Jesus Is Our Peace
Anticipation of the King
Advent Series, Week 2
Jesus Is Our Peace
Peace and quiet . . . is not a phrase you would use to describe my household. Despite the picture you may see from time to time on Facebook or Instagram, our home is never quiet and rarely peaceful. So let me set the scene for you. Nickelodeon is the background music at all times, and that is cranked up to 11 volume, the older boys are fighting with each other, Haddon is crying because he can’t find his blanket, Sophia is in the kitchen and she is pulling magnets off of the fridge and dispersing them like she’s at a parade throwing candy, and the dog is barking, and I’m yelling for everyone to shut up. This is a typical day in the Loginow household. Peaceful is not the proper adjective to describe 30178 Alger Blvd.
Peaceful is not the proper adjective to describe the world we are living in now either, is it? ISIS, racial tension, political drama, broken homes, hatred, abuse, just to name a few things off the top of our heads. Maybe you’re here this morning and you ‘re thinking that peaceful is not the proper adjective to describe your life. You are thinking about the lack of peace in your own heart, in your own home, in your own family. We all know the pain of living east of Eden, the pain of peace that has left the world through sin. We felt it, as a church, when we lost Dester and Margie in the same month. We feel it in each other’s living rooms when during Flocks we pray for Sharon Brady, and Angie Johnson, and others in our body who are sick. You feel this pain, this lack of peace when people ask you about your son or your daughter, the one who has walked away from Jesus. You’re reminded of this lack of peace every year when you get together with families on the holidays, and there are snarky remarks, and there is bitterness or fighting. You long for peace when you sit alone on Christmas after you had sat with him or her for so many years. We need peace, to different degrees because of wherever we find ourselves on our sojourn to the eternal city this morning, everyone of us feels that. Maybe differently, maybe to different extents, but there isn’t anybody this morning that isn’t longing for peace.
If you feel that longing this morning, and I am sure that you do, let me assure you that, in his providence, God has brought you to Christ Community Church this morning, so that you could hear the word of Christ from Micah 5.2-5. God has brought you here for 1 of 2 reasons this morning: either you’re here and you’re not a Christian and he’s brought you here so that you could hear the good news of what Jesus has done, or you are here and you are a Christian, and God has brought you here so he could remind you of the good news of what Jesus has done. That much is for sure. Here’s what the Bible has to offer you this morning church today, in a world that desperately needs peace, Jesus is our peace.
This passage of Scripture from Micah 5 that we read together stands the potential to be emasculated in our minds in the name of the holidays. There is no doubt you have seen some of these verses on Hallmark Christmas card or Facebook memes with nativity scenes under the heading “peace on earth.” Like a generic tame type of peace. When Micah first wrote these words, the situation was anything but peaceful. In the OT, the prophet Micah stands as a sort of attorney on behalf of YHWH, on behalf of the Lord. He is bringing a lawsuit against the people of Israel on behalf of YHWH. Israel had been called to be a heavenly people as you know, yet they are living like hell. They were called to follow their father YHWH, and they were living like their father was the devil. They were worshipping idols, they were abusing the poor, and they were offering sacrifices much like Cain offered a sacrifice – apart from faith. Their hands were active, but their hearts were dead. It is to this situation that the prophet Micah stands and speaks.
The book of Micah is a declaration of judgment against Israel and against Judah. YHWH will judge their sin. Israel will go into exile. And yet, even in the midst of pronouncing judgment, we find this passage of salvation, almost a recapitulation of Genesis 3:15. Where in the midst of Judgment YHWH preaches the gospel to Adam and Eve. Micah does the same thing here in Micah 5. We find salvation in the midst of Judgment. Look at verse 2. The Holy Spirit says, but you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, the prophet is speaking directly to the little town of Bethlehem which is in the region of Ephrathah. I can identify with this “little man” or “little town” complex you can say that was associated with Bethlehem, in the ancient Near East. For two years Bethany and I lived in the small town of Fordsville, KY, which is outside of Owensboro. Now paint this picture in your mind, in comparison to metro Detroit, Owensboro is a small town. I bet some of you don’t even know what Owensboro is. Maybe you have never even heard of Owensboro, KY. Fun fact, Johnny Depp is from Owensboro, KY. He is not proud of it. He tried to act like he is from Europe when you see him. He is from Owensboro, Apollo High School. Owensboro is rural Kentucky. So you have this in your mind, it is not metro Detroit where we live, this is rural Kentucky. It is rural compared to Louisville. Some of you see Louisville as a little country. So Owensboro is real Kentucky. The people of Owensboro viewed Fordsville like a little hick town. Just to give you the context here. No joke, some people in Owensboro didn’t even know where Fordsville was outside the city. Fordsville was a town of about 600 people, there are more than 600 people in that subdivision right there. I pastored a church of about 75. Fordsville was small among Owensboro, which is small among Detroit. Bethlehem was small among Judah, little town of Bethlehem. A little hick town.
That’s how Bethlehem was viewed in the ancient Near East. Of course they had a claim to fame, didn’t they? King David was from Bethlehem. And now, to us and to Israel in his time, Micah is revealing that a new David will be born in Bethlehem as well. He says, 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. Notice the two prepositions, the one who is coming who is making an advent you could say, will be for God and from ancient days. You see that? He is for me, from of old, from ancient days .He will be for God. He is God’s man, a man after God’s own heart; sound familiar? It is supposed to remind you of something, of someone. And he will be from of old, from ancient days. These peculiar phrases have two meanings. First, the phrase “from of old” was commonly used in the ancient Near East as a reference to ancestry. This is like the Bible’s ancestry.com. This man will be of the line of David. He is from of old. He will rule like David. The Davidic covenant will be fulfilled in this man. Micah is telling us, the promise is still true. God has not forgotten his promise to his people. Second, the phrase from ancient days is far more scandalous and it is a little more mysterious. You see, there is only one who is eternal - God, and this man is from ancient days, the Hebrew literally says “from eternal days (מִימֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם).” So what is he saying? This man will be a king like David, but he will also be God like YHWH. You see that? He will be a second David, who is YHWH himself, for there is one mediator between God and humans, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2.5).
Then the prophet now gives us a glimpse into the political future of Israel something that would happen in the very near future. He says: therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. The first phrase could also be translated “Surely the Lord will set them aside until the time when she who is in labor has given birth…” The kings of Israel, Israel’s theocracy their kingdom, will be shelved until the final king comes, and this was surely the case. From the time the Assyrians took the northerners into exile and the Babylonians took the southerners into exile, Israel never had another king sit on the throne in Jerusalem. It did not happen. To this day, a king of Israel has not sat on a throne in Jerusalem. God gave their kings up because his true and final king was coming – adventus, advent. Micah was anticipating the king. You see, the kings would be put on ice until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. Who is she?
She is the Virgin Mary, the humble sinner chosen by God to carry the fetus who rules the world. Every year carolers beg the question, “Mary did you know?” We can say for certain that Micah knew. Micah tells us that when this baby is born, then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. Church, he’s talking about us! We are the brothers. Through the gospel of Jesus, not only is there peace between God and people, but there is also peace between people and people. The old covenant wall that stood between Jew and gentile has been demolished like the Berlin Wall. Jesus said, “Mr. Satan, tear down that wall.” Read Ephesians 2 and 3. The covenant has nothing to do with ethnicity anymore; it has to do with faith in one man, Christ Jesus. There is now no Jew and no Greek, but one new man in Christ Jesus. This is where we have to train ourselves to read the Bible correctly – we have to read the bible in a Christian manner. When this text speaks of returning to the people of Israel, it’s not referring to ethnic Jews, but to the new Israel. Who is the new Israel? Everyone who has placed their faith in the true Israel, Jesus Christ. Through the gospel of Christ people from every nationality find peace with God. That is what Micah is saying.
Look at verse 4, he says that Jesus 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. Like King David, who was a shepherd before he was anointed, the second David will be a shepherd to his people. What does a shepherd do? He protects us, he provides for us, and he leads us. Brothers and sisters, we are safe with Jesus. And notice that Micah doesn’t say that his name will be great in Jerusalem; he doesn’t say that his name will be great in Judah, but his name will be great to the ends of the earth. What is Micah talking about? He is talking about Matthew 28. He is speaking of the Great Commission. Church, he is talking about planting churches in every nation, every people group, every tribe so that Jesus’ name can be famous everywhere that there are people. He is telling us that the church will take the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. This has been happening for 2,000 years. We participated in that on Thanksgiving when we received an offering to plant churches all over the globe, so the name of Jesus will be famous all over the world. It has been happening and it will continue to happen until the 2nd coming of Jesus. Jesus will be more famous than Coca-Cola, he will be more famous than Facebook, and yes he will even be more famous than Michael Jordan. His name will be great to the ends of the earth!
And now we find ourselves at verse 5, the first sentence of verse 5. To use the purest definition of the word, this sentence is awesome: and he shall be their peace. Church, Jesus is our peace. This wasn’t written to a cozy church in a Christian culture where everything was at their fingertips, this was written to a nation going into exile, captivity, and slavery. There is going to be peace. Not only were they physically in exile, which we cannot identify with, but where we identify with church is they were in spiritual exile. Because when Adam and Eve had been evicted from the garden, we had been spiritually evicted from the kingdom of God. Our hearts are captive to sin and we need peace. Jesus is our peace. Jesus is our peace because he lived a life without sin. Jesus is our peace because he then died on the cross in the place of sinners bearing the wrath and judgment of God. Jesus is our peace because after that, he died and was buried, experiencing death on behalf of his people. Jesus is our peace because on the third day, he resurrected in power from the dead, defeating Satan, sin, and death. Jesus is our peace because he ascended to the right hand of his Father. Jesus is our peace because he sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and to teach us and to lead us, to regenerate and to raise our hearts from the dead. Jesus is our peace because he will return to raise the dead, judge the world, and make all things new. You know what we call that message? We call it the gospel – we call it the good news. It’s good news because through it we have peace with God. Broken dirty sinful sinners like us can be reconciled with the holy God through the merits of Christ Jesus. He shall be their peace.
If you’re here this morning and you’re not trusting in the work of Christ on your behalf then you do not have peace. Hear the gospel story this morning. You can have peace. You can have peace with God. All that you have to do is repent of your sin and trust in the righteousness of Jesus. Turn from your self-centered kingdom and be transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, the prince of peace. He will be your shepherd. When the angels announced peace on earth among those with whom [God] is pleased (Luke 2.14), they weren't talking about a generic peace. We have to retrain ourselves to read the Christmas story. The angels weren’t talking about generic, Woodstock, “we are the world” peace, they were announcing that people could be made right with God through the merits of that baby, God’s son. Church, we just sang it. “Hark the herald! Angels sing, ‘glory to the newborn king.’ Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Peace is not a generic absence of war among humans on the planet. Cue dramatic music. Then what is peace? Tell us. That is peaceful. That is a result of eternal peace, but church that is not the peace that the angels announced. I don’t care what Charlie Brown, and Santa Claus, and Rudolph, and all of them say, peace on earth is God and sinners reconciled. That is the gospel. That is the peace we are celebrating this morning. Peace, the prince of peace, King Jesus. Don’t mishear me, because if you don’t have peace this morning, I don’t want to give you a feel-good Holiday message. There is an uncomfortable exclusivity that is tied to the peace that God offers. It is uncomfortable because he calls you to literally crucify your own desires and follow King Jesus. That is incredibly uncomfortable for people who want to live for themselves. There is an exclusivity to God’s peace, found only in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through him. Come to Christ this morning. Make your advent this morning. Today is the day of salvation. Find peace this morning in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you’re here and you’re already a believer like me, the call from Micah 5:2 is to find peace this morning by giving our life to his kingdom, by giving our life to his community of peace, his church. The church is the community of peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. In a world that needs peace, we are an outpost for the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. Why is God’s peace found in the church? Because that’s where the Word of peace is preached. Every Sunday we come together to hear the very Word of Christ proclaimed from this pulpit. Why is God’s peace found in the church? Because the sacraments, his means of grace, are entrusted to the church. The waters of baptism, the bread and the cup of the Eucharist are given so that we can tangibly see and experience peace with God. The prayers of the saints are found in the church. I don’t mean some exulted person who is already dead who gives you grace, I am talking about us, church. We are the saints, and our prayers are found in this community when we pray together and we sing together. When we gather to worship Jesus together, when the Word is proclaimed, when sinners come to the table, it’s as if Satan’s head is being crushed over and over again. Singing, giving, prayer, preaching, communion, these are all weekly rhythms that aren’t just religious traditions. They are declarations of peace against the powers of darkness announcing to them that they will soon be crushed because Jesus has been crushed on our behalf and Jesus is alive!
How can we say for sure that Micah 5 was about Jesus Christ? Let me show you. Turn with me to Matthew chapter 2:1:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
Matthew, in reference to Jesus, explicitly applies Micah 5.2-5 to the birth of Jesus Christ. But let me assure you of something church, if Matthew never said anything about Micah, we would come to the same conclusion. Jesus is the true king of the world, born in Bethlehem to bring peace to the world!
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our peace. Hear that this morning. I don’t know if that comforts your hear or troubles your heart, but it will only be one of those two reactions. Jesus is our peace. He brought peace when he came as the sacrificial lamb. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we can have peace with God and we can have peace with each other in the church, the community of peace. Like Pastor Kevin shared with us last week about hope, peace too is an already/not yet reality. We already have peace, but not yet, at least not fully. There won’t be true peace until our Prince of Peace returns to raise us from the dead and recreate the world. On that day his fame will cover the globe. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father! I assure you it won’t be quiet, but there will be peace.