Dr. S. Lewis Johnson provides commentary on the teaching of "the remnant" of believers as found in Micah's prophecy.
[Message] Let’s open our class this afternoon with a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee again for the prophecy of Micah, for the wonderful truths that are contained within it. So often, Lord, we overlook these portions of Thy word, which have been preserved for us to profit from. And we thank Thee for the privilege of reading through them and pondering some of the things that this man of God wrote so many hundreds of years ago. We realize, as we read and ponder the things that he speaks about concerning the days in which he lived, that the things that troubled him and the things that were a help for him are the very things that trouble us and are also a help for us in the day in which we live. We thank Thee for the encouragement. We thank Thee also for the conviction. We pray, Lord, that as a result of our study tonight we may be more pleasing to Thee in our Christian life and testimony.
We especially ask for all of the believers in this room that their own Christian lives may be strengthened built up by virtue of our study together, and that they may receive the comfort of the message of the word of God. And this we ask in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.
[Message] Well, we’re turning again to the 5th chapter of the Prophecy of Micah, and our subject tonight is “The Remnant and the Future.” One of the great topics that Micah discusses, not only here, but in other places in his prophecy as well. So turn with me to Micah chapter 5, and let me begin tonight by reading verses 7 through 9, verses that we will read again as we come to them in the exposition. Micah writes,
“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. (And of course he’s referring to the dew and the showers when he says, “that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.) And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.”
That 9th verse is a verse which in the Hebrew text is capable of two different renderings depending on the texts, manuscripts that we prefer. Some of the manuscripts read, with the imperfect tense or state, and we could render it, “Thine hand shall be lifted up.” It’s probable that the preferable text reads, so that this is a jussive form, and it reads in such a way that this verse is something of a command or a wish, something like, “Thy hand be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies be cut off.” And that’s, of course, what we will prefer, but no great point hinges upon it fortunately, so we’ll leave it at that. If you have a New American Standard Bible you’ll notice they’ve rendered this as an imperfect. So has the Authorized Version, but other versions, modern versions, render it as a jussive and thus speak of a command or a wish.
So the remnant and the future, against the background of the Assyrian attack, the Assyrian siege, and the hardships that that might indicate, Micah sets out first of all a future universal kingdom of a divine ruler. He has said in verse 2, remember, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” So Micah has just prophesied that the Messiah to come will be a ruler in Israel. This afternoon I looked at another Jewish interpretation of the Prophecy of Micah, and even this Jewish interpretation says, concerning this passage here, this is a prophecy of the Messianic King and Israel’s destiny among the nations. Of course, the author of the exposition does not believe that the Messiah is the Lord Jesus Christ, but he does believe that this passage does have to do with the Messiah and also with Israel’s destiny among the nations.
Then also, Micah has set out the fact that as a result of the coming of the Messiah, Assyria, who is dominating Israel at this time, is going to be dominated by him. In fact, all of the nations are going to be vulnerable to invulnerable Israel under the Messiah. We read in verse 4, “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” And then in the latter part of this chapter, verse 10 through verse 14, a section that we’ll look at next week, the Lord willing, he points out that security in the future is going to be based upon Yahweh, or the Lord alone. And we’ll drop it with that, because we will deal with that next week.
You notice, as we read the Scripture reading, that the term, “the remnant of Jacob” occurred twice. Verse 7, “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD.” Verse 8, “And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest.” So this term remnant is the term that highlights this passage. And it refers to the remainder of the faith Israelites who have remained faithful throughout the calamities of the 6th and 7th centuries, in fact the 8th century as well. But particularly Micah has in mind those who have remained faithful after the calamities of the 6th century, when the nation in both its parts goes into captivity. There are, I think, two thoughts that are suggested by the word remnant. I don’t know whether you have ever thought of this or not. Occasionally we pass over these very familiar words without ever really meditating upon them. Incidentally, that’s one of the reasons John Calvin is a good commentator. That’s characteristic of Mr. Calvin and his interpretations, he ponders the significance of the words both theologically, biblically, and practically, and does not simply do what we would call grammatical syntactical exegesis of the text, thought that, of course, is important.
What does the term “remnant” suggest to you? “The remnant of Jacob,” twice it is mentioned. Well, one thought is obviously involved in the term “remnant;” that is the tragedy of apostasy. After all, God had when he selected Abraham and called him out by divine election, in the plan and program of God Abraham was the father of ultimately a mighty, numerous group of people. But now in the latter stages of the Old Testament, the prophets speak of the remnant. So it’s clear that in the minds of the Lord and the prophets, the present Israel is only a fraction of the former Israel. We wouldn’t use the term remnant if we do not have implied in it the tragedy of apostasy. So that is something that immediately strikes home to us. It is possible to be the object of divine election in the corporate sense, to observe the mighty workings of God, as the nation Israel did, think only of the Exodus but all of the other great acts that God did in their behalf. Then it is possible for the people of God in that collective sense, to have apostasy enter in among them, and to have them depart from the faith, so that God in speaking to them can only speak of a remnant, a remainder that is faithful.
Now, when you read the New Testament that’s what you see of the church of Jesus Christ. We will see, and we have seen of course, an apostatizing of many in the church of Jesus Christ, and in the last days there will be simply a remnant. Now, that principle is a principle that pertains to individuals assemblies of believers, too. It’s a principle that pertains to Believers Chapel. Now, I don’t know, and so far as I know, no one else knows the precise place that we are in the working of God in our midst in Believers Chapel. But we know this that it is characteristic of human beings to depart from the Lord, both individually and as a collective group. And so it’s something that we ought to take to ourselves, to be sure that we are truly following on to know the Lord, to use an expression of one of the other prophets, the Prophet Hosea. So the idea of the remnant suggests the tragedy of apostasy.
The second thing that it suggests is more comforting. The idea of the remnant suggests the hope of a return. The very fact that Jacob has a remnant, a remnant of faithful individuals is a testimony to the sovereign grace of God, and the sovereign purpose of God. And also a testimony to the fact that his electing purpose has not vanished from this earth, and that he is carrying out his plan and program. And though at the present time Micah may speak of Israel as being a remnant of Jacob, nevertheless God’s purpose holds firm and still. This is part of his purpose. This is what we learn by the progress of spiritual history. So God’s divine, electing purpose is something that he stands behind forever, and he will bring his elected people home to himself. In the midst of the great company, the collective company, many may fall away, but the individuals elected by him in sovereign grace, he will bring through safely to himself ultimately.
Last night I got a call from my friend who is a recent graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary. He’s got a good name. His name is Johnson. He, too, is in apostolic succession [Laughter] Peter Barjona, son of Jona, remember, or son of John, or Johnson, that was Peter’s name, Peter Johnson. [Laughter] And my friend is also named Johnson, and he calls me. He lives in Philadelphia. He’s a very fine young man. He calls me about once a week. I don’t know what his telephone bill is, because we talked last night about forty-five minutes over the phone, and he calls me as a rule. I guess he thinks that I can’t afford it. And we talked about a number of things, and he’s looking now for a ministry, because he’s just graduated from the seminary. And he’s going around various churches inviting him to preach.
Well, he told me about an interesting experience he had this past Sunday. He went to Carney Point, I think it’s in New Jersey, and he preached in an Independent Baptist church. And he said when he finished his message that morning, a man came up to him. He had mentioned the term “election” in his sermon. He had not said anything about Calvinism or anything like that. But he had mentioned the term “election” in his sermon. And this was the conversation that ensued, and I got it down, because I thought it was so interesting. It’s so revealing to me. The man who came up to him was one of the men of the church, one of the officers I think. And he said, “You mentioned in your sermon the word election, are you a Calvinist?” And Gary said, “Well, yes, I am a Calvinist.” The man said, “We don’t believe that.” Gary said, “You don’t believe what?” “We don’t believe in election.” “But the word election is in the Bible,” Gary said. The man then replied, “But we don’t believe in election.”
Now, I thought that was a most revealing conversation, and I told him. My first comment to him afterwards was, “Well, you have been delivered from a very unhappy situation, because if you had gone in a situation like that where individuals say ‘We don’t believe in election.’ When election is in the Scriptures, what basis of appeal can you have to them when you teach to them the word of God?” Now, if he had said, “Election is in the Bible and we believe in election, but we have a little different interpretation of what election means from that which you think it means,” then there would be some basis for discussion. And of course, the hope that ultimately there could be a meeting of minds, that is in accordance with Gary’s mind, naturally. [Laughter] But nevertheless there could be some discussion. But if a person is not amenable to the words of Scripture, what is the basis of discussion and appeal and how can you have such a situation in a Christian church and expect the Christian church to prosper?
Well, the fact that we have the term “remnant” here is an evidence that God’s electing purpose has not vanished from history and he is going to carry out his will. I’m sure that the believers who read this from the hands of Micah got considerable encouragement as they reflected upon that word. Now, this is very important for us, too. We are inclined to think, because this is something that happened six hundred years before the time of Christ, or seven hundred years before the time of Christ, and therefore what application does it have for us 1982? Well, a very, very important application, because it reminds us of the faithfulness of God to his promises. And it suggests to us again the sufficiency of the word of God for our needs.
Now, over in the 15th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans in the 4th verse, the Apostle Paul wrote to them, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” “That we through patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope,” so these things written in the Old Testament were written for us. They were written that we might have hope. So God’s faithfulness to his word, through the mouth of Micah is an encouragement for us. If he is not faithful to those promises, we have no assurance he’ll be faithful to the promises he has made to us.
Well, let’s look now and let’s see what he has to say about the remnant. Now, he’s going to give prophecies with reference to the future, because he’s already said, remember, that the remnant is going to go into captivity. So he’s already told them the bad news. But now he wants to tell them some good news in the light of the one who was born in Bethlehem who is going to be Ruler to the ends of the earth. Now, as you look at verse 7, and verse 8, and verse 9, you notice first of all that verse 7 and verse 8 begin very similarly. Did you notice it? “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord.” And then verse 8, “And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion.” So we have a statement here of promise in both cases. We have a pair of national promises that are followed by a command in verse 9, if we take the jussive to be the form of the verb in verse 9.
Now, this prophecy is intended to match chapter 4, verse 6 through verse 8. So, let’s turn back a page in our Bibles and read verse 6 though verse 8 of chapter 4. Remember, Micah said,
“In that day, (Now again he’s talking about the future.) In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
So in that prophecy he speaks about the fact that in the future he’s going to gather together the remnant of the people. Now, you notice that these two oracles are so much alike in form, that he not only gives us a theme, “The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of peoples,” but then uses similes, or comparisons, in both of the verses, too. Verse 7 he says, “As a dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass.” Verse 8 he says, “The remnant is going to be in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks.” And there is a relative kind of clause that closes each one of the verses. So the prophet is writing very carefully, and in the finest of literary fashion, giving us two national promises that are very similar in form, and each speaking of what the remnant is going to be in the future.
Now, first of all, in verse 7, as he speaks about the remnant he says the remnant is going to be a blessing to the nations. Now, in your mind think on into the future. Think on passed the present age of the church of Jesus Christ. Think on forward to the time when, as the Apostle Paul says, “All Israel shall be saved, and the nation shall be grafted in again into the Olive tree.” For this is the general time about which he’s speaking, the time of the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, the time of the recovery of the nation Israel and their blessing under the Messianic King during the world wide reign that he shall have.
Now, Micah’s already said almost all of that in this chapter. But now looking at verse 7 he will speak of the theme first. “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD.” Now, I want you to notice that carefully, because what he is saying is that the source of the remnant’s existence is the Lord. It does not come from men. It does not come from their good works. It does not come from their free will, but they are going to be a dew and as showers from the Lord. In other words, the source of the divine blessing in the future is the Lord himself. Now, that is the important theme to note. It’s the same old teaching that we have all through the Bible of the sovereign grace of God.
Now, looking at that theme for just a moment, as it is expressed in the first part of verse 7, notice what he calls the remnant. He says the remnant is “the remnant of Jacob.” What does Jacob suggest to you? Well, Jacob suggests one of the fathers, of course. Jacob suggests an individual whose life has a series of ups and downs, but nevertheless one can trace through it progress in divine holiness until near the end of his life, Jacob become a marvelous illustration of the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. What else does Jacob suggest? Well, Jacob suggests crookedness, deceit, supplanter. He also suggests fighter for God, God’s fighter, perhaps Prince of God, but God’s fighter.
So what you have in Jacob is the combination of weakness and failure, but also covenantal connection. Because the covenant that God made with Abraham was confirmed to Isaac and confirmed to Jacob so that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So when I see something like this, “the remnant of Jacob,” I not only think of the tragedy of apostasy, and I not only think of the weakness and failure of Jacob, the humanness of Jacob, so much like us. But I think also of that great covenantal connection that God has determined to bless the seed of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham, in spite of what we may be naturally. So, “the remnant of Jacob,” that’s a wonderful testimony to the way in which God takes that which is worthless, and by his own activity makes something out of it that glorifies him.
We have a lot of talk today about the dignity of man. Man does not have any dignity of himself. Any dignity that he has is the product of the divine determination, what God is going to do. Oh true, we were created in the image of God, and the image, in measure, is still there, but it is corrupted. And a result of that, the Bible never speaks of the dignity of man. One may only use that expression if we realize that when we use it we are talking about God will do by his grace for us. That, I think, is extremely important. We have many Christians, I think, who fall into the habit of speaking about the dignity of man. We can speak of God’s interest in the saints, of course, but that’s something different.
He says now, “The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples as a dew from the Lord.” Now, before we talk about dew I want to say something about “in the midst of many peoples.” What does he mean here? Doe she mean that they are going to be scattered about like they are today. You can hardly go anywhere on the face of the earth that you cannot find a Jewish man. It’s well known that they are scattered all over the earth in divine discipline. And wherever you go you will find one. Some place you will find more than one. Some place you will find groups of them. But there’s hardly a place that you can go on the face of the globe that you won’t find Jewish men. Is that what he means? I doubt that that’s what he means here, in the light of the great promise of regathering in the future. The chances are he means that the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples in the sense that Jerusalem and Israel is a nation in the midst of many nations. So he is talking about the nations and its regathered status as a nation in the land. And they are going to be, in that sense, in the midst of many nations. In other words, he’s not speaking so much individually as collective. So, “the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD.”
Now, let’s look at the comparisons or the figures. Two figures are given. Jacob is going to be like dew and Jacob is going to be like showers upon the grass. Now, dew doesn’t mean too much to us in Texas, but it meant an awful lot to the people in the land. As you know, Palestine is a very dry land. It’s situated by the side of the Mediterranean. They have a rainy season, and they have a dry season. And from the spring until the fall there is not rain to speak of. That is the dry season. How is it possible for them to have crops? Well, the only way that they can have crops is for those breezes that come from the Mediterranean that are full of water, and as they come over the land and strike the land that is cooled at night, the combination of the cool land at night and the breezed that flow from the Mediterranean produces extremely heavy dew. And it is that heavy dew that is responsible for the growth of the fruits and the vegetables and other things that are grown in the land. So dew to them was something that was particularly significant.
Now, I’m going to ask you to turn back in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 27. Now, that’s the first book of the Bible. Remember? Genesis chapter 27 and I’m going to read verse 28 and verse 29. And you know the story. This is the story of Jacob stealing the blessing from his brother. And we read how Rebekah and Jacob deceived Isaac and managed to get the blessing. Remember, Rebekah did the cooking, she did the scheming. Jacob went along with here in it all. He was clothed in such a way that he smelled like Esau who was a man of the field. And we read in verse 26,
“And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son. And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.”
That’s the source of this statement, “the dew of heaven.” So when Micah, hundreds of years later says, “The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD,” or a dew from heaven, he’s reflecting upon the fact that that was one of the figures of speech of the blessing of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. What then are we to suggest by it? What are we to see by this suggestion then that Jacob is to be as a dew from the Lord? Well, he’s to be the channel of grace to the future nations. Now notice, he says they “shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD.” In other words, the remnant of Jacob is going to be the means of the blessing of the nations of the earth. And they’re going to be like dew, absolutely necessary for fruitfulness. Now, we might not like that, but nevertheless that is the teaching of the word of God. I wish I had time to turn to Deuteronomy 33, and verse 28, where Moses uses the same figure of the dew to express the blessing of God upon the people. So here is the remnant of Jacob. They’re going to be like dew in the midst of the nations of the earth. They are going to be the channel of divine grace, which will lead to the future blessings of the nations of the earth.
Do you remember an instance in which the dew also had significance in the land of Palestine? Remember Gideon? And when Gideon was denominated by that theophany to be the deliverer of the children of Israel from the Mideonites, and after he had thrown down the altar to Baal, cut down the groves, word went out among the unbelievers that Gideon was going to be taken. They went to Gideon’s father and asked that he give over his son. His father made one of those marvelous little statements. That’s probably one of the reasons Gideon turned out to be the kind of person he was. He said, after all, why should I do Baal’s work? If Baal is god, let Baal defend himself. Let him go get my son. And of course, you know what happened, ultimately Gideon won the victory. But in the course of it, Gideon manifested his concern, and so he said to the Lord, “Now Lord, I know you’ve called me to do this, but I need a little encouragement. So if I put out my fleece, and if it is wet all over, and everything else is dry, then I’ll know that you are with me.” So the next morning he went out, he looked around, everything was dry. The dew had not come. But he picked up the fleece, and he squeezed out a whole bowl full of water from the dew.
Then he said, “Now Lord, don’t be angry with me. Let’s do it the other way.” And so he said, “Let everything else be wet with the dew but let my fleece be dry.” And of course, that’s what happened. You can see how much the dew meant to the people of the land. So the remnant of Jacob is going to be as a dew from the Lord in the midst of many peoples. And they are going to be as showers upon the grass.
Now, remember, he is the real source of the blessing. It is from the Lord. And then after the comparison, there is a little relative clause which deals with the term of the comparison. Now the term of the comparison is the dew and the rain, or the showers. And notice, it says, in verse 7, “upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.” Now, the showers and dew come at the sovereign beck and call of God, do they not? Yes they do. That’s evident from what happened in Gideon’s experience. So, dew comes as God wishes it to come. The showers come as God wishes them to come. We cannot make it rain. Even B.C. cannot make it rain. [Laughter] He may sit behind his rock, but he cannot make it rain. Only God can do that. And when we read in verse 7, “that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men,” this is the prophet’s way of saying that the remnant of Jacob is going to be a blessing among the nations, not by virtue of man, but absolutely independent of men, by the grace of God, the sovereign grace of God. He’s going to make the remnant of Jacob a blessing to all the nations of the earth. That’s going to be a magnificent sight, magnificent fact.
Now he, in verse 8, goes over the same territory, but this time speaks of the remnant in a slightly different way. He says, “And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” Now, if the dew speaks of the silent blessing of the Lord God, the lion speaks of the irresistible power of the remnant pictured by the raging lion, by the young lion, by the raging lion among the beasts of the forest, and the young lion among the flocks of sheep. In other words, the victims of the aggression of the Assyrians are going to, in the future, be the aggressors among the nations and God is going to so work through them that he going to bring them to the headship of the nations of the earth. They are going to be like lions, and the rest of the nations are going to be like that other weak beasts of the forest or like the sheep when the young lion enters into the flock.
By the way, the fact that he speaks of blessing in verse 7 and then cursing in verse 8 has been thought by some to indicate that this is a prophetic statement of the truth of the original promise that was given to Abraham, when in Genesis chapter 12, remember, and verse 3, the Lord said to him, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Those two aspects of the work of the remnant of Jacob in the future are in sequence as Genesis chapter 12, verse 3. I don’t want to make too much of that, but it has been suggested that the blessing and the cursing are like here, the blessing and the scourge that Jacob is going to be among the nations.
Now, the theme is again stated in verse 8 in the beginning of the verse, “The remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion.” The other nations are weaker, wild nations. Some of them domestic animals like the flock. But Israel’s going to be like a lion. Now, you know, of course, that that is one of the great figures of the Bible with reference to Israel. Now, I think that we have just a moment or two. We can look at a couple of passages that I believe will illustrate this. First of all, Numbers chapter 23, and verse 24, Numbers chapter 23, verse 25. Here, in one of the prophecies that Balaam gives we read, Numbers 23, verse 24. “Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion.” That’s again a figure of the nation Israel. Look at verse 9 of chapter 24, he’s talking about how God brought Israel out of Egypt. “He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.” Again, a reference to chapter 12, verse 3 of the Book of Genesis. And then in Genesis chapter 49, and verse 9, Judah, the tribe from which the Ruler is to come is said to be, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?” So Israel is in its beginnings looked at as a lion. In its tribe from whom the Ruler shall come, that is also likened to a lion.
Now, you notice the difference between the dew and the lion. What a difference there is. There are two aspects to the character of God. You remember, Paul says in Romans chapter 11, “Behold the goodness and the severity of God.” So when he speaks of the remnant of Jacob in the future, they are going to be a blessing among the nations. But it’s not going to be blessing from a namby pamby, weak, sentimental kind of God. It is going to be blessing that comes righteously. You can find this in the writings of the prophets. You can find it in the writings of the apostles. They speak of the goodness and the mercy of God, but they also speak of the justice and the holiness of God. These things, if I had time, it would be possible to illustrate this from almost every book of the Bible. The remnant shall be a dew, a source of blessing, but they shall also be a lion. And God is going to be with them in the future, and his judgment, and his justice is to be meted out upon those who have been disobedient to the word of God.
Now finally, in the last verse, by the way, when he speaks of the term of comparison at the end of verse 8, I should have mentioned this, “Who,” that is the lion or the remnant of Jacob, “if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” You go back and look at that little clause “none can deliver” and you’ll find that often in the Old Testament it’s a reference to the Lord God and his sovereign power. Here that sovereign power is said to be the power of the remnant of Jacob. One might ask how. Well, because the remnant of Jacob is the representative of the Lord God upon the earth, that’s how.
Verse 9, “Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.” I take this to be a jussive, and I take this to be something of a wish or a command. “Thy hand be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies be cut off.” It is a reference to the ultimate victory of the remnant of Jacob or of God’s purposes through the nation Israel. Down through the years we have many applications of this, of course, in the struggles that the Christian church has had with apostasy and unbelief. In the days of Julian, in the days of Arius and Athanasius, and on into the future in the days of anti-Christ, we can be sure that ultimately God’s purpose shall be accomplished.
Now, we have just one minute, and I want to close by just mentioning a couple of things quickly. The history of the salvation of the remnant is seen in three other remnant prophecies in this book. Now, I wish that I just had the freedom to say to you, how many of you, without looking at your text can tell me the chapters in which these prophecies are? I’m not going to embarrass you. The first is in chapter 2, verse 12 and verse 13. Here we read, “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.” Do you know what that prophecy teaches? When we passed through it a long time ago I tried to point out to you that that passage is a prophecy that they would be taken by the Lord into exile.
And then in chapter 3, verse 6 and verse 7 we have the next prophecy. “Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed,” I’m reading from the wrong place. I meant to read from chapter 4, verse 6 and verse 7. I’m sorry. That’s not a bad text, of course, but it’s not the one I was looking for. Chapter 4, verse 6 and verse 7, ” But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” There he says the remnant is to be rescued and transformed into a strong nation. Here, he says that the remnant is going to be settled securely in the land and safe from all of the attacks of the enemy, such as the Assyrian.
Let me just say one last thing. God is so faithful to his word, and we are seeing today, it seems, some indications of perhaps the beginning of the things that shall lead up to the accomplishment of prophecies such as this. Whether that is true or not, we of course do not know. We know this; he is faithful to his word. And the same faithfulness that he manifests to the remnant of Jacob, he manifests to others who have been grafted into that olive tree and partake of the root and fatness made to the fathers. May God help us to be encouraged by the faithfulness of God to his promises and reflect on the promises that he has made to us. Let’s close in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father we thank Thee for these words from the prophets written so many hundreds of years ago, but which remind us again of all of the attributes of our great triune God in heaven. We thank Thee, our heavenly Father, for the Messiah who shall come, and through whom the prophecies shall…
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