by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
It is easy to become discouraged when we focus on the changes taking place in our culture today. It is demanded that every philosophy and every religion be treated with respect while the gospel of Jesus Christ is assailed as being narrow and bigoted. Evolution is a taught as though it were a scientific fact, but the biblical account of creation is ridiculed.
And how twisted is the attitude toward human life! A man was recently sentenced to twelve years in prison for killing his neighbor’s cat but the courts defend the right to kill unborn babies. And as you go through security before boarding a plane you are reminded there is a constant threat of violence at the hands of terrorists.
The problems faced in the world today are gigantic, and the underlying cause is ignored.
The fact is that when a society turns away from God the effects of that departure can be seen in every area of life. There is a lack of strong leadership to show the way to better and more peaceable times, just as it was in the days of the prophet Micah. He said, “the good man is perished out of the earth,” the judges are looking for a bribe, and friends and even family members could not be trusted. He describes a breakdown in government and a breakdown in the family.
If you spent much time thinking about the darkness of the day and the decline of a nation which has been so uniquely blessed of God, you could easily conclude you might as well give up in despair.
One of Satan’s most effective tools is discouragement. The laborer can’t work effectively if he is discouraged and the soldier will have difficulty standing firm in the day of battle if he is considering surrender.
But we have a great example in Micah. He faces reality. The times are dark. The troubles are great. But what does he say? “Therefore I will look unto the Lord.”
He didn’t say, “Therefore I give up, therefore I quit, therefore the situation is hopeless.” No, he says, “Therefore I will look to the Lord.” There is reason to look to the Lord because he is able to help. The psalmist said, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (46:1). He is not a god like Baal who was unable to respond to the cries of his prophets on Mount Carmel; this God has strength and power. He is not at a distance unable come to our rescue, but a very present help. He is there when needed.
Sometimes his response to our prayer is not what we expected. He could have kept us out of the fiery furnace, but his answer was to instead go into the fire with us and bring us out safely. By his providence he could have sent the storm in another direction, but just when we thought we would perish he lets us see him command the winds to cease and the waves to be still. So in our adversities we have learned more about our own frailty and that we must look to the Lord for our help.
Micah’s commitment to look to the Lord reveals that he intends to look nowhere else. God said through Isaiah that those who go down to Egypt for help will be brought to confusion.
God would have his people trust him and him alone.
To lean on the arm of flesh will bring disappointment. To turn to the world and its philosophies will only evoke God’s displeasure. Why then would you look anywhere else but to the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth? Ponder the prophet Isaiah’s question: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” And then consider his declaration, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in” (40:12 & 22).
The one who stretched out the heavens and created the earth by the word of his power is the very one who has encouraged us look to him. What a privilege that we as poor creatures of the earth should be able to come boldly to the throne of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ and be promised help in the time of need.
Consider Jonah. He had made the wrong choice. He had disobeyed God and was in deep trouble because of his rebellion, but he knew there was only one place to look. He said, “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple” (Jonah 2:7). He could have reasoned, “The Lord will not hear me because I have sinned,” or “how could I expect that praying from the whale’s belly my prayer would reach the throne room of heaven.” But Jonah looked — he prayed and God heard him and delivered him from the grip of death in the depth of the sea.
God calls on us to look to him. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). And the Scriptures abound with examples of those who found help when they looked.
No doubt you can recall many a deliverance along the way which came when you turned from all else and looked to the Lord. A lady once complained to me that she had looked to the Lord and called upon him but he had ignored her plea. But as we talked about her concerns it became evident that she wanted help on her terms and her timetable. There was no attitude of submission to God’s will, no willingness to trust God’s wisdom above her own; there was just disappointment that she could not have things done her way.
As we call on the Lord we must come recognizing he is the potter, we are the clay.
His purpose is to conform us to his image and if that involves more trials to change us, we must bow in humility and ask for grace to sustain us as God accomplishes his sovereign will in our life.
Micah concludes his writing with a reminder that God delights in mercy. We should not be surprised if God’s judgments are meted out on this nation, but we should seek his mercy. Whatever we face, the case is not hopeless. God is able to bring a spiritual awakening in our land and we could see evidence of genuine repentance and a turning to God.
If, though, the decline continues—judgment is severe and Christians are persecuted—the Lord has promised not to forsake his people and will give grace to endure whatever may come. It is possible that when you become deeply concerned about our nation that you lose sight of some things in your own life that need immediate attention. Where are you in your walk with the Lord? Do you have daily communion with him? Do you spend time in his Word? Have you lost your first love?
Has discouragement rendered you ineffective in serving the Lord? You need to say with Micah, “I will look unto the Lord.”
But doubts plague you and you respond, “What’s the use, I doubt the Lord would help me.” Jonah knew his plight was difficult and he was not on good terms with the Lord, but consider his action: “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” He looked and God responded. Your needs may be enormous, your failures may be great, but here is the promise, “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
Do it now. Look to the Lord. Call upon him while he is near.
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