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UNIVERSAL ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY
Micah 4:1-4. 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. 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. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 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.
THE Prophet Micah was contemporary with Isaiah; and most probably had seen his prophecies. The prophecy before us is almost word for word the same as that in the second chapter of Isaiah, except indeed the concluding part of it, which is peculiar to Micah. The mode in which the prophecy too is introduced is different. In Isaiah, it is the commencement of a new prophecy; but, in Micah, it is the continuation of a prophecy of a very different complexion. Micah was a man of singular fidelity and courage. He declared to all the elders of his nation, and in a way that made a deep impression upon all [Note: Jeremiah 26:18-19.], that on account of their iniquities God would give up their city and temple, to be destroyed and “plowed up as a field.” But, whilst he announced to the Jews God’s determined purpose to punish them in this awful manner, he foretold also his intention at a future period to restore them to his favour, and to make them a source of blessings to the whole earth.
This is the substance of the prophecy before us; in elucidating which we shall notice,
The universal establishment of the Christian Church.
Here it will be proper to notice,
The prediction relative to it—
[The temple of Solomon was built on a lofty hill: the altars also which were consecrated to false gods, were built on high places: hence the Christian Church is called by the prophet, “the mountain of the Lord’s House,” and by the Apostle Paul, “Mount Zion [Note: Hebrews 12:22.].” Of this Church it is said, that it “shall be established on the top of the mountains,” that is, on the foundations of the Jewish Church, and on the ruins of all idol worship. It is the superstructure for which alone the foundations of Judaism were laid: and, when this edifice shall be complete, all idols shall fall before it, as Dagon before the ark. The period for its completion is in the last days, the days of the Messiah; a period yet future, though, we hope, not far distant. The terms of the prophecy are such as evidently to shew, that the prediction has never yet been fulfilled, and consequently, that its accomplishment is yet to be expected by us in the appointed time.]
The mode of its accomplishment—
[“People,” or, as Isaiah expresses it, “all nations,” “shall flow unto it.” Yes, this “mountain shall be established on the top of mountains,” and all nations, like a majestic river, “shall flow unto it.” By this metaphor, which is indeed a most extraordinary one, it is intimated, that all nations shall be united in one common sentiment and purpose; that their progress towards its completion shall be irresistible; and that the whole shall take place under a preternatural and divine influence; since the natural progress of a river is downward, whereas this shall be upward, to a mountain on the top of other mountains. What a grand idea does this convey! The natural propensities of all men checked in their course, and their affections directed into a channel, in which Omnipotence alone can uphold them!
But the mode in which this shall take place is more fully stated by the prophet himself. The people of different and distant lands shall suddenly become penetrated with one common principle, and shall call on one another to unite in one common cause, the cause of true religion. “Come,” they will say, “let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, the House of the God of Jacob.” Just as, in the days of old, the Jews from every part of their land went up thrice a year to worship at Jerusalem; so will the Gentiles in every quarter of the globe go up with one consent to the mountain of the Lord’s House: “God will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear him for ever.”
The motives too by which they will be actuated are here distinctly specified. They will not go from regard to a particular ordinance which they feel constrained to obey, nor from a mere carnal partiality, such as the Jews evinced for their native land; but from a real desire to know, and do, the will of God. It is this which they will contemplate with such peculiar pleasure. In the Christian Church they will have an opportunity of becoming more deeply acquainted with that “great mystery of godliness, God manifest in human flesh,” and dying for the sins of men; and they will have ampler means of knowing the whole extent of their duty, which it will thenceforth be their one labour to perform: to attain these things, I say, will be the one object of their ambition; and they will be alike filled with this one desire, to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
This is the change which we expect assuredly to be wrought on the Gentile world in due time; and by this shall the predicted establishment of Christ’s Church be fulfilled.”]
Yet simple, and as it might be thought weak, are,
The means by which it shall be effected—
The mere preaching of the Gospel is the appointed instrument which God will make use of for the attainment of this great end; “The law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
The Gospel is here called “a law”—
[It is “a law,” because it is authoritatively enjoined to be obeyed by every creature under heaven. And it is so called by the Prophet Isaiah, who characterizes it as “God’s judgment which he would make to rest for a light of the people (the Gentiles;) even as his righteousness (or method for making people righteous before him,) and his salvation, for which all the isles shall wait, and in which they shall trust [Note: Isaiah 51:4-5.].” St. Paul also calls it “the law of faith [Note: Romans 3:27.].”]
And by the publication of that shall the great work be effected—
[It was that which produced such wonderful effects in the apostolic age; and it is still a “weapon mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong holds” of sin and Satan. It is “the rod of God’s strength which was to go forth of Zion,” and by which all his enemies are to be subdued before him. If we look into the discourses of the Apostles, we shall find nothing of that high-wrought eloquence for which the orators of Greece and Rome were famed: we shall see little else than a simple exhibition of Christ crucified, and a solemn declaration, that there was “no other name given under heaven whereby any man could be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ.” This is the truth which still approves itself “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” and still is “made the power of God unto salvation” to many souls. This began to be preached at Jerusalem; and is from thence come forth; and will in due time be “preached unto all nations.” No human power shall be called to its aid; no human policy shall cooperate with it: this alone, accompanied with power from on high, and “preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” will do the work: conviction will flash upon the consciences of thousands, as on the day of Pentecost; conversion will instantly ensue: Christ being erected as “an ensign, all will flock to it,” and “a nation will be born in a day.” He shall be acknowledged by all as the “Shiloh that was to come: and to him shall the gathering of the people be.” The doctrine of the cross being universally proclaimed, the universal flow shall take place, “and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.”]
From the work itself let us turn to the contemplation of,
The fruits that shall every where proceed from it—
The Lord Jesus Christ will reign in the hearts of all—
[As judges of old swayed the sceptre of Israel, so will the Lord Jesus rule over the whole earth; and whatever is contrary to his will, he will “rebuke” and subdue. Nothing will be able to withstand his power: “He will work, and who shall let it?” As in former days, when he brought his people out of Egypt, and planted them in Canaan, he made them triumphant over every enemy, so will he do in the day to which we are looking forward: he will “go on in the chariot of his Gospel, conquering and to conquer,” till all his enemies and theirs be put under their feet.]
Then shall peace and happiness universally prevail—
[The distinctions between nations will then be no longer accompanied with rivalry and hate: all will be as children of one common Father, all as members of the same body. War will then no longer be a science, which even the most peaceful nations are constrained to learn for their own preservation: the cultivation of peaceful arts will be the one desire of all; “they will beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and they will learn war no more.” Then also personal and domestic peace will abound throughout the world: “every man will sit under his own vine and fig-tree,” as in Patriarchal times, none attempting to molest him, and not so much as the fear of molestation existing in his mind [Note: Isaiah 32:16-18.]. Doubtless the internal peace which all will enjoy in their own heart and conscience is also to be included under this beautiful image: for the very character of Christ himself is, that he is the Prince of peace; and the character of his reign is, that it diffuses “an abundance of peace” throughout his whole empire, so that “the peace of all floweth clown like a river.” Blessed, blessed state! May “the Lord hasten it, in his time!”]
From this subject we may clearly see,
What an unspeakable blessing the Gospel is—
[Wherever the Gospel has come with power, these effects may be already in a measure seen. True it is, they are not seen to the extent that they will hereafter be, because real piety is at so low an ebb, even amongst the professed followers of Christ. But from what is partially seen, we may know what shall hereafter obtain throughout all the world. The hateful passions which produced so much hatred and contention in the world, are slain, wherever the Gospel has its due effect; and peace, and love, and every amiable disposition, have an habitual ascendant in the soul. O professors, judge yourselves in relation to this matter: see whether ye be “putting off the old man, which is corrupt, with its deceitful lusts; and be putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness:” and look to it, that, in these and all other respects, ye walk worthy of Him who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.]
How we may ensure to ourselves all its glorious effects—
[The Gentiles, in the latter days, may well be proposed as a pattern for us in the present day. Let an entire conformity of heart and life to God’s revealed will be the one object of our pursuit. Seek knowledge, not for its own sake, but for its influence upon the soul: and seek grace, not for the aggrandizement of yourselves, but that God may be glorified in the whole of your conversation. If you come up to the House of God with such dispositions as these, you will find that there is a power in the word to enlighten and sanctify the soul; and, in proportion as you cultivate these dispositions, you will “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
It will also have a good effect to animate and encourage one another. This will characterize the Christians in the latter day: and the influence of social piety will be found most beneficial to your souls. Be careful, however, when exhorting others to come up to the House of the Lord, never to omit, in spirit at least, if not in word, “I will go also [Note: Zechariah 8:20-21.].”]
What glorious times are hastening upon us—
[We do hope that the times here spoken of are not far distant. Multitudes of us who are here present can remember when the Church was by no means what it now is: even twenty years have made an immense difference; so great, comparatively, has been the out-pouring of God’s Spirit, beyond what it has been for centuries before. And we account it no small privilege to live in a day when some of the greatest Potentates upon earth are uniting, with their subjects of every denomination and description, to disseminate throughout the world the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. By this we may form some little judgment what to expect in that day, when, in every nation under heaven, kings shall be the nursing-fathers, and queens the nursing-mothers, of the Church. O blessed times! May God accelerate them! and may we all exert ourselves, as his instruments, to accomplish his will, and to hasten forward these glorious events! If it be thought that these prospects are too good to be ever realized; let any one only compare Britain as it now is, with what it was before the banners of the Cross were erected on our shores; and then he will see no reason to despair of those nations that are yet “sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.” But were the change far more beyond the reach of human probability than it is, there would be no resason to doubt of its ultimate accomplishment, since Omnipotence is pledged to effect it: It shall take place, “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”]
THE WORLD’S AND THE CHRISTIAN’S GOD CONTRASTED
Micah 4:5. 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.
IT has been objected to Christianity, that it creates divisions in families, and in the world at large. But how should it not produce these effects, when the whole world is immersed in idolatry; and the direct end of Christianity is, to “turn men from idols, to serve the living God?” See the prophet’s account of “the last days:” “It shall come to pass, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains; and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people, even all nations, shall flow unto it [Note: ver. 1, 2.].” What can this import? What, but a general conversion to Christ; and, as far as that change shall extend, the determination here formed; “Every one will walk in the name of his God: and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever?”
Let us notice here,
The practice of the world—
Every unregenerate man is an idolater—
[Idolatry may be found no less amongst the professed servants of Jehovah, than amongst the worshippers of stocks and stones. Idolatry, in fact, is “the loving and serving of the creature, rather than the Creator, who is blessed for evermore [Note: Romans 1:25.].” Now it is a fact, that every man, in his unregenerate state, is under the dominion of some lust, which leads him captive. All are not governed by the same lust: the desires and appetites of men differ amongst different persons, and in the same person at different periods of his life. In youth, we are chiefly impelled by a love of pleasure and sensual indulgence. In middle age, we aspire after honour and advancement in the world for ourselves and our children. In more advanced life, the love of money not unfrequently gains an ascendant over us; and, at all events, a love of ease and quiet. Now, wherever these, or any other dispositions, operate upon us more powerfully than the love of God, they become, in fact, our god. As the sensual man is said to “make a god of his belly [Note: Philippians 3:19.];” and the covetous man to make an idol of his gold [Note: Colossians 3:5.]; so the votaries of any created being or enjoyment are, in reality, despisers of the one true God, and worshippers of idols.]
Whatever be the supreme object of a man’s affections, “in the name of that he walks”—
[The young men are never weary in the pursuit of pleasure. Behold the gay, the dissipated, the voluptuous! From the nature of things, they cannot always be in a direct pursuit of their object: but it is never out of their minds, at least never so far removed, but they can revert to it with delight, and renew, in contemplation, the feelings which have already been indulged even to satiety. Of this the records of the whole world will testify: and he can know little of himself, who needs be told that it has been his own experience. The Apostles themselves confess this to have been once their own course [Note: Ephesians 2:3.Titus 3:3; Titus 3:3.]; nor has there been an exception to it, in the state of unconverted man, from the fall of Adam to the present moment.]
In direct opposition to this is,
The determination of the true Christian—
He also has his God—
[Yes, the Lord Jehovah is his God; and him alone is he disposed to serve. The Christian sees that Jehovah alone has any claim upon him. As his Creator, his Governor, his Redeemer, and his Judge, Jehovah demands of him all the affections of his soul, and all the services of his life: and he not only accedes to this demand, but accounts it his highest honour, and his truest happiness, to fulfil the duties imposed upon him.]
And in the name of this God he walks—
[This God he confesses before men; and for him determines to brave all the contempt and hatred of an ungodly world. He sees that the servants of Satan will cast every obstacle in his way: but he resolves, by the grace of God, to go forward, and to serve his God even unto death. Look at the saints of God in every age: they all united in devotion to one God, even to Him who made them, and to Him who redeemed them by his own most precious blood. The voice of every one of them was, in fact, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides Thee [Note: Psalms 73:25.].” And in the name of this God they walk; proceeding continually from grace to grace, from strength to strength, from glory to glory.]
And now, Brethren,
Choose ye whom ye will serve—
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” “To whichever of the two ye cleave, ye must, of necessity, renounce and despise the other [Note: Matthew 6:24.].” And can ye doubt whose ye shall be, and whom ye shall serve? What can the vanities of the world do for you? — — — On the other hand, what cannot, or will not, the Lord Jesus do for you? — — — Take him then as your God, and serve him faithfully with your whole hearts [Note: Joshua 24:15.] — — —]
Be not out-done by the votaries of this world—
[Are they constant? Be ye also firm, uniform, unreserved. Let there not be a worldling in the universe so faithful to his god, as you to yours. Let the Apostle’s counsel be the entire rule of your life: “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving [Note: Colossians 2:6-7.].”
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Micah 4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18