Explore the Bible Study: Humble Beginnings (Personal Title Change: Don't Give Up!)

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There are times when we give up on a team, someone, or a situation when it appears all is lost, only to discover later that we were wrong, and we missed out on something that could have been very special to us. Lifeway's Explore the Bible Study: Humble Beginnings (Personal Title Change: Don't Give Up!) focuses on a victory no one expected would take place. It follows what Micah describes in chapter 4. 

Micah 4 describes a period of distress where all appears to be lost. While the people might have given up all hope of a victory, God reminds them through His prophet, that the game isn’t over yet! 

With both kingdoms of Israel destroyed, including the Jerusalem temple, and with the people dispersed throughout the conquering lands, God will be the Victor. The victory that will come will be a testimony to all the nations that God is the one true King. He will reign eternally over His people and all nations from Mount Zion.  Israel’s wicked kings will be replaced with His own King, who will shepherd them with strength that only comes from the Lord. True peace will be experienced on earth, and those who walk with the Lord will do so for eternity. 

Imagine, as you examine this passage, that there is a ballgame where all the fans are leaving the stands and heading for home because it appears the game is lost. Suddenly, everyone hears the announcement that their team is making a comeback. When we think all is lost today, if we know Jesus Christ, then we know the game isn’t over. Yet, sometimes, we are tempted to give up and quit because things seem hopeless.

God’s words to Israel through His prophet Micah should remind us that God is still at work and His plans for victory are still in play. We should not lose hope and give up.

Don’t Give Up: The Lord will gather and restore—Micah 4:6-8

By "on that day," Micah is referring to what he previously stated about the future when the temple would be restored, and the nations of the world would come to it to hear from the Lord. Micah reveals that what happens “on that day” is planned by God Himself; therefore, these plans cannot be thwarted. It also reveals the grace and love of God for His people.

God would gather those who had sinned and were currently experiencing the consequences of their sin that God had pronounced on all who sin against Him. Yet, there would come a time when God would gather them.

The gathering of those who were lame and scattered included much more than just bringing them back to a location. How does verse 7 describe a transformation in the lives of those who God will gather? How does this compare to what we know and understand regarding how God transforms one who receives Christ?

According the Explore the Bible Leader Commentary, the Hebrew phrase, “I will make” means “I will transform.” God will not only gather, but He will also transform them into a people that will be His light to the nations. This is equally true for those who receive Christ. The following passages should remind us of this promise to those who receive Christ (scroll over each passage to read): 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 2:9-10.

This Old Testament promise to Israel also pointed to God’s future plans of salvation and restoration that would be available to all who were “far removed” or “far from God” and who would respond to God’s offer of salvation as did this “remnant” of Israel. It points to the birth of a future ruler born in Bethlehem after the remnant returns from exile. He would be the humble ruler who would give His life for His sheep and would ultimately bring peace to the hearts of those who would follow Him and eventually bring peace throughout all the earth.

Don’t Give Up: The Lord will rescue and bring peace—Micah 5:1-6

This passage begins with Micah speaking of a distressing time for Jerusalem, yet he offers hope in spite of what they are about to face.

According to GotQuestions.org, Jesus is this “new David” as confirmed by this passage. It specifically states that the birthplace of this future “ruler of Israel” would be Bethlehem Ephrathah. Since there were two locations known as Bethlehem at the time of Micah’s writing, the addition of Ephrathah is significant. It specifies the Bethlehem in Judah, the portion of Israel in which the capital, Jerusalem, was located. Bethlehem was considered “little,” or insignificant, among the cities of Judah, yet it would serve as the birthplace of this future ruler.  Only Jesus Christ fits the Messianic claims of this passage. In Matthew 2, wise men from the East visited King Herod in Jerusalem and asked where the king of the Jews had been born. Herod assembled all the chief priests and scribes, and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’” basing their answer on Micah 5:2.

Micah also describes how this “ruler of Israel” would rule, which also points to Jesus:

  • He tells us that He has always existed—"His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” Jesus is not only the promised Ruler, but He is God incarnate; thus He has existed and will exist for eternity.
  • He would stand as one who is in charge but would rule as a shepherd who would care for the needs of His people. He would rule “in the strength of the Lord,” indicating that He would be all-powerful. He would also rule “in the majestic name of the Lord His God,” meaning He would be ruling on the Lord’s behalf as His representative.
  • Finally, He “will be their peace.” Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace also includes the external existence of peace and the internal experience of peace. Neither of these are possible without Jesus Christ.

How would you describe to someone that Jesus Christ is your peace?

Don’t Give Up:  God gives purpose to those who follow Him—Micah 5:7-9

The Explore the Bible leader commentary tells us that Micah began with a statement that is both sad and joyous at the same time. Some exiles would not survive the captivity. However, there would be a “remnant” who would, and they would have a tremendous impact on the nations.  God would use the remnant of Israel to bless other nations like the dew and rain brings relief to a dry land. They would thus fulfill their purpose as described by God to Abraham—“All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (see Genesis 12:3). 

Micah reminds us that this purpose is not without conflict, which is obvious by the fact that they will be a source of judgment. 

This remnant would be an instrument of God’s judgment on those who reject Him as well.

Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2:16 that believers will also be both a source of blessing and an instrument of God’s judgment to all nations when they faithfully share and show the good news of Jesus—"To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 23:31-34; 41 that the purpose we are to fulfill as believers will ultimately be completed by Him: “31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . . 41 “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!” 

A Missed Win

It was reported in 2013 that the Miami Heat fans had developed a reputation of not being the most faithful to their team. In waning moments of Game 6 in the 2013 Finals, Ray Allen connected on a monstrous 3-pointer leading to a Miami Heat win. Yet their fans had given up any hope of a win, resulting in a mass exodus of Heat fans down the stretch.  When fans heard the Heat were mounting a furious comeback, they reportedly begged to be let back into the arena but weren't allowed. One reporter put it this way, “Well, perhaps the guilty will learn their lesson: never lose hope in your team.”

As we once again move toward December and the celebration of Christ’s birth in that little town called Bethlehem, let’s encourage one another to never lose hope in God and His work. God is still at work, even in a world where it seems we are becoming more and more of a “remnant” of His people. Let’s never lose hope in our God and Savior!

If you are a believer, what might cause you to lose hope today?

How can remembering that God will gather and restore those who follow Him, keep you from giving up?

How can remembering that God rescues and gives peace, keep you from giving up?

How can understanding God’s purpose for us, keep you from giving up?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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