“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.
Micah the prophet wrote these words to God’s people 700 years before Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Micah wrote of a small clan, a town that never amounted to much and a woman in labor; then he writes of a Ruler, a Shepherd, our Peace and the one whose greatness would be known to the ends of the earth. What a contrast!
God isn’t impressed by what impresses us. Positional leadership doesn’t catch his eye, nor does power derived from position, wealth, even hard work.
The One who will be our peace, whose greatness is known to the ends of the earth was compared to a shepherd. Remember the “shepherds abiding in the fields”? They were simple, uneducated men; not men of influence or renown, but humble, hardworking commoners.
“He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord.”
Another version says he “shall stand and feed”. Jesus lived every moment in the strength of the Father. Over and again he stole away from the crowds to pray, only to return to minister, heal and teach. Jesus never questioned the value of his work or the majesty of the God who sent him. He engaged the crowds, involved the disciples and shepherded his flock always in the strength of the Lord.
Jesus always turned to God before he acted out. He always remained, abided, in the strength of the Father so he continued in his ability to do his work.
Have you ever heard of the acronym H.A.L.T.? It’s often used by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people understand the things that trigger a relapse. Hurt, Angry, Lonely or Tired–HALT. It’s an amazing little series of questions to ask ourselves when we are discouraged. Did I say those mean things to my husband because I was hurt? How do I act when I’m lonely–needy, critical, despondent? And how many times have I lashed out at my kids because I was tired? When we answer honestly, we will see that our bad behavior is often precipitated by hurt feelings, anger, loneliness or fatigue.
God isn’t concerned with our sphere of influence or our past (or the past few minutes!), however sordid or accomplished. God is concerned with us abiding in his strength so that we can, like Jesus, find our purpose in serving God and others. Sadly, Christmastime becomes a season of striving, but it’s meant to be a time we focus on and learn from the One who will be our Peace. Let’s turn to him to receive the strength we need to stand up and care for others. Let’s stop the striving and lean into God before we make the mistakes from our shallow wells or hurt, anger, loneliness and fatigue.
We can be more peaceful when we are abiding with Jesus our Peace, instead of abiding in our past, our power or our position.
Make this Christmas your Peaceful Season!