The Country Prophet

The opening verses of Micah’s prophecy in­form us that Micah was a country prophet living in Moresheth-Gath some 35 km south west of Jerusalem. He was contemporary with the prophet Isaiah who ministered in the city of Jerusalem and also Hosea. It is interesting to note that Micah is the only prophet mentioned by name by another prophet (see Jer 26:1-3,7-9,16-19).

God’s word came to him when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings in Judah (756–697 BC). During this time Micah prophesied of Samaria’s demise as well as Israel’s captivity and destruction. The captivity of the northern kingdom at the hand of the Assyrians came to pass during Micah’s life­time. With Hezekiah as king, Jerusalem survived the Assyrian siege but ‘the writing was on the wall’ and around 100 years after Micah’s death, Jerusalem fell to Babylon.

Change Requires a Vision

Micah, along with all the prophets, was appealing for change before the judgments of God fell on a guilty people. It’s a well-established fact of human nature that it is very difficult to change ingrained patterns of thinking and behaviour. Rarely do warnings, impending judgment, or even miracles, change people.

A prerequisite for meaningful change is to seek God; to really want to love God and imitate His character (6:8). Change is then effected by faith in God. When we believe in the real and tangible goal that God has placed before us then we are truly people of vison (see Heb 11:6).

Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were looking forward to a city with founda­tions, whose architect and builder is God. In vision they saw it and welcomed it from a distance. Those who say such things demonstrate that they are looking for a country and strongly desire that hope above all else. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He is preparing for them a city and an eternal inheritance (Heb 11:13-16). Moses likewise weighed up the alternatives, accepting dis­grace for the sake of Christ and valuing that work and reward above all the treasures of Egypt. How could these men make decisions like that? It was because they were looking ahead to their reward, persevering through the trials of life because they could see Him who is invisible.

Faith in the unseen is what changes people. Faith is being so sure of God’s promises and want­ing them so much that this conviction governs their behaviour. And such treasure doesn’t cost a penny. All we need to do is make it our life’s endeavour (Isa 55:1-7)!

How can we make our vision of the Kingdom our own dream? It’s making the Kingdom as real to us as if we were Abraham, walking the length and breadth of the land. It’s to see us in the Kingdom believing and seeing a better time, both for the world and us! This is surely what faith is! It’s not arrogant to believe that we will be in the Kingdom for it’s believing that by the grace of God we can be there and that we can have the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord! It’s an essential coupling of faith with the works and action of faith (James 2:18,20-22). This is the key outworking of faith. The other essential quality is humility. All who inherit the Kingdom will feel that they do not deserve to be there, deeply appreciating the gracious gift that such an honour has bestowed. In our dream of the Kingdom, let us see our Lord warmly inviting us to join the company of the redeemed, his chosen bride and companions for eternity!

Can we want for a better vision of the Kingdom than the scene portrayed in Micah 4:1-8 where he describes for us the transformation of the world? We need to believe in it, imagine it, and wonder at a world converted by the universal rule of our Lord Jesus. Let’s paint ourselves into that picture. What could the time look like? No doubt our thoughts could range over many facets but imagine no more sorrow, no more physical pain, and no more ageing. Think about a time when there will be no emotional pain, fear, anxiety, or depression. There will be no more doubt, no more a struggle with sin and temptation, and no more violence, abuse, wickedness and hatred. Think of the certainty of a day when there will be no more hopelessness, loneliness, or unemployment. For us there will be no more traumatic memories, no more lameness, blindness, deafness, dumbness, drought, hunger, or thirst! No more! All a thing of the past! Can there be a better vision than that?

Think of that long awaited meeting with our Lord. Brothers and sisters, we will be overtaken with such an overwhelming feeling of gladness and joy (Jude 24). We will behold the glory of the Lord and we will be free at last of all those ailments and adversities native to man! What a dream! What a hope we have in Christ!

Living with a Vision

Sometimes we find that our vision of the Kingdom fades and we know deep down that we are losing our way. Sometimes we can enter into the feelings of the prophet Asaph when he lamented, “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning … When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me – until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (Psa 73:13,14,16-17 NKJV). With that sense of perspective we know that this life is only a test, a temporary assignment where we know God is preparing us for eternity. Living with a vision of the Kingdom can direct our life, help us to see affliction as temporal, and brighten every day with joy and peace. The eternal weight of glory far outweighs our momentary light affliction (2 Cor 4:17).

Yahweh said to Israel (and to us!), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11 NIV). In spite of our light affliction we can exult with the apostle Paul, “Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Eph 3:20 TLB). Thus emboldened in our faith in God, we simplify our life and share the sense of purpose shown by Paul when he said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).

When we have a clear vision, our lives are mo­tivated by passion, energy and commitment. Joshua could say at the closing stages of a long life of service and commitment with undiminished zeal, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15). Our life’s endeavours should be seen in the light of eternity! We should not live carelessly or aimlessly. Without a vision, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a vision life is trivial, petty, and pointless. That is not our life!

David said in Psalm 15:1: “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”. In a similar vein we could ask, “who will be in the kingdom”? The Psalmist describes in eloquent detail a character profile of those in the Kingdom. They are those who live pure lives, do what is right, and speak the truth from their hearts. Such people don’t say bad things about oth­ers. They don’t do things to hurt their neighbours. They don’t tell shameful things about those close to them. They hate those who despise God and honour those who respect God. If they make a promise to their neighbour, they do what they promised. If they loan money to someone, they do not exploit them. And they refuse to testify against an innocent person, even if someone offers them money to do it. Whoever lives like this will always stand strong (v2-5)!

The point is that if we want to ascend the hill of Yahweh and be part of the vision we have to endeavour to live like we are in the Kingdom now. That’s the central point of all Jesus’teaching on dis­cipleship. The Pharisees demanded of the Lord the time that the Kingdom of God should come. His answer is intriguing; he said: “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you. Then he said to his disciples, The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of man (Jesus lived the kingdom each day!), but you will not see it” (Luke 17:20-22 NIV). Certainly the Kingdom of God was not within the Pharisees! But it is within us if we have God as our king in our heart. God wants to reign in our hearts before He will use us to change the world. He wants us to live as His kings and priests now. So, dear brethren and sisters, we should live Kingdom-lives now. We could say that this is ‘living the dream’!

How we can Live Kingdom-Lives Now

There are many illustrations of translating king­dom-living into our daily lives. We could address this by asking ourselves five questions and making a present day application.

  • Who or what will be at the centre of my Kingdom-life?

Who are we living for? We will love the Lord our God unto eternity with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let us then centre our life on God, His kingdom, and His righteous­ness – now!

  • What will be the character of my life?

What kind of person will I be? What character qualities do I have or want to have? Surely, those of our Lord Jesus! Let us then emulate him now!

  • What will be the contribution of my life? Who and how will I serve?

All will be done to the glory of God. The God-honouring focus of society and family life will be restored. That focus can be ours now. There are many opportunities to meet the needs of others and inspire them to seek the Kingdom with us.

  • What will be the communication of my life?

We will seek the good of our neighbour. We can make a commitment to share the gospel by our life and words and fully utilise our God given abilities.

  • What will be the community of my life?

The “oneness” of immortal life in the Kingdom can be replicated in striving for oneness in our fellowship and in our commitment to the family of God today. This is then seen as an outworking of the new commandment, “As I have loved you”.

The closing words of the prophecy highlight the willingness of God to pass by and cover transgression: “… He pardons iniquity … He retains not His anger … and casts all our sins into the depths of the sea” (7:18-19). Having a ‘bent’ towards loving kind­ness, He wants to reach out and draw His people close to Him. The prophecy reaffirms that our God is true and faithful to His promises (7:20). This is our God! Let us endeavour to be like Him now!

When we take the emblems of our Lord’s life let us contemplate the vision of the marriage supper of the Lamb, the time when he will usher us in to sit down around his table and hear those words, ‘Yes, this seat is for you’! We will scarcely believe it – but with what joy will we join that glad company!

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:12-14 NKJV).

❝ What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?❞Mic 6:8