The Lord Yahweh gives wonderful words of promise to comfort the people of Israel during their captivity. He says, “I will assemble the lame.” He would draw together the weak and helpless. He would not allow them to perish, no matter what wretched affliction they suffered when they had been taken away into captivity.
The people had been broken and devastated. The kingdom had been taken away from them. They had lost all their property and had been led into captivity. These are the people who were lame. They had become powerless and weak.
To them He says, “I will make those who were cast off a strong nation.” Here the Lord points beyond the captivity to the Church. The holy Church was built through the Gospel to stand against the gates of hell and all the attacks of sin. She has been absolutely invincible to death. She has been built on the firm Rock, Christ, her King, so that she might not be afraid or be overcome by anything.
He says again, “And the Lord will reign over them on Mount Zion from this time forth.” Here is a clear and magnificent passage about the divinity of Christ, the Son of God. Here the prophet calls Him Lord who is going to rule forever over His people on Mount Zion. This cannot be a physical kingdom but a spiritual and eternal one. Therefore also the King of this kingdom is eternal and glorified, and His people glorified and eternal. How else could He be the Lord and sit on the throne of His father David forever, except the people also be eternal? But He could not be eternal in a mortal or dead body, but in a body raised and glorified. Likewise His people cannot be mortal or in dead bodies. Here also is the resurrection of the Christ, and the resurrection of us His people from the dead to life everlasting.
Again, He says, “To you shall the former dominion come.” It is as if He were saying to the people long ago: “You may seem to be done for. Your kingdom may appear to be lost. But be confident! The former dominion shall return. You will again be completely free after the captivity. You shall not be deserted, nor shall you always be in captivity, but you shall again return to your own place.”
When we seem to have lost all, we should remember that we have the same Lord Yahweh. He does not abandon or cast us away forever, although He may allow us to be captive to this or that. We may seem to lose the kingdom. Yet we must remember that in Christ the kingdom is secure for us. We cannot truly lose what the Blood of God’s Son has purchased. Therefore be confident and trust in Him.
He speaks again of the spiritual nation to come, which is the Church. He says, “The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples.” He describes the power and work of the apostles and other preachers of the Gospel and tells what kind of men they are going to be—first among the Jews from whom they had been taken, and then among all nations throughout the world.
“In the midst of many peoples.” This prophecy certainly looks ahead to the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven and the apostles spoke in different tongues, as the account in the Acts of the Apostles has it. These words also refer to the whole church era that follows Pentecost.
“Like dew from the Lord.” That is, the Holy Spirit, not men, will send them. This will be a heavenly act. Enlivened by the Spirit, they will rain down the sweetness of the Gospel. As the dew comes down from heaven on the crops and flowers and drenches the earth without our knowing, so also when the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven, they began to preach. Even after Pentecost, this holy watering of the Spirit continues, as St. Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” In this way the Gospel is heaven-sent dew.
He also describes this work of the Gospel, “like a lion among the beasts of the forest.” He indicates the power of the Word and the might of the Spirit. The Gospel bursts forth with such great force and might, like a powerful hunter, although we cannot see this great power with our physical eyes.
Therefore, says the prophet, “As for me, I will look to the Lord.” Whatever bitterness we must endure, we hope for better things. Even as the Lord has redeemed us with His precious Blood, He will redeem us again from our captivity in this present world of sin and darkness. Although we may fall, we will rise again, and our strength renewed. Although we receive shame and humility in this life, yet we will be glorified.
Even while I am not yet glorified, the Lord is my fortune and treasure while I am in the midst of darkness. We may now suffer afflictions and wretched captivity. But light will rise in the darkness for the upright. Yahweh will vindicate us, and reveal the glory that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So we bear with patience when the Lord treats us as if He is angry with us. On the other hand, the wicked cannot endure the hand of the Lord in affliction. They are forced to despair when they have fallen under the judgments of the Lord. The righteous, on the other hand, confess their sin and patiently endure the hand of the Lord as they await their very certain freedom.
The prophet add this impassioned plea to the Lord: “Shepherd Your people. Take up Your staff.” In response to such fervent, devout prayers, the Lord came to His people to Shepherd them. He did not reject the Virgin’s womb, but became Man. He was willing to be born as one of us, yet without sin.
He took up His staff, which is the holy Gospel. With this He shepherds His sheep. With the power of this mighty Staff, He is able to protect us from any wolf or other beast that seeks to devour us.
So He went to His own people, the Jews, preaching the Word. In this way, He revealed Himself as the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Yet He was not content to only shepherd His own people, but also sent out His mighty Word for us Gentiles. For us, also, He became Man and has preached His Word. Even now, He is here in this house, preaching His Word to His sheep. Today, now, the prophet Micah’s prayer is being fulfilled, as it is also fulfilled in many places around the world. The Lord Yahweh has become our Shepherd through His precious Gospel.
So we also pray, “Oh Lord, continue to feed Your people in the forest; that is, in the danger of this world, where we are exposed to the attacks of beasts, where satan, like a roaring lion, always lies in wait for us, eager to devour us. Do among us Your marvelous works, in Word and Sacrament. Once You led Your people out of Egypt, and again You led them out of captivity in Babylon. No less awesome is the freedom You declare among us, and no less powerful the works You do here. Continue, dear Lord, to comfort and restore us by Your refreshing Gospel.”
May this always be our prayer, as the Holy Spirit opens our lips to pray. Amen.
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