It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.
Consider the opening words of our text today, “It shall come to pass...” or the King James says, “But in the last days it shall come to pass...”. There are two things to observe in these words. First, Micah is as bold in his proclamation of the coming days of grace as he has been when he was declaring God’s judgment upon the people.
One can easily see how it would take boldness to speak about judgment from God; but does it take boldness to speak about the blessings in chapter 4? Absolutely. As we have seen in Micah 3:8 the Spirit is emboldening Micah to fulfill his ministry. The Spirit is helping him speak of judgment and of the coming blessings. Similarly, the Spirit is emboldening New Testament believers as we proclaim both the consequences of sin and the gospel that saves us from that sin. (Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.)
Would anyone argue that it would not take boldness and faith to preach about the type of peace that Micah is speaking about in our text today?
Secondly, the ‘But’ in the King James translation draws our attention to the fact that there is a sharp contrast between what was said in the previous chapters and what is being said now chapter four. Chapter three ended with these words, “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.”
Take a moment and imagine what this destruction would look like to someone walking up to Jerusalem (The city of peace) after this occurs. It would be unfathomable and unimaginable that Zion and the Temple would be destroyed.
As I considered what it would be like to walk upon such a sight I thought of Job’s three friends as they came to comfort and show sympathy to Job when he was suffering such a great trial. Job 2:11-13 states, “Now when Job’s friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place...They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”
Micah’s message to this people has been too much for them to hear. They said, “Do not preach...one should not preach such things.; disgrace will not overtake us.” And in His grace and mercy God will immediately offer comfort and hope to God’s people. God is merciful, gracious and kind to sinners by making such promises.
At the beginning of chapter four we find that the Lord is promising that the Messiah and his reign will be exalted above every other mountain and hill. “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it...” (4:1) By the words, “in the latter days”, Micah is referring to sometime in the future which may be fulfilled in various ways. For example, some of this will be seen in the return from Babylon, much of it will be seen in the coming of Christ and his exaltation, and it will reach its total fulfillment at the time of His second advent.
Micah says in verse 2 that this will be a time when the people will say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.” (v.2) Micah had previously told the people in Micah 2:10, “Arise and go, for this is no place of rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.” (2:10) Micah speaks of a time in the future when people will wholeheartedly come to worship the Lord. The words in verse two are a reminder that some people may not be in church services today simply because they were not invited. Let this verse also remind us to keep an eye out for those among us who are missing today so that we might encourage them next week to come and worship with us.
What is the motive of those who are coming to the Lord? Is it to see this high mountain? Are they motivated by the enthusiasm of the crowds and the spectacle of it all?
No, they are motivated by the effects true spirituality and grace. “’Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (v.2) These people will not be like Micah’s generation who did not listen to the Word, they did not do God’s Word, and they did not walk upon the path of righteousness. In contrast to that generation, these people will desire to be taught the ways of the Lord and to obey the Word.
Micah’s generation never said with King David, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me...” (Psalm 25:4-5) Nor could they say with David, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (25:8-9)
Because Micah’s generation never walked the path that David had walked they would never know the peace that Micah speaks of in our text. They will never know the peace that David came to enjoy.
2 Samuel 22:1 - “And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” David will go one to write in this song, “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all the rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside.” (21-23)
In verse 3, Micah continues to express the devotion that a future people would place upon the Word of God by saying, “For out of Zion shall go fourth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” They will be like the people of the reformation whose motto’s were “Sola Scriptura!” and “add fontes” which is a Latin word meaning [back] “to the sources”. Surely there will be countless blessings bestowed upon a people who will worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth (John 4).
In the following verses Micah begins to give some of the blessings that such a people would enjoy. He says, “He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (3-4)
Because Micah’s generation did not love and honor God they would not know peace. Similarly, the generation who lived in Jesus’ day would not know this sort of peace because they had rejected Jesus Christ. We see this in Luke 19:41-44,
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side, and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
It is because of statements such as the one that Micah makes that I said it takes the Spirit of God giving a preacher boldness to proclaim it in this world. It takes the Spirit of God to believe and speak about a lot of things that the scriptures hold out as truth.
God does not speak with the wisdom of natural men. He does not speak as one who has any limitations or constraints as we do. He speaks as the LORD who can follow through on great promises because He can give life, transform and make new a sinful and dead people. He speaks as “the Lord of Hosts” - the commander of angelic armies in heaven and earth.
This is why these words are believable and why we can expect to see this promise fulfilled even in our day if we will respond in faith in these ways.
Is peace still possible in our day? We all may be hesitant to believe such a thing.
Two of our favorite people here in church, Buzz and Anna Young, have lived through the Great Depression. My grandparents lived through the great World Wars and all of the difficulties of that time in our history. My parents grew up during the Vietnam War and Watergate era. I grew up during the Cold War with Russia. Now my kids are growing up during the aftermath of 9/11 and the war on terrorism. To proclaim this type of peace seems too unrealistic and impossible.
When I was very young it seemed that every contestant seeking to win a beauty pageant would say that they would work towards world peace. These words were always nice to hear but no one ever really ever thought it could happen.
Today, nations are entrenched against other nations, coalitions of friendly nations have strained relationships with eachother, a nation like the United States is often divided against ourselves, communities are divided, families are divided against each other and we often we see denominations and churches being divided and torn apart. All of us, in some way, have been affected by all of this division.
Perhaps this is one reason why we need to hear Micah’s message today. He is reminding us that the Lord has made such promises and that He is acting decisively to accomplish these things today.
Everybody wants peace. In Micah’s day, the false prophets spoke of peace. These prophets were speaking about a superficial and deceptive peace. They cried “Peace” but their own hearts were inclined toward war.
Micah will later speak of them in this way, “Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” (6:12) And he will say, “The godly has perished from the earth and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well...” (7:2-3a).
A false prophet can get up and declare “peace” and not sound crazy because it is always a superficial peace, a surface level peace, a temporary peace, or they make a promise that will never come to pass. They speak only of a peace that is achieved by a bribe; but Micah speaks of a peace that is achieved through a sinful violent people being redeemed, cleansed and transformed by God. (4:10)
Micah was a true prophet who spoke of peace in an astonishing and unbelievable way. Micah was able to acknowledge the upcoming judgment; but then to see that it was not an end but a means through which redemption would come. He likens it to the pain that comes before the giving of birth to a child in Micah 4:10.
Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemy.
Micah speaks of a peace that is only achievable if God accomplishes it by His power and by His grace.
Micah 4:4 - “...but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
Micah 5:4-5 – And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”
The peace that Micah speaks of is the result of grace working upon the hearts of men and women in a profound way. This grace overcomes, transforms and makes alive dead men so that where there was once war, there can now be a lasting and abiding peace. Remember these verses we mentioned earlier:
“Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” (6:12) And “The godly has perished from the earth and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well...” (7:2-3a).
This grace is placed within the heart of these people who were at one time violent and it makes them peaceful. This grace in their heart now is expressed through mouths that once were filled with lies and lips that were at one time full of deceit. It is a peace that is achieved by bringing about godly men and women where there once none. Grace would now be administered by hands that once did evil well. Now they dispense help, love, compassion and mercy to others. (See verses mentioned above: 6:12, 7:2-3)
Micah 4:1-5 has shown us why so many of the New Testament letters either begin or end with the words, “Grace and peace to you”. Without God’s grace, there is neither peace with God or peace with men. And peace without grace is, shallow, trite and a deceptive lie.
Has this passage opened up your eyes to the possibility of a peace that can transform your heart, your family, this community, this nation and this world?
Micah 4:4 says, “...but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
This reminded me of Hebrew 4:1-3,
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest...” (Hebrews 4:1-3a)
Let us strive to enter by faith into this rest. Let it begin in our heart, our family, in our community, and spread around this world.