The consolation section of the second cycle is long, encompassing two whole chapters—chapters four and five. We will therefore be working through this section over the course of a few weeks.
Remember that Micah was a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and was probably his disciple or protégé. His dependence on Isaiah can be seen in our text this morning, in this passage about beating swords into plowshares.
“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. 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 plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: 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. 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” (Micah 4:1–5).
Summary of the Text
So what will happen in the “last days”? We come now to a word of consolation for the faithful. When the doctrine flows down the side of the mountain, when the Word of the Lord flows downhill, the people stream uphill.
All the previous warnings and judgments will fall upon Israel and Judah, but what should the faithful Jews cling to? After all the judgments, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established, above the hills, and people will flow there (v. 1). Many nations will stream to the mountain of the Lord, and they will encourage one another to do so. Let us go there, and learn obedience (v. 2). The elevation of Zion is a figure of speech here indicating sovereignty—that the throne of the God of Jacob will be established there. Jehovah will rule, judging many people, governing strong nations, and they will not learn war anymore (v. 3). They will beat their swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks (v. 3). No longer will a man lock his house at night, and no longer will men have to lock their cars (v. 4). Men can sit under their own vines and fig trees without fear of danger. The mouth of God has spoken it (v. 4). The next verse is retrospective, looking back over the whole process of this happening. It will not happen all at once—there will be a time when the nations will continue to walk in the names of their gods, but the faithful will walk in the name of their Lord and God forever and ever (v. 5). But the final result will be what we see in vv. 1-4.
Fulfillment in the Christ
Now we know that this consolation is fulfilled in and through the Messiah because a little later in this section we find the prophecy that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). These latter days are the days of the Messiah.
We can also ascertain this by comparing Micah with his mentor Isaiah. Our text this morning is basically a verbatim citation from Isaiah 2: 2-4. But what will happen according to Isaiah in these last days, and when are these last days? In Romans, Paul defends his mission to the Gentiles by citing a battery of Old Testament passages (Rom. 15:9-12), the last of which is Isaiah 11:10, and he is talking about the same time of history as in chapter two.
And the verse just before it (Is. 11:9) says that the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And then what?
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; To it shall the Gentiles seek: And his rest shall be glorious.”
Isaiah 11:10 (KJV)
So in that day, the day when the earth is filling up with the knowledge of the Lord, Paul will be defending his mission to the Gentiles.
Consolation for the Faithful
God always reserves a remnant for Himself, and when they are done listening to Micah’s fulminations, they might well be quite dismayed. And so Micah turns to reassure them that it all has a point—all the drama of the Old Testament era, all these judgments, and the vast expanse of blue ruination have a telos. God is up to something, and what He is up to is the coming of the Christ.
How It Ends, How It Goes
Those who love God and His law have a tendency to want Him to come down in one fell swoop, and start taking names.
“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.”
Isaiah 64:1 (KJV)
We look at the high impudence of man, and we see and understand how insolent it is, and so we are often exasperated with how patient God is. And so God reminds us that His sovereignty extends over more than just ethics. He is also the sovereign of time and of history. He tells us not to steal and commit adultery, but He also tells us to wait patiently as He defers judgment.
He defers judgment in His mercy. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8–9). Where would you have been if God had listened to all the saints and ended the world two years before your conversion?
As this is developing and unfolding, the peoples will walk in the name of their gods (v. 5). Let them. The time is coming when they will be jostling each other to get to the mountain of the Lord (v. 2). They will be taught, and will walk in obedience (v. 2), and they will be obedient to the point where the nations will study war no more (v. 3). God has said it (v. 4).
The Mouth of the Lord of Hosts Has Spoken
Jehovah has spoken it. This is going to come to pass. But when Yahweh speaks, what does He say? What is the Word of God? The gospel answer is that Christ is the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). That Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
The spoken Word that conquers everything is Christ. Christ is the crucified Word, and He is the buried Word. He is the Word who rose from the dead, and who sits at the right hand of the one who speaks a new world into existence. And as He speaks, that new creation takes shape. But only in Him, only in Christ.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, and the Word He has spoken is the Christ. The Word He has spoken is the Word through whom we worship the Father, and through whom we invite all our friends and family and neighbors to ascend the mountain of the Lord.