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Sermon 3/16/08
Micah 7:18 - Supply and Demand

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Supply and Demand

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18)

In Micah 3:2-3, the Lord uttered these words through the prophet: “You who hate good and love evil; who strip the skin from My people, and the flesh from their bones; who also eat the flesh of My people, flay their skin from them, break their bones, and chop them in pieces like meat for the pot, like flesh for the cauldron.” One thing is sure from the context – this Scripture is NOT about cannibalism. God instead speaks about the tendency of people to take what other people have, with little regard for those they take it from. The context is about greed. The wealthy, at the time those verses were written, charged exorbitant prices for goods and services. When their customers ran short of money to buy those goods, the same wealthy business owners would lend money to them so they could buy more.

Collateral was taken. When a widow who needed to feed her children ran out of money, a businessman lent her what was needed, taking her house as collateral. She became a renter, a tenant, and if she could not repay it, she and her children were evicted from what had been their home. They lost everything and were literally on the street. From the Lord’s perspective, it was like the “skin,” the “flesh” was taken from them. It angered God that His little ones were treated like they were “meat for the pot” or “flesh for the cauldron.

I once worked for a such a man and after a time he fired me, which ordinarily would have been difficult, but it was actually a joyous moment - we were rid of each other. I was troubled about the way he did business in the field of home remodeling and he didn’t like me, either. Someone would answer one of his ads and then they signed a contract to add a second story, a bathroom, a family room or whatever was needed. In his contract for services, he would agree to do the work and the home owner was to make monthly payments with interest, until the thousands of dollars due were paid in full.

He recorded his note with the county. It became a lien against the property and if they were late on a payment he foreclosed on the note and the property became his. The former owners now were offered another contract, in which they could become tenants, renters in the house that had once belonged to them. If they missed a rental payment, He would evict the husband, the wife and all of their children. There was no mercy.

He had many rental properties and all of them, as far as I knew, were obtained in the same way. The properties were now his and the law was on his side, but note: the Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth is displeased with such practices. I read in the newspaper a couple of years later that the man died. The obituary did not discuss this part of it, but you can be sure that he did not take either those properties or the money with him. Depending on your theology as to when such things happen, he either faced the Lord then or he will face Him soon. His only hope is that in the last days of his life, he honestly gave his life to the Lord. That was his only hope and giving ourselves to the Lord is OUR only hope as well.

There is an interesting economic concept called “Supply and Demand,” sometimes called “The Greed Factor.” To most economists, it’s more than a concept, it’s a LAW that governs all situations involving goods that are offered for sale and then purchased. Let’s suppose that you manufacture something for sale. If you make 1,000 of them, you want to sell them all, but in our example, only 400 orders actually come in. In order to sell the rest, you lower the price gradually, until suddenly the orders start to come! The other 600 are now sold quickly and you are able to use the profits to manufacture yet another 1,000 to sell at the lower price.

But now let’s suppose that this time the 1,000 sell in a hurry. As fast as you can make them, orders come in from potential customers. Now what do you do? Why, you RAISE the price and keep raising it until demand for your product starts to slow down and then you stop raising the price. What you want is the highest possible price for what you make and the consumer wants the lowest price he or she can get. The balance between those two forces is called, “Supply and Demand.” The more of them there are on the market, the less you can charge, and if everybody wants one, but there are only a few available, the price goes way up. We want it, they offer less of it, and we pay more. Note though, that our real need is the Lord.

The Book of Micah spans a period involving thousands of years, starting hundreds of years before the Messiah came, and going to unknown centuries until His return. The Scripture at the start of this sermon sounded like cannibalism, but it is not, and it is followed by another verse: “They will cry to the Lord, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds” (Micah 3:4). It seems at first glance that the Lord suddenly loses His hearing, but what it really means is that He will REFUSE to answer our prayers if our hearts are not right before Him. As we follow the context in Micah, we find our Scripture for today: “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18). You might wonder: Why?

Why does God judge iniquity at one moment in time and then pardon in the next, seemingly with no real ground for forgiveness? The answer is glimpsed in Micah 5:2, as we discover that the Messiah would enter into history through human birth in little “Bethlehem,” and He would also be “from everlasting.” His mission was not to conquer the world through military might, but to die for our sins. Micah’s contemporary, Isaiah the prophet, spoke of Him in this way: He would be “wounded for our transgressions, (be) bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace (would be) upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). On what ground does God have “mercy” on us? - Because Jesus Christ died for our sins.

All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). It is like you’re walking along a railroad track at night, and you know you are not supposed to be there, but it’s a convenient walkway and so you do it. Along comes a train and you think it’s time to get off the track, but when you try to move your foot, you find it’s stuck where two rails meet and you can’t get it out. Closer-and-closer comes the train. You want to get away, but it’s too late; you can’t. Suddenly, a man runs up the railway embankment and flings himself into you, knocking you down the embankment. With a roar the train goes past. You’re alive! You want to thank the man who saved you, but then you look up at the tracks and you are horrified that he didn’t make it! He died for you.

We find the answer to “Why?” in Christ. Our Scripture says, “… God (is) pardoning iniquityHe does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy” (Micah 7:18). God hates sin; our sin fell on Christ, and we are PARDONED through trust in Him. In Christ, God has an infinite supply of “mercy.” The price has been paid and eternal life is yours right now.

Lord, forgive my sins. Heal me. I trust in You. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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