Advent Devotion for December 5
Candle Lighter says: “They do not know the Lord’s thoughts”
Response: “…or understand His plan.”
SCRIPTURE: Micah 4:6-13
6 “In that coming day,” says the Lord,
“I will gather together those who are lame,
those who have been exiles,
and those whom I have filled with grief.
7 Those who are weak will survive as a remnant;
those who were exiles will become a strong nation.
Then I, the Lord, will rule from Jerusalem
as their king forever.”
8 As for you, Jerusalem,
the citadel of God’s people,
your royal might and power
will come back to you again.
The kingship will be restored
to my precious Jerusalem.
9 But why are you now screaming in terror?
Have you no king to lead you?
Have your wise people all died?
Pain has gripped you like a woman in childbirth.
10 Writhe and groan like a woman in labor,
you people of Jerusalem,
for now you must leave this city
to live in the open country.
You will soon be sent in exile
to distant Babylon.
But the Lord will rescue you there;
he will redeem you from the grip of your enemies.
11 Now many nations have gathered against you.
“Let her be desecrated,” they say.
“Let us see the destruction of Jerusalem.”
12 But they do not know the Lord’s thoughts
or understand his plan.
These nations don’t know
that he is gathering them together
to be beaten and trampled
like sheaves of grain on a threshing floor.
13 “Rise up and crush the nations, O Jerusalem!”
says the Lord.
“For I will give you iron horns and bronze hooves,
so you can trample many nations to pieces.
You will present their stolen riches to the Lord,
their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.”
SOME THOUGHTS: As mentioned a couple of days ago, one of the central themes of Advent is the return of the Lord and the establishing of His eternal Kingdom. To most of us, that almost sounds like the plot of a novel, something mildly interesting, but not something with which we have a very strong connection. Some insight into the context of this passage may help bring us from casually reading about something that happened a few thousand years ago to grasping a better understanding of the ways of our God. It can help move us to better “understand His plan (v.12).” Jerusalem is the most unique city in the entire world. It was common in the ancient Near East that when a city was defeated, it was entirely destroyed or assimilated. Its identity was entirely lost. Not so with Jerusalem. Though destroyed at times, it still remains. (Some of the stones put in place by Solomon at the building of the Temple around 1,000 BC are still in the same place!) God spoke through His servants and prophets, not through nations. In this passage, Micah is prophesying that the Israelites will be sent into exile and suffer in Babylon because they have ungodly leadership and are being disciplined by God. When they have humbled themselves before God and repented of their ways, God has promised to restore them and to restore His city, Jerusalem. Micah foretells that many nations will rise up against Jerusalem only to be defeated and disciplined by God. Sometimes we may think of all of this as we would of an interesting story. The Bible says not a word about the city of New York, London, Rio, or Tokyo. It does say a great deal about Jerusalem. Since we “don’t know the Lord’s thoughts or understand His plan,” it behooves us to pay attention to what He says about His city. He has a plan for His people and for His city. He is not done with Jerusalem. Read the Revelation passage above to see what lies ahead. It’s not a novel!
MUSIC: The Holy City by Stanford Olsen with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Metropolitan Opera (YouTube)
PRAYER: Oh my Creator, are you leading every one of us to greater godliness? Or is this only a metaphysical idea for which there is no evidence? Is man only a constant repetition of himself? You know that through all these twenty horrible years I have been supported by the belief that I was working with you who would bring every one of us…to perfection. O Lord, even now I am trying to snatch the management of your world from your hands. Too little have I looked for something higher and better than my own work - the work of supreme Wisdom, which uses us whether we know it or not. Lord, help me to know your thoughts and understand your plan. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
—Adapted from Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910