GOD WHO BREAKS THROUGH
“God will stand up and break through in their presence. Then they will pass through the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass in front of them with the Lord at their head (Mic.2:13 ISV).
Micah prophesied to the people of Israel and Judah about 750 years before Christ. In seven short chapters he warned people that judgment was coming and offered God’s pardon to all who repented. Christians today remember him more for predicting with great accuracy that Bethlehem would be the Messiah’s birth place. “A God who breaks through” is how he describes God in Micah 2:13 (ISV).
The description is reminiscent of the days God led the Israelites out of Egypt, freeing them from the worst kind of slavery and putting them on the way to the Promised Land – on the way to freedom, eternal joy and salvation. But what did they confront on the way? A vast ocean before them and a powerful army pursuing from behind. The situation was terribly frightening and the people began to despair. But Moses was not disturbed. He just looked up to God for instructions, and in obedience to Him, had the ocean split into two!
40 years later, when their long sojourn in the desert was at last coming to an end and the Promised Land appeared to be within their reach, they would again face another seemingly insurmountable barrier – the formidable wall of Jericho. All that the fugitives led by Joshua had to do was to steadfastly pray and praise; God brought down the wall for them!
It is perfectly natural for a Christian who is freed from the deathly grip of sin to encounter obstacles and dangers on the life’s journey. God allows obstacles and dangers to test our faith, to help us grow spiritually, to discipline us, to train us and make us tougher for greater ‘journeys’ and to demonstrate His might and authority. This is what happened during the Israelites’ tortuous 40-year desert experience. Most of the New Testament writers have demonstrated that obstacles in the Christian life and ministry are not only normal, they are necessary.
Where do these obstacles come from?
From religion. When Hannah poured out her anguish before God, Eli the high priest, whose job was to lead people to God, interrupted her prayer and accused her of drunkenness (1Sam.1:14)!
From family. When David offered to fight Goliath, Saul was not very enthusiastic; David’s brothers actually discouraged him and mocked him.
From fellow-believers. When a woman brought an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on the head of the Lord as an act of love and worship, His disciples tried to stop her (Matt.26:6-13). Even the children’s path towards the Lord was strewn with ‘thorns’ when the disciples tried to obstruct them.
From society. The crowd that followed Jesus on the road to Jericho (Matt.20:29-34) rebuked the two blind men who cried out to the Lord for mercy and tried to stop them from approaching the Lord for divine healing.
We can overcome the obstacles that confront us in our journey of faith and achieve a breakthrough each time when we pray persistently and refuse to be cowed down by discouragement, insults and taunts, wherever they come from – family, friends, society, or the church.
The Canaanite woman with the devil-possessed child (Matt.15:22-28) is a case in point. She refused to take a ‘no’ for an answer! Jesus admired her courageous faith and perseverance, and granted her heart’s desire. The paralysed man, in a desperate bid to meet Jesus and be healed, had four men lower him through a hole made in the ceiling of a house packed with people who were listening to the Lord speaking to them (Mk.2:1-5). When his path to Jesus was blocked by the people who had packed Simon’s house at Bethany, he tried an unconventional route to the Lord’s presence.
Persistent In Prayer
It is not the Lord’s will that we should despair and give up when obstacles come in the way of our prayer and ministry. This fact is borne out by the parables He told about the judge “who neither feared God, nor cared about people,” and the persistent widow (Lk.18:1-7). We need to keep our requests continually before God as we live for Him day by day, believing that He will answer. All prayers offered in faith are answered according to His grace, in His time. As we persist in prayer, we grow in character, faith and hope. God may delay answering, but His delays always have good reasons.
Trapped between the sea and the Egyptian army, the children of Israel feared the worst and began to murmur against Moses. They even wanted to go back to Egypt and serve their slave masters! In their panic, they forgot the God who delivered them supernaturally from the cruel hands of their slave masters. They never learnt that God’s grace was sufficient for them.
Referring to the crossing of the Red Sea, Paul makes some surprising observations. Out of the millions that left Egypt, only two were able to enter the Promised Land (1Cor.10:5). God was not pleased with most of them even though all of them ate the same spiritual food, drank the same spiritual drink and had undergone a type of immersion baptism. Our religious exercises—baptism, sacraments, fellowship, worship, good works, etc.—cannot rescue us when we are cornered, when we are faced with formidable obstacles in our life and ministry. We can face crises with confidence only if we believe that God is not only able, but willing to help us, that His grace is sufficient for us.
Obstacles are opportunities. David was not intimidated by the might of Goliath; he fought him with the power of God and won. This paved the way for the founding of the dynasty in which our Lord would be born! Moses was not discouraged by the murmurings of the people; he asked God to help. The Pharisees thought they had finally got rid of Jesus and ended His ministry by having Him crucified, but it was the crucifixion of Jesus that opened the way to salvation for mankind! Stephen’s martyrdom triggered the spread of Christianity beyond Jerusalem.
The barriers we face in our lives are God’s way of opening new doors to accomplish His purpose. He promised Moses and the children of Israel that He would cause all their enemies who rise against them to be smitten before their face (Deut.28:7). He promised Joshua that no man will stand before him to stop him from accomplishing what God promised (Josh.1:5). He is the same God who promised Jacob that until He fulfilled what He promised him, He will neither leave him nor forsake him (Gen.28:15). He has commanded every stumbling block to be removed from the way of His people (Isa.57:14). He has promised that no weapon designed against us would be effective (Isa.54:17).
The prophet Micah also adds that, even after breaking down your barriers, God will not leave you. He will continue to be your King and your Captain, marching before you in war, because He is the Lord of the heavenly armies, and you will pass through open gates, as if you owned the whole world!