This is Not the End

Bible Focus: Micah

Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times. Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of the ruler's brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD his God. They will live securely, for then his greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. He will be their peace.
Micah 5:2-5a CSB

We humans love good stories. We read novels, listen to songs, and keep track of the news. We watch movies and TV shows. We attend plays and ballgames. We constantly talk to each other about what’s happening in our life now and what happened in years past. Stories help us make sense of our world, for we instinctively know that we are part of a story.

Our stories often revolve around difficulty, struggle, and heartache, but they also reflect a hope for the future. This hope shows up plainly in fairy tales, where every loose end is resolved and everyone lives happily ever after. But this hope also shows up in tragic stories with plenty of unresolved issues. The object of this hope might be described as joy, purpose, fulfillment, or peace. Many times it’s simply called love.

Whatever we call it, this hope is what gives our stories life and makes our stories work. A story isn’t very good if it ends without hope. However, many of our favorite stories involve moments where it seems all hope is lost. In these moments, the story invites us to believe–against all odds–that the object of hope will reappear.

Whether we realize it or not, the one true God is our greatest hope. Our greatest tragedy involved our separation from God, and our greatest joy involves our reunion with God. But even if we believe in God, we are not exempt from difficulty, struggle, and heartache. We may experience moments when it seems all hope is lost. In those moments, God invites us to still believe in him and remember that this moment is not the end.

When it seems all hope is lost, remember that this moment is not the end.

The prophet Micah lived during the final years of the kingdom of Israel. For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel had been split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Israel’s capital was in Samaria and Judah’s capital was in Jerusalem. Both kingdoms had struggled to be faithful to God. God proclaimed through Micah that both capitals would be destroyed and both kingdoms would go into exile.

Look, the LORD is leaving his place and coming down to trample the heights of the earth. The mountains will melt beneath him, and the valleys will split apart, like wax near a fire, like water cascading down a mountainside. All this will happen because of Jacob’s rebellion and the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Isn’t it Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Isn’t it Jerusalem? Therefore, I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the countryside, a planting area for a vineyard. I will roll her stones into the valley and expose her foundations.

Listen to this, leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert everything that is right, who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with injustice. Her leaders issue rulings for a bribe, her priests teach for payment, and her prophets practice divination for silver. Yet they lean on the LORD, saying, “Isn’t the LORD among us? No disaster will overtake us.” Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become ruins, and the temple’s mountain will be a high thicket.

Micah 1:3-6, 3:9-12 CSB

These prophecies, by themselves, would have made it seem that the story of God’s chosen people was coming to an end. Samaria and Jerusalem would be left in ruins. The people of Israel and Judah would be scattered and abandoned in foreign lands. What hope was left for those who still believed in God?

But God also gave Micah words of hope for the future. He spoke about a great Shepherd that would arise from Bethlehem and rule for God over Israel and the entire earth (Micah 5:2-5a). He also spoke about the last days, when God would reign forever from Jerusalem over the entire earth, and all wars and conflict would cease (Micah 4:1-7). The story of God’s people would not end with destruction and exile. Their story actually wouldn’t end at all.

Here’s the good news. Jesus is the great Shepherd who was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is the Shepherd who gave his life for our sins, and he gives eternal life to those who believe in him. Jesus will one day rule over the new earth from the new Jerusalem. All of us who believe in him will be there on the new earth, enjoying perfect happiness, fulfillment, peace, and love together with him.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

Revelation 21:1-4 CSB

Of course, it’s understandable if we sometimes lose sight of this. We haven’t reached that part of the story yet. We are still on the first earth, experiencing days of grief, crying, pain, and death. But if we have believed in Jesus, then he is with us through it all. No matter how dark our day may become, we can still find hope in Jesus, and we can know that our story doesn’t end here.

Featured image from Michael Krahn on Unsplash.

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1 thought on “This is Not the End

  1. I am grieving because my dear sister died recently. Thanks for the reminder about HOPE. I will see her again some day, in heaven.

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