The Promise of Salvation


Sermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- Micah 5:1-6

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Have you ever thought about why you were born where and when you were born?  We are going to focus today on the significance of the birthplace of the Messiah, and the promise of salvation that came with it. Micah was a prophet who was from a small and rural village in Judah. He lived more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, about the same time as Isaiah. His name means “Who is like Yahweh?” He prophesied during the reigns of the Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

The word for prophet means “to see” and like the other prophets, he saw things everyone else wanted to ignore. Judah had risen to heights of material prosperity, but was in danger morally. Micah warned against evil and spoke against social injustices. He also called Jerusalem to prepare for a siege. Jerusalem was told to muster their troops and get ready to defend themselves.

Micah delivered a message of promise, anticipating a birth. The Messiah was coming, who would bring salvation. God sent the prophecy of the birthplace of a ruler whose kingdom would never fall, through a humble prophet. God reminded him that a promise would be fulfilled and hope was on the way!

The promise of salvation focused on the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem means “house of bread”. Ephrathah means “fruit fields” and is the ancient name of a district of Bethlehem that was used to distinguish it.  Bethlehem has an interesting history. The phrase “too little to be among the clans of Judah” is important. Bethlehem was not even large enough to have its own precinct; they were not very significant from the world’s perspective. Yet the town played a huge role in the history of God’s people.

Rachel gave birth to Benjamin in Bethlehem (Genesis 35:18). Before she died, she called her son “Benoni” meaning the “son of sorrow.” Jacob, his father, called him “Benjamin” which means “the son of the right hand.” The Son of God came into our sorrows, and is established at the right hand of God the Father.

Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem. There Boaz fell in love with Ruth and married her, redeeming her from her poverty (Ruth 2:4). So Ruth, a foreigner, found redemption in Bethlehem. Our Redeemer came to Bethlehem.

King David was born in Bethlehem and also anointed King there. Our Lord, who counted David in His genealogy, was born in Bethlehem.

The promise was the Messiah, the Son of God would be born there. This was well understood. Matthew 2 indicates when the Magi who had followed the star came to Jerusalem and asked where Christ was to be found, King Herod asked the Jewish leaders if they knew. They responded that the Bible says, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet. . .” and they quoted Micah 5:2. God always keeps His promises.

Anyone can make a promise. None of us have ever kept every promise we have made. Broken promises are painful. Not much in life is certain and unshakable. Everything is fading. Sometimes we wonder, who can we trust? Is there anyone who actually keeps every promise they make? Life is challenging and people will disappoint us. God is certain and unshakable and keeps His promises.

Psalm 145:13 The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a human that He would lie.

God often uses the unlikely to fulfill His promises.

1 Corinthians 1:27 God has chosen the world’s foolish things to shame the wise, and God has chosen the world’s weak things to shame the strong.

God is gracious in His promises.

Romans 15:8-9 Now I say that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy.

Jesus, the Son of God, took on human flesh. This is the doctrine of the incarnation. The term incarnation is of Latin origin, meaning “becoming in flesh.” The word is not contained in Scripture, but it is a Scriptural truth.

The second person of the Trinity, without diminishing His deity, took upon Himself a fully human nature. This implies a full and undiminished divine nature, as well as a full and perfect human nature, united in the historical person of Jesus Christ. He came to save people from their sins.

The promise of salvation focuses on the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.

The promise of salvation focused on the eternal rule of Christ.

V2 One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me.

Christ came as Ruler- He would display His power over every area of creation. Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead, displaying His power over even the most dreaded diseases. Jesus calmed the storm showing His power over creation. Jesus cast out demons showing His authority in the spiritual world. He rules over every corner of creation. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven!

The certainty is that He will triumph and bring all of His saving purposes to pass.

1 Corinthians 15:25 Christ must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.

Revelation 17:14 The kings of the earth are arrayed in battle against Christ, but it says “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of Lords and King of kings.”

Sometimes people say they make Jesus Lord in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is Lord over all. You may surrender to Him as Lord, but you cannot make Him Lord, because He already is!

Christ came from eternity- v2 His origin is from antiquity, from eternity. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. He did not just begin to rule when he was born in Bethlehem. Long ago, and eternity, are used in Proverbs 8:22-23 speaking of wisdom- From everlasting I was established, before His works of old; from everlasting I was established.

God’s Wisdom existed from eternity past- before the creation of the world. The Messiah who came out of Bethlehem existed before the creation of the world. He would be born as a baby in Bethlehem- but His goings forth are from eternity! The Son of God did not come into existence in Bethlehem, He existed eternally with the Father in Heaven.

In John 8, the Pharisees were telling Jesus He was not greater than Abraham, and Jesus said Abraham rejoiced to see His day. They said to Him, You are not yet 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Before Abraham came into being, I AM. They picked up stones to stone Him. I AM was the name that God had given Moses when Moses asked Him who he should tell the people had sent him. God said- I AM has sent me to you. Jesus is the I AM. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal.

Christ took on flesh in Bethlehem, but He has existed forever. There was never a time when He was not.

The promise of salvation focused on the finished work of Christ.

Looking through the lens of prophecy, we can see three time periods in view. Micah was speaking of his own day, and how God was protecting them from the enemy. He was looking ahead to the coming of Christ, when God became man and dwelt among men. Then we can still look even further ahead to the Second Coming of Christ and the ultimate fulfillment.

Christ will stand and shepherd His flock- Micah said the people of God who had been scattered and were about to be judged because of their sin, would be gathered by the Savior as a shepherd gathers His sheep.

Isaiah 40 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them to His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Christ will serve in the strength of Yahweh, in the majestic name of Yahweh. Christ will provide security. Christ’s rule will extend to the ends of the earth. There is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2).

Christ will be our Peace- This is what Ephesians 2:14 says– For He Himself IS our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity.  Jesus Himself is our peace.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross- whether things on earth or things in Heaven. Colossians 1:20

There is forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and peace through the blood of Jesus on the cross.

The Jews used the word shalom, which is Hebrew for “peace.” In the Bible, God’s shalom meant much more than simply the absence of war. It indicated peace between God and individuals. The longing for God’s shalom included those things, but peace was also much bigger and broader. Shalom meant not only inner peace or spiritual peace; it meant wholeness and completeness throughout all creation. It meant the end of injustice. It meant the rich would no longer devour the poor. It meant all brokenness would be set right and healed. It meant that people would love one another. Shalom would flow deep and broad, embracing all of creation, including plants, animals, and the earth itself.

In 1861, Phillips Brook was called to pastor the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia.  He then called a great Sunday School director to help him, and soon had built a church of over 1000 — huge for that day.  He began to be recognized as one of the greatest preachers of all time. But on Christmas Eve, 1865, Brooks was worn out.  Those years of ministry were during the Civil War, and church members were being killed and injured on the battlefield every day.  Then President Lincoln was assassinated, and Brooks was called on to preach the funeral sermon.

It all just took its toll on Brooks, so he took a sabbatical to the Holy Land. On Christmas Eve, 1865, he took a horseback ride from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  The locals advised against it; they said he could be robbed, but he didn’t care, and he soon found himself on the road to Bethlehem.  As it got dark, and the stars came out, he soon saw Bethlehem spread out before him – almost unchanged in 1800 years.  He had a great sense of awe at what God did there, when He sent His Son to become man, to save us.

He later said that the experience was so overpowering that he would be forever “singing in his soul.”  When he returned to his church in Philadelphia, he was reinvigorated.  But it was hard for him to convey to his people what had happened to him – nothing he said seemed to do it.  Then one night, he found himself reliving that experience in his mind, and he began to write it all down in a poem.

He finished it, and gave it to his Sunday School director (who was also his organist), who put it to music:

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, Above they deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Phillips Brooks found peace that night in Bethlehem, because of what God did in Jesus there – and you can find that same peace when you find the Savior who was born for you in that “little town!”  Micah predicted that when He came, “this One would be our peace.”  Jesus made peace for you with God by His death on the cross.  So now: “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”  The Jesus who was born in Bethlehem will save you, and send His Spirit into your heart, and give you peace with God, if you will receive Him today!

Have you received the promise of salvation?