Advent. Micah 5:1-5a

The season of Advent.

Advent means coming and this season exhorts us to think deeply about the coming of God to us.. 

Did you know that God is not distant; nor is he indifferent to our troubles..

He has come to us in the past - Christmas, the child in the manger.

He does come to us in the present - he meets with us by his Spirit

And he will come to us again in the future - the promised second coming of Christ to judge the world and restore all things.


The advent of God. 



In our passage today, 700 years before the first Christmas -  the prophet Micah predicts that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. That this child would be a King who’s greatness and peace will one day fill the earth. And so Micah’s great Advent theme is HOPE. I wonder how is your hope? Your hope for the world, for your family, for yourself. Sometimes in our frailty we can feel hopeless. But Micah says to us God is coming - in your weakness be people of hope. 


Micah tells us 2 things. He tells us about: 

1. the strength of weakness 

2. the world’s true king 



  1. the strength of weakness 

the prophet Micah - contemporary of Isaiah. 7th C BC. Ministering to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Time of great darkness. God’s people had failed. Nation under judgement. Wolf is literally at the door v1 Jerusalem is under siege to foreign armies. Sennacherib of Assyria. Striking the cheek - image of total defencelessness .. you’re so weak you can’t even defend your face. Micah’s days were Dark, fearful days. Human powers have failed. Great weakness.. 


And yet ….there is still hope .. 

Here is where to place your hope 


V2 God speaks through his prophet “But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times…” 


God is going to send a ruler, a king. But look at this… He bypasses Jerusalem, the then capital city; he turns his back on the seat of government and human power and God turns his attention instead to little Bethlehem, in the region of Fruitful/Ephratha in the tribe of Judah. A small town so insignificant it’s not even big enough to be registered as a clan. God says to this hamlet .. From you shall come for me one who is to be ruler in Israel. 


Here’s the thing: Hope will not come from the seat of human power: from parliament or palace.  No, hope will spring forth from weakness, from a child of poverty born in a feeding trough, in a cattle shed, in a crappy market town. He - this child - will rule. He will shepherd - the world!!


I don’t know if you know much about The Kings of Israel. Theirs was really a story of unfulfilled hopes. Israel’s first King - David - was their greatest. A shepherd boy, youngest son, runt of the litter who became a King. He was the archetype for all the rest. An astonishing warrior - the saviour of Israel, and a godly King - a man after God’s own heart. 

God promised David (you can read about it 1 Sam 7) that a special King would come from his royal line. A king who would rule with righteousness  and grace over not just Israel, but the whole world and not just for a time but forever. The Messiah, a Divine King - God come to us - great David’s greater Son. 

The Messiah is promised but all the Kings in David’s line over hundreds of years who rule from Jerusalem are just an increasing line of failures. Human power and strength corrupts them. They are not like David. 

But now - here in Micah 5 - what does God promise to do? He will bypass the capital and the palaces and the royal hospitals and he will return to the source. Bethlehem .. King David’s home town when he was brought from obscurity as a shepherd boy to be anointed as King over Israel. God goes back to the roots to raise up the Messiah - the humble, godly Son of David. 


The prophet Isaiah predicts the same thing and he pictures it like this. Isaiah 11. he says Imagine a great tree. The trunk is David growing up from his father Jesse. All the impressive branches are David’s descendents the Kings of Israel. And God comes with axe and chain saw and he fells that great tree. He cuts it back to its stump. Where is the Messiah now? Isaiah chapter 11v1 - ‘a shoot shall come forth from the stump of Jesse and a branch from jesse’s roots shall bear fruit.. (it’s a New David!) and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might..” 


God brings forth his salvation through human weakness..  A shoot growing from a stump. A child of Bethlehem born in a feeding trough.. who becomes a refugee, a homeless preacher, who is crucified on a wooden cross. God saves through human weakness.. 


God always uses human weakness. He is not interested in capital cities or armies  or presidents. Why? Why does God always save through human weakness?


He does it this way so that it is crystal clear that salvation and hope for this world are only found in God. We need God. We cannot save ourselves. 

We love to think we can save ourselves so for there to be the slightest hint that human power and strength contributes to our salvation would be utterly fatal so proficient are we at avoiding God and trying to do it on our own. So, God bypasses human power when he comes to save..  It is nothing of us. It is all of him. 


Let me try and explain more as we come to Micah’s second point 

  1. the world’s true King 

Some of our greatest and most enduring stories concern the return of a King. Think of Tolkeins’ great legend the Lord of the Rings and of course the legend of King Arthur. In each case: The world has fallen into darkness under the grip of an evil power. There is hopelessness, powerlessness the need of salvation. The longing for the return of a King who is from of old, who is the true heir of the King from ancient times when the world was a good place. That King must come back to restore.  Why do those stories grip us? They are myth, legend, not real and yet they grip our hearts as real and true. Why? Well Because they point to the great reality, the true story  to which all great stories point. Jesus Christ v2 His coming forth from Bethlehem, from the stump of Jesse as the True Davidic King is …. from of old, from ancient days. He is the True King. 


His first coming, we have said, is in the strength of weakness. It’s there in v3. God becomes a baby. Think about this: the God who spoke the universe into existence, the one upon whom all life depends… he makes himself utterly dependent, vulnerable. He can’t look after himself. 


He lives a humble life. A carpenter.  A homeless preacher.  With astonishing grace and truth and power and yet he lays down his life on a cross. They smited his cheek. And yet incredibly at his most weakest God’s power is most fully seen. Because in his laying down of his life God defeats the power of evil with love. 



If Jesus’ first coming was in the strength of weakness when he comes again it will be to put the world to rights under his perfect rule. V4- 

He will stand and shepherd his flock

    in the strength of the Lord,

    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

    And he will be their peace.


He will shepherd his flock. Shepherds .. we normally think of one man and his dog/babe ..flat caps and whistles leaning on your crook chewing a piece of grass.. 

ANE shepherds were incredibly tough - led the sheep to remote places in search of pasture, slept rough, courageous, killed wild animals in protecting the flock.  A good shepherd laid down his life for the sheep. Shepherds were warriors.  Ancient Kings - eg. King of Assyria would call themselves Shepherds. 


Jesus is therefore pictured here as this warrior King who protects his flock from all enemies bringing about security and peace. No enemy can stand against this King because he shepherds in the strength of the Lord. Brings a new understanding to Psalm 23 !!!! The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want for anything… Your rod and staff they comfort me… 


Jesus is the humble King. He is also the shepherd King. The Lion as well as the lamb. who is well able and will one day establish a perfect world under his rule. when he comes.. when he comes..


And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be their peace.


There’s a wonderful.. slow.. drawn out denoument to CS lewis’  Voyage of the dawn treader. 

Where they are sailing eastward towards Aslan’s country. Which in Lewis’s allegory is God’s future, the future for our world. And they sail through the white gold of lilies, where to drink the water so feeds and satisfies and strengthens them that they don’t need to eat or sleep and as the sun grows larger and more and more intense so increasingly they are able to look into the sun and even beyond it where they see mountains of green grass that rise on and on and on. Aslan’s country. God’s land. It is coming. When he comes, it will come. 


This is the future …eternal hope. The rule of Jesus Christ in an eternal renewed world. 

This life is not all there is. In fact this life is but a moment in eternity. The title page of a great story that will go on and on forever. The title page has just a Q. Will you join the King. Kneel at his feet. Live for him? He only delays his coming because now is the time of amnesty for rebels to lay down their arms and rally to him, to receive pardon and salvation. Make your allegiance clear. He is coming..


Here is advent hope. That transcends all of our fears.. 

How should we prepare our lives? How do we live in the light of it? 


Micah says - In your weakness be people of hope.. 

We despair of human powers but God has promised that he will come and restore all things ultimately. 

We despair at our own weakness but ought we not rather to be encouraged as we put our trust in a great God? Think about it: If you feel weak, faltering and  inadequate, if you are weak through brokenness or illness …then you are in exactly the right position for God to use you, to work through you, to bring his hope. Because God delights to use weak people, in fact God will only use weak people because they will not give the impression that humanity contributes to salvation. With them it can only be God.


So in your weakness be people of hope. Love your neighbours. Trust in God. Point to that glorious future. Let’s pray.