Festival of St. Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr
Scripture: Micah 5:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us; They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
3 Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. 4 And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; And they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5 And this One shall be peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land, and when he treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princely men.
“And they shall abide.” This is a precious promise for all who believe. Christ is born in Bethlehem, as the prophet foretold. But the prophecy is far more than simply “where will the Christ be born?” Micah’s prophecy shows what kind of Messiah He will be and the results of His work for us. He will rule over the house of Israel as one even greater than David. He will stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord. His hand will not tremble as He gives sustenance to His lambs. His endurance will not wear thin as He shepherds His flock to the green pastures of His Word and the still waters of life. He shall be great, so great in fact, that He will bring peace to the ends of the Earth. Not worldly peace. Wars and rumors of war must still go on until the end. But peace between God and man, because all who are justified by faith have peace with God, the peace which passes all human understanding. It passes all human understanding because it believes that God, in Christ, is for us and not against us, and that nothing in all of creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Justifying faith gives peace to the troubled conscience. This is how Christ will rule and shepherd his flock.
In this He will keep us so that we shall abide. No longer will the faithful be tossed to and fro with sin. No longer will instability and change cause us to fear God’s favor is lost. By faith in Christ we shall abide with Him both now and forever in the favor of God.
Grant us the peace through the knowledge that all our sins are forgiven in You, Lord Jesus. Amen.