Micah 5:1-5 ,Haggai 2:5–9, Malachi 2:4–7 (read online ⧉)
One of the biggest problems with peace…is us. Peace often does not reside well in our souls. We bear the world’s concerns as if they were our own. It is not that we are not to care about the world, but only God is capable of caring for all the concerns of the world. Our “peace” on the other hand is usually pre-occupied with what we think we give us peace: whether it is food, clothing, riches, power, things, “friends” or whatever else. Somehow having the burden for caring for all these things is supposed to give us peace.
In Micah’s time, Israel perceives that the world is against it. It (as Micah says) is cutting itself in grief. It is an odd time for an origin prophecy. Yet, here we are with the promise that God’s proxy ruler (the Messiah) will come from Bethlehem. This Messiah will be a shepherd. The shepherd is a caretaker who loves the sheep. The shepherd will not control or direct by force, but by love. This shepherd will be their peace. The language is peculiar. The shepherd will be their peace, not the shepherd will bring peace or enforce peace. Be peace.
Be peace. God promised that Israel would have God, granted as long as they wanted God. As they wandered further and further away from God in their hearts, while still fulfilling the trappings of faithfulness, peace in their hearts and in their lands ceased. God wasn’t done with them though. Despite all the troubles they brought upon themselves in the world, God would provide peace.
We can look at the archetypal Levi in Malachi to understand. Those who are called to worship God directly (Levites in Israelite culture, all Christians) received a covenant of life and peace. All that was required was reverence, which often seems to be sadly lost even among those who say they “fear” God. Out of the reverence words of Truth were to come, and turn those living in sin away from it.
1) What is reverence?
3) Why do you think the shepherd being peace is important? What does that mean to you?