Wednesday after the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Micah 4-6 (NKJV)
4:1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it.
2 Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; 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 any more. 4 But everyone shall sit 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. 5 For all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.
6 “In that day,” says the LORD,
“I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted; 7 I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; So the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. 8 And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
9 Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counselor perished? For pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs. For now you shall go forth from the city, you shall dwell in the field, and to Babylon you shall go. There you shall be delivered; There the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
11 Now also many nations have gathered against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD, nor do they understand His counsel; For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; For I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves bronze; You shall beat in pieces many peoples; I will consecrate their gain to the LORD, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.”
5:1 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. 6 They shall waste with the sword the land of Assyria, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances; Thus He shall deliver us from the Assyrian, when he comes into our land and when he treads within our borders.
7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, that tarry for no man nor wait for the sons of men. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, who, if he passes through, both treads down and tears in pieces, and none can deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted against your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.
10 “And it shall be in that day,” says the LORD,
“That I will cut off your horses from your midst and destroy your chariots. 11 I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds. 12 I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no soothsayers. 13 Your carved images I will also cut off, and your sacred pillars from your midst; You shall no more worship the work of your hands; 14 I will pluck your wooden images from your midst; Thus I will destroy your cities. 15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury on the nations that have not heard.”
6:1 Hear now what the LORD says:
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.
2 “Hear, O you mountains, the LORD’s complaint, and you strong foundations of the earth; For the LORD has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel.
3 “O My people, what have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab counseled, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, that you may know the righteousness of the LORD.”
6 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
9 The LORD’s voice cries to the city—wisdom shall see your name: “Hear the Rod! Who has appointed it? 10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the short measure that is an abomination? 11 Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, and with the bag of deceitful weights? 12 For her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13 Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you, by making you desolate because of your sins. 14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied; Hunger shall be in your midst. You may carry some away, but shall not save them; And what you do rescue I will give over to the sword. 15 You shall sow, but not reap; You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; And make sweet wine, but not drink wine. 16 For the statutes of Omri are kept; All the works of Ahab’s house are done; And you walk in their counsels, that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing. Therefore you shall bear the reproach of My people.”
The Church is surrounded by her enemies just like Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Babylon. There are those who attack the Church from the outside, mocking and ridiculing all those who cling to the Lord God in faith. There are also those who claim to be a part of the Church, who preach and teach false doctrine, leading those who are deceived to unbelief and other great sin and shame. The Church’s work is symbolized by a woman in pain giving birth to her child.
The Blessed Virgin Mary endured the pains of childbirth in order to bear our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. This town was associated with sorrow and pain, for it is where Rachel gave birth to her last son, Benjamin, but died during the birth. Now this would become the place of promise. The Messiah, the Anointed Savior of the Church, would be born in this small town.
Our Lord was born in Bethlehem so that He might fulfill the Law perfectly for us, and suffer and die in our place on the cross. He endured the pain of the cross so that we might have life. He bore our reproach so that we might have the promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He gathers all those who believe on Him into the Church to receive His gifts and lead us into our eternal home in Heaven.
We pray: Lord, we beseech Thee to keep Thy household, the Church, in continual godliness, that through Thy protection she may be free from all adversities and devoutly given to serve Thee in good works, to the glory of Thy Name; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.