Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Brother Al (Page 1 of 58)

Men Singing

Recently a group of men in my church sang during our annual Thanksgiving service.  One of them had decided to organize a group of men to simply come up front and lead our congregation in praise to God.  He choose two songs: “O Worship the King” (with) “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” & “Holy, Holy, Holy” (with) “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.”  At least 15 men stood there facing the congregation, joyfully singing to the Lord.  That time of worship seemed angelic.    

The experience prompted me wonder about the battle going on in the spiritual realm.  Our archenemy, Satan, and all his demonic forces do not want to be reminded of the throne room in heaven, where the worship of the Lamb is taking place.  Heartfelt worship reminds the forces of evil of their defeat.  The new song in heaven declares, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  When a group of men committed to Jesus sing in unison from their hearts, the spell of the illusionary lie of evil is broken.  The spiritual air is cleared and Jesus’ reign is actualized in the hearts of those in worship.

As we sang, I thought of the large “Promise Keepers” events I attended at the old Metrodome in Minneapolis.  A spiritual presence gave men permission and motivation to sing heartfelt praises to God.  It was truly inspiring to be caught up in praise to our Lord in a stadium built for sports team.  In that moment it became a sanctuary of praise to the Lord, as men “let loose” with praise to the Lord.  It felt like are large spiritual pep rally, where men were preparing for battle.

I thought of the spiritual battle we face in our nation at this time.  I remembered King Jehoshaphat, who appointed men to go out ahead of the army, praising God as they went into battle against Ammon and Moab.  They sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”  II Chronicles 20:22 tells us, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”  Earlier the king had been told in a message from the Lord, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s… Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (II Chron. 20:15-16).    

I wondered about our experience as men in church singing “unfettered” before the Lord.  By this I mean men oblivious to cultural restraints from voices implying that anything masculine is toxic.  The negative feminine voice is silenced by the unified voice of men lifting their voices to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  On this occasion a group of ordinary men stood before a community of fellow believers, declaring in a strong, unified voice that God reigns.  It was a powerful declaration.

In Revelation 4-5, we have an image of the throne room in heaven, with high praise being offered to the Lamb of God.  After the four living creatures, the next to be mentioned were 24 elders, representing the church.  These were men laying down their crowns before the throne.  They sang, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).  


A Lily of the Valley

This blog is very personal, but I believe it will speak to and encourage the hearts of some men. The last few days have been unsettling and stormy. My soul has experienced gray clouds and distracting thoughts. I haven’t been present for my wife.  Instead I’ve been nursing my selfish ego.  It’s difficult for me to acknowledge that I’ve been having one big pity party as I nurse self-pity and self-loathing.  I want to be a spiritual man, but I’m acting like a spoiled brat.  

A couple from church came over for some fellowship.  I decided to confess my sinful self-pity to my brother in Christ, Bruce.  After he and his wife left, I went for a walk alone, seeking some direction out of my inner storm.  Along the way, I met another friend, David, and shared my struggle with him as well.  He seemed to understand my situation.

Then, as I continued my solitary walk, this thought came me, clear as a bell: You need to think of your wife as a “blossoming flower.”  When I got home, I went to the Song of Songs, where the beloved says, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”  The lover responds,  “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens” (2:1-2).  Lilies were common in Israel.  “Perhaps the young woman was saying,  ‘I’m not so special,’ to which lover replied, ‘Oh, no, you are extraordinary – a lily among thorns.’  Solomon  used the language of love.  Nothing is more vital to a lasting relationship than encouraging and appreciating the person you love” (NLT Application Bible).   

So what does this mean for me?  

First,  I need to remember that my wife is a special lily among the rest.  As we grow older, she becomes ever more precious to me.  She has been by my side for 58 years.  She is the most consistent believer I know.  I am to continually let her know that she is a beautiful lily who continues to blossom.  I find joy and gratitude when she is able to express her natural beauty as a person.

Second,  it’s my task to create an environment in which she can flourish.  My wife has grown and matured into a beautiful, faith-filled woman.  Our life together in these senior apartments is what we call our monastic space.  We each have our own “cell” for time alone with the Lord.  We both consider this a gift.  I believe God has called me to be a watchman,  tuned into what the Lord is saying to my wife, to me, and to the church of Christ, and to be alert to danger. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel, so hear the word I speak, and give them warning from me” (Ezk. 33:7). 

Third, I am to provide spiritual  protection for my wife in our monastic space.  The enemy continues to tear at the very fabric of our culture as he demeans the sacredness of marriage. We are in a spiritual battle.  Nehemiah 4:14 speaks to me, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and homes” (Neh. 4:14).  

Fourth, I need to nourish my lily of the valley with words of encouragement, support and delight.  My wife blogs each day, reaching countless people.  It takes an open heart and and listening ears to get a message each day from the Lord.  I call it a “gift from God.”  My wife need my encouragement to keep up the good work.






Sexual Holy War

Since I began writing about masculinity roughly 15 years ago,  it now appears that the “gender wars” are really heating up.  As a “gray-haired” male, I have lived through the evolution of the gender discussion and have a kind of rearview mirror perspective.  It seems we are coming into some kind of “cultural clearing” where observers on both sides of the gender battles are calling for resolution, for the future of our divided nation.  

Recently, I was fascinated by an article in UnHerd written by Matthew Crawford.  It was entitled, “The sexual holy war is coming for you.”   I was struck by phrases like “smothering self consciousness,” “the feeling of suffocation,” “the minor civil servants of moral orthopaedics,” “the feminine mode of competition,” and “the therapeutic para-state.”  They all strike a chord with my own male perspective, which at times seems to be rather countercultural.   

Crawford is asking “what it means to be a man.”  At the end, Crawford states that “being a responsible man today would seem to involve a tricky double task: to be respectful and protective of women in private, and to confidently disregard women’s tears in public.  This would be made easier if women – the silent majority of them who probably value self-reliance – did likewise, forming an alliance with men against a metastasizing force of moral orthopedics that diminishes us all.” 

So what is Crawford espousing that grabbed me, possibly opening me up to criticism and misunderstanding in even attempting to write this blog?  Crawford sees the school system as a expansion of pedagogical authority, with “the dead hand of the educator reaching deep into childhood, redesigning life as a ‘learning experience.'” It means that “unsupervised domains of life [are now] subject to systematic study and control.”  Nothing is taken for granted since “the colonization of the life-world [is] organized, leaving little room for vitality. An administered life can lead to the feeling of suffocation, especially among boys.”  (I praise God for all the unsupervised time I had growing up as a young boy .)

Crawford sees this moral-therapeutic supervision as leading to a “hyper-vigilant concern for emasculation resulting in the smothering of the human spirit.”  Since the therapeutic para-state is staffed disproportionately be women, Crawford notes, “You may not be interested in a sexual holy war, but the sexual holy war is interested in you.”  The feminine perspective brings a different kind of conflict.  “…In this dynamic, a ‘hurt’ may be attributed, a victim identified, as an act of aggression against the putative offender.”  A feminine mode of competition results in conflict where, as Richard Hanaia notes, “Women’s tears win in the marketplace of ideas.” We are all in a position of victims.  We employ the rhetoric of rights to show the sense of violation.  

Our culture produces men who are fragile. How does a man become mature, responsible and courageous in our today? Moving from childhood into adulthood means a departure from the safety of parental protection and affirmation. How does a man face hard reality without feeling like the victim?  A man should not feel like a “fragile being afloat in a field of incipient traumas.”  What does it mean to be a man? 

For my part, I have struggled mightily!  Here are some tips:  1) Be a soulful man – get in touch with your wounded male soul;  2) Work hard at integrating your head and heart; 3) Learn to tell your story – the good, bad and the ugly to another man;  4) Learn to be tough and tender both in public and in private. 

I personally believe the day of the “tough and tender” man is coming – and he will carry a “velvet covered brick.”  


Confusing Times

I often say to myself and repeat this sentiment among followers of Jesus: “Don’t complain about our culture, cry out to the Lord for mercy.”  As God’s faithful people in a negative, post-Christian environment, it is imperative to reimage our understanding of our nation.  I believe we’re past the point of dialogue with a popular narrative that is hostile to a biblical view of reality.  We are more like missionaries in a third-world country.  We are now exiles in a strange land.  Yet, we can be positive, hopeful and joyful.

For some time now, I have felt led to spend time in the prophets.  My continual question has been, “Lord, what do your prophets have to say to my generation?”  In other words, “What is God’s prophetic word for his church?” I assume that God’s prophetic word, as given by the prophets, has significant relevance when we begin to see the unfolding of his judgment on our nation as we wander further and further away from his revealed word.  

I must confess, this has been a challenge for me.  I do this work because I am motivated to know first hand – from my meditation on scripture and reliance on his Spirit – what God is saying to our culture.  The observers, influencers and policy makers are secondary.  How do we work through the confusion of the many voices?  God warns us in Deut. 28:20, “The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me.”  Micah tells us, “But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.  Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion” (Micah 7:4). Could the confusion of our day actually be a sign of the Lord’s judgment on our nation?  

When I learn of the latest news coming out of Washington and other centers of influence, the words of Ezekiel 22:5 seem appropriate: “O infamous city, filled with confusion, you will be mocked by people far and near.”  Could this be what the Lord is allowing among those who are supposed to govern us as a nation?  “Oh, what a day of crushing defeat!  What a day of confusion and terror brought by the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, upon the Valley of Vision! (Isaiah 22:5).  Who will lead us out of this confusion?  What message will finally bring relief to all this confusion?

I find great encouragement and strength from the intercession of the prophets.  For example, Isaiah 63:15-64:12 is such a prayer.  The prophet’s focus is on the Lord:  “Lord, look down from heaven; look from your holy glorious home and see us” (Is. 63:15).  He prays for God to intervene.  “Oh, that you would burst from the heaven and come down” (64:1).  There still are many questions. “Where are your zeal and your might?” (63:15).  “Lord, why have you allowed us to turn from your path?” (64:17). “Why have you given us stubborn heart so we no longer fear you?” (64:17).  “We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?” (64:5).  I ask these questions repeatedly.  

These are hard questions, but they are not antagonistic, nor are they directed inward.  They are directed to God, who is addressed as Father.  “They are children’s questions, expressing penitence, dependence and trust.  They are questions of prodigals come home, daring to hope that the father… will not turn them from his door” (The Bible Speaks). 

Men, don’t allow complaining voices draw you away from an “upward gaze” on our victorious Lord.  He is in charge of history.  Bring your questions to Him as you cry out for mercy. 




A Comfortable Walk With God

Years ago I came across the phase “a comfortable walk with God,”  which was coined by early Puritan writers.  James Houston used it while discussing prayer,  referring to a person coming to peace with who they were in relationship to God.  He said, in effect, “A person is never more true to themselves and more natural before God, than when they are in Christ.” 

I thought of “the comfortable walk” when our men’s group discussed the chapter on the “Discipline of Devotion” in R. Kent Hughes book, “Disciplines of a Godly Man.” The tendency for men is to make our devotional life a religious performance in which we win favor with God and satisfy ourselves by being spiritual.   In a group, men often measure their spirituality by comparing themselves with other men. There’s always pressure to measure up to a certain standard.  In a book entitled “The Pressure’s Off,” Larry Crabb maintains that when you seek God and nothing else, the pressure truly is off.  

We can easily make our walk with God something that works well for us.  It is more about us than a relationship with God.  If we do certain spiritual practices, then we will be blessed by the Lord.  Crabb warns, “when the desire becomes our goal, the objective we most value… our lives then become a sustained effort to discover and follow whatever principles will provide a life that lets us feel pretty good.”  As a result, “the pressure is on.”

My journey of prayer has been one of “letting go” and simply “receiving.”  It has taken years for me to become “comfortable” in my walk with the Lord.  It has been plagued with pride, shame, selfishness, and self-pity. What has made it a ”burden” at times is that my calling was to be a “professional holy man.” I was paid to be good.  The pressure was on for a lot of years. I still get caught on “my treadmill” of trying to be good.  But thankfully, I am finding more freedom and joy in my walk.  Even so, I still hit “ditches and potholes” of my own making when I focus on me.  

After years of growth and struggle, here is some hard-learned discoveries I have come to appreciate about prayer:

1)  First and foremost, prayer is not a duty or discipline, but rather an ongoing conversation with the living God.  He has put within each of us a hunger to know Him.  The Psalmist says it passionately, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1)  Panting is a heartfelt response.  I bring my whole self before God, not just my “shiny, religious self.” 

2)  The Lord is already present within me.  Paul reminds us, “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).  Did you know that prayer is already going on in your soul?  The Lord is there waiting for you to make yourself available to Him.

3)  I need to get beyond my thoughts and simply be quiet in the presence of the Lord.  Listening is imperative in a mutual and intimate relationship. 

4)  My maturing in prayer is unique to my personality.  What works for me does not necessarily work for someone else. We find our own unique way with Him.  

5)  This has been particularly hard to accept: the Lord changes the nature of the relationship as I mature.  My Father is after intimacy and oneness.  I have to give up my childish ways, including my “spiritual achievements.” 

Remember: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Cor. 3:17).




Men are Lost

Christine Emba, a columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote an essay entitled, “Men are Lost. Here’s a Map Out of the Wilderness.”  She states, “Men find themselves lonely, depressed, anxious and directionless… They have no idea what it means to be a man.”  Going on she writes, “Past models of masculinity feel unreachable or socially unacceptable: new ones have yet to crystallize.  What are men for in the modern world?  What do they look like?”  

While men are told constantly to be “better” and less “toxic” it seems difficult to pin down what this means. Among modern influencers there is a tendency to minimize men’s issues or to even erase references to masculinity altogether.  One strategist admitted “an allergy to admitting that some men might, in fact, be struggling in a unique way and could benefit from their own tailored attention and aid.”  Men are expected to just shape up and simply “learn the code” expected of them. 

Convinced men are in crisis, Emba believes “it will require a positive vision of what masculinity entails that is particular.”  Most of what is offered to help men is descriptive rather then prescriptive.  Richard Reeves has observed, “As soon as you start articulating virtues, advantages, good things about being male… then you’ve just dialed up the risk factor of the conversation.”  “But,” he warns, “I’m also  acutely aware that the risk of not doing it is much greater. Because without it, there’s a vacuum.” 

Emba calls for “a new script for men.”  Gender roles of the past gave boys a script for being a man, but now we have a vacuum in our understanding of masculinity.  This, in Emba’s view, “gives us a chance at a fresh start: an opportunity to take what is useful from models of the past and repurpose it for boys and men today.”  Men as well as women need codes for how to be human.  

Implementation will be slow.  A new masculinity “will be a norm shift,” Emba believes.  If the crisis of men “is left unaddressed, the current confusion of men and boys will have destructive social outcomes, in the form of resentment and radicalization.”  In the end, the sexes rise and fall together.  Emba sees “the old script for masculinity on its way out.  It’s time we replaced it with something better.” 

Ms. Embra was not able to point the way out of the “gender wilderness” that our nation has created for men.  She sure has tried to point the way.  She stated in her article, “People need codes for how to be human.”  And although she and I may disagree on where to find the code, I believe it’s found in God’s revealed Word.  Here is a brief outline for it:

First, God created men and women to both reflect the likeness of God. “When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself.  He created them male and female, and he blessed and called them ‘human'” (Gen. 5:1-2).  Second, it will take authentic Christian men and women to interpret the code. Third, through a Christ-focused relationship with my wife, I can better understand the code God intended for me. Fourth, our marriage can be prophetic in our day: “This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one” (Eph. 5:32).

I desire to live out the new masculinity expressed in Scripture by our new (and Last) Adam and being made relevant in our current wilderness (I Cor. 15:45-47).  Men, our marriages and lives as godly men can be prophetic in our day, as we express the code the Lord reveals to us.  




“Go Back To Church”

A recent article in CBN quoted psychiatrist Daniel Amen saying, “Go back to church.”  He was responding to a recently-released Advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General which said loneliness is now a public health threat, making it as harmful as smoking and obesity to our nation. It seems that many Americans suffer with this painful secret.

The Advisory calls attention to “the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country.”  Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted, “Loneliness increases the risk of physical ailments like heart disease, dementia, and stroke plus mental ones, including depression, anxiety and suicide.”  

As a mental health expert commenting on the Advisory, Dr. Amen stated, “I actually believe we’re on the beginning of a tidal wave of brain and mental health problems in young people, and it’s because we’re more disconnected than ever before, disconnected from our own families because when people are together their faces are buried in their gadgets.” So the psychiatrist says bluntly, “Go back to church.  Get involved.  Get involved with groups.  We have to go back.  And really, no better place to solve it than to church.”    

It is a well-known fact that loneliness is on the increase among men.  NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway has observed, “The most unstable nations in the world have one thing in common.  They have too many lonely, broken [men].”  Sociability has become a personal choice.  Younger men are not forming social bonds with real, live people.  “More U.S. men ages 18 to 34 are now living with their parents than with romantic partners.  Young men are not forming social bonds with real, live people, even when it comes to sexual relationships. 

Dr. Jeffery A. Hall has noted a steady decline in time spent talking with other people.  “There are increasing efforts to cut out other people in the name of removing toxicity.  And all these tendencies are pushed forward by frictionless technologies that remove social obligations to leave home, talk to others and engage in our community.”  Dr. Hall believes we can help reverse this with “our atrophied [relational] muscles, even if there is some short-term discomfort, and even if it means encountering people with disagreeable or uninteresting opinions.” 

Men in our culture need help in cultivating  relationships with real people. Sociability is vital since many younger men are simply dropping out, while older men push through with dysfunctional relationships.  What is needed are men who can model relationship building.   Young men who express a confident, selfless masculinity make not only better husbands and fathers, they “help check other men with negative character from becoming disproportionately fatherless young men who lapse into aggression or delinquency.

My advice:  1) Learn to live emotionally transparent with the Lord,  2) Confess your sinful relational tendencies, 3) Find a male soul friend who walks with God,  4) Join or form a group of men who talk openly about their relational difficulties.  In other words, go back to church.  Find, relate to, and share with other integrated (tough and tender) men.

David was an open, transparent, and vulnerable man.  He struggled mightily in his relationships.  “I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors – even my friends are afraid to come near me” (Ps. 31:11 NLT).  But he prayed, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress.  Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away (Ps. 31:9).  In Psalm 35 he acknowledges, “Malicious witnesses testify against me.  They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about (v. 11). Yet he prays, “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks” (v. 17). 


The Search

“We are conscious these days of a deep-seated hunger, a secret need in our heart’s core, to be set free from sin, from the world, and from self-centeredness, and so to be reunited with our source.  We must only be earnest about it.  The power is close at hand.”  Wow!  The words written over 250 years ago seem to have a contemporary ring to the spiritual condition of our times.  

This is a quote from a short devotional book by Gerhard Tersteegen  (1697-1769), a spiritual writer and guide of the 18th century, entitled “The Quiet Way.” He was part of the renewal movement in Germany. “Germany, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was war-ridden and ,morally and spiritually impoverished.  A thirty-years war had cost her twelve million lives, forth-fifths of her population, and had left behind it a land of ravaged farmsteads, destroyed stock, famine, disease, bestiality and even cannibalism” (The Quiet Way -Intro).

In this environment Tersteegen’s advice was simple: “You are the child of God,  God’s nature is in you.  It has only over-clouded.  Withdraw from outward things.  Pray, and you will make contact again with God, the source of your being.  Forget yourself.  Forget your selfish desires.  Look to God.  Die to your own will, live for God’s will and you will know true life”  (The Quiet Way – Into.)

Tersteegen’s spiritual counsel can be helpful for us as we tread the spiritual landscape scattered with “mine fields” of distortion and outright unbelief.   The author’s audience was,  “harassed by war-time conditions, uncongenial companions, religious doubts, bad tempers, church divisions, uncontrollable impulses, and the will to do good which seems so often to be overruled by the bent to do evil” (The Quiet Way – Into). 

I discovered this small devotional guide in the 80’s.  I have read it many times in  my desire to be formed into the image of Christ.  I am definitely still a work in  progress.  But praise God, I have found help for the journey.  Tersteegen is one of those hidden spiritual guides of the past helping me to get both my head and heart integrated on the spiritual journey.  I want to share just a few gems from the first chapter, “God, our True Life,”  I must confess, I am able to integrate his insights more comprehensibly then in the 80’s.

The first gem: “Just stay where you are and unite yourselves with God as with something there already, that you do not need to seek!  For God is certainly with you and in you, although hidden by darkness.”  Colossians 3:3, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  For me this means – Through Jesus, God the Father has sent the Holy Spirit, the presence of the triune God into my heart (deepest center).  I do not have to go searching for the presence.  God is with me, but hidden.  Why?  So I don’t mess up the relationship.

The second gem:  “So do not go out so much into reflections.  Do not seek merely by reasoned, external methods to find sure foundations, but close your eyes like a child and confide yourself to the hidden Being who is so near to you inwardly.”  John 14:14, “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  For me this means – The triune God lives at the center.  Don’t try to figure it all out. Rest as a child in his bosom within

The Third gem:  “You don’t need to search for God; you have only to realize Him.” For me – It’s not doing or thinking more, but becoming aware.   



The Remnant

The name “Micah” means “Who is like Yahweh?” The theme of the biblical book of Micah alternates between God’s deliverance and destruction: there are always glimmers of hope breaking into the despair and destruction. “Micah spells out the disobedience of God’s people, particularly in the city of Jerusalem, and the certain judgment of the Lord which will be thorough but will leave a faithful remnant under the leadership of God’s chosen king” (Bible Speaks Today). The people of Judah had learned “to perfect the perennial heresy of compartmentalizing their religious beliefs and separating them from their daily lives” (BST).  They were learning to live comfortably without God.  

The people did not want to hear God’s word declared passionately by the prophet: “Don’t preach with such impassioned rhetoric.  These prophets should not preach of such things; we will not be overtaken by humiliation” (Micah 2:6 NET).  The NET provides this alternative meaning: “do not foam at the mouth.” “The sinful people tell the Lord’s prophets not to ‘foam at the mouth,’ which probably refers in a derogatory way to their impassioned style of delivery.”  But Micah was intensely moved by what God had shown him: “This is why I lament and mourn.  This is why I go around in rags and barefoot.  This is why I howl like a pack of coyotes, and moan like a mournful owl in the night” (Micah 1:8 – MSG).

In Micah 2:7-8 (NLT), God challenges the people through the prophet: “Should you talk that way, O family of Israel?  Will the Lord’s Spirit have patience with such behavior?  If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting.  Yet to this very hour my people rise against me like an enemy!”  The Lord accuses them of defiling the land with their rebellious behavior.  He tells the apostate people, “Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined beyond all remedy” (2:10).  The land could no longer be the resting place God had intended it to be.  The land was defiled and beyond cure.  

Then, in verses 12-13 we hear of God’s message of salvation for his faithful remnant.  False prophets said God’s judgment would not come. “But Micah promised salvation beyond the judgment for a righteous remnant” (CSB). This can be received as both good news and bad news. It assures the salvation of a remnant, while at the same time affirming the destruction of Judah as a whole. “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.  I will bring them together like sheep in a sheepfold, like a flock in its pasture” (v. 12). 

How will this happen?  As we read this passage we can shout, “King Jesus has come!”  “Micah’s prophecy telescopes two great events – Judah’s return from captivity in Babylon, and the great gathering of all believers when the Messiah returns” (Application Bible).  “Your leader will break out and lead you out of exile, out through the gates of the enemy cities, back to your own land.  Your King will lead you; the Lord himself will guide you” (Micah 2:13 NLT).  

As faithful followers who take our marching orders from King Jesus, we seem to be more and more in exile.  In the midst of the post-Christian destruction of our institutions and our former way of life, God is preserving a remnant.  As the faithful remnant, we see more clearly than ever that this is not our resting place, “It is defiled, and ruined beyond all remedy.”  My counsel: find fellow believers who have the same vision and follow King Jesus into the new land.  





In the Midst of cultural confusion

In Micah 7:1-6,  the prophet grieves over the condition of Israel.  After being the mouthpiece for the Lord (6:9), Micah takes a figurative  walk through the city (Jerusalem).  He is overcome with what he sees, “What misery is mine!” (v 1).  He becomes aware of the wickedness and the impending doom he can see coming.  “The faithful have been swept from the land” ( v 2).  Wickedness has become deeply ingrained, leading to the unravelling of the whole fabric of life.  The heart of the problem is  one of leadership:  “the ruler…….the judge…….the powerful……the best of them” (3-4) have become skilled in doing evil.

As a watchman, Micah declares, “But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.  Your time of punishment is here” ( 4). It will be  “a time of confusion” (v 4)).  This one phrase seems to describe what is characteristic of the soul of our nation.  There would be social disorder with the brake down of relationships. “The situation is so dire that the people can’t trust a neighbor, a friend, or even a spouse (5).  Close family relations have broken down (6).  Judy and I are experiencing confusion among people we have know for years.  Jesus later used verse 6 to say that following him may also damage family relationships (Matt. 10:35-36) 

Micah pictures a society turned upside-down, in which “a  son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother” (6). It is important to note that Micah’s critic of society is not political but spiritual.  “Political comment on social disintegration today often revolves around the need to focus, not so much on crimes and criminals, but on the causes of crime.   Micah would direct us all back to the way we have steadily ignored, and often directly flouted, the requirements of God for our personal, social and working lives, as well as for our nation.  Defiant rejection of God’s revealed truth is the fundamental reason for the social disintegration we see around us” (Bible Speaks Today)

After the darkness and gloom of contemporary life, Micah straightens up and declares his confidence in God.  “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior, my God will hear me” (7:7).  Men, notice three things from this prayer uttered in the midst of a literal brake up of society.  It sure can point us in the right direction, when we stand for Jesus in the midst of significant confusion.  

First, “But as for me” Micah was contrasting himself with the message of other “watchmen.”  He was looking “to the Lord for help” (7).  He was confident of better days ahead. “I confidently for God to save me.”  Remember Jesus taught us to pray, “your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Micah could see beyond the confusion

Secondly, Micah said he would “wait.”  The same Hebrew word is translated “depend” in 5:7.  Micah had faith that God would preserve Israel through the coming judgment.  He saw beyond the headlines. “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (8).

Thirdly, Micah was confident that God would hear his prayer of lament, as he witnessed the brake up of society.  This chapter “began with a cry of mourning (v 1-2) ends with the quiet confidence that God will act.” (NIVZSB)

Then in 7:8-20 Micah looks past the coming defeat and destruction to the future day when the Lord would reverse that judgment.  A repentant people will raise again (7:8-9), the enemies would be defeated and Israel would be rebuilt (vv. 10-11).  “This enemy who kept taunting, ‘So where is this God of yours?”  I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes – my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter” (v 10 MSG).  


« Older posts

© 2023 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑