God, remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, the tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed (Psa. 74:2).
Text: Micah 4:5-12
Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who make my people stray; who chant “Peace” while they chew with their teeth, But who prepare war against him Who puts nothing into their mouths: “Therefore you shall have night without vision, and you shall have darkness without divination; the sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them. So the seers shall be ashamed, and the diviners abashed; indeed they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.” But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, Who build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity: her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.” Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.
People who have greedy, deceitful teachings and unrighteous practices are unhappy. Such teachers and rulers are in themselves a punishment from God, and they are the cause of new judgments of God’s wrath. When people have the pure Word and do not listen to it, when they have good and just government and are not satisfied, then God sends false prophets and evil rulers. Under the harsh scourge of the Lord it can happen that people humble themselves, but more often it leads to an attitude of bondage and the spirit of rebellion. Even more destructive are false teachers with their poison of deceit that kills the soul. When people are not chastened by serious teachers with God’s pure Word, then unbelief and worldliness arise with their results: unrest, bitterness, quarreling, envy, lust, and lewdness, and with them all the most terrible feeling of security, and then people are sick unto death. The Lord’s threatening words in our text are accurately fulfilled in His Old Testament people, – as an example to warn us.
But if worldly pastors and unrighteous governments are God’s scourge on people, this does not justify their wickedness at all. Even if they are sent because of their people’s unrighteous condition, still they are not without responsibility. We pastors and teachers must seriously consider that there are no people more unfortunate than those who are spiritual hirelings, who sell their convictions for money and favor; yes, they even sell the divine truth and with it the temporal and eternal welfare of the souls that were appointed by the Lord for salvation. O so many young servants of the Lord who began with holy zeal have their desire and strength choked out by earthly cares! We must be awake and be on guard, and no one must think he is above such temptation! That feeling of security may be the “peace” which the prophet speaks about in our text. But everyone who would remain faithful will certainly receive grace for this from the Lord. “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” What are gold and honor, profit and prestige, compared to this! Here is truth and right and the eternal salvation of souls. But help us, you believers! Let us strengthen one another and hold up each other’s hands toward heaven; for the sake of God and the salvation of your own soul, fight with us and for us in prayer to God, and hear His Word, so that we can make our accounting with joy and not with sighing, for this is not useful for you.
God, fill us with the power of Your Spirit, so that we may march in victory against the unbelief of the multitude and against the whole host of Satan. Lord, in mercy chasten us for our sin, so that we humble ourselves, but do not take away from us the joy and comfort of Your Word and Your Spirit. Be gracious to us, and bless our people for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
God’s Word for us was then recovered
With cost of faithful martyrs’ blood,
Once hidden, now is rediscovered,
We have its treasures pure and good,
For which those martyrs gave their all.
God grant that we preserve it whole!
Make it our children’s sure possession
To thousand generations more;
Show us the way of true salvation
That peace and comfort we procure,
Lead others our true God to see
The Word has then fulfilled its deed.
Landstad: Gud, lad dit Ord L 496:4-5 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Wer weiss wie nahe (ELH 111); alternate hymn: Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide ELH 511:6-7