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B. Blessing for Israel in the future chs. 4-5
These chapters contain much revelation about the future kingdom of Messiah, to which almost all the writing prophets referred. This section contrasts conditions in Israel in the future with those the prophet just described in the present (ch. 3).
Reference to "the last days" often points to the eschatological future in the Prophets, and it does here (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:30; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 10:14; Hosea 3:5). This phrase usually refers to the Tribulation and or the Millennium. Some New Testament writers said that Christians live in the last days, namely, the days preceding Messiah’s return to the earth and the establishment of His kingdom on earth (e.g., Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20).
"The mountain of the house of the Lord" is Mt. Zion where the temple, the Lord’s house, stood in the past and will stand in the future (cf. Ezekiel 40-43). In the future, Mt. Zion would become the chief of all the mountains on earth rising above all other hills in its importance (cf. Genesis 12:3; Zechariah 8:3). "Mountain" is also a figure for a kingdom in the Old Testament (e.g., Daniel 2:35; Daniel 2:44-45). Here it probably has the double significance of literal Mt. Zion (Jerusalem) and the whole kingdom of Israel that Mt. Zion represents (by metonymy). People from all parts of the earth will migrate to it. This is quite a contrast from what Micah predicted about the immediate future of Jerusalem and the temple: its destruction and abandonment (cf. Micah 3:12). Literal streams of water will flow from this millennial temple (Ezekiel 47), but people will stream to it. [Note: Mays, pp. 96-97.]
"Year by year bands of pilgrims would make their way to Jerusalem to engage in festive worship, in the course of which they would receive instruction in the moral traditions of the covenant. This Israelite pilgrimage is here magnified to universal dimensions. Not merely Israel, but their pagan neighbors from all around would one day wend their way to Yahweh’s earthly residence, and there learn lessons which they would put into practice back in their own communities." [Note: Allen, p. 323.]
Zion’s positive future role 4:1-5
1. The exaltation of Zion 4:1-8
Micah mentioned several characteristics of the future kingdom of Messiah in this section. Micah 4:1-3 are similar to Isaiah 2:2-4. Scholars debate whether Isaiah borrowed from Micah or vice versa, whether they both drew from an older original source, or whether they each received their similar words directly from the Lord. There is no way to tell for sure.
Many nations would acknowledge the superiority of Israel by coming to the millennial Jerusalem to learn the Lord’s ways from the Israelites. Israel will finally fulfill its function as a kingdom of priests by mediating between God and the people of the world (cf. Exodus 19:6). Gentile people will want to obey His will, in contrast to the Jews of Micah’s day who did not. Jerusalem will become the source of communication concerning the Lord and His will.
The Lord will serve as the global Judge deciding disputes between many strong nations far removed from Israel geographically. The Jews of Micah’s day did not want God telling them what to do and not to do, and their judges perverted justice (cf. Micah 3:1-3; Micah 3:9-11). In that future day, the Millennium when Yahweh Messiah is reigning on earth, the nations will convert their implements of warfare into agricultural tools to promote life. They will not engage in warfare or train for battle any longer. Standing armies and stockpiles of armaments will be things of the past. In Joel 3:10 the reverse figure appears describing the Tribulation.
Peace will prevail worldwide. The figure of people sitting under their vines and fig trees describes them at rest enjoying the fruits of their labors and God’s blessings (cf. 1 Kings 4:25; Zechariah 3:10). They will not fear. Perhaps because it is so hard to believe that these conditions will ever prevail on earth Micah assured his audience that the very mouth of almighty Yahweh had spoken these words. These promises came from Him, not just from the prophet. They were prophecies that were sure to come to pass in contrast to those of the false prophets of Micah’s day (cf. Micah 3:5).
"While the people of God who are the church have experienced peace in their hearts, it is difficult to limit this prediction only to Christians. The prophecy is national and even universal in scope and looks forward to a time when the nations will come so fully under the benign influence of God’s Word that war will be no more." [Note: McComiskey, p. 422.]
In Micah’s day the Gentile nations, and many of the Israelites, followed other gods, but in the future they would all follow Yahweh. Consequently the Israelites needed to follow Him immediately. These promises encouraged Micah to make a fresh and lasting commitment for Israel to walk in the Lord’s ways rather than in the ways of the gods of other nations (cf. 2 Peter 3:11-12; 1 John 3:3). Walking in the name of Yahweh means living in dependence on His strength, which His attributes manifest.
In "that day" the Lord also promised to assemble His people whom He had allowed the nations to abuse. This will occur when He turns the tide for Israel and begins to bless her, namely, at the beginning of the Millennium.
Some of the postexilic books of the Old Testament (i.e., Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) show that the tide did not really turn for Israel at the end of the Babylonian captivity. The Jews continued to suffer under "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) and will do so until Messiah returns to the earth (cf. Matthew 24:31). This includes suffering in the Tribulation to come (Daniel 7:25; Zechariah 14:5). The Jews of Micah’s day were weak morally and spiritually and were about to go into captivity.
"The times of the Gentiles" are the times during which Gentiles control the affairs of the Jews, Israel having lost her sovereignty. These times began when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took the Jews into exile in 586 B.C., and they will end with the return of Jesus Christ to the earth at the Second Coming.
Zion’s future greatness 4:6-8
The Lord promised to make these lame outcasts of the earth, the Jews, a surviving, strong nation and to reign over them personally from Mt. Zion forever (cf. Psalms 146:10; Zephaniah 3:19; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15). He will do this through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His millennial reign will continue until the destruction of the present heavens and earth. Then it will continue on a new earth throughout eternity (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Micah returned to contemplate again Mt. Zion in the future (cf. Micah 4:1). It would become like a watchtower to the flock of God’s people Israel and a stronghold to her descendants then. Israel’s former dominion over her world under David and Solomon would return then, even the kingdom of the descendants of Jerusalem.
Only if we spiritualize the meaning of "the daughter of Jerusalem" to mean the church can we get away from the clear promise of Israel’s restoration here (cf. Romans 11:26). Reference to restoration of the glory of the former Davidic kingdom strongly suggests the revival of the Davidic kingdom (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:11).
One writer counted 11 characteristics of the future messianic kingdom in Micah 4:1-8. These are the global prominence of the temple (Micah 4:1 a) and its attraction of people worldwide (Micah 4:1 b). Jerusalem will function as teacher of the world (Micah 4:2 a) and as the disseminator of revelation (Micah 4:2 b). The Lord will judge the world from Jerusalem (Micah 4:3 a), and peace will be universal (Micah 4:3 b). Israel will experience peace and security (Micah 4:4), spiritual sensitivity (Micah 4:5), regathering to the land (Micah 4:6), strength (Micah 4:7), and dominion (Micah 4:8). [Note: Martin, pp. 1483-84.]
2. The might of Zion 4:9-5:1
One of the events that would occur before the realization of these great promises of blessing was Israel’s exile, but the burden of this pericope is also future restoration.
Micah, speaking for the Lord, addressed the Jews in captivity. He was looking into the future, not as far as the restoration previously promised, but into the captivity. He asked rhetorically why the Israelites were crying out in agony, like a woman in labor pains who can do nothing to relieve her misery. Did the Jews have no king leading them and providing counsel for them? This would be their condition during the captivity. The Babylonian captivity is in view primarily (Micah 4:10).
"The now has a certain width of reference, embracing both the Assyrian and Babylonian crises. Prophets saw the future not diachronically [consecutively] but synchronically [simultaneously]." [Note: Waltke, in Obadiah, . . ., p. 178.]
The Israelites would leave Jerusalem as a woman in labor. They would have to live in a field temporarily until they arrived in Babylon, but in Babylon the Lord would eventually rescue and redeem them. He would deliver them from captivity and return them to the land. This is one of the earliest references to the Babylonian Captivity in prophetic Scripture (cf. Isaiah 39:1-7).
This prediction of captivity in Babylon was unusual in Micah’s day, because then Assyria was the great threat to the Israelites. The Babylonian deportations came a century later. In Micah’s day Babylon was part of the Assyrian Empire. Probably "Babylon" here has a double meaning: the historic Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar’s day and the future Babylon, the symbol of Gentile power that has held Israel captive since Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:4-9; Revelation 17-18).
"God chose Babylon because in Micah’s pagan world it functioned as the equivalent of Rome in the Middle Ages and of Mecca in Islam. The darkest land will become the place where the daylight of the new age dawns." [Note: Ibid., p. 179.]
Micah had just prophesied an eschatological redemption of Israel, and that future vision stayed with him (Micah 4:1-8).
In Micah’s day many nations desired to see Israel polluted and destroyed. However, they did not understand God’s purposes for Israel or for themselves. They failed to see that He would gather the nations for judgment, as a farmer gathers sheaves of grain on a threshing floor in preparation for beating them out.
In the future Israel would be the Lord’s instrument to thresh the nations. He would strengthen Israel to overcome them and to turn over their wealth to Him, namely, to bring them into subjection to the sovereign Lord. Israel has not yet done this, so the fulfillment lies in the future, when Messiah returns to reign (cf. Zechariah 14:12-15). Universal peace (in the Millennium, Micah 4:3-4) will follow this judgment of the nations.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Micah 4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25