After much preaching that revealed their sins–the sins that false prophets had obscured with their false peace and false hope–Micah moves on to preach of the hope that is still theirs. God has a remnant, and that remnant is not forsaken though facing calamity and exile. This hope will strengthen the remnant as they face the consequences of their sins, and wait for the time when they are restored to their land.
4:1-2 The Last Days, and the mountain. The symbolism of the mountain is quite beautiful. Turn back to chapter one and the prophecy of the mountain melting. And now we hear of how it will be raised up. God is at work for good, though calamity is part of the plan. He purifies, not merely to burn but to make beautiful, pure and holy.
Isaiah 2:2-4 and Micah 4:1-3 are identical prophecies with this difference only that the idyllic picture of the new paradise is added by Micah in 4:4. In both the reference is to the last issue of things.
In Micah, as you contrast the exceedingly ominous close of chapter 3 with the mountainous beauty of chapter 4, you’ll notice the difference between the depth and the height in Israel’s future. The depth of their falseness, their depravity, their darkness and bondage to idols, the calamity they’ve earned. The height of their hope, their bright future as God’s remnant, the beauty of God’s restoration.
Many nations will come and say…
cf Zech 8:20-23, “it will yet be that peoples will come….saying ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD,'” and the passages goes on to describe peoples from all nations coming to seek the LORD, having heard of His being with His people. And so this part of the Micah’s vision describes the true makeup of God’s Kingdom, peoples from every nation.
Verse two continues by describing what God would be doing among His people. He will teach, there would come a time when God’s teaching would no longer be obscured by false prophets, He would teach and they will cheerfully listen. This reminds us not only of the times when crowds would follow Jesus for days, listening; but also of His promise in John 14-17 of the Spirit being sent to guide and teach, and of the heavenly promise that we will see Him face to face and have no more separation.
He Will Lead Them
He will lead (as they walk). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life…” says our Savior! (John 10:27). We are not perfect in our obedience, but Israel was promised that a time would come when He would lead as they walk in His paths.
He will lead the way in justice. Our heavenly hope is that no more will we be under leaders who accept bribes, are selfishly trying to get ahead and gain more power, or who use the people under them, oppressing without any remorse.
“From Zion will go forth the law, even the word of YHWH” and He will judge and render decisions for mighty, distant nations.” Imagine Israel and Judah hearing that their God is interested in the worship of, the teaching and leading and judging of other nations. This is our joy! Our shalom! We are part of those other nations, part of His eternal plan and purpose!
And this will usher in peace, our longed for shalom; this is the land in which righteousness dwells. In our own days, we can see the futility of the efforts of man to bring about peace: the League of Nations following WWI? The UN that formed after WWII? The Geneva Convention? The Declaration of Human Rights? Other Examples you can think of? Mankind has not yet known an era in which peace filled the world.
Yet we cling to this promise, that weapons of warfare will cease to be needed; that there will come a time when strive and oppression and war are only a memory; a time when no one trains for war. Instead, we will work, be productive, and enjoy the fruits of our labor!
4:4, where are they sitting? Why is this significant? Are they in caves, hiding? Are they in homes with doors and locks? Are they in the keep in the middle of a castle? Are they in their gardens enjoying rest? With no one to make them afraid. This symbolizes their lack of need to worry about enemies, or injustice and oppression.
4:5 The proper response to the hope offered to us in the gospel! A confidence that we can walk in His name. He is our Strength and Perseverance! See Romans 15:5 & 13. We will walk in His name forever and ever!!!
4:6 “In that day” has both a near fulfillment, when God gathers His people who are scattered by Assyria and Babylon. But also a far fulfillment, as it foreshadows when He will gather people from the world, the final harvest. John 10:16 He came for the sick… He heals who?
Hope for the Remnant
And so a humbled remnant returns to rebuilt, approx 170 years from this prophecy. And a humbled remnant will be His for the New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem above. This remnant is of the assembled lame, outcasts, afflicted; a reminder that God is not “helping them that help themselves”.
4:7 and the LORD will reign over them forever! God’s will in this is not subject to man’s approval or compliance. In the end, we will be completely satisfied to worship Him forever, to be free from the tyranny of this earth in which we try to rule our own affairs and cry out only when absolutely necessary–(remember 3:11 and 3:4?).
4:9 ‘odin’ or birth pang, this rightly describes the agony of God’s judgment toward His enemies. Cf Deut 2:25, anguish, ‘odin’. Though what follows the anguish and pain? The joy of new life! The experience of love. The delight of holding the newborn.
4:10 c.f. Jeremiah 29:1-14 the plan: you will go to Babylon the hope: from there you will be rescued; YHWH will redeem you. 4:11 You are facing many enemies… it is tempting to appease them to grasp at a “better life,” this is what King Ahaz tried to do with Assyria (2 Chron 28), but like Micah we must remain confident that this is the LORD’s purpose, counsel, etc.
4:12 His purpose!!! C.f. Zechariah 6:13, same word, Hebrew ‘etsah’ ‘counsel’. Counsel, etsah, God’s eternal plan, a deliberate policy the procures peace.
Shalom is not merely the absence of war and strife; it is the well being experienced by people relating to God and one another with harmony and justice. See also Zechariah 8:16.
Q: how would you describe to a person in Judah at this time what you know of God’s plan? What can you know? How do you know it? Deut 29:29-30:20; 32:43
God’s deliberate eternal plan cannot be segmented; He is always perfectly loving and just and righteous, with no imbalance or partiality.
“I am YHWH who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” Jer. 9:24
Remember earlier, we’ve talked about justice and righteousness always going hand in hand as we sped through Ecclesiastes. We referenced Amos:
Amos 5:11-15; 18-24 The Day of YHWH. Justice always coupled with Righteousness. No Biblical justice apart from righteousness. It is not up to our feelings, our definitions, or even our desire for equity.
Verse 13–“Arise” will be our summons; as Jesus saying “little girl, arise!” Arise out of despair! We are perplexed but not despairing, in this world we face tribulation–do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come upon you for testing–etc… Rather wait for the Lord of the Harvest! Much as Assyria and Babylon are God’s chosen ‘tools’ for purifying Israel and Judah, so His people will be His chosen vessels for carrying out part of His plan for threshing His enemies. (Cf Rev 2:27)
Verse 13 also addresses “why” this plan will be carried out in this manner: “that you may devote to the LORD…”, devoted to destruction, Lev 27:28-29–as a conquering King would take spoil and destroy lands, so does the King of Kings to His enemies. Set apart for Him, not for His people to decide. Justice carried out toward His enemies brings glory to God in His holiness, purity, beauty, goodness, truth and love.
He is the Lord of the Harvest: Rev 14:15f; Matt 13:36ff.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash