For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

4:1.  “But 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.”

Because God’s promises to the Fathers were irrevocable they would be fulfilled in spite of the terrible sins of the nation through the centuries. In the latter days there would emerge from the purifying fires of the Tribulation judgments a believing remnant, the new repentant converted Israel that would enjoy all those promises in the Millennium, and it is of that coming day of blessing that the prophet now speaks.

The last days mentioned here are the last days for Israel and the world, i.e., the days of the Millennium, those final thousand years bringing to a peaceful and glorious close earth’s tumultuous history.  It is interesting to note, that counting from Adam, earth’s history has occupied about six thousand years, so that the Millennium will conclude a total historical time of seven thousand years.  But relative to time we read in 2 Pe 3:8 that, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” so that what we view as seven thousand years are by God’s reckoning only seven days, or one week; and God appointed the seventh day of the week to be a sabbath of rest for Israel and for all creation.  The Millennium therefore is God’s great sabbath which will end His “week” of human history, and bring earth’s turbulent history to a peaceful end.

In that “week” “the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains.”  A mountain is the biblical symbol of a kingdom or a king, so that what is being declared here is that in the Millennium “the house of the Lord,” i.e., Israel will be given supremacy over all the nations of the earth, as promised in Dt 28:13, “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them.”  Israel’s sad history, however, has been one of rebellion rather than obedience, so that instead of being the head she has been the tail, as it is written in Dt 28:15-44, “But ... if thou wilt not hearken ... all these curses shall come upon thee ... and he (your enemy) shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.”

“... exalted above the hills” means that all nations will praise her; and “people shall flow unto it (Jerusalem)” i.e., they will go there to worship, and to be instructed in the things of God.

Many understand the reference in this verse to be to the millennial Temple.

4:2.  “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.”

“... the mountain of the Lord” refers to Jerusalem as the administrative center of the millennial earth, while “the house of the God of Jacob” seems to speak of the Temple, as the center from which God’s moral law will be proclaimed to all the nations

In the past Israel has failed to be what God wanted her to be: a teacher of the nations, making Him known to them; but in the Millennium she will joyfully fulfill her God-appointed mission.  The nations in turn, eager to be taught, will flock to Jerusalem; and learning His will as expressed in His Word, will gladly obey it. 

“and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”  The desire of the millennial nations to know and to obey God’s word is the antithesis of the attitude of the nations today.  Beginning with Adam’s disobedience, human history has been the sorry, sordid chronicle of man’s rebellion against God.

“... for the law will go forth of Zion,” reiterates the truth that the Temple will be the center from which God’s moral law will be proclaimed to all the nations; while “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” continues to emphasize that Jerusalem the city will be the administrative center of the millennial earth.  In the Millennium the moral and the political will be inseparably joined.

4:3.  “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into prunighooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

“... judge” here means simply to govern.  God will be the Governor of the millennial nations.

“... and rebuke strong nations afar off.”  In Scripture “rebuke” has several shades of meaning, and the one that seems to apply here is that which has to do with the answering of questions relative to anything about which people may have different opinions.  Israel’s decision will be the final word relative to such matters.

“... strong nations afar off” refers to great nations that will be geographically far from Jerusalem.  All will be subject to the government centered then in Jerusalem.

The beating of their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, is the symbolic announcement of the end of all wars.  In the Millennium peace will be universal because the government of the world will be in the hand of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The final two parts of the verse simply reemphasize the peaceful character of the Millennium.

At this point it may be necessary to note that there is no scriptural support for the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ will be personally sitting on the throne in Jerusalem.  His government of the earth will be from the heavenly Jerusalem, through a regent, a physical descendant of David, reigning as king from the earthly Jerusalem.  Against the literal presence of Christ on the throne in Jerusalem is the fact that the prince who will sit there is said to offer sacrifice, something the Lord does not do, see Ezek 46.

4:4.  “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.”

This is the perfect picture of pastoral tranquility, of the millennial peace of the Israel whose early history is portrayed under the figure of a vine brought out of Egypt; and later as a fig tree covered with leaves (symbol of profession), but without fruit, cursed by the Lord, withered and seemingly dead for the past two thousand years, but today beginning to bud again, symbol of her coming national and spiritual resurrection.

Three trees are used in Scripture as symbols of Israel.  The vine portrays her in the past; the fig, as she has been during the past two thousand years; but the olive represents her enjoying the fulness of millennial blessing.  The Israelite sitting under his vine and his fig tree, will remember the sorrowful, because rebellious, years that will have passed, but his enjoyment of millennial blessing will evoke his worship.  He whose stubborn rebellion against God has caused him to flee from nation to nation in fear of his life for all these weary centuries, will at last sit down in peace in his own land, unafraid.

Relative to that glorious millennium of peace, the late Dr Harry Ironside has written, “What men have vainly striven to attain through socialist propaganda, or other equally impracticable economic systems, will then have been reached, and will be maintained for a thousand years by the personal presence of Him whose right it is to reign.”

“... for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”  Every promise God makes He keeps.  Israel’s fast approaching day of blessing is guaranteed by God’s immutable Word.

The warning to the unrepentant is also backed up by that same immutable Word.  He who will not repent in God’s time, will endure the eternal torment of the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.

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.”

Pausing in the midst of describing Israel’s coming blessing and glory, the prophet speaks of present reality.  In dramatic contrast with what will be in the Millennium, he surveyed a world in which, not only the nations, but Israel as well, worshiped their idol gods; but he and the few faithful who shared his faith would cling to Jehovah, and worship Him, as they looked beyond the coming judgment to the glorious future day when God’s glory would cover, not only this present earth, but the new one which is to replace it, and that will endure for ever.

It is instructive to note that the Babylonian captivity cured Israel of idolatry.  Though it may be ritualistic, and without understanding of the meaning of worship, since her return from Babylon she has never worshiped any God except Jehovah.

4:6.  “In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;”

According to some authorities “halteth” is related to the idea of sheep wearied or lame from a long journey, so that it is a very appropriate word here.

Like their father Jacob, who after wrestling with God, was lame, so has been the nation descended from him.  They too have walked lamely, i.e., imperfectly, their obedience being halting and sporadic.  But their lameness will be healed in that coming day of which Micah here speaks.

“... that day” is the Millennium, at the beginning of which the Lord will gather back to Palestine His people who will have been scattered amongst the nations, having been driven out of their own land; and  “... her that I have afflicted” can hardly be any other than those believers, Jews and Gentiles, who will have physically survived the terrible Tribulation judgments.

4:7.  “And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”

“... her that halted (was lame),” and “... her that was cast off” describe the same people: Israel, the lameness being a metaphor for the imperfect obedience of even the best of them; and “cast off” describing those whose deliberate and blatant disobedience had resulted in the expulsion of the whole nation from the land God had given them when He brought them out of Egypt.

It is to be remembered, however, that those who will be regathered will be a new generation of Jews, the wicked generation to whom Micah spoke having passed beyond possibility of pardon, and having perished in their sins, except for the few individuals who may have been brought to repentance as a result of the judgments incurred by the national disobedience and refusal to repent.  Those who will be regathered at the beginning of the Millennium will be those who will have been brought to repentance as a result of the Tribulation judgments, that believing remnant then constituting the new nation Israel that will inherit millennial blessing, together with a repentant remnant from among the Gentiles, who will constitute the millennial nations.

Millennial Israel will be the “strong nation” that will then be head of all the nations, they being joyfully submissive to her dominion, as she will be to that of Christ, who as noted already, will rule through a regent sitting on the throne in Jerusalem.  And when the Millennium will have come to an end, the rule of Christ will continue eternally in the new heavens and new earth.

4:8.  “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”

The “tower (watchtower) of the flock” is Jerusalem, but it is instructive to see that the city is described as “the stronghold of the daughter of Zion,” rather than Jerusalem.  Since the name Zion is associated with God’s moral law, as Jerusalem is with His secular government of the earth, the lesson being taught is that His moral law comes first.  Apart from obedience to that moral law there can be no obedience to that which is secular.

“... unto thee (Jerusalem) shall it come” is the assurance that in the Millennium there will be restored to Jerusalem the might and power she had forfeited so long by her rebellion.

“... even the first dominion” is simply another way of saying that what God had always intended for her will be hers in the Millennium, i.e., she will have dominion over all the other nations.

“... the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem” continues to emphasize that Israel is to be the channel of blessing to the nations.  There can be no millennial blessing for them until Israel’s repentance enables God to bring her first into the enjoyment of that glorious long-promised kingdom.

4:9.  “Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.”

Micah turns again from his announcement of future blessing to a satirical recital of what lies immediately ahead of them, i.e., their being carried captive into Babylon (in this section he is addressing Judah rather than the Northern kingdom Israel, which was carried into Assyria one hundred and thirty years before Judah’s servitude to Babylon).  Anticipating their wailing, he asks a question which might be paraphrased, “Why do you cry out?  Haven’t your prophets assured you that the judgment I foretold would never come?”

Relative to their king and counsellors, his question might be paraphrased, “And where now is your king who assured you that your were invincible?  And your wise men who mocked my words, and assured you that peace and prosperity would never depart from you?  Are they perished?  Is that why anguish, like that of a woman in labor, has gripped you?”

4:10.  “Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.”

This continues his assurance that because of their failure to repent and return to Jehovah, they will be made to endure suffering similar to the pangs of a woman in labor.

Their going out, and their dwelling in the field, may speak of their fleeing out of the city into the open country in a vain attempt to escape the Babylonians, or it may refer to their having to camp in the open field on their way to Babylon.  The assurance was, not of deliverance from being carried captive into Babylon, but of deliverance from that bondage at the end of what proved to be seventy years in the enemy’s land.

It is interesting to note that when the prophecy was given, Assyria, not Babylon, was the dominant nation.  Only God could have foretold Babylon’s rise to supremacy.  He alone knows the end from the beginning.

It isn’t difficult to see in this a foreshadowing of what is yet to be, that is, their deliverance out of the still future Tribulation judgments, for it is only those judgments that will bring a remnant to repentance.

4:11.  “Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.”

The names of some of those nations are given in Isa 7 and 36, but it was Babylon, as foretold, that destroyed Jerusalem, and led the people away captive, and undoubtedly many of the surrounding nations rejoiced at her fall and would have themselves destroyed her had they had the power.

“... let our eye look upon Zion,” means literally, “... let our eyes see Zion’s downfall” - NAB.  In the Tribulation many nations will be gathered together to destroy her, looking with eager expectation for her destruction, but the Lord will deliver her.

4:12.  “But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.”

This looks on to the end of the Tribulation, for the Lord’s gathering the nations “as the sheaves into the floor” for threshing, clearly refers to His gathering them together into the valley of Megiddo, to the great conflict of Armageddon, that great “threshing” resulting in the destruction of the opposing armies, the casting of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, the judgment of the nations, and the banishment of every unbeliever into hell, leaving only a vast multitude of believing Jews and Gentiles to pass into the enjoyment of millennial blessing.

4:13.  “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.”

This indicates that at the end of the Tribulation, just when it seems that Israel must be annihilated, the Lord will come to her aid, and empower her to destroy those seeking to destroy her. Her Divine empowerment is presented under the figure of a mighty bull with horns of iron, and hoofs of brass. 

That coming victory is foreshadowed in Israel’s destruction of Jericho as she entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, type of Christ in resurrection, as the Captain of our salvation, leading us into heaven, and Israel into millennial Canaan.  And as it was then, so will it be again when the world powers are destroyed by Christ at the head of the believing remnant of Israel: as the spoil of Jericho was to be given to the Lord, so will the spoil of the nations also be given Him at the end of the Tribulation.

[Micah 5]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough