What distinguishes Micah 4 from the first three chapters of the book?
Chapters 1-3 of Micah pronounce judgment. They are dark and foreboding chapters that address the sins of the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem, the sins of the rulers, and the sins of the rich and powerful. The third chapter of Micah concludes with a prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple because of the sins of the nation (Micah 3:12).
In contrast, Micah 4 begins with a note of hope. Looking far into the future (the Messianic age), Micah envisioned a day when the Temple would be rebuilt (Micah 4:1) and many nations would come there to learn God’s ways and depart to walk in a manner pleasing to Him (Micah 4:2). The central function of the Temple would be to give God’s Word to the nations rather than serve as the place for sacrifices.
Micah also envisioned a day when peace would reign in the world and there would be no more war, no more manufacturing of arms, and no more training of armies for war (Micah 4:3). Instead, war implements would be made into farm implements (Micah 4:3) and men would be able to live their lives free from the fears associated with war (Micah 4:4).
Practical Consideration: Envisioning the possibilities can help you deal with the actualities.
The first three chapters of Micah address the actualities through which the nation would pass because of her sin. Those actualities included God’s judgment and much suffering at the hands of foreign armies and nations. Those actualities included the despair and frustration, which the poor and weak experienced at the hands of the rich and powerful. Those actualities included people who felt they could sin without prospect of judgment and others who felt they had no avenue through which to pursue justice.
Micah 4 and 5 address the possibilities, the purpose behind God’s judgment of His people. They are chapters filled with the hope of a better and glorious future. They are chapters that remind us that we can endure present sufferings when we have the hope of a better future.
What advice did Micah have for the people?
Micah instructed his hearers to live their lives in obedience to God, unlike their heathen neighbors (Micah 4:5). God’s people must be distinctive. There must be a significant line of demarcation between the lives of God’s people and those who do not know God.
Practical Consideration: God’s people must be distinctive.
The theme that God’s people must be distinctive runs through the pages of Scripture. God’s people must live lives that show the difference that God makes. Our lives serve as letters of recommendation either for or against God. The key to living lives that are distinctive is obedience to the Word of God.
What would become of the scattered remnant?
Micah prophesied that “in that [future] day” God would gather the lame and scattered remnant (those who experienced the judgment of Micah 3:12) of Israel and transform them into a strong nation over which He would rule forever (Micah 4:7). In addition, Jerusalem would be restored and raised to its former dominion as head over a united kingdom (Micah 4:8).
Practical Consideration: God’s people have a future and a hope.
An agnostic writer noted, “In a modern society, man can live without hope only when kept dazed and out of breath by incessant hustling.” Many in our world live their lives without the assurance of a future and a hope. God’s people are fortunate indeed because they have the assurance that there is a purpose behind present sufferings and a reason to persevere. God is not finished with us yet!
What reference did Micah make to the coming exile?
Micah reminded his hearers that they would experience the loss of their king as well as pain like that of a woman in childbirth in the events leading to (and including) their deportation to Babylon. Micah however, introduced a word of hope by declaring that the Lord would rescue the people from their enemies. The purpose of the calamity and trials the people would experience was not to annihilate them, but to purge the land of idolatry and sin. (Micah 4:9-10).
Practical Consideration: God has a purpose for present sufferings.
The Northern and Southern Kingdoms experienced the judgment of God because of their sin. These nations had strayed far from God and allowed pagan practices to be incorporated into their polity and theology. God used other nations to purge His people and their land of those things that caused their love for Him to cool. This judgment was awesome proof of God’s love for His people and His desire to help them better fulfill their role as His representatives in the world.
What reference did Micah make to what Israel would experience in the last days?
Some scholars believe that Micah 4:11 refers to a reunified Israel in the last days because of the reference to “many nations.” Micah prophesied that many nations would try to destroy Israel (Micah 4:11) but that the Lord would act on behalf of His people (Micah 4:12) to give them victory over their enemies (Micah 4:13).
Others believe that Micah 4:11-13 refers to the attitude of neighboring nations during the destruction of the Southern Kingdom. They stand by and watch with delight and try to take advantage of her in her weakened condition (Micah 4:11). God however, has allowed these neighboring nations to gather around Israel to be like grain on the threshing floor (Micah 4:12). The Lord will then empower His people to destroy them and employ the spoil in the service of the Lord (Micah 4:13).