“I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.” Micah 2:12
It’s not hard to find sin and misery everywhere we look in the world today. Our lives are full of encounters with bullies and crooks, and the world is full of violence and war. Why is there so much violence and deceit in the world today? The Bible teaches us that the suffering and loss we experience everyday comes to us because we live in a world that has wandered away from God and ignored his justice, peace, and, love.
The Israelites wandered away from God when the land barons stole land from those who could not defend themselves and when their judges refused to give justice to the poor. God tells them that he sees all their injustice and wickedness, and that he is going to do something about it.
Yet God also tells his people that he is a God of mercy who will gather and defend those who have wandered off like straying sheep. Sheep, of course, are never safe when they wander off. They get themselves into trouble by wandering off into positions that they can’t escape. Sometimes they walk onto a high cliff and can’t figure out how to get down, so the shepherd has to climb up and rescue the unwise sheep. Sheep are also defenseless against predators. They can’t run very fast and they are not good fighters. They depend on their shepherd to defend them against their own folly and against wolves and other predators.
God is the good shepherd who gathers and defends his people. He goes throughout the countryside gathering his sheep in his arms. He brings his sheep into his sheep pen and defends them from predators. God did this in Israel during the time of Micah’s prophesy, when the Assyrians were sweeping through the northern regions of Israel and into Judah. As they invaded, the survivors fled to Jerusalem for protection. Once inside, the Assyrians taunted the survivors, telling them that they were all going to starve and die inside the city. But the people in Jerusalem prayed to God for deliverance. They put all their trust in God to defend them and he answered their prayers by keeping them safe inside.
Micah’s prophesy was given to the survivors inside Jerusalem to comfort them with the message that the LORD is their shepherd who defends them. God assures them that they are safe as long as they trust in the LORD as their good shepherd.
The offer of God’s salvation is given again by the Lord Jesus. He said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Jesus has come into our world, where we are surrounded by violence, deceit and sin. We need to be defended against our own unwise decisions and against violence and deceit around us. Jesus calls to us so that he can gather us to himself and defend our life. He promises hope and safety to those who hear when he calls. Whoever hears the voice of the good shepherd and follows him will have life. You can trust the good shepherd. Put all your hope in him and he will guard your life.