Monday, November 30, 2009

Guides to the Mountain of the LORD

Consider Micah 4:1-2:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.'
2,000 years ago, this began to be fulfilled in our hearing. The "mountain of the LORD" is a euphemism for the temple mount in Jerusalem. When Jesus came along and proclaimed himself to be the new temple (Jn. 2:13-22) then died and rose again so that sinners like you and me could come to God with confidence, the mountain of the LORD was established as the highest of the mountains. The nations are indeed coming to Jesus, and they have been ever since the gospel made its initial forays out of Jerusalem and toward the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8).

But Micah 4 is yet to be totally fulfilled. The nations are certainly not beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, as v. 3 predicts as part of the prophecy. Like all prophecy that is fulfilled in the NT, we have to see it in the framework of inaugurated eschatology (i.e. that the kingdom is here, but it is also not yet). The nations are coming to Jesus, the True Temple, but not as fully as they one day will. The kingdom is here. The kingdom is not yet.

What strikes me this morning as I read in Micah is the means by which God has decided to bring people to that True Temple. God brings sinful people to Jesus through other sinful people. Indeed, it is the very mission of the Church to take the hands of sinners and guide them to Jesus.

This is a point that I easily forget in my daily Christian walk, especially as a pastor. It is not my job to fix or heal people. It is my job to take them to the Great Physician who in turn will do the work, not unlike the friends of the paralytic in Mk. 2:12. They don't heal the paralytic themselves. Indeed, they can't heal him. They bring him to Jesus, so Jesus can heal him.

This is the task of all Christian ministry. The Good Shepherd stands ready to guide his people. Helpless sheep lead helpless sheep to his care. Jesus makes the chief of sinners into an apostle, and the apostle in turn gives him the glory- for he did the work (1 Tim. 1:12-17).

The Christian minister is a guide to the mountain of the LORD. The mountain is lifted up. We just show people how to get there.

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