AN ENEMY IN OUR PALACES

And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. 

Micah 5:5

  1. The Subtle Comer 

First, “into our land”; then, “in our palaces”: the Assyrian, the enemy.  He has his eyes ultimately on your palaces when he begins so ‘peacefully’ to enter your land.  The enemy you welcome into your space might sooner be your ruler.  Too late then to cast him out.  He shall have become too strong for you.

Into the land, he ‘comes’; in the palaces, he ‘treads.’  The coming might be peaceful and touristic, but the treading certainly thoughtless and audacious.  Plan. Strategy. Time.

Into your sanctuary he comes as donor, as deacon, or even as a most willing janitor; then he proceeds to tread your prided palaces, your altars, your souls.  Into your home he comes as hardworking helper and friend, then when he has stolen hearts enough, like tricky Absalom (2 Samuel 15:6), in the hallowed throne-room and bedroom he treads (Acts 16:16-19; Judges 16:15-17).

O God, open our eyes. And we hereafter shut the gates against him. Amen.

  1. Palaces at Future Risk 

Note the plural noun: “palaces” – not ‘palace.’  How can multiple palaces be at risk to one Assyrian comer?  Even if he were to rule, on how many thrones can he sit at a time? The implications are unpleasant: thrones and sub-thrones colonized in consecutive tenures; an Assyrian dynasty and Assyrian colonies – presidencies, parliaments, chieftaincies and councils; in palaces small and big, all over the place, in politics and in the economy; in the nation, the states, the provinces, the streets, the schools and market places, until the mere ‘comer’ of yesterday has become a mindless ‘tread-er.’  One comer, many tragedies; just one past comer, now many future woes.

  1. Who Shall Save Us? 

How will God deal with this progressive invasion of “our land” – our heritage?  God won’t; we will, with a man of peace supported by a team of seven shepherds and eight principal men; sixteen men altogether, to deal with one trespasser grown strong in a land that is not his; shepherds from the altar and princes from the throne, in that season when the treading will have become so bitter that thrones will gladly align with altars, and altars with thrones, that the palaces be rid of the Assyrian invader (Judges 6:6-8).

  1. Where are the Messiahs, O Lord, and When? 

How are we going to find the messiahs?  “Then shall we raise…” – they shall be raised.  They will not fall from the sky.  Raising means process, which means time, which means experienced trainers, which means commitment – in that season when men of faith shall have learned to work their faith, as prayers alone will not be the practical response to stubborn trespassers and their mindless violations.

How shall we know when the times comes? “Then…”  If we should be unable to tell that time from the signs in the sky, we will by the bitter abomination of desolation in the holy palace… (Mark 13:14).

  1. Friend of Foe? 

Mind you, the messiahs will be raised “against” not ‘for’ the Assyrian.  The raisers will have told them that their engagement with the Assyrian is not to make of him their god.  They shall not be his trumpeters but his reprovers with their uncompromising voice from the wilderness, like John the Baptist.

Jezebel’s large and lavish table can be very tempting at a time of widespread drought in the land, but not for Elijah and the holy remnants of God in their caves (1 Kings 19:18).  May Balaams beware and Sanballats keep off when these men come who shall have been raised “against” rather than in support of the abomination in the palace. Amen.

As we approach unto Jericho, not everyone with a drawn sword will be a friend.  Some are foes, like Achan, which is why, like Joshua, it may be helpful to ask at times, despite their garments and their comradely looks: “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13).  When that day comes, we shall know the messiahs by their voices, whether raised for or against the error in our palaces.

  1. Wanted: Raisers 

Who will raise those men?  Read the verse again: “we…” – in that time when the land shall have learned to not segregate between the privileged Jew and the despised gentile; between ‘us’ and ‘them.’  In that day when we are all just “we” – no walls, no private banners, not segregative titles, then “we shall raise against him…” 

Defeated already as we might seem, but messiahs shall arise from among us.  And “we” shall raise them.  The raisers are among us too.

  1. Who is this Assyrian? 

Who is this Assyrian, that it will take seven shepherds (mark the number “seven”) and eight princes to deal with him?  Why would God raise shepherds rather than warriors to address this man? Why a man of peace rather than men of war to confront one ungrateful Assyrian, who was only a comer into our land, but now treads our palaces, not just one?

Where shall the fatted hirelings be when God thus raises true shepherds and righteous princes to redeem the palaces and the land?  May that day quickly come when shepherds shall be needed, and hirelings will have fled to hide or be hanged. Amen.

  1. Between the Porch and Altar 

O Lord, You warned us, “Do not place a foreigner over you” (Deuteronomy 17:15, NIV), but we were deaf.  Now the curse is fallen upon us according to Your word: “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (Deuteronomy 28:43).  Yes, he ‘came,’ and he was “within” us, but now “above” us “very high,” and we have gone “down VERY low.”  It has fallen upon us as unto backslidden Israel: “rejected … and afflicted … and delivered … into the hand of spoilers, until …” (2 Kings 17:20).  But, O Lord, we come now, as priests and ministers, weeping between the porch and the altar, and we say, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (Joel 2:17).  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
January 8, 2019. 

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