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Bible Commentaries
Micah 4

Pett's Commentary on the BiblePett's Commentary

Verses 1-4

However, In The End It Is YHWH’s Purpose To Establish His Temple Miraculously In A Place Where All Men Can Flow To It So As To Learn His Ways And The Whole Earth Will Eventually Enjoy Peace (Micah 4:1-4 ).

But Micah wants it to be recognised that he is not despising the Temple and immediately points out its glorious future, although in terms which make it clear that it will be a very different one from the Temple of Solomon. This Temple is to be exalted heavenwards and is to become something to which all peoples will flow, and from which they can receive the word of God. The idea of a similarly exalted Temple is expressed in Revelation where the Temple has been raised into Heaven itself and is accessed through the prayers of God’s people, with the Lamb as the eternal sacrifice (Revelation 5:6; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3-4; Revelation 9:13; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 14:17-18; Revelation 15:5-8; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 16:7). That is fulfilling the words of Micah given here. The concept of an actual Heaven that men and women could enter had not even been thought of, and would simply have been looked on as polytheistic. To the nations it was the gods who indwelt the heavens.

Micah 4:1-3

are repeated almost word for word (with slight variations) in Isaiah 2:2-4. As they were contemporaries it is impossible to determine their connection. One may have depended on the other, or both may have been referring to a well known previous prophecy. (Each position has been well defended, which basically means that no one knows).

Micah 4:1

‘But in the latter days it will come about that the mountain of YHWH’s house will be established on the top of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills; and peoples will flow to it.’

Basically what Micah is saying is that it will be a heavenly Temple. It will rise far above all mountains and hills, and the people will flow upwards towards it. There is a deliberate indication of mystery here. ‘Flows’ usually take place downwards. But here the normal situation is reversed. God will draw the peoples to Himself (compare John 6:44). We can compare the heavenly Temple in Ezekiel which was situated on an unknown ‘very high mountain’ away from Jerusalem, and was never intended to be built. The only thing to be built was the altar in Jerusalem through which it could be accessed. It was the symbol that God was once again with His people.

Mountains and hills were looked on as having a kind of sacredness in the ancient world, which was why shrines (high places) were built on them and men thought that there people could better commune with God (compare Judges 11:38). In the mountain above where I once lived on Hong Kong Island there was precisely such a sacred grove to which people would go in order to burn joss sticks and seek the favour of the gods. It was totally open and unguarded and anyone could go there at any time. We went there often, although not to worship.

So the Temple which had been treated as one of the despised ‘high places’ fit only for destruction (Micah 3:12) would once again become predominant as a heavenly Temple where all nations could approach God without let or hindrance. And as such it would become the goal of the peoples. YHWH’s purposes would triumph over man’s perfidy.

This was why Jesus would later say, ‘the hour will come when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father --- the hour comes and now is when the true worshipper will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for such does the Father seek to worship Him. God is Spirit. And those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:21-24). We too worship in the heavenly Temple as we enter through the way opened up for us by the blood of Jesus and through our great High Priest Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Micah 4:2

‘And many nations will go and say, “Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, 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 out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem,”

And the Temple would no longer be exclusive. It would be open to many nations. And they would say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, to the house of the God of Jacob.’ The point is that the nations would recognise that the God of Israel was the only true God (as Jesus would later say ‘salvation is of the Jews’ - John 4:22). Indeed one of God’s aims for Israel was that they should be His chosen witnesses to the nations (Isaiah 43:10), a commission fulfilled by the Apostles and the early Jewish church because the Jews as such had failed to accomplish it satisfactorily. (We must not overlook, however, that they had previously outside Jerusalem among the nations laid a groundwork on which the early church could build. Paul always went to the synagogues first, as did the other Apostles).

That this Temple was in the end, as far as earth was concerned, the living temple of the Spirit consisting of Jesus and the true people of God comes out regularly in the New Testament (John 2:19; John 2:21; 1Co 3:16 ; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5-6).

And through that Temple the people would learn the ways of YHWH, and would learn to walk in His paths. For out of Zion would go forth God’s Instruction, and His word would go forth from Jerusalem. This was amply fulfilled as the Apostles and the persecuted people of God spread out into the world taking with them the Gospel of Christ (Acts 1-12). And it goes on today as we the Temple of the living God bear our witness in the world. For in one sense we are the new Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26).

Micah 4:3

“And he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.”

And the end promise is that as a result of the success of God’s activity among all peoples there would be peace among the nations. God Himself will reign over ‘many peoples’ and will exercise His authority among ‘strong nations afar off’, and in the end there will be total peace. War will be no more.

Today we see that God’s rule is exercised over many peoples, among Christians around the world, and that between them is peace, as their love reaches out towards one another (we must not judge Christianity’s success in this direction simply because of one nation’s bickerings and divisions). But, of course, the final fulfilment of this promise awaits the final everlasting Kingdom of God on the new earth when a new Heaven and a new earth is in place in which dwells righteousness (Isaiah 11:1-9; Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 3:13).

Micah 4:4

“But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none will make them afraid: for the mouth of YHWH of hosts has spoken it.”

And in that day Israel’s ideal will be fulfilled with all being free and independent, and every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree. And in that day none will make them afraid, for it will be in a world at perfect peace. And all this will come about because the mouth of YHWH has spoken it.

We do not of course have to interpret this too literally. It does not mean that we will all have to become agriculturalists. It is rather a picture of man’s ideal world in terms of how it would have been seen in those days. Compare here 1 Kings 4:25; 2 Kings 18:31 (it was even the ideal expressed by the Assyrians. Possibly they had learned of Micah’s prophecy); Zechariah 3:10.

Verse 5

Meanwhile Israel Are To Ensure That Just As Each Nation Walks In The Way Of Its God, So They Walk In The Name Of YHWH Their God Unceasingly (Micah 4:5 ).

Micah recognises that if the glorious future just described is to come about it is vital that God’s people continue faithful to YHWH. And so he firmly now says to his people, and on behalf of his people, that they will be faithful to YHWH.

Micah 4:5

“For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of YHWH our God for ever and ever.”

Drawing a comparison with the nations who faithfully follow their own gods, and using them as an example, he now calls on Israel to do the same, and walk in the Name of YHWH their God for ever. Let not those who serve the Living God fail to walk in His Name for ever. There is, however, a distinction in the fact that the gods of the nations can do nothing to help the people in their walk. But YHWH our God is the One Who is there to assist us in our walk and to give His strength and enabling. Compare Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 43:2. Standards had undoubtedly slipped in Jerusalem as we have seen, but the prophet is certain that in the end God’s people will be faithful to Him, and by these words he is urging them to be so, and to rely in His strength in doing so.

Verses 6-8

He Again Turns His Thoughts Towards ‘That Day’, That Day When God Will Acts To Restore His People (Micah 4:6-8 ).

In mind here now is not the final day spoken of in Micah 4:3-4, but the days of restoration which will precede it. Before final blessing there must be restoration.

Micah 4:6-7

“In that day,” says YHWH, “will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted, and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast far off a strong nation: and YHWH will reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever.”

Micah’s thoughts now again turn to the future and he looks for God’s restorative work on a devastated people. He sees around him, among the arrogant leaders, and the mercenary prophets and priests, many who are humble seekers after God, and many who are as sheep without a shepherd (not mentioned here but a regular Old Testament picture, and see Micah 4:8, and Micah 2:12), and he sees the thousands of Judah who have been carried off into exile as their cities have been destroyed (Micah 1:10-16), and he foresees YHWH as acting to restore them.

In that day it is the lame (the weak and helpless and lowly), and those who have been driven away (the helpless exiles), and those whom He has afflicted (those who have suffered silently under the current situation), who will be restored. This is especially telling as the lame were originally excluded from the actual precincts of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 21:18). Indeed it is the lame (the weak and lowly and rejected) who will be fashioned into a remnant, and it is the exiles who will be fashioned into a strong nation, and it is these who will enter under the Kingly Rule of God, and will enjoy His rule over them in Mount Zion from now on and for ever.

We may see of these words a threefold fulfilment:

1) In the first instance after the exile those who gathered back from exile to Jerusalem would be a pitiful remnant, and yet God would make of them a ‘great nation’, although sadly that nation as a whole would fail to come under His Kingly Rule. And so another remnant would have to be set up (compare for the twofold process Isaiah 6:13. it also demonstrates that the idea of the holy remnant was very much alive in Micah’s day).

2) In the second instance Jesus would come literally for the lame and the afflicted and would literally heal them (Matthew 11:5; Matthew 21:14) and begin the founding of His new congregation (Matthew 16:18), His new strong nation (Matthew 21:43).

3) Thirdly He would take up ‘unlearned and ignorant men’, and He would make them a remnant, and He would give them understanding, (the lame would become whole), and through them He would begin to establish His Kingly Rule. And they would reach out to ‘those who had been driven away’, the Jews in exile, many of whom were waiting for the Messiah, so that they would be gathered to the Messiah, with the result that those who had been cast off would become a strong nation (Matthew 21:43), so that YHWH might reign over them for ever and ever.

‘In Mount Zion.’ The New Testament makes clear that Jerusalem and Mount Zion are finally to be seen in heavenly terms. Compare Galatians 4:26; Heb 12:22-23 ; 1 Peter 2:6; Revelation 14:1; Romans 11:26). This ties in with the mountain of the house of YHWH which has been raised above the mountains and hills in Micah 4:1. Micah was expressing it in the terms of his day.

The idea of the reign of YHWH is a regular Old Testament conception. It is found in Psalms 22:27-28; Psalms 103:19; and in the enthronement Psalms 93:1; Psalms 95:3; Psalms 97:1; Psalms 99:1, and is regularly assumed. It had been established over Israel after the conquest, but rejected (Deuteronomy 33:5; 1 Samuel 8:7). Now it was to be full manifested.

Micah 4:8

“And you, O tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, to you will it come, yes, the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”

He concludes the vision with an assurance to the holy mountain that has been set above the mountains and hills (Micah 4:1), that it will be the source of God’s blessing to His people. It is to be the stronghold of God’s flock, the tower from which YHWH watches over His sheep (compare 2 Chronicles 26:10). It is to be the true hill of God’s people (the daughters of Zion). And to it would come the former dominion that had once been enjoyed under David, but now in even greater measure. It would be the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem promised, for example, in Psalms 2:0.

But this does not require the restoration of old Israel. The old Israel was cut off as a result of rejecting its Messiah, something finally evidenced by the destruction of Jerusalem. Rather a genuine new Israel has arisen, founded on Jesus Christ as His new ‘congregation’ (Matthew 16:18), established on the Apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), initially comprising large numbers of Jews who responded to their Messiah, initially in Jerusalem but then ‘worldwide’, and then incorporating Gentile ‘proselytes’ (Exodus 12:48) who became one with the new Israel (Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:17-28; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:5-9; 1 Peter 1:1; James 1:1). These are the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem over which God rule worldwide. (In New Testament language the church (congregation) of the Messiah Jesus are the continuation of the church (congregation) of Israel founded at Sinai. There is now no other Israel)

Verses 9-13

Micah Describes The Coming Tribulations of Judah But Gives the Final Assurance That In The End YHWH Will Triumph (Micah 4:9-13 ).

The near future is seen as bleak. Judah and Jerusalem are seen as in despair, without any hope of assistance from their king or counsellors. Indeed they will endure birth pains and will be carried be forced to live in the open countryside, and even some of them in that arch enemy of God, Babylon.

But in the end God will rescue them from there, and deliver them from the hands of their enemies.

It is true that many nations will gather eagerly to see this upstart nation with its upstart God humbled, and watch in delight as their wishes are carried out, but what they are not aware of is that in fact YHWH has gathered those nations so that they might be threshed by the people of God who will be given iron horns and brazen hoofs, so that they can thresh the nations of the world and devote their wealth to YHWH.

We may ask why at this stage mention is made of Babylon. Surely we are dealing with Assyria? The answer is in fact based on what Babylon was in the eyes of Judah and Israel. Babylon was the initial city that raised itself against God (Genesis 11:1-9). It was the leading nation that sought to attack the covenant people (Genesis 14:1). It had become a mighty city full of claims about itself calling itself ‘the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldean’s pride’ (Isaiah 13:19); its king set himself up in opposition to the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14); it saw itself as ‘the Lady of the Kingdoms’ (Isaiah 47:5), it said ‘I am and there is none beside me’ (Isaiah 47:10) and was renowned for luxury, debauchery, idolatry and the occult (Isaiah 47:12-13). It was the centre of evil. It was the very opposite of Jerusalem.

Furthermore we know that exiles had already been carried off to Babylon (Shinar) (Isaiah 11:11), which to a prophet of YHWH must have been the worst fate imaginable. (Note Micah’s ‘even to Babylon’ - Micah 4:10). They were in the hands of God’s Great Enemy, and of all the powers of evil. Thus the hope for the deliverance of God’s people from Babylon is not anachronistic. Compare how Isaiah even moreso saw Babylon as the ultimate enemy even in Assyria’s day (Isaiah 13-14).

So the future of God’s people was not at present a happy one, but the one thing that they could be assured of was that in the end YHWH would triumph. Any failure was theirs not His.

Micah 4:9

“Now why do you cry out aloud? Is there no king in you, is your counsellor perished, that pangs have taken hold of you as of a woman in travail?”

Micah visualises the pain of Judah as the advancing Assyrian armies destroy her cities one by one and commit wholesale atrocities. And he asks them why they are so disturbed. Do they not have a king? Do they not remember when they rejected YHWH as their king and thought that to have their own chosen king would solve all their problems (2 Samuel 7:5; 2 Samuel 7:7)? Are their counsellors not still alive, to whom they have listened rather than to the prophets? Why then are they in such anguish? Can it be that these are failing them?

Indeed in the end Hezekiah would plead with YHWH and Jerusalem itself would be spared (2 Kings 19:1-7). But that was still in the future, and even then it did not prevent the rape of Judah.

Micah 4:10

“Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail; for now you will go forth out of the city, and will dwell in the field, and will come even unto Babylon. There will you be rescued; there will YHWH redeem you from the hand of your enemies.”

Thus because they have not trusted in YHWH they must go through their birth pains, and in the end the inhabitants of Zion will be carried off into the open countryside (the field) and will find themselves ‘even in Babylon’, in Jewish eyes the worst of all possible fates. Because they have been evil they will be totally given up to all that is evil. There is a hint here of the Exodus when Israel left Egypt, and were in the wilderness, before they arrived in Canaan. It is an Exodus in reverse, but to an even worse nation, Babylon.

It was only because Hezekiah humbled himself before YHWH that this future was delayed. But he was warned that because he had failed in the matter of making a peace treaty with Babylon exile in Babylon for his sons and other leading Israelites was only a matter of time (Isaiah 39:6-7), and in fact under his son Manasseh some would be carried off to Babylon, including even Manasseh himself (2 Chronicles 33:11 - Assyria had made Babylon one of its seats of power). This prophecy by Micah was presumably made after that warning of YHWH concerning Babylon had been given to Hezekiah.

But it would not mean that all was lost, because YHWH would rescue them from Babylon, and redeem them from the hand of their enemies. And that is precisely what happened with Manasseh when he repented and sought YHWH (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

Micah’s words were even more completely fulfilled when Babylon became Israel’s chief adversary and destroyed Jerusalem and carried off its inhabitants to Babylon over a hundred years later.

Micah 4:11

“And now many nations are assembled against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye see our desire on Zion.”

It is clear that many nations round about resented Judah’s revival of Yahwism under Hezekiah, with its exclusivism and closing down of high places for the gods of other nations. Thus they watched the Assyrian invasion with glee, and participated in it with them, and said, ‘Let her be defiled.’ They wanted this proud nation with its pure God to be humbled and become like themselves, being forced to accept into their Temple the gods of Assyria. They longed to see their desire on Zion, its total humiliation.

The Assyrian army would originally have been composed of many nations, for subject nations would be required to provide their contingents, and these would have been expanded as the victorious Assyrian army incorporated more men into their ranks as the different nations were subjugated. Many would surrender without fighting (Micah 1:11) and it would therefore be seen as natural that many of their menfolk were conscripted into the army, while those who resisted more strongly would be subject to reprisal, but the need of the army for conscripts would never be forgotten. Thus by this stage the Assyrian army would have included many peoples from surrounding countries including Philistines, the new peoples of Samaria, and even men of Judah.

One lesson we can learn from that is that those who serve God faithfully will always discover that there are those who wish to see them humiliated.

Micah 4:12

“But they do not know the thoughts of YHWH, nor do they understand his counsel, for he has gathered them as the sheaves to the threshingfloor.”

But what these nations fail to recognise are the thoughts of YHWH. They do not understand His counsel. If they had they would not have been so pleased. For what they did not realise was that YHWH was gathering them as sheaves for the threshingfloor. He was gathering them so that they could be sifted and revealed to be chaff.

Not the contrast between Micah question about Judah’s king and counsellors in Micah 4:9, with the recognition here that YHWH is the King and Counsellor Who really matters. He will lead Judah aright if only they will hear Him.

Micah 4:13

“Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs brass; and you will beat in pieces many peoples, and I will devote their gain to YHWH, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.”

So the nations need to beware. For YHWH is going to make the horns of Judah as iron, He is going to make their hoofs as brass. Here He is likening Judah to the oxen who trod the threshingfloor, who will be powerfully equipped for the job. And the result will be that just as the grain on the threshingfloor was crushed in pieces by the oxen’s hoofs, so will the nations be trodden down by Judah. If only His people will trust Him and believe in Him, and will obey His covenant, and will therefore obey Him and arise and thresh the nations, they will crush in pieces many peoples (Psalms 2:8-12). But note that God will devote what they gain to Himself, and the substance that they obtain to the One Whose it is, the Lord of the whole earth. In their eyes that would mean it going into the Temple treasury.

There was fulfilment of this to some extent when the armies gathered against Jerusalem were smitten by the plague, and even moreso when the Jews were later roused to faith and gained periods of independence by defeating their enemies But it was even more true when God’s people would go out with the word of truth to bring the nations in submission to Him, and they would bring their wealth under His control.

There is a reminder for us here that however serious the circumstances might appear, God is in control and has in mind the needs of His people.

Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Micah 4". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/micah-4.html. 2013.
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