The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2018
Study 5: Micah 4:1-8
A Refuge for the Nations
Peace seems like an illusive dream in our world today. The world is in turmoil. We hear about horrible events on every continent, and there’s general violence which we read about every day in so many of our cities. It’s hard for those who don’t know Christ to understand how the Prince of Peace has come, how the true church is a kingdom of God, how we live in the Messianic age promised in the law and the prophets.
This kingdom of Christ looks like no kingdom the unbelieving world is familiar with. They, like the corrupt Pharisees in Jesus time, see peace in a way totally different than the peace promised by God in his covenant with man. The kingdom peace that’s ours in Christ isn’t the peace imagined by fallen humanity. It’s the kind Christ gives. A better peace.
beyond the time of Israel’s captivity.
It begins (Micah 4:1a), “It shall come to pass in the latter days …”
The “latter days” is a common expression in the Scriptures. It refers to the last period of history beginning with the first coming of Jesus at Bethlehem, and continuing until his second coming in final judgment. When the Holy Spirit came to the church at Pentecost Peter explained that this was the “last days” spoken of by the prophet Joel. Hebrews 1:2 says that the church age is the last days. It says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” We live in these last days! The last period of God’s plan for this world.
Micah chapters 1-3 focuses on warnings of judgment and destruction. The leaders of God’s nation were corrupt and the sacrifices made for sin had been corrupted. God was predicting an invasion that would destroy Jerusalem and the temple. It would make the people of the Jewish nation captives in a foreign land. But God’s promises would not fail. This isn’t to be the end! The Prince of Peace will come! There will be a glorious future, one more period of redemptive history. The Messiah will come to fulfill God’s promises to His people.
The Bible speaks of five main stages or periods of “redemptive history.”
[WCF is the summary in the Westminster Confession of Faith, SC is from the Westminster Shorter Catechism]
1. The era before creation (Ephesians 1:3-6; WCF III; SC 7, 20) From all eternity past God’s plan to redeem his people has always existed as a fully formed plan in His mind.
2. The era of innocence (Genesis 1:31; Romans 5; WCF IV.2; SC 10) This is the very short period of human innocence between the creation of Adam and his fall into sin in Eden.
3. The era of preparation for Messiah (Hebrews 9:1-10; WCF VII.5) This is the period from the fall of Adam to the birth of Jesus Christ. This was a time of anticipation, of shadows, of sacrifices, rituals, and symbols. They showed God’s plan to send the Messiah. God’s plan to save his people became progressively clearer as he renewed his covenant throughout that era to Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and in the Prophets.
Micah and his original audience lived in that third era. But the Priests, Elders, and Kings had become corrupted. Their ways were obscuring God’s glory instead of declaring it. Therefore judgment was coming. Their corruptions will be removed. Their proud cities and corrupted temple will be torn down. They will no longer resemble a nation of God, but will become a nation of captives held as slaves to the heathen.
But that’s not the end! After warning them about the coming judgments, Micah pulled back the curtain of time to let them glimpse the future glory. The 4th and 5th eras of God’s history were yet to come.
4. The era of the Messiah (Colossians 1:19-22; Hebrews 9:11-10:14; Romans 5; WCF VII.6) This era extends from Christ’s birth to his coming again in final judgment. This is the time in which we live. During this 4th era, Messiah’s kingdom is being progressively extended by the work of the church through spreading the good news about God’s glory and grace. This Messianic age is not a perfect age. It leads to a perfect age. Nothing in creation itself can be perfect until the last judgment. Then the influence of sin and Satan will be removed forever.
A word of warning: There are some who try to predict when this age will end. The Bible doesn’t directly tell us. Those who dare to set dates for Christ’s return use unbiblical methods for interpreting the Bible. They ignore the context of the verses they use, and import meanings alien to Scripture to try to understand the Bible’s symbolic wording.
5. The era of glory (1Corinthians 15:50-58; Revelation 21; WCF XXXII, XXXIII) This is the eternal state after the final judgment when God’s redemptive plan is finally completed, and God’s plan is fully revealed.
1. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,
2. and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; …
Zion is the hill of Jerusalem. The temple was on Moriah which is one of its peaks. One day the place where God’s people approach him will be much greater. The greater Zion will not be the physical mountain at Jerusalem. It will be exalted above all hills. When the ancient temple was destroyed and later re-built after Old Israel’s return from captivity, the LORD said that the glory of the new temple would exceed that of the first (Haggai 2:9). This is because the second temple would be the one the Messiah would enter to establish the greater display of his kingdom during his life on earth. The even greater Zion, the greater mountain of the Lord, will be a spiritual city of God.
This new Zion is not to be exclusively a Jewish refuge. It was intended to become important to all nations. Abraham was promised long before, that God would make his descendants a blessing to all nations. Even many Gentiles will come to this greater Zion to learn God’s ways. They will come streaming into God’s kingdom. God’s law and justice will go forth to govern them.
How shocking this must have been for Micah’s hearers! “What!? These Gentiles, the nations that are now threatening God’s people with armies and who will burn the temple and take Jerusalem away as slaves will one day, in the promised age of the Messiah, join together enjoying the covenant peace of Jehovah?” Yes. Many from among them will also find refuge in Christ! Paul in Romans 11 confirms that when the Jews for the most part fell into unbelief, God opened salvation to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11,12).
This new Zion will be the Church, the city of God, Spiritual Zion, the Messianic Kingdom. Hebrews 12:22-23 says,
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,”
In this age God has made the church very important. He calls it the holy mountain of the Messianic age.
3. … and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;
4. but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.
The human weapons of war will become obsolete for them in striving to find peace. In Christ, the old ways pass away and are replaced with new ways of living, new ways of settling disputes and overcoming problems. There will be a new outlook on the state of the world.
The world has always tried to secure peace by acquiring power. In the days of Micah the leaders of Israel tried to secure peace by treaty with ungodly military powers. They looked to swords and spears. They didn’t get peace. They got war. They were soon to get total defeat and captivity. Peace that isn’t God’s peace is a fleeting illusion.
Today it’s no different. Power politics has made us a nation of skeptical voters. The battle for media control makes us doubt what we hear. Lust for economic power and covetous envy leads to an increase of more governmental control of our businesses. Trust in military power sends troops to foreign countries to stop isolated riots, but when only based upon military power they only to stir up more hatred and killing. Armies can invade into the heartland, but they can’t change the land’s heart. Military power can’t put justice into corrupt leaders. Before there can be peace, a foundation for true justice must be laid. God’s kingdom must be built upon the Gospel of Christ and God’s word. It will not stand if built upon worldly power and pride.
Swords and spears don’t bring real peace. True peace is secured only one way, by coming to the Messiah. Men lack true peace because they are alienated from God. Peace is not freedom from all conflicts which is impossible before the final judgment and the era of glory. Peace is freedom from the inner effects of conflict. It comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s available by belonging to Jesus Christ.
Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, called the Messiah the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5). He also said in Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace on earth (Luke 2:14). Paul wrote that Jesus made peace on the cross (Colossians 1:20). He also said in Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, …”
When Jesus finished his work on the cross, was raised again from the dead, and sat at the right hand of the Father in heaven, peace was offered to Israel’s enemies too!
Jews and Gentiles together can now enjoy peace in Christ’s kingdom. In the church we learn God’s ways and practice his justice. There is no need for swords and spears between us who are in that kingdom. Together we learn to apply God’s ways to grow and settle disputes. In Christ, even the believing gentiles will train among us for war no more.
Kingdom peace doesn’t come all at once. Universal peace will only become perfect when Satan is completely cast out forever at the end of this age when Christ returns in judgment.
The kingdom was founded small by Christ. He said it’s like a mustard seed, like leaven it will grow. This age won’t bring in a material kingdom-empire as the Jews expected.
When Peter attacked a soldier with his sword in the garden where Jesus was arrested, the Lord told his disciple to put his sword away. The next day Jesus said to Pontius Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. If it was, then his followers would fight. As we come to him, we gentiles who used to set ourselves to war, need to beat our swords into peaceful tools. The gospel brings peace. Not as the world expects it, but as God in the covenant promised from the beginning.
As the kingdom grows, those outside the kingdom grow worse. The wickedness of the world heats up. They still turn to swords and spears to impose what they see as “peace”, but what is really a suppression of those who stand in the way of their power. Even in this Messianic age, there are those who each walk in the name of his own god (Micah 4:5).
But inside the kingdom of Christ, there is a refuge for people from all the nations. There, believers find a peace that passes understanding. God’s justice settles all disputes among us without swords and spears. Physical weapons are only used for self defense, not for conquering.
The duty of God’s people in his church is to walk in his name forever. The kingdom approaches completion through evangelism, and grows to be more Christ-honoring by loving God’s word and the principles he teaches us there.
6. In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted;
7. and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore.
8. And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
Christ’s kingdom doesn’t depend upon human strength. The faithful were called lame and outcasts. In spite of its imperfections, what was seen as a weak remnant, the church, will become a Kingdom under Messiah its king. Jesus said the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against it.
There’s a wonderful promise of hope to the faithful in Micah’s age. It’s an even more wonderful promise to us who live in the Messianic age! Jesus has come and inaugurated a kingdom of peace, a church of God’s people. Our security and inner rest doesn’t come by swords and spears. Peace won’t come to our neighborhoods through guns or prisons. Certainly these instruments of justice and civil peace are important, but they don’t overcome what’s behind the threats and violence. Real peace won’t come by mere crime bills and federal dollars. We need to change hearts by spreading God’s word. The church has abdicated its role by trying to entertain and impress the world when it should be bringing the truth to it.
Real peace won’t come to our families by force, or impatient demands. It won’t come by subsidies, government agencies, or programs. Godly parents need to bring their children to Christ and to learn his ways. The kingdom grows by evangelizing those outside into the kingdom of God. It matures by not relying only upon swords. It should use the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
The world’s methods won’t work. They are unworthy of Christ’s church. Our only hope is to do things God’s way, unconditionally! His word and his way of handling our problems is the only way.
We live in a more glorious age than many realize. Though those outside the kingdom continue to perfect their wickedness, those inside the kingdom grow in peace, comfort, and rest as they learn to trust in the ways of Christ. When we abandon God’s ways of dealing with family, neighbors and others, and adopt the worlds ways of manipulating or eliminating others by force, we also abandon any hope of peace in the kingdom. But when we persist to trust in God’s way, the way of the gospel, we will see the kingdom grow as more of God’s people come in, and as those within that kingdom we find comfort and hope in the ways of Christ and grow to be more like him.
How is your life in God’s kingdom going to be more Christ-like by next year? by next month? by next week? Are you using God’s means to grow as a kingdom of God’s children? Are you being faithful in worship? in you own study of God’s word? in your persistence in prayer? in the development of every expression of the fruit of the Spirit? in the faithful encouragement of one another as fellow-citizens of the kingdom? in the open effort to evangelize those outside the kingdom?
Be encouraged! Don’t give up. Don’t abandon God’s ways and promises in exchange for substitutes. His ways work. God says so. We live in the age that has seen the Messiah come and provide salvation. We live in the church, the greater Zion. We are a kingdom of God!
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
Index to the Studies in Micah