Phil Dufrene is a missionary we support as a church based in Sumas, a chaplaincy ministry to the crews of Cargo ships... I read a devotional from Phil this week ~ he structured his thoughts around an intriguing google entry he stumbled across: “Sad Quotes.” I share only a few sad quotes because they are so sad… people are living in darkness. I wish I could skip the sadness and jump to God’s promises, but because of the ugly reality of the darkness, God’s promises shine brightly. This week we’ve been transfixed by the blood red sun/moon caused by the smoke from the BC wildfires,. It is hazy, but the sun is still shining! Hundreds and hundreds of sad quotes:
- “Smiling has always been easier than explaining why you’re sad.”
- “Sick of crying, tired of trying, yes I’m smiling, but inside I’m dying.”
- “I am the type of person that sits in the bathroom crying, then walk out like nothing happened.”
- “My heart finally said, ‘enough is enough’”
On and on it goes…In his devotional Phil said he spent an afternoon listening for the sad quotes of the crew on the ship. The first greeting to the crew, “how are you?” with the typical response, “I’m fine” but as the afternoon went on, he heard the discouragement of being away from their families, the loneliness, justifications for decisions but sadness of the reality of life on the seas… He was listening for sad quotes. I scrolled through my FB feed, so many sad quotes: “Nobody gives a _____ about me so why do I even ______ing try.” Sadness. Darkness. Depression. Hopelessness. “The walls we build around ourselves to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”
In the days of Micah, Jerusalem was a fortified city with gates. When Judah is threatened by an attack from enemies, smaller cities near Jerusalem flee to the safety of the walled city of Jerusalem… Historians who study Micah believe this is happening when Micah prophesies the words of Mic. 2:12-13… Israel to the north has been destroyed by the Assyrians. Now, Assyria is overrunning Judah… the people seek shelter in the fortified capital of Jerusalem. It is a dark and terrible day for Judah, a national crisis. Assyria surrounds Jerusalem now full of citizens and refugees. Hezekiah is the King. History records the King of Assyria saying he had “shut up Hezekiah inside Jerusalem his royal city like a bird in a cage.” But Jerusalem did not fall! Micah’s message: All is not lost, God will protect the city and it’s people! READ Micah 2:12-13.
The King of Assyria, the darkness of this world, says you are like a bird in a cage, trapped, nowhere to go. God says, you are like sheep in the protection of a fold, I am with you, I am your shepherd. One person’s cage is another person’s refuge.
There are times when the darkness is so overwhelming, God offers his refuge, a place of safety. When you are sad, overwhelmed, flee to the Lord, flee to his people. I am committed to the community of God’s people being a safe place to rest, peace. The church doors are open for the messy, the discouraged, those that are afraid. It is Jesus Christ who restores, Jesus who comforts and strengthens, the Lord Jesus Christ who lifts up the weak.
Look closely at God’s promise/ vision through Micah. Christians need to expand their capacity to see the future as promised by God, not dwell on the present darkness which results in chronic sadness, but see beyond to the promises of God. If you are not able to see beyond the darkness, pray for God to reveal his promises so you can hope again, believe again, expect great things because we are loved by a great God.
This is the word of the Lord. READ Mic. 2:12. God will gather His people… a place of refuge. There is something about togetherness. One of the tactics of Satan is to scatter Christians… with the Summer Ministry Team here last week, it was an occasion to finally fulfill a long term desire to have a community gathering in the Foothills. As we went to homes to invite people, I was struck by how most agreed community was needed, but then when I told the specifics of where and who might be there, many people got tense and weren’t sure they could participate… I understand… we all do that… we have a fear often grounded in truth… YET the vision of God is that he will gather, bring together… SOMEDAY… I have no power to make the fullness of God’s Kingdom Come, but God has given us a toehold in His Kingdom ~ its our honor to be a gathering place for people have a sense of security… “like sheep in a pen” the verse says, a pen is a safe place at night when wolves and lions stalk the sheep under the cover of darkness.
The King of Assyria saw Jerusalem as a cage, God says it is a refuge, a place to gather. There is something about togetherness with other Christians, something about the affirmation, the likeness. Loneliness/isolation is a tool of Satan.
The word “remnant” is used in Micah 2:12. Remnant is a sub theme through-out the Bible. The word “remnant” brings to mind a small group of people. “remnant” theology has motivated small groups of people through-out history to declare themselves to be the remnant ~ they alone have preserved the truth of God and they alone have demonstrated proper faithfulness. I disagree. If the idea of the remnant gathered together leads to even a smidgeon of arrogance then it is a wrong understanding. Remnant is part of the promise of God to bring hope to the discouraged ~~~ there will always be those who are faithful and those who are acceptable to God. We do not need to worry! When you read through this verse, the vision ends with “a throng of people… “The place will throng with people” or as the NLT says, “your land will again be filled with noisy crowds.”
God’s promise is that there is more life than you imagine…it is not a small gathering, it is a huge gathering….
Micah 2:13 enlarges the promise of God… READ. Mic. 2:12 strength is found by gathering together in a sheep fold for protection. Now the image changes to the gate being broken down and the people of God being led out in triumphal procession by the King, the Lord Himself. There is a time for the Lord to gather His people in a safe place, then there is a time for the Lord to lead people out into the world in boldness. “The will break through the gates and go out.”
Many believe Micah is envisioning almost a century in the future when Jerusalem goes into exile in Babylon, and then after 70 years the exiles return, perhaps an echo of that tremendously uplifting vision of Isaiah 55:12: “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” There is a time to gather together in the sheep fold finding strength and safety, then the vision of God is that the day is coming when we will go out… That is the day that keeps me going, the day we will be led in boldness by the King of Kings.
In order to overcome the darkness of this present world, in order to overcome the sad quotes that plague too many lives, hold on to the promise of God that the day is coming when the people of God will gather together like sheep in a fold. I am not a prophe. I cannot say exactly where we are currently on the prophetic spectrum, but it seems to me that we are in a day when the people of God need to gather together. We need to resist the tool of Satan to isolate us and to discourage us and to mistrust one another.
As I studied for this message, one commentator (Leslie Allen) wrote these words: “A true prophet must be able to distinguish whether an historical hour stands under the wrath of God or the love of God.” As a student of the Bible and an observer of the world, I do my best to put my finger on the pulse of the times in which we live to try and understand where we are in the unfolding of history under God. I believe we are in a time of discouragement, unrest, uncertainty among Christians, distance from one another ~ we are in a time when God is gathering the remnant together, those that are faithful and have given their heart to the Lord. When the world is dark, the promise of God is to gather us together so we can confidently look forward with a fresh revelation from God that he will bring Salvation and restoration to new life.
In order to overcome the darkness, we need a fresh vision of new life in Christ, the day when we will go out being led forth by the King.
The promises of God bring life, even as the world is full of struggles, even as darkness knocks on the door. The promise of God is that the people of God will gather together. God’s assurance is that we are not alone, we don’t need to isolate ourselves, but we need one another so that together we can sense God’s presence and pledge our allegiance to the King of Kings. The day is coming when we will be led out, the day is coming when the gates will be broken. Ask the Lord to expand your capacity to see the future as promised by God, not dwell on the present darkness which results in sadness, but see beyond to the victorious promises of God. Amen!