Another translation states, “but the way of the transgressor will not endure, like barren dry soil.” (Amplified Version) We will never find favor with God and for that matter, in any work place, when we’re in it only for ourselves. For when your work ethic is deceptive, and fraudulent…sooner or later you’re gonna get caught! But when we approach anything we do with cautious wisdom and good common sense…all happiness and success will be ours…for we will not only have God’s favor, but man’s.
This verse is repeated several times in Judges…the Jews had no ruler, instead everyone did what they thought was right, just, and pleasing to them. But we know the definition of “doing as one sees fit” can mean a hundred things to a hundred people. So what we see here was a form of anarchy…a absence of governmental rule and authority in the country. And what we also see was growing confusion and disorder among God’s people.
To paraphrase Acts 26:18…We are to turn from spiritual darkness to the light of Jesus Christ… from the limited power of Satan to the infinite power of God, so that we may receive forgiveness of our sins and a place among fellow Believers who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. The Lord has snatched us from danger and set us free…the chains have been broken off and we are no longer a slave to sin and the jurisdiction of darkness…for the Kingdom of God is now residing within our hearts. (Luke 17:21)
The prophet Micah had to make a very personal and difficult decision…be quiet and allow the greed and injustice he saw to continue…or speak out, denouncing the willful rebellion and habitual sinfulness he was witnessing. For Micah, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit far surpassed any threat in the world…and the righteous indignation within drove him to openly condemn the ungodliness he saw. As Believers, we’re filled with the same Holy Spirit as Micah…the same knowledge between right and wrong…the same ability to bring light into darkness. I pray that a spirit of righteous indignation rise up among God’s people, causing us to boldly speak truth where there’s lies and deception.
It’s not God who throws the past up in your face…filling you with guilt, shame, and embarrassment. And it’s not Him who reminds you of all the stupid mistakes, bad judgment calls, and blunders you’d just like to forget. No, we’re really good at beating our-self up over our past without anyone else’s help! But there’s nothing we can do about the past, and besides, God’s not concerned about it…what He’s concerned about is what we’re doing for Him today. For God isn’t a God of the past…He’s a God of the here and now…with a focus on today, not on what happened years ago. So let go of the past, it’s just a heavy weight you’re dragging around for nothing.
These three wise men had traveled from a long distance, relying on astrological charts and Old Testament prophecy…following this bright star in the Eastern sky. And on arriving in Bethlehem, they found the foretold King of the Jews and offered three extravagant gifts worthy of royalty…gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So on this special day of giving and receiving presents, we also have three gifts we can give the Christ Child. For Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” These three gifts you have to give are unique only to you…for they comprise who you are…your mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, they make up the greatest gift you could ever give anyone today…especially the King of Kings.
I know your day is busy with lots of last-minute things to do before Christmas. But I have a present for you…so will you take a moment from your hectic schedule? Now I know this present isn’t very pretty, in fact it’s very battered looking with red stains on the outside. And to the world it would seem very old fashion and out of date. But this present could literally change your life for the better…with joy, peace, and wholeness. This gift is actually from God, and He, Himself, is offering it to you.. For this wonderful gift is His Son, Jesus Christ…and the whole reason why we celebrate Christmas tomorrow. So please receive this gift of hope, called the Good News…for Jesus came and died for your sins that you may have eternal life.
For a moment, put yourself out on that grassy mountainside next to a campfire as you take your turn watching for wild animals that might attack the flocks. Some of your fellow shepherds are dosing…some quietly talking….when suddenly this brilliant being stands in front of you, declaring the Messiah has come! And before you can even start to take this in… a great company of heavenly host appear. It would be like bottling every flash of lightning that’s ever happened…and then turning them all loose at the same time! And as if that wasn’t enough, these heavenly beings perform a song for you…saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” But as quickly as they appeared…they disappear…and you’re left to collect your wits and take a deep breath, all the while thinking about what you’ve just witnessed. Someone suggests traveling down to Bethlehem to see if this is true…and so off you go. And sure enough, just as the angel said, you find this tiny baby in a cattle stall… sleeping in a hay filled manger. So what do you do with all this good news? You have to tell others about what you saw and heard, right? That’s when common, uneducated men boldly started declaring the fulfillment of God’s Word…and when lowly shepherds told others about the coming of the Good Shepherd.
Imagine being that Innkeeper. The usually small, unassuming town of Bethlehem was being over-run by people coming in for the required census. His rooms were already taken by travelers, when this couple approached…the wife, clearly pregnant. The husband pleaded for a place to stay…telling the Innkeeper the time was imminent for his wife to deliver. The Innkeeper hurriedly pointed to the stable where the farm animals were kept and turned away…too preoccupied with everything he had to do. And if Mary and Joseph had told the Innkeeper who this baby was…do you think it would have made a difference? Or was the Innkeeper just too absorbed…too focused on the tasks needed to be done to realize the Messiah was coming? Today, are you so preoccupied with all the things you think need to get done that you’ve delegated Jesus outside to the barn? Are you like that Innkeeper…so focused on your “to do” list that you’re going to miss the Messiah’s birth?
Joseph was a quiet man…a devout Jew whose trade was as a carpenter and handyman in town. Joseph was also deeply in love with Mary, his betrothed, and looked forward to the day they would marry and start building a life together. But the rug was pulled out from underneath him when he learned Mary was pregnant…and not by him. So for moment, put yourself in his shoes. What thoughts and emotions would go through your mind and heart? Feelings of hurt, and betrayal would be surging through your being. Your mind would be racing with questions of “How could you do this to me? I love you.” Angry emotions would want to demand explanations from Mary for her apparent unfaithfulness. But even though Joseph had every right to make a public spectacle of Mary, (Deuteronomy 24:1) he chose to send her away quietly and spare her the indignities. But then God showed up…and all of Joseph’s questions were answered. For suddenly, it wasn’t just about him and his feelings…but about the eternal plan of the world receiving its Messiah.