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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sermon 12072011 Mid-Week Advent 2

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  As we hear the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy, may we understand that prophecies are meant to be heard and spoken.  For this reason God uses prophecies not as a ‘slight of hand’, but to reveal His divinity and true knowledge of what would occur in the world.  May God’s prophecy especially about His Son Jesus Christ, inspire us to prepare and make ready our hearts for His coming for all of us Saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

My wife and I like watching the show “The Mentalist”.  Since we don’t have cable or satellite, we have to rely upon the ‘old fashioned’ way of receiving it, via the digital over the air signal.  On a recent episode, Patrick Jane, known for his skill of observation wrote down and placed in an envelope and gave to one of the other members of the team the name of the person who was guilty of a murder even before the evidence had been collected and all the leads followed.  For some this would be considered a kind of prophecy, for others it would be a parlor trick, but unlike mainstream media today, we have a perfect example of how prophecy really works from our series during our preparation for Advent.

Sunday we heard Micah’s prophecy that the little town of Bethlehem would be the place where the ruler of Israel would be born.  And this evening the Gospel of Matthew heralds the fulfillment of the prophecy.  Hear again an excerpt of Matthew:

4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he [that is Herod] inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:   6 ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”

It is sometimes difficult to understand that over 700 years prior to this event with Herod, Micah foretold of the events in crystal clear terms of the place where the Messiah would be born.  As we live in a technologically advanced society that has GPS, cell phones, internet and cars that can park themselves, what relevance could the prophecy and fulfillment of the Messiah have for us today?  Why would the birth of a baby, who would be ruler and shepherd of the people of Israel impact us here on the high plains of Western Kansas?

Simply, the prophecy and its fulfillment have no effect, unless we not only believe in the prophecy, but also in Who the prophecy is about and what He has done.  But is it enough only to believe in the prophecy?  By no means, to only believe does not require anything of us, it does not require any relationship and that is exactly what Jesus Christ wants to have with each and every one of us.

If you heard closely, Jesus coming as prophesied by Micah included a word that not only has clear biblical meaning, but reflects for us the importance and link between relationship and belief.  Micah and Matthew both say of Bethlehem, “FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL”.  Jesus Christ is the great shepherd.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem and came to shepherd God’s people.  This is why not only in Christmas programs the shepherds are known because they carry a ‘crook’, but have a personal relationship with each of the sheep they watch over.  Matt Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod once told a story of being in Australia out with a sheep herder.  There were a number of people in the truck as they drove into the field and the people were chattering away.  The sheep became spooked and started running away from the truck when they heard all the unfamiliar voices.  Suddenly, the shepherd just said a few words out the window in a low soft tone and the truck was completely surrounded by sheep.
Jesus Christ is our Great Shepherd and when He was born in Bethlehem and fulfilled Micah’s prophecy, His coming was to be our shepherd.  We are the sheep when we hear His voice and enter into relationship with Him and follow Him.  During our preparation of this Advent season we have the opportunity and are called to enter into a deeper relationship with our Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  For His coming in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, not only fulfills Micah’s prophecy, but gives us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ as we prepare and have our hearts stirred up within us during this Advent season for all of us Saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
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