6.30 Micah -- The Mountain of the Lord

In chapter 4, Micah introduced an element that is new to the prophetic tradition and to the Torah -- a vision of the universal rule of God.  What was only vaguely hinted at in the past is here explicitly declared.  This passage is the key contribution of Micah to the racial teachings of the Old Testament.  The first 3 verses are nearly identical to Isa 2:2-4.

         In the last days
              the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
              as the highest of the mountains;
              it will be exalted above the hills,
              and peoples will stream to it.
        Many nations will come and say,
              "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
              to the temple of the God of Jacob.
              He will teach us his ways,
              so that we may walk in his paths."
              The law will go out from Zion,
              the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
        He will judge between many peoples
              and will settle disputes for strong nations far and 
              wide.
              They will beat their swords into plowshares
              and their spears into pruning hooks.
              Nation will not take up sword against nation,
              nor will they train for war anymore.

        Everyone will sit under their own vine
              and under their own fig tree,
              and no one will make them afraid,
              for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
        All the nations may walk
              in the name of their gods,
              but we will walk in the name of the Lord
              our God for ever and ever.

        "In that day," declares the Lord,
              "I will gather the lame;
              I will assemble the exiles
              and those I have brought to grief.
        I will make the lame my remnant,
              those driven away a strong nation.
              The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
              from that day and forever.
       As for you, watchtower of the flock,
              stronghold of the Daughter of Zion,
              the former dominion will be restored to you;
              kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem" (Mic 4:1-8).

      

This remarkable passage became a part of the millennial expectation of the Jews, a hope and vision that sustained them through exile, return, and subjugation to Greeks and Romans. We shall list the key components of this prophecy:

        1.  "The mountain of the Lord's temple" is clearly Mt Zion in Jerusalem.  "Raising it up" does not mean it will be magically transformed into Mt Everest.  Instead, it is prophetic imagery to depict the dominance of God's rule from Jerusalem over the nations.

       2. The Gentiles will then have access to the Temple, and will come as pilgrims to learn about God from the Jews.  It is "the God of Jacob" whom they are learning about and attempting to obey.

       3. From Jerusalem, God will settle disputes among the nations and the various races.  The true World Government will be established in Jerusalem.

       4. God will establish peace on the earth.  Each man will own his own property, and be secure on it.

       5. Those whom God has afflicted (the lame, the exiles, the bereaved, the dispossessed), He will gather together in Zion.

       6. Jerusalem shall regain her former dominion, and the rule of a David-like king shall be re-established.

This is our first glimpse of God's World Plan part 2.  By this time we are very familiar with part 1 -- the selection of Israel, God's self-revelation to them, His co-habitation with them.  But because this plan leaves out 99% of the world's population, those who are not Jews wait impatiently for an addendum.   It took approximately 1400 years to get from Abraham to Isaiah and Micah, and from part 1 to part 2 of God's plan.  And this Scripture is just an outline, a picture of what God is going to do, but no details as to how or when it will come to pass.

         

It is tempting for the modern reader to treat these verses as religious utopianism -- poetic, aesthetic, idealistic.  Indeed, some of the language has been appropriated by modern political bodies:  the United Nations in New York City has a statue with a figure of a man beating a sword into a plowshare, quoting this Biblical phrase.  This statue was donated by the Soviet Union in 1959, when Kruschev was Chairman.  Three years later he was shipping missiles to Cuba, provoking the Cuban Missile Crisis.   Political people have a tendency to pervert prophecy into propaganda. 

          

The poetic attitude thoroughly misunderstands the prophet's (and his hearers') own convictions:  these words were spoken under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the One who spoke with Moses on Mt Sinai and delivered the Ten Commandments, and are of similar authority.  They form a picture of future history, perhaps a very distant future, but a future on this earth and not in a heavenly, otherwordly kingdom.  This is a continuation, and an elaboration, of God's original promise to Abraham and the other patriarchs -- of land, numberless descendants, and a blessing to all people. (see Gen 17:3-8Gen 22:15-18)