We are continuing to work through the consolation section of the second cycle. Each cycle consists of warning, judgment, and consolation. As this section encompasses two chapters, we are tackling it in pieces. Today we will be working through the latter half of chapter 4.
In this section, God promises the restoration of Israel’s fortunes, and He promises that this deliverance will come through the midst of great difficulties. We will consider some of those difficulties, along with our triumphs in them, as we work through these verses.
“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; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: And the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. 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. Now why dost thou cry out aloud? Is there no king in thee? Is thy counseller perished? For pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. Be in pain, and labour 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. Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. 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. 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” (Micah 4:6–13).
Summary of the Text
Remember that this great deliverance does not land in one swift moment. Recall that the kingdom grows gradually, steadily, and inexorably. When the process begins, God will gather those who are limping (v. 6), and God will assemble those whom He afflicted (v. 6). The battered people of God will be made into a strong nation (v. 7), and Jehovah Himself will reign over them in Mount Zion forever (v. 7). Remember that He will reign in Mount Zion because His law goes out from Mount Zion (back in v. 2). The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem (v. 8). But this restoration will not be trouble-free (v. 9). The daughter of Zion will have a hard delivery (v. 10), and will be delivered from Babylon. The return from Exile in Babylon was the beginning of this fulfillment, but nowhere close to the end of it. Our deliverance will not look or feel like deliverance, because many nations will be gathered against us (v. 11). They taunt us because they do not know the Lord’s methods and ways (v. 12). They gathered around to destroy us, and found instead that they had actually been gathered by God in order to be threshed (v. 12). So, daughter of Zion, arise and thresh (v. 13).
Remember What Is Coming
We know that this consolation is fulfilled in and through the Messiah because just a few verses down we are told that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). These latter days begin with the return from exile in Babylon, but they continue on in the days of the Messiah. They continue down throughout the entire reign of Messiah the Prince.
The Nature of Delivery
When a woman is about to give birth, we call what is coming to her a delivery. We call it this, knowing what is to come. But imagine going through something like childbirth, not knowing that a child was involved in it, and simply assuming that you were suffering an attack of some kind. You, not knowing that key piece of information, would radically misinterpret every wave, every contraction, every pang. You would naturally assume that this was the very worst thing that had ever happened to you—when it was about to be the best thing that had ever happened to you.
Christians who do not have a strong view of God’s sovereignty, a biblical view of His methodology, and an optimistic view of His purposes, are in this position. They misinterpret everything because they have forgotten the baby.
Not Only So . . .
Not only do Christians misinterpret how the kingdom grows, the unbelievers do as well. They surround us, and declare their intention to gobble us up. And we, for our part, say oh no!
But notice how this goes. These nations gather all around you. They assemble themselves together. They say of the Church, let her be devastated. Let her be defiled. They cast their eyes over the people of God, and think to themselves that they will just take us. “What a sweet morsel you evangelicals are.” But what does Micah say they leaving out of their calculations? They do not know the thoughts of the Lord. They do not understand the wisdom of His counsel. They do not get the fact that our Lord conquered them by dying, and that we are privileged to imitate Him in this. Have they completely surrounded us? Have they gathered to overwhelm us? Well, then, let us arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion.
Are things hopeless? Then this is our moment. Rise up, o men of God.
The Hands of the Lord
When we doubt that our afflictions and chastisements are from the Lord, it is consequently easy to doubt that He has the capacity to deliver us. But if in the first place the tribulation was laid on us from His right hand, then why would it be so difficult to believe that He can lift that affliction with His left hand? All things are from God. We do not live in a godless world.
And we know that we do not live in a godless world because we do not live in a Christless world. The Christ has come. Messiah the Prince was born in our midst, which is why we call Him Immanuel, God with us. In fact, we even know His birth place—Bethlehem, little among the clans of Judah.
“And the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever” (v. 7). This is Yahweh, the Lord. This is Jehovah. This is the Christ—He is here with us, ruling from Mount Zion, through His holy word. And because Jehovah rules from Zion, this is why the daughters of Zion can rise up and thresh. How long? Forever, the prophet says.