Big God, little gods, and Palm Leaves

(Read Micah 4)

Big-God-Little-gods-PalmsIn our modern lives, we are bombarded by different beliefs and values. Conforming to popular opinion tempts us at every turn. As Christians, we are called to walk like Jesus, to follow Him, regardless of anyone else’s beliefs.

Walking in the name of the Lord means living our lives in a way that pleases Him, following His commandments, and seeking His will for our lives. It means acknowledging that He is the only true God and that our allegiance lies with Him above all else.

I’m reading the Bible cover to cover for the second time. While meditating on Micah 4:5 this week, a spark lit inside me.

“All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”
Micah 4:5

Micah was a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah, and his ministry is believed to have occurred during the reigns of the Judean kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, in the eighth century BC. This verse speaks to the importance of having a firm foundation in our faith, even in a world where other gods and beliefs are prevalent. He prophesied as a proclamation of the superiority of the God of Israel over the gods of the other nations. Micah emphasizes that while other nations may follow their gods, the people of Israel need to remain faithful to the Lord their God. It serves as a call to the people to remain steadfast in their commitment to Him. We have many gods (small “g”) in our lives. Too many. Money, recognition, pride, success, and family can be idols or gods. Anything that distracts us or gets in the way of our relationship with God is an idol or lowercase g-god.

When we choose to walk in God’s light, we consciously decide to prioritize our faith and everything else. We are choosing to put our trust in Him and to follow His lead, even when it may not be the popular choice. Many times it isn’t. We are making His will ours. This path is challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable and eternal.

I have always loved palm trees. As a child, I couldn’t wait to live in the south to plant a bunch of palm trees in my yard. Palm Sunday is the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19). On that day, Jesus rode into the city on a donkey while the crowds waved palm branches and shouted “Hosanna” in praise and adoration.

This event has significant cross-references to Micah 4:5. In Micah 4:5, the prophet declares, “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” This statement asserts the superiority of the Lord God over all other gods and affirms the Israelites’ commitment to following Him.

On Palm Sunday, the crowds in Jerusalem proclaimed Jesus as their King and Messiah. They recognized Him as the one who came in the name of the Lord, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which says, “Behold, your king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Some scholars believe Jesus fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey was a symbolic act that fulfilled one more Messianic prophecy. By riding on a donkey, Jesus declared himself the King of Israel, just as the prophet Zechariah had foretold.

The people’s response on the first Palm Sunday affirmed their commitment to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior, much like Micah 4:5 affirmed the Israelites’ commitment to walk in the name of the Lord. In both cases, we see God being recognized as sovereign with their allegiance to Him above all other gods and powers. Sadly, human allegiances only last for a while.

Palm Sunday can be seen as a powerful fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy, as the people declared their loyalty to the Lord through their praise and worship of Jesus Christ. It’s a stunning reminder that our ultimate allegiance should always be to God and that we should be ready to proclaim His name and sovereignty no matter where we are in life. Palm Sunday, if nothing else, was one big, frenzied proclamation. We need to proclaim Jesus as if we were there waving palm branches ourselves.

Our deepest longings for security, peace, and prosperity are perfectly reflected in the passage of Micah. It shows us a future devoid of fear and oppression. It’s a vision of the world’s future in God’s kingdom. Our fallen world has created fear, intimidation, and violence. Only through Jesus Christ will we receive the peace and security of Micah’s prophesy. This reality gives us immeasurable hope for our futures and is meant to shape our lives right now.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” 

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Mark 16:6-8

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were filled with fear and uncertainty but also wonder and amazement when they saw the empty tomb. Micah prophesied that people walking in the name of the Lord would live in peace and security, free from fear. The angel reassured the women at the tomb of the same promise. The empty tomb represented a victory over death and sin, and the women were witnesses to the power and sovereignty of God.

As I strive to walk in the name of the Lord, I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone. I am part of a community of believers who share my faith and walk in the Lord’s name. All followers of Christ can draw strength from our community and support each other as we navigate the challenges of living a faithful life in a world that certainly does not always share our beliefs.

Palm Sunday reminds me that emotional excitement will eventually fade. Jesus was the people’s choice for hero of the week until He was the people’s choice for the sacrificial lamb a week later. I have so many distractions — little gods fighting for my attention, but when I forcibly dismiss them in favor of prayer, scripture, and communion with God, I can see clearly, feel true joy, and live in truth.

When I turned my life over to Jesus many years ago, I committed to walking in His name forever. It’s not a one-and-done act, it’s a process of renewal. I have to do this over and over again. If we would all seek His will for our lives and trust in His guidance, we might find peace and joy from walking in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior.

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Luke 19:38

Key Applications:

  1. Do you put God first in all aspects of your life? Is God #1 in your thoughts, actions, and decisions? Seek His guidance and direction in everything you do.
  2. Spend time reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping; you will get to know Him personally. Allow Him in so He can transform your life.
  3. Be a witness for Christ: Share the good news of Jesus with those around you. Live out your faith in a way that reflects the love and grace of Christ.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.

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