Sermon #15                                                                                                                                     Micah Series

 

      Title:                                   Blessed Bondage

and

Sure Deliverance

 

      Text:                                  Micah 4:10

      Subject:               The Incarnation and Birth of Christ

      Date:                                Tuesday Evening — January 10, 2012

      Tape:                                Micah #15

      Readings:           Bob Poncer & David Burge

      Introduction:

 

Turn with me to Micah 4:10. The title of my message is — Blessed Bondage and Sure Deliverance. Here is my text…

 

(Micah 4:10) “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

 

Here is God’s promise of mercy, love, and grace to his chosen, covenant people

 

(Micah 4:10) “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

 

You might think, “Bro. Don, if that’s a promise of God’s mercy, love, and grace, what are God’s threats of anger, wrath, and judgment?” It looks more like a threat than a promise that God would send his people to Babylon, but there they were to be delivered and redeemed. We must be brought into captivity before we are set free. We must feel the weight of the iron bondage of sin and Satan before we are brought out into “the glorious liberty of the sons of God” wherewith Christ makes his people free.

 

Proposition: Our text is a declaration of the fact that in the experience of God’s saving grace God makes us sinners before he declares us to be saints, he puts us into bondage before he gives us liberty. — You can’t be delivered from Babylon until God puts you into Babylon.

 

(Micah 4:10) “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

 

I do not suggest, or even think, that all who are born of God experience grace in the same way. They don’t. In many, many ways, the experience of grace is the same; but in many ways it is different.

Š      Some experience God’s saving grace like the Gadarene demoniac, out of whom the powers of hell are cast instantaneously.

Š      Others are like the pitiful soul who, coming to the Savior, was thrown and torn violently.

Š      Sometimes the Lord Jesus gives full sight to his blind ones all at once.

Š      Sometimes he causes his blind ones to see just a little at a time. — “I see men as trees, walking” (Mark 8:24).

 

The old writers used to speak of “sensible sinners,” or “awakened sinners,” and “seeking sinners.” L. R. Shelton used to talk about “lost sinners.” I realize that we can make too much of this, but there is a difference between sinners and sinners. Joseph Hart put it like this…

 

“Though all are sinners in God’s sight,

There are but few so in their own.

To such as these our Lord was sent;

They’re only sinners who repent.]

 

What comfort can a Savior bring

To those who never felt their woe?

A sinner is a sacred thing;

The Holy Ghost hath made him so.

 

[To sinners Jesus comes in grace

And gives life, liberty, and peace.]

Sinners are high in His esteem,

And sinners highly value Him.”

 

Divisions: Let’s read our text one more time. Then I want to make four statements from it.

 

(Micah 4:10) “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

 

1.    If God ever brings you into travail of soul, he will bring forth life in you.

2.    If ever the God of all grace causes you to be isolated from him, alone, helpless, and hopeless, he will bring you into a life of sweet communion with him.

3.    If the Lord Jesus Christ ever puts you in Babylon, there he will deliver you.

4.    If God the Holy Spirit ever puts you into the hand of your soul’s enemies, from their hands he will redeem you.

 

Travail

 

First, if ever God brings you into travail of soul, he will bring forth life in you. — In the last phrase of verse 9 the Micah said, “pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.”Then he writes in verse 10, “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail.” The language is imperative. The prophet of God says to all God’s elect, to every chosen daughter of Zion, “You must be in pain. You must labor to bring forth, like a woman in travail.”

 

Salvation is according to God’s sovereign purpose. Salvation is of the Lord! How we rejoice to hear it! How we rejoice to declare it! — “Salvation is of the Lord!” Sinners are saved by…

Š      God’s Everlasting Covenant and Sovereign Decree!

Š      Divine, Unconditional Election and Predestination!

Š      Christ’s Particular and Effectual Redemption and Blood Atonement!

Š      The Omnipotent Power and Irresistible Grace of God the Holy Spirit!

 

You understand that. Don’t you? We are what folks call “Sovereign Gracers,” “Predestinarians,” “Calvinists,” and whatever term they think makes us look ugly and evil. The mud slung at me by will-worship Arminians, I take to be adornments. Yes, I am a Sovereign Gracer. I am a Predestinarian! I make no apology.

 

Now, I’ve said all that to say this: If ever God saves you by his grace, you will seek his grace, you will choose to be saved, you will pray for his mercy, you will seek his Son, you will seek him. All who are saved by God’s sovereign will are made willing in the day of his power. No sinner has ever been saved who was not willing to be saved. Let’s see if that is not what God teaches in this Book.

 

(Psalms 65:4) “Blessed [is the man whom] thou choosest, and causest to approach [unto thee, that] he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, [even] of thy holy temple.”

 

(Psalms 110:3) “Thy people [shall be] willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”

 

(Jeremiah 29:11-14) “11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

 

(Ezekiel 36:23-38) “23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”

 

“25 ¶ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that [were] not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32 Not for your sakes do I [this], saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. 33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause [you] to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. 34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities [are become] fenced, [and] are inhabited. 36 Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined [places, and] plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken [it], and I will do [it]. 37 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet [for] this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do [it] for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. 38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.”

 

If ever God brings you into travail of soul, he will bring forth life in you. — “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail!” (Lamentations 3:1-58)

 

(Lamentations 3:1-33) “I [am] the man [that] hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 2 He hath led me, and brought [me into] darkness, but not [into] light. 3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand [against me] all the day. 4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. 5 He hath builded against me, and compassed [me] with gall and travail. 6 He hath set me in dark places, as [they that be] dead of old. 7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. 8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. 9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. 10 He [was] unto me [as] a bear lying in wait, [and as] a lion in secret places. 11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. 12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. 13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. 14 I was a derision to all my people; [and] their song all the day. 15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. 16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. 17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. 18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: 19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul hath [them] still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.”

 

“21 ¶ This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 [It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 [They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness. 24 The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 The LORD [is] good unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeketh him. 26 [It is] good that [a man] should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. 27 [It is] good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28 He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne [it] upon him. 29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. 30 He giveth [his] cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. 31 For the Lord will not cast off for ever: 32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

 

(Lamentations 3:55-58) “I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. 56 Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. 57 Thou drewest near in the day [that] I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. 58 O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.”

 

If ever God the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, you will find it the most bitter thing in the world; and that conviction that sweetly forces you into the arms of Christ will prove to be the sweetest thing in all the world to your soul. If ever God brings you into travail of soul, he will bring forth life in you. Blessed are they who are commanded by God the Holy Spirit, — “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail!

 

Isolation

 

Second, if ever the God of all grace causes you to be isolated from him, alone, helpless, and hopeless, he will bring you into a life of sweet communion with him. — “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field.” Blessed are they who find themselves cast off from God, shut out from the covenants of promise, and without hope! When you have nothing, you will find everything in Christ. As long as you have anything of your own, you will not have Christ. But if God brings you to nothing, you will find Christ to be everything to your soul.

 

(Hosea 2:6-14) “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, [which] they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax [given] to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. 12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These [are] my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. 14 ¶ Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.”

 

Babylon

 

Third, if the Lord Jesus Christ ever puts you in Babylon, there he will deliver you. — “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon..”

 

Babylon is used throughout the Word of God to represent false religion and the bondage of it. And here God’s prophet declares this to be God’s promise to every daughter of Zion, — “Thou shalt go [even] to Babylon.” That is to say, in the day of grace and salvation the Lord God will destroy your refuge of lies and make you see that it is a refuge of lies.

Š      The righteousness you think is your glory, he will make filthy rags upon you.

Š      Your religious works, by which you vainly imagine that you distinguish yourself from others, he will cause you to loathe as a whited sepulchre full of dead men’s bones.

Š      Your law works by which you foolishly imagine you have been liberated, he will make bondage to your soul.

 

(Romans 7:9-12) “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me]. 12 Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

 

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul” (Jeremiah 51:6).

 

Redemption

 

Fourth, if God the Holy Spirit ever puts you into the hand of your soul’s enemies, from their hands he will redeem you. — “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” — The word “delivered” here means “snatched away, rescued, recovered, saved.” — The word “redeemed” refers specifically to a kinsman redeemer. It means “ransomed and brought back by a kinsman’s purchase”

 

In the fullness of time, the Lord Jesus comes by his Spirit to set his covenant prisoners, “prisoners of hope,” free, and sends forth his covenant “prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water” by the omnipotent power and efficacious grace of his Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1-3).

 

(Isaiah 61:1-3)  “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (2) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; (3) To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

 

“Long my imprisoned sprit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

 

Still the small inward voice I hear,

That whispers all my sins forgiven;

Still the atoning blood is near,

That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

 

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness Divine,

Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”

 

The Son of God sets captive sinners free and sends forth his prisoners out of their prison by giving them life and creating faith in them. Believing him, we are made consciously aware of the super-abounding grace and covenant privileges bestowed upon us from eternity.

 

The Lord God says, “By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”The blood of the covenant here is declared to be the cause of deliverance. — Without this covenanted blood-shedding the prisoners could never be set free. The blood goes in, the prisoner goes out. The blood touches his chain, and it falls off. The blood drops on the prison-bar, and the gate flies open. It is blood that does it all.

 

It is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that is the essential thing in God’s salvation. Everything hangs upon the blood. No grace can come to sinners, except the blood be shed. — “Without shedding of blood is no remission.The Lord God says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you!” And when I see the precious blood of Christ, I see in it all the covenant and all the promises of God fulfilled.

 

“Oh, how sweet to view the flowing

Of His sin-atoning blood

By Divine assurance knowing

He hath made my peace with God!’

 

Thus it is that God can “be just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

 

The blood of Christ is the seal of the covenant. Speaking after the manner of men (How else can I speak of these things?), until the blood was shed, the covenant was not ratified. It was like a will that could not be in force, that could not be executed, because he who wrote the will had not yet died. That is exactly how God the Holy Spirit speaks of the blood and the covenant (Hebrews 9:14-18).

 

(Hebrews 9:14-18)  “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (16) For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. (17) For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (18) Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”

 

Christ himself, when he was made sin for us, was shut up in the prison of the tomb for three days; but it was the very same blood of the covenant that sent us out of the prison that sent him out. — “The God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). Now, the covenant is ratified and validated. The Testator has died, and all his inheritance shall be bestowed upon his heirs! He lives again and reins on high, to make certain that his will is enforced and executed exactly as he intended from eternity. Let me tell you a few things about this covenant blood.

 

1. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, removes the necessity for imprisonment. The blood has made the satisfaction. It has met the claims of divine justice and satisfied the offended God. It has taken away our sins and our guilt. The necessity for the imprisonment no longer exists. The law consents to; no, the law demands the release of all for whom Christ’s blood was shed at Calvary!

 

2. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, makes it right for God to deliver. Deliverance must be the work of righteousness, not merely of grace, not merely of omnipotence, but of righteousness. It was righteousness that sent the sinner to prison, and barred the door. It is righteousness that brings him out. And this righteousness was brought in by the blood of the covenant. It is now as unrighteous to hold the captive, as before it would have been unrighteous to release him.

 

3. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, opens the prison-door. The door is locked, barred, and guarded. No skill can open it, no force can remove the bar, no money can bribe the guards. It cannot be opened by earthquake, or fire, or force of any kind. — No, not even the force of omnipotent sovereignty can open the prison! Only the blood of the covenant, the great blood-shedding of the Lamb of God rolls away the stone and forces the prison-gates fly open.

 

4. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, makes it safe for the prisoner to come out and walk at liberty. As at the City of Refuge, the avenger stands without, watching. He has a right to be there. He has a right to seize the prisoner, and to take vengeance. But the death of the High Priest removes the avenger, the blood silences his claims and stops him. Covenant-blood brings the prisoner out, and the sight of the blood bids the avenger flee. That avenger was the executioner of guilt, and the guilt is gone. The blood has removed that which gave him power. He sees the blood, and withdraws his hand.

 

5. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, reconciles to God. It is the blood of propitiation, the blood of atonement. It removes the ground of separation, and brings nigh those that were afar off. The blood removes the righteous necessity of separation, and makes nearness a thing of which the law approves, and in which God delights. It is reconciling blood.

 

6. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, redeems. — “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” The blood is the ransom money. It was necessary that the sinner, sold and imprisoned, should be redeemed (bought back) at a price that would satisfy law and justice.

 

7. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, cleanses. We are washed from our sins in covenant-blood. Our robes are washed white in the blood of the Lamb. All that sin had done the blood undoes. All its pollution this blood washes away. It is purifying blood. As such, it fits us for worship, for drawing near to God.

 

8. The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, pacifies. It comes into contact with the sinner’s conscience, and removes guilt. It takes away terror. The soul is at peace, and is kept in peace by this blood. — Christ Jesus, our Lord, “has made peace by the blood of his cross.”

 

The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, is as efficacious as ever. It has lost none of its power. Age does not change it. Repeated use does not weaken its efficacy. It can still do all it once did for the sinner. Its potency is Divine.

 

The blood of Christ, this covenant blood, is as sufficient, as suitable, as free, as near as ever. He whose blood it is comes to us, and displays it in all its fullness and power in the gospel as that which “cleanseth us from all sin.Take it as it is presented, and all the benefits of this covenant-blood are yours. Though you may be the most unworthy of the unworthy, looking to Christ, you will find yourself reckoned by God clean every whit, a forgiven sinner, a delivered prisoner, “saved by the blood of the crucified One!”

 

“Oh, precious fountain that saves from sin,

I am so glad I have entered in;

There Jesus saves me and keeps me clean--

Glory to His Name!

 

Come to this fountain so rich and sweet,

Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet,

Plunge in today, and be made complete--

Glory to His Name!”

 

(Micah 4:10) “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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