Friday, November 29, 2013

Micah 4: The Millennium Reign

Micah 4:1-5 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk Each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

One day, the world will be ruled from Zion, which will be Jerusalem. The "house of the Lord" (Jerusalem Temple) will be established. At this point in time, this has not happened, but when we hear the news of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple, we can be quite certain the end of history as we know it has come. But it's not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new world order. Jesus compared this interim period between the ending of the old world order under Satan and the establishing of the new world order under Christ to a pregnant woman's birth pains: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains" (Mt 24:6-8). We are now living in the period of the birth pains. Like the woman's birth pains, the frequency and intensity of the pains will increase as the birth of the new world order draws nearer.

In a sense, the birth pains are not the sign of the end of the world but the start of a new one. Jesus Christ will rule the nations from Jerusalem and the law of God (not human laws) will be the standard of judgment: "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (4:2).

That is why I'm amazed that there is now a certain embarrassment among pastors to preach about the law of God. The overwhelming message of grace taught by some churches has silenced many pastors from preaching about God's law, as though it is passé. But the law of God will never be passé. This reluctance to preach strongly on God's moral standards as found in the OT and in Jesus' teachings is anti-biblical and anti-Christ, for Jesus has declared quite unequivocally about the law's continued relevance: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:17-19).

Some grace preachers are arguing that at the Cross, the "Law and Prophets" has all been fulfilled, so this saying of Jesus being pre-Cross is irrelevant to the post-Cross Church. But that is focusing too narrowly on what the "Law and Prophets" means. While it is true that  many of the OT prophecies concerning the Cross have been fulfilled (especially the Laws of Moses), but not all the Prophets have been fulfilled. In particular, prophecies about the end-times and the millennial reign of Christ have yet to be fulfilled. So is Micah's prophecy that "out of Zion shall go forth the law."

If the law of God is no longer the standard of judgment between the Cross and the Return of Christ, by what standards does God judge the nations? To say that the only standard is whether they accept or reject Christ would be a mistake, for as the Apostle Peter realized: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35). The Cross provides the basis for God's acceptance of anyone who fears Him and does what is right because such persons believe in God and put their trust in His mercy, not their own righteousness. This principle of how God accepts sinners cuts across time and ethnicity, for the "righteous shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). The Gospel of Christ opens the access into God's kingdom to all who draw near to God by faith, for "without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6).

The law remains the basis for God's judgment for the Church and will be extended to all nations in the future Millennial Kingdom.

Father, I thank You that we are not governed by human laws, but by divine law, now abiding within us through Your Spirit. Amen.

 

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