(Preached in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Evening, November 29th, 1874)
“And He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide: for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:4)
Dark and gloomy were the days when God sent forth His prophet Micah to declare His mind and will to His people Israel, and to open the armory of Divine indignation against all who opposed themselves to Zion’s God, to Zion or to her prosperity. Error, heresy, and idolatry reigned rampant on every hand, the worship of the true God was beclouded, the truth of Jehovah had fallen in the streets, and His glorious sovereignty was hated and repudiated by the mass. Multitudes of professors abounded, ay, thousands with the impudence of hypocrisy made use of that precious pronoun “my,” when they had no part or portion in God Himself. Priests, who ought to have been God’s mouth, were too fond of their own, and with reckless presumption arrogated to themselves all means of grace, as we find matters described by Jeremiah:–“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means;” or, as we read in the margin, “take into their hands” the rule and the means,” and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Micah 5:30,31) There is something startling in this announcement to God’s elect, redeemed, and regenerate family:–“My people love to have it so.” Love what? Love to leave the means of grace in the hands of the parson, preacher, or prater. If I look around me now, I find the same state of things prevailing, for I see too much dependence manifested in the preachers of the Word. But God will, sooner or later, teach His people that He will have them depend on nothing short of Himself.
In days of trial, darkness, and dread, there are now and then bright rays of glorious grace darting their brightness from Jehovah’s throne. In the chapter before us God’s people are described as a remnant. “The remnant of Jacob!” Now I have thanked God a thousand times for giving this description of His people. What is a remnant? That which is hated, despised, discarded. Looked at in the light of trade, a remnant is the fag end of a piece of cloth, under value, commanding not a market price. And are not God’s elect looked upon as below the mark, not fit to enter polite society, as narrow, crude, crotchety, peculiar? Ay, indeed they are, and because of this they are a burden to all with whom they come in contact. It was true in Micah’s time and it is true today, that the people of the living God are a remnant, a remnant scattered and peeled.
This refers to spiritually, experimentally, and prophetically Jesus. In Him it was fulfilled literally:–“They smote Him with the reed.” Ay, the judge, the Discriminator of Israel was smitten. I like that word “Judge” when it refers to our blessed Lord and Master. Listen! “A Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widow is God in His holy habitation.” Mark! Here God is said to be a Judge, not a Husband, of the widow, though this is blessedly true, for He is the Husband of His poor widowed people. But He is the Judge. A precious Christ, the Judge of Israel, the Judge of the widow, knew what it was to be deserted and in solitude to cry, “My heart within me is desolate.” Because of that which he learned in the school of human suffering He is able fully to discriminate, and to supply all the necessities of His suffering people.
“When gathering clouds around I view,
When days are dark, and friends are few,
On Him I lean, who, not in vain,
Experienced every human pain;
He knows my griefs, allays my fears.
And counts and treasures up my tears.”
Ay, He is the Judge, and concerning Him we have this glorious and undisputable prophecy:–“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousand of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth to Me that is to be Ruler in Israel: whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting (Micah 5.2)”;” He was set up as the Substitute, Surety, Safeguard, and Security of all those whom the love of His heart determined to shelter and to save.
Blessed be God, “to Him shall the gathering of the people be.” To Him shall all the scattered remnant be gathered together, and His precious promise graciously fulfilled:–“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20)
And He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide: for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth.”
“And they shall abide.” Who shall abide? The scattered ones who are gathered shall, not may, abide. Then comes the glorious climax of this precious prophecy concerning Zion’s King and Lord, “for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth.” In these words we have a glorious description of Him whose goings forth have been from everlasting, and shall be to everlasting in the salvation, glorification, and blessedness of His people. His preexistence and eternity are clearly stated, and, of necessity, His glorious Godhead, which is only disputed by the devil’s dupes. See! He boldly states His preexistence to the cavilers of His days upon earth:–“Before Abraham was I AM,” not, “before Abraham was I was;” but, “I AM,” JEHOVAH, the true, proper, and eternal God, One with the Father before the worlds were framed; yet, in the fullness of time made of a woman, a true man and the only true God, high over all, blessed for ever. Man, sin excepted; God, without exception. Through the union of the two natures God is in Christ as the Head, the Lover, and Husband of His people. O what a glorious Christ this is! When He was set up as the Head and Representative of grace, all heaven was filled with praise. But one looked on with jealous and malignant eyes, that old serpent hated the Christ of God, and led on the rebellious hosts against Him: he thus rushed madly, bent on his own destruction, and of him it may well be said: “O Lucifer, son of the morning, how art thou fallen from heaven, for thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High; yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)” But it is our blessed privilege to turn away from this dark picture, and, in grateful adoration, contemplate the glory and the grace of Him who is ever the ineffable delight of His Father, and the object of His people’s joy and praise. It is God’s Christ that I love to dwell upon.
Look at Him in the days of His youth here upon earth; throughout His whole life He manifested the sole desire of His heart, the glorification of the Father, without a single deviation or divergence. Ay, and see the intensity of His desire to meet the hosts of hell, to encounter the rage of Satan, to court damnation, that His people should be delivered from all the pains and penalties thereof, from the guilt and power of sin, and live in the loving embrace of Jehovah for ever. He sought the mournful shades of Gethsemane. His favored three accompany Him, and their wondering ears are startled with the plaintive wail of their Lord’s dejection: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” He retired about a stone’s cast from them, seeking the face and smile of His Father, but all is dark. In sore amazement He cries: “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” The bitter cup must be drunk to the dregs. Oh! who can sound the deep mysteries of His sympathetic sufferings?
Finally to Golgotha He was hurried to the tree, to experience the curse of God. Yes, Christ was made a curse for us, that we might, nay, that we must, be blessed. Heaven’s Darling, Jehovah’s Delight, the sinner’s Friend, groaning, bleeding, dying, to bring us into the rich experimental possession of His own eternal life. Ah! In His death, death received its death-wound. In Him the Father beholds the Delight of His heart, and exclaims: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Three days after the desertion, darkness, and death of Calvary, He was on resurrection-ground, and Satan thwarted, God glorified. Ah! We cannot dwell too much or too long upon these glorious realities: “He showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs,” and then ascended up on high.
Well, then, in His resurrection-power, in His ascension-glory, and His undisputed session at God’s right hand, “He stands!” Divine decrees remain irrevocable! Divine prophecies are fulfilled! Divine promises are performed! “He shall stand!” He stands ready to save from every sorrow, and minister to the necessities of His elect and redeemed brethren who are exercised with the temptations, toils, and trials peculiar to their earthly pilgrimage.
“In every pang that rends the heart,
The Man of sorrow bears a part;
He sympathises with the grief,
And brings the suffering saint relief.”
“But see! “The stoned Stephen, calling upon God.” Oh, blessed be His holy name, every murderous stone, in the decree of our God, was a messenger of mercy to help him out of this cold world of sin and misery. “But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” Standing ready to receive His poor, persecuted, and despised one to His home and to His heart. O troubled and tried ones, “tossed with tempest and not comforted,” thou whom Satan delights to worry “with a malicious glee,” he may taunt and insinuate that thy hope is the hope of the hypocrite, that thy faith is no better than his own, that thy love, faint as it is, is all a delusion; but, mark, He who from the mountain-top sees thy distress will hasten to thy relief, and give thee to know, in the experience of thy heart, that “The day and the night are both alike to Him.” He will cause His light to shine upon thee, and His secret to rest upon thy tabernacle, giving thee to rejoice in the blessed fact that the days shall shortly be accomplished when, “Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting Light, and the days of Thy mourning shall be ended.” (Isa. 60:20) O glorious Prince! O gracious Priest! O precious Provider! O powerful Protector! “He stands and feeds in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.” He receives His poor trembling ones to His breast, and ministers to the necessities of all those whom His love has saved. This is the Christ I love! This is the Christ whose arms I fly to, and whose loving bosom nestles my ofttimes weary soul. Ay, “He shall stand!”
“Past suffering now, the tender heart
Of Jesus on His Father’s throne,
In all our sorrows bears a part,
And feels them as He felt His own.”
Saul of Tarsus may journey in his exceeding madness against the saints of the Most High God; ay, and cause them to blaspheme; but as he hastens onward toward Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun shone round about him, and he heard a voice speaking unto him, and saying: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” Did you notice that “Me?” Me in the persons of my members. The Prince, Protector, was then looking to the scattered, and shattered, and peeled remnant in Damascus who feared the Lord and thought upon His name; ay, thought when they knew not how to speak of Him.