in the OT, as the Gospel is going forth to the ends of the earth and the peoples are streaming to the mountain of the Lord. 3. The Mountain of the Lord is the source of all truth. Look at v. 2. That he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. For out Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. In this verse we see teaching. We see the law (also translated here as instruction). We see the Word of the Lord. In those days the only way to know and find the truth was through Israel, God s chosen people. Instruction in the truths of God had to come through the Law of Moses established around the literal temple and the priesthood. But, as we have seen, Micah looked forward to a time when the nations would come to the Mountain of the Lord (which we know now to be the Messiah) in order to receive instruction and teaching. In Deut. 18:15 Moses looked forward to that day when he said, The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you
4 4 shall listen. Do you remember the Mount of Transfiguration? Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain. And there Jesus appearance became bright white and then Moses and Elijah appeared and started speaking with Jesus. What a sight! In a moment the disciples religious worldview would change. As they grew up in the shadow of the Temple and the priesthood and the Law of Moses, all of a sudden a voice from heaven spoke saying, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him (Matt. 17:5). Later, this same Apostle John would write: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Jesus himself said, I am the way, the truth, and the life... In one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible Jesus prays for his people. He says, I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me (John 17:6-8). Today, in these latter days, as we consider the birth of Christ, we know that He is the Mountain of the Lord, the Mountain of truth. For He is God the Son who came to declare God the Father. And the nations are coming to Him. 4. The Mountain of the Lord is a place of restoration. One of the characteristics we see in the Prophets of the OT is that though they preach against the sins of Israel and coming judgment for those sins, they also preach times of restoration. Some years after Micah preached, Israel would be judged and carried away into exile, first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians. But, the prophets saw times of restoration. This was always the cycle. Sin, judgment, restoration. And so the initial prophecy of restoration happened when Israel returned to their land after Babylonian captivity. They returned to Mount Moriah, Mount Zion, the place where the Temple stood and would shortly be rebuilt. In these prophecies, there was restoration at the physical Mountain of the Lord. But, if you read the prophets carefully, using Christ as the lens through which final interpretation comes, you will look beyond those temporary restorations and see a final restoration. Look at cp. 4:6-7. In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; 7 and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. Look at 5:4-5. Speaking of the ONE to be born in Bethlehem (v. 2), he says, 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. 5 And he shall be their peace. Isaiah said the same: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). Today Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. Now, here you might say, Jon, I thought you were talking about restoration, not peace. Well, they go hand in hand. They are like faith and repentance. You cannot have peace unless you have restoration. And this is the most beautiful part of the establishment of the Mountain of the Lord. You see, what brings hostility and strife
5 5 and fighting and laboring in our hearts and in this world is a deep unsurmountable problem that cannot be fixed apart from the establishment of the Mountain of the Lord of which Micah and the Prophets foretold. The reason we don t have peace in this world is because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of us have been cut off from our source of life. There is an alienation, a hostility, a separation, a righteous anger that flows from the holiness of God. And because of this separation, there is hostility, not peace. A couple weeks ago I went to a live nativity, where they acted out the story of Luke. And, at the end, one man stood up and gave a message about what we had just seen. There were hundreds of people listening. And I listened intently at the message. The man spoke of peace and joy and good will this baby Jesus would bring to the world. Over and over he spoke of the love of God. He said God sent his Son to be an example for us to show us how to love our brothers and sisters. On and on he went about God s love for us and that Christ was sent to show us this love. I continued to listen until he finished. And I walked away very sad. I was sad because this man did not mention the real reason Jesus was born and why he really lived on this earth. His mission was to die on the cross. His mission was to be a sacrifice, a substitute sacrifice, in the place of sinners. His mission was to offer himself up to God as an acceptable sacrifice, one that would even appease the wrath of God for our sins. This was why he was born. He was born to die. And in his death, the wall of hostility between God and his people is abolished. His death brings peace. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:14). And those who believe in him have restoration. So today, as we remember the birth of Christ, we know that the Mountain of the Lord has been established. Jesus rose from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God. In the beautiful Gospel of Christ the Mountain of the Lord is an exalted mountain. The nations of the earth are streaming to it. On this Mountain they find the truth. And this is a mountain of restoration. Because the Mountain of the Lord has been established we can say, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased (Luke 2:14). Jesus says, Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. If you are not a Christian, trust Christ today. If you are, rejoice, and continue to look to Christ as you leave this place this morning.