The Mountain of the Lord’s House
The prophets are a strange mixture of intense warnings of impending judgment and the promise of an ultimate and inevitable happy ending. The happy ending is never spoken of in terms of the people of God overcoming their failures because of any self-motivated repentance or transformation of the heart. The promised victory is always a result of God sovereignly imposing His righteousness on the people of God for the sake of His name or reputation. God is determined to have a people who are conformed to His righteous heart, Titus 2:14 “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his possession who are zealous for good works”; Ezekiel 11:19-20 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God”. This is a sovereign act of God to purify for Himself, for we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and He alone receives all glory for raising a people who cannot walk in righteousness aside from His grace. And that grace, came to us when He poured out His Spirit into our hearts crying Abba, Father. Seldom in Israel’s history do the people of God respond with repentance at the word of the prophet without some dynamic demonstration of God’s power invoking the fear of the Lord into the heart of the people.
For generation after generation, the people of God lived in rebellion and idolatry. The story of the judges is a continuous story of God’s people rebelling and then because of great judgment, they cry out for deliverance and God comes to their rescue. Then in the era of the kings, the nation again goes through the same repetition of failure. The kings were unfaithful and the majority of the so-called prophets spoke only words of peace and safety. Over and over again God raised the faithful men and women as prophets who would speak the truth and warn of impending judgment. Always in the face of great opposition and often in the face of threats of death, they spoke out the Words of the Lord.
We know of the greatness of Isaiah and indeed he was respected by King Hezekiah. When it appears that the fulfillment of the words of judgment is upon them, in II Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37, the king turns to Isaiah for help. However, when we read, Jeremiah 26:18-19 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “‘Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.’ Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all of Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and did not the LORD relent of the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster upon ourselves.” We see here that Micah is given credit also for the turning of the heart of the king. Micah was one of the few successful prophets, and in these next 2 chapters of Micah, we will see the words of promise that perhaps captured the heart of King Hezekiah. Although the prophecy of Micah in these 2 chapters, 4 and 5, clearly are spoken for another time long after the generation in which they are given, they almost certainly inspired the king in the present dilemma of impending destruction. They moved Hezekiah and the people to repentance and also to faith in God to the extent that God chooses to postpone the judgment for another generation. Was the repentance able to turn the judgment away completely, no, but it delayed the inevitable. Let’s look at Micah chapter 4 and over the next couple of weeks we’ll also consider chapter 5.
As we look at Micah 4, very quickly it becomes apparent that the context for this powerful prophecy of promise actually must include the closing verses of chapter 3. The flow of Micah’s prophecies seems to always start with judgment, but end with promise and this word in chapter 4 starts from that same pattern. Micah 3:9-12 “Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity. Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the LORD and say, “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” 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.” The reason I say that the word flows together with the word in chapter 4 is that the context is the likening of Zion and Jerusalem to a mountain. Micah 4:1-5 “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 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.”
In 3:9 there is a building up of Zion and Jerusalem by the work of men’s hands. Anytime that men attempt to do anything by their own strength, even though it appears to be for the sake of the Lord, it will always involve injustice and the influence of evil. In the case of these men, the injustice that the prophet calls blood and iniquity, flows from greed. The leaders require bribes, the teachers demand payment for their teachings, and the prophets won’t prophesy without payment. The influencers of religion are all experiencing the blessings of prosperity. And, they laugh off all corrections of the true prophets of God by saying, “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” Micah’s word from the Lord speaks to correct that deception of Satan. Micah declares that all that they have built by extortion will be destroyed utterly. It will be flattened and plowed under and weeds will grow over the work of their hands. But then, Micah begins to prophesy the blessing that will come from the judgment of God. We will receive a great deal of insight into the whole word of the Lord as we begin looking into chapters 4 and 5. It’s in these chapters that Micah gives the details of timing, the names of the actors in this drama, and the far-reaching implications of all that God intends to accomplish for His name’s sake.
In Micah 4:1 the first thing we hear the prophet say is a statement of certainty that God is going to act, “It shall come to pass” and that the action will take place in “the latter days”. The word of the Lord is introduced, not in the format of “if you will do such and such, then I will”. No, this is not a promise based on the faithfulness of the people of God, the word is declared as a determination of the Creator of the world, ‘this is going to happen’. This is a declaration dependent on His faithfulness. It should be noted that Isaiah who is contemporary with Micah prophesies the same word in Isaiah 2:2-4, “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 shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples 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 the nations and shall decide disputes for many peoples, 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.” These 2 prophets were prophesying the same words at the same time to the same people. Some speculate that one must have taken the words from the other and simply spoken them as confirmation or affirmation of what the other prophet had spoken. That certainly is a possibility and if that occurred it is likely, in my opinion, that Isaiah borrowed from Micah simply because of the full context of Micah about the mountain of the Lord while Isaiah’s version is much shorter and abruptly goes in another direction. However, it seems as if scholars often tend to overlook the possibility of divine inspiration allowing God to speak the same words to separate individuals in such a way that the words are given as identical thoughts. I believe it is more likely that the leaders would be impacted by God speaking the same thing to separate acknowledged prophets at the same time. Why not?
In our next teaching on Micah, we will look further at this remarkable message of the prophet of God to the people of God.