Micah 4 - Outline of Micah (Book Notes menu page)
This chapter is the second section of Micah's message to the the leaders in Jerusalem (ch. 3-5).
The opening word of this chapter is "But..."
Observe the great contrast between the closing verse of the previous chapter (3:12), and the opening of this one.
1. But in the last days it shall come to pass,
[that] the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains,
and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2 And many nations shall come, and say,
Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:
for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
But in the last days...
The promise of restoraton, for Israel and Jerusalem, is for a future time. 'The Last Days' {lit., 'the latter days'} is a technical term referring to the period (also known as 'the Day of the LORD') which begins with the Great Tribulation (the Time of Jacob's Trouble) and includes the millennial Kingdom of the Messiah. The prophecy looks beyond the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC... beyond their partial restoration 70 years later... beyond the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD... beyond their partial return as a nation in the land of Israel (in 1948 AD to the present)... to the establishment of Christ's Kingdom in Jerusalem.
     [Note: In the OT, wherever the KJV reads 'the last days' the Hebrew is identical with 'the latter days.']
...the mountain of the house...-
In 3:12, this phrase referred to the Temple mount, in Jerusalem. In that verse, the LORD did not mention His name in association with the place. It had become corrupted with the false gods and immoral practices associated with idolatry. The LORD was about to destroy it in judgment, as one of the idolatrous 'high places.' The temple mount would be wiped clean and allowed to become overgrown with wild foliage {'forest'}. But in that future day...
...the mountain of the house {temple} of the LORD shall be established...
During the millennial Kingdom of Christ...
  • 'The House of the LORD' will become the center of true worship for all nations (Isa 56:6,7).
    It is evident that this was not fulfilled by the establishment of the second Temple, for that house was also destroyed in judgment for similar sins, as Jesus foretold (Mat 21:12,13; 24:1,2; Luk 21:20-24). Neither will it be fulfilled by the third Temple, which will be defiled by the Antichrist, and overrun by invaders, as Jesus also foretold (Mat 24:14-16). The prophecy of vs.1-2, looks forward to the Temple in Jerusalem, during the millennial Kingdom of Christ.
  • The Kingdom of the LORD, centered in Jerusalem, will have dominion over the whole earth.
    In prophecy, the word 'mountain' often refers to a kingdom (ie., the seat of governmental power). The LORD's Kingdom will be "in the top {lit., 'head'} of the mountains." That is, His Kingdom will be exalted above all lesser kingdoms (referred to here as 'hills'). The times of Gentile world dominion will have ended (Dan 2:34-45).
...and people shall flow into it... many nations shall come...-
People will voluntarily come, from all over the world, to what will be the most desirable destination on the globe.
...to the mountain of the LORD... the house of the God of Jacob... Zion...-
They will come to Jerusalem, the center of the LORD's Kingdom, where He will dwell among His people, and from where He will rule over all nations.
...He will teach us of His ways... we will walk in His paths...
...for the law {HB=torah, instruction} shall go forth [from] Zion... the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem...
Here, the 'law' is not limited to the Law of Moses, but encompasses all of God's Word. The nations will know that the LORD is the only true and living God. They will come to learn, from His own lips, who He is, and what He has done for them. The emphasis will be on the New Covenant, and the Person and purposes of the One who established it (Jer 31:31-34).
     This is not the case today. While there are true believers in Jerusalem, the city is also home to many false religions and cults which teach their followers to walk in paths of error.
3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks:
nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree;
and none shall make [them] afraid:
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken [it].
5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god,
and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
...He shall judge... rebuke {ie., decisively correct} strong nations...
When the Messiah rules as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will judge the world in righteousness (Isa 11:1-5). His decisions will be absolutely true and right. No person or nation will be able to oppose or ignore His authority (Psa 2:8,9; Rev 19:15,16).
     Because Israel refused to heed His Word, the LORD judged His people decisively. In that future day, not only Israel, but also all nations, will willingly submit to Him.
...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares... neither shall they learn war any more.
The latter portion of v.3 is engraved on an exterior wall of the United Nations building in New York City. It is presented as a goal toward which the nations are to work together. But man's best efforts to bring worldwide peace, have failed miserably. The problem is man's sinful nature (Jam 4:1,2).
     The only hope for true peace is identified at the beginning of that quoted verse... in the portion omitted by the unbelieving nations: "...He shall judge... and rebuke..."
     There can be no true and lasting peace, until the Messiah takes His rightful place, because He is the Peace (5:5; Isa 9:6,7). When He reigns, the 'peace on earth' will be profound. [But until that day, wise nations will keep their weapons ready.]
...every man under his vine and... fig tree... and none shall make them afraid...
In our day, we have witnessed a partial return of Israel to her land. The land, yielding to their labors, has begun to 'blossum as the rose' (Isa 35:1). But this prophecy is not yet fulfilled, for the fear of terrorism is very real in Israel, and also in many other nations. Perfect peace will characterize the reign of Christ, because every man will truly know and serve Him (Isa 11:6-10). This is the message of the next verse.
For... we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever..
The first part of v.5 has been a source of confusion for many readers.
The Hebrew text is challenging for translators, because the verb tenses are not well defined, and must be determined from the context. This is evident in the variations between many good Bible versions.
For example:
  • KJV: "For all people will walk every man in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God..."
    This translation seems to imply that there will be a peaceful co-existence of diverse religions, during the millennial Kingdom of Christ. But this cannot be the case, because all nations will know the LORD and will come to learn the truth from God's Word, as taught by Immanuel Himself (v.2).
  • ASV: "For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever."
    This seems to say that in Micah's day, the various nations had a variety of false gods (to which Israel had turned aside, from the LORD). But in that future day, Israel would serve the LORD alone, and never again turn away from Him. (This reading is ambiguous concerning the worship of the gentile nations.)
  • ScofRB margin: "Lit. '...all the peoples do now walk in the name of their god, but shall walk in the name of Jehovah our Elohim for ever."
    The sense, here, is that in Micah's day, the various nations had diverse gods, but in the millennial Kingdom, all peoples will serve the LORD. Note that the second portion of the verse is inclusive, not only of Israel but of all nations, who together will worship 'the LORD our God.' This rendering fits the context best. (See also Jer 16:19-21)
This prophetic promise (in Micah 4:1-3), of the millennial Kingdom, is emphasized by its repetition in Isaiah 2:2-4.
Because these two passages are virtually identical, scholars have disagreed as to who copied who. However, we should remember that both men wrote as the Spirit of God taught them. It is certainly possible that He gave them the same words, for emphasis. On the other hand, the two prophets were contempories and may have occasionally borrowed words from each other, as the Spirit caused the words of one prophet to resonate within the heart of the other.
     Following the above passage, in Isaiah, the text moves immediately to an extended explanation of the reasons that the LORD must judge His people, and allow them to be made weak and to be afflicted by the nations (Isa 2:5- 3:26).
     Micah will also return to warn of the impending judgment of the nation (v.9-11). But first, he speaks of the LORD's healing of His people following their affliction.
6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth,
and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;
7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation:
and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
8. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion,
unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion;
the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
In that day... I will assemble her that halteth {ie., is lame}... her that I have afflicted...
The LORD is speaking prophetically of the day of Christ's Kingdom. As this prophecy was given, the northern kingdom may have already gone into captivity, but judgment had not yet fallen on the southern kingdom. They would soon be 'driven out' of their land. But when the time was right, the LORD would regather them and heal their wounds.
     'Her that halteth' refers to the nation which descended from Jacob who 'halted upon his thigh.' Jacob's personal experience provides an illustration of the LORD's dealing with the nation. Jacob fled from his brother, out of the land of promise into Syria. When the time came for him to return, he was existentially threatened by the approach of his vengeful brother, Esau. Jacob wrestled with God, and prevailed... not by his great strength, for he limped away from the encounter, but in the knowledge that he was totally dependent upon the LORD, to whom he then entrusted himself completely. In his new found faith, Jacob, the deceiver, became Israel, a prince with God (Gen 32:24-31).
     In a similar way, the LORD will use the nation's tribulations (in the future Time of Jacob's Trouble) to show His people their dependency upon Him, so that they will abandon all self-sufficiency, to trust Him alone for their salvation.
...I will make her that halted a remnant... her that was cast far off a strong nation...
The 'remnant' of Israel refers to a small portion of the nation who truly knew and trusted the LORD. Even when the nation was far from Him, the LORD has always had a remnant who were His. They did not always know one another (eg., Elijah was unaware of seven thousand believers, 1Kin 18:22; 19:14-18). While the nation was in unbelief, and during the long night of prophetic silence, the remnant clung to God's Word and watched for His promises to be fulfilled (eg., Simeon and Anna, Luk 2:25-38).
     The LORD's promises to the nation, of deliverance and of Kingdom blessings, are for the believing Remnant. (Isa 37:32; Mic 2:12,13; 5:7,8; 7:18; Rom 9:27; 11:5)
     The believing Remnant has historically been a small number of relatively weak individuals. Few were among the elite rulers. The believing remnant was not exempt from the captivities. The dispersion of the nation weakened them even further. But in that future day, the LORD will make them strong in the power of His might. Zeph 3:14-20
and thou, O tower of the flock... the stronghold...of Zion... unto thee... the first dominion...
The LORD's flock is the believing remnant. The tower and stronghold refer to Jerusalem. Towers on a city wall were places to watch for approaching danger, and also to take refuge in time of danger. In 2:12,13, Jerusalem was viewed as a 'fortress' or 'sheepfold' where the sheep would be gathered for slaughter, until 'the Breaker' would come to deliver them from the enemy.
     Here, the flock has been delivered, and the city becomes the center of world government, in possession of 'the first dominion.' The word 'first' is rooted in the Hebrew word for 'head.' It has two senses:
  1. 'Former' {'first in time'}
  2. 'Primary' {'first in degree'}
Both meanings are valid here. In the first sense, Jerusalem will be restored to the 'former' super-power status which it enjoyed under kings David and Solomon. In the second sense, Jerusalem (Israel) will become 'the head' or chief among the nations, having worldwide dominion, because it is the city of the great King.
     Such dominion was promised to Israel, if they would be faithful to the LORD (Deu 28:13). But when they turned from Him to serve other gods, the LORD gave the gentile nations dominion over them. The prophetic passage above describes Israel's bright future. The verses below return to Micah's time, and Israel's experience as the 'tail,' during the Times of the Gentiles.
9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?
[is there] no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished?
for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail:
for now shalt thou go forth out of the city,
and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon;
there shalt thou be delivered;
there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee?
From gazing at the joys of the Messianic Kingdom, the nation turns to view its then present situation. Soon, their king would be taken from them, and they would be removed from their land and city. This condition would persist, until the Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom (Hos 3:4,5).
...be in pain... daughter of Zion... now shalt thou go forth of the city... even to Babylon...
In the near term, Micah foresaw the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem. His prophecy was fulfilled by the armies of Nebuchadnezzer, about 100 years after he wrote.
...labour to bring forth... like a woman in travail...
Isaiah and Jeremiah also describe the anguish of the nation as birth pangs.
The pain of the judgment that was coming upon them would be...
  • intense (eg., Lam 1:12-18)
  • intermittent, coming in waves...
    For example, the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon occurred in three stages over a period of twenty years. In the first wave, king Jehoiakim was replaced by Jehoiachin, and taken captive, along with some princes and the sons of nobles (including Daniel). In the second, king Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon and replaced by Zedekiah. In the final stage (in 586 BC), the city and temple were destroyed and king Zedekiah along with a large portion of the population were deported to Babylon. (2Chr 36).
  • increasing until the delivery is accomplished.
    While the Babylonian captivity is in view in v.10, the suffering of Israel continues, often with terrible intensity, to the present day. But like birth pangs, their pain is intended to end when they are delivered. This is seen clearly in each of the passages where Israel's birth pangs are mentioned by Micah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (Isa 26:12-21; 66:7-9; Jer 30:1-9).
         These passages also show that, for all their painful sufferings, Israel is not able to deliver themselves. The LORD will deliver them, when they turn to Him in truth (at which time, they will recognize and receive the 'man child' which the nation brought forth before her travail, Isa 66:7-9; Zech 12:10).
...thou shalt go to Babylon... there the LORD shall redeem thee...
As prophesied by Jeremiah, seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem, some of the deported Israelites returned to rebuild the city and the temple. (As recorded in 2Chr 36:22,23 and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah).
     However, this partial restoration did not bring Israel's birth pangs to conclusion. The book of Revelation fortells their deliverance from the final form of Gentile world dominion, at the fall of Great 'Babylon' {'confusion', Rev 14:8}.
In the next few verses, the prophetic view leaps over the intervening centuries, from the Babylonian captivity, to that final stage of most severe birth pangs (Rev 12:1,2), the Time of Jacob's Trouble, the Great Tribulation period (Mat 24:21,22).
11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee,
that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
12 But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel:
for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion:
for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass:
and thou shalt beat in pieces many people:
and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD,
and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.
Now also many nations are gathered against thee...
This looks beyond the invasion by the Babylonian Empire, to the Day of the LORD, when the combined armies of the world will come against Jerusalem (Joel ch. 3; Zech ch.12; ch.14; Eze ch.38,39; Rev 16:16).
But they know not my thoughts...
The nations will think that they are implementing 'the final solution' to the problems in the Middle East. But in reality, the LORD will gather them against His people in Jerusalem, for the purpose of judging the nations.
Arise and thresh... daughter of Zion...
The LORD will strengthen Israel, with His power, to enable them to 'thresh' the nations.
Threshing is the process by which the seed kernel is separated from the chaff (eg., Psalm 1). Although He will allow the Remnant of Israel to participate, this work of judgment belongs to the Messiah (Mat 3:12), when He takes His rightful place as 'the Lord of all the earth.'
In the next verse (Micah 5:1), the prophetic picture reverts back, from that future day of victory, to the impending siege of Jerusalem and the long period of affliction which precedes the Messianic Kingdom.

Click here to continue the study in Micah 5
Return to Micah - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from www.theBookwurm.com

Go to The Book opening page.