The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2019
Study 6: Micah 4:8-13
Saved to Subdue
A few years ago I saw two reports on our local TV news about juvenile crime.
The first was about a police effort to round up repeat teen offenders. They were violent felons who had committed assault with deadly weapons, grand theft, and a list of other dangerous crimes. They had averaged 16 days in jail and were released on parole only to commit crimes again within a few days. The police operation was intended to get them off the streets on parole violations. The story became even more alarming when one of the boys being arrested showed no respect for the officers and attempted to escape. The police stopped him and informed him that this would add another charge to his long list of crimes. How did the boy react? He laughed at the police and said, “what’s another charge?” He didn’t care. As the junior felons were being loaded into the police van they laughed and made fun of the police and the whole operation. They knew they would be back on the streets soon to continue doing whatever they wanted. One repeatedly spat at the local TV camera man.
A day later we heard of a violent local crime spree of teens. They violently worked their way through our county. When arrested they showed a total disrespect for the law, the police, and their victims.
The idea of justice can get very blurry.
Society often doesn’t do a very good job displaying the principle of justice, one of the attributes of God.
Some are more concerned about helping the law breakers than their victims. They excuse crime and violence by blaming politicians, teachers, parents, movies, social media, or guns.
We have a duty as God’s creatures,
as undeserving sinners saved by grace.
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.
We are to display God’s Lordship, though our fallen society often only obscures it. The first human was told to exercise dominion over creation and subdue it (Genesis 1:26-28). Humanity is here to represent God’s authority and to wisely bring all things under the control of God’s principles. We are here to make sure that the glories of the Creator are displayed as clearly as possible. This is the “Dominion Principle“.
In the time of Micah the former dominion (God’s kingdom as represented in the rule of Kings and the Covenant affirmation to David) had fallen. The kingdom of Israel no longer portrayed God’s justice. His mercy had been obscured by greed. His grace in reaching out to the undeserving to transform them was hidden by pride.
Micah and other prophets came warning that God’s judgment would come. They predicted that Jerusalem would fall, the temple they desecrated by their empty sacrifices would be destroyed, and the people would be taken away as slaves by the heathen. Judgment will come to restore God’s justice. Only then could the message of his mercy and grace be clearly restored.
Micah also had that message of hope. This captivity will not be the end! David’s kingdom will reach perfection, but not as an earthly empire. It would come to a greater completeness in the spiritual reign of Messiah in the church. Dominion was going to be restored! God’s promises will be kept. Messiah will come. Though Israel will be scattered and her temple torn down, Messiah will come and bring in a new age: a greater Zion, a heavenly kingdom, a spiritual city, a church of God.
This kingdom will include the Gentiles too! Gentile nations were then threatening Jerusalem with swords and spears. But in the kingdom, those who come to Christ will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks (Micah 4:3). They will discover God’s law and justice as the right way to peace in God’s kingdom, not violence.
Micah, and many other’s in the Bible, called this time “the last days”. The last era of God’s plan to save his people lasts from the coming of Messiah in Bethlehem all the way to his coming again in final judgment. That’s the age in which we live.
The New Testament book of Hebrews describes the great privilege we have living in the age of fulfilled blessings instead of one of symbols and rituals. In Christ, we can enjoy a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), even while violence rocks our communities. We have a message for our neighbors: Christ delivers from sin, restores to fellowship with God, and puts peace and hope back into our hearts.
But there is the problem of abdicated responsibility and fallen glory.
In Micah’s time the promised kingdom had not yet come. Confusion ruled.
9. Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor?
10a. Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. …
The leaders had abdicated their offices.
One of the most famous abdications in history took place in 1936. King Edward VIII of England believed he was in love with an American woman, Wallis Warfield Simpson. Not only was she an American, but her 2nd divorce was not yet final. The British and Commonwealth governments strongly opposed his plans to marry to her. He was only 42, and had just come to the throne that year. On Dec 11, 1936 he abdicated the British throne and married her. He became duke of Windsor and lived with Simpson in Paris before and after World War II. He died in 1986. He abdicated the throne for love! Or at least his idea of it.
The abdication of Israel’s leaders was for love of self and of leisure. But they didn’t lay aside the power and title of their leadership when they decided to serve themselves. They only abdicated their duties. As selfish shepherds they fleeced the flock God called them to lead.
Dereliction of duty brings disaster.
What happens when one given a duty neglects it and others are hurt? What if a soldier on guard duty was reading a book instead of keeping watch and commandos slip by? What if the police sneak off to a movie while killers go on a rampage? What if the president was watching football and delays responding to an invasion until half-time? Consequences must be paid.
Micah asks where where the leaders in this time of moral crisis? They were not being subduers. They didn’t display the idea of God as king, of his dominion. They had abdicated their responsibility and now will lose their kingdom. God’s foolish nation will be exiled to Babylon. Like a woman giving birth, they will go through agony.
Yet, as in childbirth, something great will come by grace.
10b … There you shall be rescued; there the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
Though they deserve judgment, the LORD in his grace will rescue and redeem his people. He doesn’t just excuse abdication. He promised to send the Messiah to take their place. In their place he will perfectly represent God’s sovereignty on earth. He will display God’s kingship where his people had failed. And in the place of his true people he will take the sentence of death due for their sins, and for their abdication of duty in exercising faithful dominion.
But for those who arrogantly dare to stand on their own, who fail to come humbly to Christ as their Savior and Lord, they will answer for their own sins, and failure of duty. But to the repentant, to the church in Christ, dominion will be restored! God will establish his church as a spiritual kingdom! a greater Zion.
For those who had abdicated their thrones, there is fallen glory. God’s judgment will include humiliating the proud nation of the Jews.
There are consequences when duties are abandoned.
11. Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.”
Israel had gloated in her time of earthly glory.
Gloating comes easily to fools. She forgot that her glory was to be God’s glory. The kings stood proudly and the priests boasted in themselves. They took credit for their accomplishments and blamed others for their sin. But they should take credit for their sin, and credit God for their accomplishments. Only then would his dominion be again made clear. But that’s not what they were doing. The time of judgment would come.
Soon the nations will gloat over Israel.
This wasn’t a new idea. It was part of God’s covenant from the beginning: God, through Moses, had warned them in
Deuteronomy 28:36-37, “The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away.” Psalm 44:14 warned, “You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.” The prophets later warned them of the same thing (1 Kings 9:7, 2 Chronicles 7:20). God was going to keep his word. He would give them exactly what they deserved: Judgment.
But God’s dealing with the heathen nations wasn’t over yet either:
God will judge the nations and restore True Israel to glory.
12. But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.
13. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.
Ignorance is no excuse for disobeying God.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the nations had no understanding of the purposes of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Until God grants spiritual life, humans don’t catch on. Fallen minds distort what they see, obscuring God’s glory.
Far from being an excuse for sinning, ignorance is one of the strongest evidences that condemn a person. Understanding sin doesn’t cause salvation. It’s the other way around. It’s salvation that makes us able to properly understand our sin. Those who are proud, arrogant, and love their own ways, expose their unsaved hearts. Spiritual ignorance shows they are still slaves to a fallen nature.
One day that inevitable judgment will come.
When the time of captivity came, the invading nations made monuments showing how they carried off the treasures of Israel. Today, those conquering nations are gone. Only crumbling stone monuments remain. Israel has become the church, a kingdom of God! Where once gentile nations attacked and mocked, now, in this age of the Messiah and of his church, gentiles also come to Christ, and there find hope and peace.
God calls his people to take up dominion over what was once their enemy’s.
The “horn of iron” reminds us of the symbol the false prophet Zedekiah used against the prophet Micaiah in the days of King Ahab. He made horns of iron and said Israel would “gore the Syrians.” But they didn’t gore the Syrians. As Micaiah predicted, the Syrians defeated Israel and killed king Ahab. 100 years later another prophet, Micah (the same name in Hebrew) said that a horn of iron will be given to Israel by their God. Now we understand that they will gore their enemies through the work of the Messiah. They will become caretakers bringing what the wicked obtained by greed into subjection to Christ to show his glory. This was not fulfilled by the Old Israel of shadows and symbols. But by a New Israel, the church of God, the Messianic Kingdom, New Zion.
Paul, in writing to the Romans explained that God uses his church as he conquers the kingdom of Satan. Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet..” We are called to become gospel conquerors.
God’s church is made up of sinners rescued and restored to bring all things into dominion to Christ. The church, the New Zion, is here to recapture the world around them and restore God’s glory in all things!
Evangelism has a purpose:
The first order is to bring the elect of God into the church. Sinners are told that Messiah has come and paid their debt.
But that’s not all! We’re not only here to bring the elect to Christ. The church formed by evangelism is here to show God’s lordship. We are to improve the visibility of God’s kingship over his kingdom. It’s our duty to bring everything in our lives under his lordship. Every moment of every day!
That doesn’t mean we always go around in some pious, mystical state. But whether we work, laugh, rest, eat, or whatever we do, we should do all things with the idea that it should glorify God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Our duty is to bring everything into subjection to Christ. Our every resource: our finances, our talents, possessions and time, our families, friends and neighbors, our work and study, in our personal calling every day! God has saved us and made us a part of his kingdom to be a subduer!
As we live each moment, each of us should ask: “Am I showing the Lordship of Christ over his reclaimed creation?” If so: then we should humbly thank God the Son who came to reclaim us. Thank God the Father for his wonderful eternal plan of grace. Thank the Holy Spirit for being your strength and hope. If not, then ask, “What must be done to fix things in my life? so that God might be seen in me as the Almighty King?”
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Index to the Studies in Micah