MICAH 4:1 – 7:20 and REVELATION 16:12–21
The Lord will now speak concerning the future glory and peace that will come to Jerusalem. This chapter opens with a picture of the last days and millennial reign of Christ. Chapter 3 ended with the destruction of Zion and Jerusalem but chapter 4 now looks ahead to the glories of that which will come. Jerusalem and Zion will be exalted and many people will desire and flow into it. In verse 2 we have the precious promise of the nation’s coming to Zion in the last days. This verse is repeated in Isa 2:2-3. The vision of Zion pertains to the last days and it is a vision that is coming more into view. It will be here where the people will be taught the WAYS of the Lord. Do you remember what distinguished Moses from the rest of the children of Israel? Moses knew the ways of God while the people were privy to his acts (Psa 103:7). Is there a desire today amongst the worldwide church to know the WAYS of God? There is no shortage of hunger for the power of God and indeed it is needed. It is at Zion where the Law is exalted and the WAYS of God are taught. Why is the law of God so lightly regarded today? Do we know and apply the promise of having the Law of God written upon our hearts? Do we have the vision of Zion birthed in our heart? It is the place the Lord desires more than the other dwelling places of Israel (Jacob) (Psa 87:2). Are we willing to pay the price in ascending the holy hill of Zion (Psa 15, 24)? Throughout our summaries we have placed a high premium on the truths concerning Zion. It is here where we see the reasons why. The questions asked above are important because it will determine whether we will be part of that company. It will also help to determine as to whether we will qualify for the millennium.
In verse 3 there is the expression of the swords being turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. It is interesting when we contrast this expression with that which Joel speaks in Joel 3:10. “Beat your plowshares into swords and your spears into pruning hooks.” It is the exact opposite so we need to ask if there is a contradiction here. No, Joel is referring to the last days when Israel will be attacked by many of the surrounding nations while Micah is speaking of the millennium.
There are further scenes of the millennium given in verses 4-7. There will be peace and the healing of those who have been afflicted. It will be during the millennium where the Lord will reign out of Mt. Zion. Israel will become the nation that God had ordained her to be; a nation that serves as an example to all other nations in how one is to be governed. There will be many who will be involved in the teaching role during the millennium. It will be given to those who have qualified for Zion and have put a high premium on the teaching of God’s ways and laws. In order to teach the ways of Zion the message must first be worked out in one’s life. Like the prophets we have observed we have to first become the message before we deliver the message.
The message changes in verse 9 as the Lord enquires about the king that they have asked for. They desired a king for the wrong reasons and it still is the case today. A telling verse which summaries this issue is found in 1 Sam 8:7.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
The issue was that they did not want the Lord to be Lord over their lives. They wanted a king on their terms. The New Testament version of this Truth can be found in John 6:15. In verse 10 the prophet refers to the upcoming Babylonian captivity that will last for a period of 70 years. In verse 11 the prophet again reverts to the last days. It is important to understand the context of the prophet’s message. As mentioned before we see Babylon threaded throughout the whole of the Word of God. There is a modern day application and there are times when the Lord is referring to the last days. This is why it is important to understand why God is judging Israel. The sin and disobedience seen in Israel is magnified several times over when looking at our day. What does that suggest when we observe the horrible consequences that occurred in their day? We better pay good heed and learn the lessons of history. There are the great persecutions and judgements to come but as also seen in this chapter there are tremendous opportunities when looking at the promises that pertain to Zion. Herein is another old charismatic chorus that comes to mind in closing this chapter. May it become a reality for each of us.
Let’s go up to Zion, Let’s go up to Zion, Let’s go up to Zion, the City of our God.
The Lord will now address the suffering and future restoration of Zion. We see an amazing prophetic reference to Christ in verse 2. All the Jews knew that it would be in Bethlehem where the Messiah would be born. It is even more amazing that the Jews missed their Messiah after He was born there. He did not come in the manner and way that they expected Him. This is a warning to all of us due to our preconceived ideas of how God will come and how he operates. The name Bethlehem means “house of bread”. Jesus is the Bread of Life and He died as the broken bread for all of mankind (John 6:48).
It speaks of the Lord feeding and growing strong in verse 4. Isaiah elaborates further when speaking of the Lord feeding on butter and honey for all His days (Isa 7:15). This means He is one who feeds on the Word of God. The fruit of doing so is having the ability to discern good from evil. How important it is in these last days to have discernment. The study and embracing of God’s Word will help to discern the Truth from a lie. If we lightly regard the Word and give it scant attention we will open ourselves up for deception.
Micah now shifts his focus to Assyria in verse 5. He speaks of a man who shall arise when the Assyrian enters the land. Who is the man that is referred to here and what is the background of this event? The man is a reference to Christ and the background is when Assyria seeks to annihilate Judah and Jerusalem. The Assyrians had already laid siege of Israel by this time as well as doing great damage to much of Judah. In the midst of the overwhelming odds stacked against Judah the Lord does intervene. Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah the King and encouraged him that God would intervene even in the middle of impossible odds. Isaiah saw the big picture and was able to say the following words to the king before God moved against Assyria.
2Ch 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
This is an incredible statement and it should encourage us as we faithfully seek after the Lord. We need to allow faith to arise and this often occurs when we begin to see things and people through His eyes. Micah was also able to prophesy the future destruction of Babylon as seen in verse 6. It is God who raises up nations to even judge His own but the time of their demise follows soon thereafter. Let us never forget that the powers that be are ordained by God. In resisting that authority we may well be resisting God (Rom 13:1).
Micah speaks an interesting prophetic Word concerning the Jews. Though they may be scattered amongst the Gentiles in their exile from Israel they always seem to rise to the top wherever they go. We see examples of this with Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel and many others both in the Old and New Testament even up to our own day. Micah concludes chapter 5 with a strong series of judgements upon Assyria by the Babylonians.
This chapter gives a contrast between the prophetic and religious life of the people. There is an established pattern we can see in the messages that the Lord brings through His prophets. The Lord often rehearses His history with Israel. This is insightful for us because there is so much we can learn through the dealings of God with His people. This is why the study of the Journey of Israel is essential reading for a Christian. The study helps to bring needed perspective in the way God interacts with His people. It also aids in allowing us to see where we are in our respective walks. The Lord refers to the time when He led them out of Egypt under Moses, Aaron and Miriam. He then asks Israel what He has done to cause them to turn from Him. They have no excuse or reason they can give because they were walking in disobedience.
The Lord then reminds them of the example of Balaam and how Balak sought to bring a curse upon Israel. He was unable to do so but Balaam was able to sow seeds that compromised the integrity of Israel. It led to immorality and the mixing of the seed. (Israelite men with Moabite women) This event established the foundation for Baal worship which contributed largely to Israel’s current plight. The fruits of compromise are clearly seen here and this is why it must be avoided at all costs. Compromise results from the watering down or redefining of God‘s Word and absolutes from his law. It often starts off in sympathetic undetectable tones which can later emerge into new doctrine.
One of the more commonly known verses in Micah would be verses 6-8. It helps for us to appreciate and understand what it is the Lord truly wants. It is not sacrifices and offerings but those who do three primary things. First it is those who do justly. David, before he died made an important statement that pertains to those who have the rule over men. It is to be just in all he or she does (2 Sam 23:3). The Lord loves justice and equity and those who exercise it for the benefit of others. Secondly, it is to have a love for mercy. God’s mercy towards us is measured by the amount of mercy we give to others. Do we cut people slack when they offend us in some way? The Lord provides many opportunities for us to be tested in how merciful we are towards others. “With the merciful, the Lord will show Himself merciful.” Finally, it is to walk humbly before God. Humility is a beautiful characteristic and garment that should adorn His people (Col 3:12). It counters pride and allows God to move and work on behalf of such a person. These three qualities are highly esteemed of God. We also see similar qualities in Psa 40:6-8.
In verses 9-11 the Lord makes clear that the Assyrians form the rod of his anger (Isa 10:5). We also see how wicked the ruling class in Israel was regarding their lack of fairness with the balances. We just saw in verse 8 that the Lord loves justice and this was not what the leadership was providing to the people. They tilted the balances into their favour. They could do this because they were in control and there was no one who could stop them. There are many scriptures where the Lord warns about a false balance. This can have many applications but here we see it as a practical problem (Lev 19:36, Pro 11:1). These rich elites were also violent meaning they did not take kindly to those who were seeking fairness. This is unacceptable with God and He will judge such situations harshly.
The devastation that is to come to Israel will be total. They will eat and not be satisfied. They will plant and not be able to reap a harvest. They would have wine but then not be able to drink it. The prophet Joel declared that the joy will wither from the hearts of men (Joel 1:12). When you have true joy you have strength. They will seek fulfilment and relief in their time of trouble but will not be able to find it. If only the people would learn to seek the Lord, serve Him and learn to delight in the true joy giver. This chapter ends with an indictment upon the name of King Omri. He was the father of Ahab and was one of the most wicked kings that Israel had upon the throne. The seeds that Balaam sowed at the time of Joshua resulted in an altar constructed for Baal in Israel by Ahab. The wife of Ahab (Jezebel) accentuated the worship of Baal which has brought Israel to the brink of judgement. The Lord was not concealing His reasons for what He was about to do. The blueprint for knowing what God is doing and is about to do is available to us provided we faithfully study His Word while maintaining a strong devotional life. He that hath an ear let him incline his ear to hear.
A picture of what Israel will be like economically is seen in verse 1. As a nation, Israel had been blessed with prosperity and abundance. When the normal harvest time would come around there would be no available fruit. The spirit of violence is in the land to the point where no one is safe even amongst one’s own family members. The day of retribution is coming to those who perverted justice and exploited the poor of society. They may have flourished in the midst of lawlessness for a season but there day of calamity will quickly descend upon them. The situation will deteriorate to the point where family members will violently feud amongst themselves. There is no trust between friends and close associates. It is a time when each man looks out only for themselves (vs 5-6). It is so sad in realizing that this is very much the case today in many families as well as couples. The enemy has come in and successfully divided one against another. All of this stems from the rejection of the Father. Man has taken it upon himself to reject God and His laws and now has to live with the consequences of it. This is why today there is the diminishing of the role of the Father. Israel rejected the loving overtures of Father God. The laws and statutes He gave them were for their protection. The keeping of them would have insured their ability to enjoy the fruits of their inheritance. It seems that the totality of what God intended will not be realized until the time of the millennium. We can enjoy the blessings of God as we learn to delight in His Word and in his laws.
This had to be overwhelming to Micah as he carries the burden of this message in the midst of a corrupt people. He speaks of waiting upon the God of His salvation. We will later see the prophet Habakkuk doing the same thing (Hab 2:1). We cannot fully appreciate the price these prophets pay in the carrying and delivering of such messages. He is speaking of something that has yet to come to pass; he is rejected and opposed and yet faithfully carries on. We see the priestly capacities in Micah in verse 9 as he takes responsibility for the sins of the people. We see this attribute in others like Daniel and Ezra. These men were not guilty of the sins for which Israel was being judged nonetheless as priests they took on the responsibility of confessing on their behalf. This is why God marks those who sigh and weep over the sins being committed in the land (Eze 9:1-4).
Those who take pleasure in Israel’s demise will soon come to know the wrath of God themselves. In addition, the Lord will one day rebuild the walls of Israel (vs 10-13). The prophet catches a bigger glimpse of God’s future work of Restoration to Israel and begins to pray that God would indeed restore his nation to its former glory. It is similar in the way I see my nation of the USA. I grew up when America was still a godly nation. It honoured the Sabbath and lived by godly laws. Prayer could be held in schools and assemblies without any hint of political correctness. I pray and long for America to one day be restored. The sins of America today may well exceed the sin that Israel is guilty of. If this is true then what do you think will happen to a nation that has been enlightened and blessed? Lord, have mercy on my nation.
In concluding the message of Micah to all of Israel one cannot help but draw parallels to events taking place today. There is an obvious application to modern day Israel as it is about to enter into the time of Jacob’s trouble. The message has a wonderful ending in seeing that God will indeed restore His beloved Israel to Himself but not before great pain and tribulation. The parallel to America and other nations cannot be overlooked. I do feel there will be restoration for Israel and other nations but not before a season of great judgement. There is a revival to look forward to in the days to come that should help prepare the church for the end time events. Now is not the time to cast off restraint. It is time to press into God and seek to be His instrument of blessing in whatever capacity he has for us. We must discern His voice and have ears that hear that which he is saying.
The 6th vial is now about to be poured out by the 6th angel. It takes place over the Euphrates which dries up the river to prepare the way for the kings of the earth to gather against Israel. This is similar to what happened when Babylon of old fell to Cyrus at the time of Belshazzar (Isa 44:27). This river has provided a natural fortification to impede the progress of invading armies that would come against Iraq (Babylon) or the whole of the Middle East. The three unclean spirits are deceptive in alluring the kings of the east to this great battle. These three spirits flow freely out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast and false prophet. The power and force of this deception cannot be minimized. It is not just the deception but it is also the power of enforcement that these three members of the unholy trinity will bring to bear as seen in Revelation 13. It will be the likes of Daniel and his three friends that will be able to oppose and stand strong against these foes (vs 12-14).
There is a brief interlude in verse 15 where the exhortation goes forth to watch and to keep ones garments. This indicates that the return of the Lord is about to take place. The armies of the east are coming to Armageddon for the last great battle. This means that the return of the Lord is at hand when he shall descend with ten thousands(s) of His saints. We can bring in Math 24:42-44 and 1 Thes 5:2 to complement this event. It is clear that the Lord is soon to return but there will still be many that will be caught off guard. It is also clear that not all of the elect have been martyred by the unholy Trinity seeing that there are those who are told to watch and to keep their garments. This means they are to maintain their integrity and righteousness throughout this period. I feel that the example of Daniel and his three friends is applicable here as well. There will be those of the elect upon earth at the time of the Lord’s return.
In verse 16 it is the Lord that is gathering these armies towards Armageddon. So we can say that the pouring out of the 6th vial is the paving of the way for the enemies of God and Israel to move towards the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Armageddon).
In verses 17-21 we have the pouring out of the 7th vial. It begins with a voice out of the temple in heaven declaring that the judgements of God are now at an end. This is then followed by a massive earthquake which divides Babylon into three parts. There will be other nations affected as well. There will be great hail that will rain down upon the earth as was seen in the time of Joshua (Josh 10:11). Ezekiel also prophesied about great hail stones that would descend from heaven (Eze 38:18-22). He goes on to describe mountains being thrown down in addition to fire and brimstone in evidence. The 7th vial looks to connect with what Ezekiel saw with regard to Gog and Magog. This is only the beginning of that which is about to take place. Those who have aligned with the beast have already made their choice to do so. There will be many who would have been martyred for their testimony and opposing the taking of the mark. Remember, we have spoken of Babylon as being likened to a system that is all pervading. It is not hard seeing all of this becoming a reality over the next few years. Individual rights and the sovereignty of nations are being ceded to a one world system of governance. This governance seeks to put man at the helm. In order to be implemented it will require a destruction of sovereignty and the Judeo-Christian ethic. It is a modern day version of Babel that Nimrod sought to erect. The same force and power that energized and inspired Nimrod (Satan) is the same power at work in the last days through the beast (Antichrist). The system is demonically inspired and it is coming together as we speak. (It makes one wonder how smart our smart phones really are) There is a message of conformity pulsating throughout our day to day world and most of us do not even realize it. We are becoming absorbed into a virtual world that is soon becoming reality. Yes, Babylon is a system that is bringing forth conformity but it is also a place and a spirit as we will see over the next few chapters. As mentioned in our study in Daniel, These are the days of Belshazzar, the handwriting’s placed on the wall.. (Hmm, sounds like the contrast to a certain song that is sung today; perhaps we should take note so that we wake up.) Indeed, these are the days of Elijah.