Micah and Easter
We are going through a preaching series on the book of Micah at present, and Good Friday & Easter are just one week away. Rather than having to strain to focus our minds on two diverse topics, I can see the Lord’s good purpose in placing us in this situation. The message of Micah, in fact, provides a great foundation for understanding the Easter message.
Micah repeatedly presents two attributes of the Holy God, which due to the sins of His people are brought into a dilemma: His loving kindness & mercy on the one hand, and His righteousness & justice on the other. The heinous sins of Israel & Judah over decades incurred the wrath of the Holy and just God. His justice demanded severe punishment of His people according to His own Law, that “the wages of sin is death”. Yet, His loving kindness and covenantal love towards them was limitless, never desiring that His people should perish. “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (of the penitent)*, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” Ex 34:6-7 Should He punish His people as His justice demands, or to spare them as His mercy desires? How can this dilemma be resolved? In Micah’s time, through the prophet, God pronounced judgement on Israel and Judah in the form of impending invasions and exile by the mighty powers of Assyria and Babylon respectively. However, as He was passing these sentences, He also comforted and promised future restoration to these wayward people. This reminds us of a contemporary situation of a loving parent dealing with a recalcitrant and wayward teenager. The wrongdoing calls for severe chastisement for the child’s good, yet as the child suffers the pain, there is greater pain in the parent’s heart, and the parent cannot help but to console and encourage the child in the midst of the chastisement.
This is very much the Easter message. The Holy God must deal thoroughly and justly with our sins, the severity of which is seen in the enormous price that Christ had to pay on our behalf: the sinless creator of the universe being insulted, mocked, crucified by sinful men, and going through both physical and spiritual death. Yet God is infinitely merciful, He gave us His only begotten Son, the second Person of the God Head, to take our punishment, so that we are spared of eternal death, and given eternal life. Christ’s resurrection signified that this substitute atonement has been completed (“it is finished”). The greatest exchange in history accomplished: Our sin and punishment for Christ’s righteousness before God.
Prayer: Our gracious, merciful, righteous and just Heavenly Father, we praise you that you are never changing. As your loving kindness was manifested to your people in Micah’s time, it is wonderfully extended to us today through your suffering servant, our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that you give us the strength and will to respond to your amazing grace by living out our new lives as Christ’s true disciples.
* Added by author for explanatory purpose