Have you ever been in a dark place?  On this Easter Sunday, we find ourselves living in very peculiar times.  I cannot recall the last time that I was not gathered with my brothers and sisters in Christ for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, but here we are!  I have repeatedly heard about the dark days we are now living in, and I don’t think anybody will argue that these days are definitely strange.

This past Friday morning, I was watching the morning news and a fellow was talking to the reporter about what Easter is.  He mentioned that Easter was about gathering with loved ones and how things would be a bit different this year.  Granted, we are living in very peculiar times, but the times do not change what Easter actually means.  Easter may mean that for a lot of people, but Easter is about the Resurrection of Christ and overcoming.  I want to focus on overcoming today.  

Sitting in the Darkness

Have you ever been in a dark place?  In my key verse for today, I want to take a look at the prophecy of the prophet Miach of Moresheth (Micah 1:1).

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;

When I fall, I will arise;

When I sit in darkness,

The Lord will be a light to me.

micah 7:8 nkjv

Some may hear that question and be curious as to what kind of dark place am I talking about.  To some, a dark place is depression or suicidal thoughts.  To others, a dark place could be alcohol, drugs, and sex. Some may believe themselves to never have been in a dark place; they may believe themselves to be perfect.

Micah’s preaching to Israel

To understand what Micah is saying, we must first understand the man.  Micah, often considered a “minor prophet” was a prophet of God during the days of a divided Israel.  He was out of the Moresheth Gath, near Jerusalem which was the southern kingdom of Judah. Though he was from the southern kingdom, he did quite a bit of preaching against the northern kingdom of Israel. 

As I always remind us when I reference the divided kingdom of Israel, the northern kingdom was living in a manner that was of disobedience to God.  In the very first chapter (Micah 1:2-7), you will see that the prophet had a message of God’s judgment for the transgression of Jacob (Israel). Micah preached (Micah 1:9), of the northern kingdom, “her wound is incurable”.  Meaning: not able to be cured.

The northern kingdom sins were so great that they crossed a threshold of no return and ended up being completely decimated by the Assyrians.  Micah even mentions that the wound, that threshold, was at the gate of Judah, the southern kingdom. The southern kingdom did eventually cross that threshold and was captured and conquered by Babylon.  You might ask, what was the line that they crossed with God that led them to ruin?

Completely turned from God

That is a very interesting question because one thing that scripture makes clear is this:  God is a gracious and merciful God that is willing to forgive all sins except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit — not having faith in Him (Mark 3:28-30).  At some point in time, the northern kingdom had completed their turn from God and turned a deaf ear to His word and His way.

When you turn from God and are full of sin, your spirit is one that is completely unclean.  I cannot tell you when exactly they crossed this threshold, but we know what led to it.  We can see much of their transgressions happening throughout the books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  Israel lived under some terrible kings that would ignore God’s prophets; they instituted their own beliefs and religions which caused the nation to commit great apostasy.  One of the king’s wives was so sinful that she had many of the prophets of God killed (1 Kings 18:4).  

I sometimes begin to wonder if we, as a people, a society, a nation, and world are approaching that same threshold with God.  The word of God is heard by many people all across the world nowadays.  However, as many hear the word, it seems that lesser are genuinely following and being obedient to His word.  It is honestly quite disturbing and frustrating at times to see.

Micah’s Self Proclamation

 This is where Micah was when we see what he says in our key verse.  This was a prophet of God who was likely disturbed, troubled, and frustrated at the things he was seeing.  Though Israel was lost in sin, I imagine that there were still a faithful few who lived during that day. Micah, in this chapter of his book, was preaching to them, I believe.  They like Micah was also probably disturbed and troubled.

We notice right away that Micah directs this message directly at an unnamed enemy.  I’m sure we are all going to immediately guess correctly who the enemy is, but I want to show you how this enemy works.  Also, we may not recognize it right away but there were two more enemies present and at work. We must discuss these two other enemies because they’re also still at work today.

The enemies of mankind

The first enemy: let us consider the Assyrians to the north of Israel.  The Assyrians are the ones who completely decimated the northern kingdom and left Samaria, the northern capital, in ruins.  Micah even mentions them by name in his writing (Micah 5:6; Micah 7:12). Someone will say or think, “the Assyrians are not present in our world today, so how can you say that they are a present enemy.”

We could say that the Assyrian army is representative of an army that thirsts for conquest and seeks to conquer the souls of those that believe in God.  You see, our enemy is not necessarily always physical, right? We know that Paul said our fight is not against the flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12).

The second enemy:  the Israelites themselves — mankind itself.  The Israelites had become their own worst enemy just like we can become our own worst enemy.  How, you might ask? We have this nature inside of us that causes us to rebel against all that is righteous and good for us.  

Last Sunday, I preached about living for the purpose that God intended for us, but we constantly struggle against that purpose for our own urges.  What is our own purpose?  I cannot say for others what their purpose would be for themselves but I do know it always seems to end in having some sort of power, just like the devil thought in his rebellion.  We can get so big headed sometimes, can’t we? 

Our own purpose – those urges – are better and higher than God’s purpose in our mind.  When we choose to go against His purpose, we are going against God, and when we go against Him, we become His enemy – a sinner.  We, being an enemy of God, have also become an enemy of ourselves.

Mankind’s greatest enemy

The third enemy:  Satan, the general and commander in chief of darkness; he leads his army against mankind.  He is the one who rejoices in the sorts of actions that caused Israel to turn a deaf ear to God.  Let us remember, Satan was the first to ever rebel against God’s purpose for his own purpose of being like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14).  He is now bound to suffer the Lord’s wrath for all of eternity but still believes he can be like the Most High and badly wants to rule. 

Satan wants to rule over whomever he can get to listen to him and follow after his way.  Just a couple Sundays ago, we saw how Satan tried to get Jesus to follow after his way by offering him “power” in my sermon – Foolish Faith is not Faith.  If the devil is willing to tempt Jesus, he’s most definitely willing to tempt both you and me. I believe he still offers such things to people today in our world and some fall for the temptation.

When that did not work, we saw that in my sermon last Sunday – His Purpose is Our Purpose –  that Satan entered into Peter to sway Jesus from the cross. This is how Satan schemes against us; he goes all out when he is on the attack.  He will attack us spiritually and even try to get to us through others!

Where Satan will lead you

His goal is a corrupting goal.  His desire is to corrupt our spirit and make it something not pleasing to God.  Why? Because Satan personally knows what God will do to such a spirit.  Remember, Satan has already been cast out of heaven for all of eternity (Revelation 12:7-9) and is bound for the lake of fire, that place called outer darkness (Matthew 22:13; Revelation 20:12-15).  

He wants us to fall into sin just like the tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel did.  Satan wants us to be full fledged sinners that are complete in our rebellion against God and turning a deaf ear to Him.  Drugs, alcohol, sex, wealth, even our own mind are just some of the tools that Satan will use against us. Satan can get us into such a dark place that we become completely weighed down by our guilt and by our sins that we feel that is the only way to live.  He will have you believing that there is no way out of that place!

Again, I ask you, have you ever been in a dark place?  I know I have and I know that I am not alone in that. The fact of the matter is that all of us have spent time living in the dark.  You see, no man is perfect! Paul spoke about how we were once dead in our trespasses – our sins (Ephesians 2:5).  However, I want you to know that you do not have to be overcome by the dark or fearful of the dark.

Overcoming Our Enemy

Micah looked at his enemy, and said to him, “Don’t you rejoice over me!  When I fall, I will arise.”  You see, Micah understood who his God was!  Micah knew the psalm of David (Psalm 91:9-12), “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He (God) shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up!”

You see, our enemy can cause us to stumble, to trip up and fall; he can have us in a dark place, but even in that place, my God is still fully in control!  Look at what Micah says, he says, “When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me!”  Micah was looking towards the light and he knew that the light was his God – our God!  We talk about how we are living in some dark days, but I tell you that I got the light!  Do you have that light today?

The world was in darkness when God sent His only begotten Son into it.  The apostle John wrote that the true Light was in the world giving light to every man (John 1:6-9, 11-14).  That true Light was made flesh and He dwelt among mankind, died for mankind, and then overcame death, the grave – the punishment of sin – with all power in His hands!  

Jesus said to us (John 16:33), “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!”  You can overcome this world and all that the devil tries to throw at you, if you have faith in the one that has already overcome!  When you are in the dark, remove from yourselves the barriers that block you from seeing the true Light!  The true Light is there but so many of us have psychological and worldly barriers that block us from seeing the Light that can lead us out.  God sent His only begotten Son because He does not want you stuck in that place!

Bound for Mount Zion

Every now and then at church, my uncle, a retired pastor, will break out an old hymn – “I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me”.  Some of you may be familiar with this hymn and some of you may not. Part of the lyrics to that hymn says, “Satan had me bound,” which is where I pulled the title for my sermon from.

Where exactly did he have us bound too?  Sin leads us to being out of God’s presence for all of eternity – that place of hell.  Yet, when Satan had us bound for that place, Jesus entered in and lifted us, the genuine believers, out of that place and now we are bound for Mount Zion, way out on the hill!  I’m going to heaven one day all thanks to God lifting me out of that dark place! 

God did not only lift me out of that place, but He did the same for everybody else.  Do not let Satan, our enemy, have the victory over you. Yes, all of us have fallen at some point in time but God is more than capable of lifting you up.  Remove that barrier in your mind that says God is not able. The only person that believes that is the devil, and that is all he ever wants you to believe.  Don’t allow Satan to have you bound for a place that is not meant for you.

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