The Peace Jesus Brings
Micah predicts the coming Messiah.
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In this Advent season, we are looking at the theme of God's promise of better days for our lives. That is the hope of Advent and Christmas, that God has done something in Christ that changes everything. For this series of messages, we have been looking at Scriptures that don't immediately strike us as relating to Advent season or the Christmas story. The connection, however, is this idea of God's promises of better days, promises which all eventually find their fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. This week, we'll look at what Micah has to say about the coming days of Christ.
As a 5th grader at Cornelia Elementary School in Edina, Minnesota, I always felt sorry for a fellow student named Gary. With his high squeaky voice, hyperactivity, social ineptness, and tall, skinny body, Gary was an easy target for grade school thugs. People teased Gary until he would—as we called it—"spas-out."
I never actually participated in the teasing, but I certainly didn't stop it, either. That is, until one day in December, when we were on the playground during lunch recess, and Gary was trapped on the top of a large snow hill. Six boys surrounded him, and were taunting, teasing and flinging snow at him. As I watched, something snapped inside me. I raced toward the snow hill and dove sideways into the throng of boys, knocking down three of them. After I scampered up the snow hill and joined Gary at the top, I screamed at the thugs, "Hey, if you want to come after Gary, you'll have to go through me." After a moment of confusion, one of the bullies yelled, "Yeah, let's pound both of their faces into the snow." And so they proceeded to pummel both of us. But it was great! For the first time in my career as an elementary student, I actually cared about something beyond myself. I was a freedom fighter against oppression and injustice.
That day on an elementary school playground, my heart cracked wide open. I looked around the world—or at least Cornelia Elementary—and a voice whispered into my ear, "This isn't right. It's not supposed to be this way. Violence and injustice should not have the upper hand. There has to be better way." I have no idea where the voice came from, but it was loud and clear and obvious. Of course if you go to any playground where children are playing, you'll eventually hear someone scream the same thing: "Hey, that's not fair!" As New Testament scholar N. T. Wright has said, "A sense of justice comes with the kit of being human."
I didn't know it at the time, but the voice I heard on that playground was the same whisper that comes out of the pages of the Bible. It's begins quietly, but by the time we reach the books of the prophets, the voice gets louder and louder. The voice of God, through those wild-eyed, visionary, peace-hungry prophets went something like this: "You were made for better days. The strong oppress the weak; the rich pummel the poor; nation goes to war against nation. But I, the Lord, have made you for better days, and I will bring those better days to pass."
Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).