Micah 4–5. Israel and the International Situation.
Key Notes: Jesus will come from Bethlehem. Israel will be like dew on grass, and a lion among sheep. An outline of Bible teaching on the Nations.
4:1–8 is a classic passage, duplicated partly in Isa.2:2–4, of God's leadership in the Age to Come. Jerusalem is to be the center of world power with God administering justice, law, and peace.
4:5 Israel's vow to walk in the name of God forever has still not come to pass.
4:9–5:1 alternates six words of judgment and encouragement.
4:9–10a -Israel is in travail, going into captivity.
4:10b +But God will rescue her from the enemy.
4:11 -Israel is under siege.
4:12–13 +But God is going to make her like a threshing machine.
5:1 -Now the siege is on and the ruler is stricken.
5:2 +But from Bethlehem will come a great ruler.
5:2–4 This famous Messianic passage shows Christ to be a human being, coming from the clans of Judah, and coming to a particular place. Bethlehem. He is also divine—“whose origin is from eternity”. (Not all commentators agree with this interpretation.) The passage was well known to Jewish scholars. When the wise men inquired about where the King of the Jews was to be born, Micah 5:2 was quoted without hesitation. After Christ this information was suppressed.
5:5–6 contains a prophecy that Assyria will be defeated and in fact governed by Israel (a prophecy not yet fulfilled).
5:7–9 A prophecy of Israel as a remnant among the nations is highly ambiguous: She will be like dew upon the grass, but also like a lion among sheep.
On the side of dew on the grass, we can see today the remarkable benefits provided by Jewish people in art, music, science, finance and government. There are only about 20 million Jews / 7 billion world population, yet their relative contribution is enormous. Of American Nobel Prize winners, nearly half are Jewish.
On the side of being a lion among sheep, we can point to the famous Entebbe rescue as an example.
5:10–15 At the end of the Age God promises to break up Israel's cities, armaments, and idolatry. He will also deal harshly with nations that disobey.
These chapters in Micah give us the opportunity to see God' work among nations. The Church has no well-developed doctrine of the THE NATIONS . With the development of nationalism in the last two centuries, and internationalism since WWII, we need to study Scripture on this question. The emergence of Israel as a nation after WWII has not yet been taken into account. (Notes on Rom.11). Althugh we think of God's work in the NT as individualistic or church-oriented it is an OT truth that God sees nations as nations and judges them accordingly. Almost none of the Church's teaching is along this line. The Church acknowledges Old Testament Messianic prophecy in particular although Paul warns us to learn from Israel's failings. ICor.10:1–13
There is a universal perception that global government is needed, especially in the last 30 years, for at least four general reasons:
- Environment: rain forests, oceans, sea life, air quality, and waste disposal and global warming pose international problems.
- Economics: banking, stocks, money supply, counterfeiting, sweat shops, copyrights, food supplies, human slavery affect nations as well as individuals.
- War: suppression of rogue states, biological weapons, land mines and missiles require international cooperation.
- Medical: plagues like SARS,Zika and AIDS, immunization against polio, and drug trafficking require us all to work together.
American reaction to world government is often suspicious. But there is an outcry all over the world for global leadership. God will rule the nations. We should be—and are—participating in global leadership.
A Biblical outline of The Nations.
- God created the nations. “He has made of one blood every nation of men to live on the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Acts.17:26). We are indeed His offspring. Acts.17:28.
- God owns the nations. “To Thee belong all the nations.” Psa.82:8
- Israel is our case study in God’s relation to the nations. “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they did.” (I Cor. 10:6). “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (I Cor. 10: 11)
- The nations are enraged with God because His Laws restrain them. Psa.2:1–2. Daniel 10:20–21 describes specific struggles between God and the princes of Persia and Greece.
The Lord is therefore angry with all the nations “...has given them over for slaughter.” Isa.34:1– All the nations are as a drop from the bucket. (Isa.40:15). They are powerless against God and their resistance is futile.
- God has mercifully ordained prophets to the nations. “I have ordained thee a prophet to the nations.” (Jer.1:5). In Jeremiah's prophecies those nations include Egypt (CH. 46), Philistia (Ch.47), Moab (Ch.48), Ammon, Edom, Kedar, Elam (Ch.49), Babylon (Ch.50), Sidon and Media (Ch. 25:19–26). Amos 1–2 describes God's judgment on all the nations around Israel, as well as Judah and Samaria. To what extent these nations heard the prophets’ messages we do not know.
- The Gospel will be preached worldwide before the End of the Age. Matt.24:14
The disciples were commissioned to make disciples of all nations. Matt.28:18. Paul desired to offer the Gentiles nations as a sacrifice to God. Rom. 15:8–16.
- God intends to save Israel. “..as so all Israel will be saved, as it is written…’ Rom.11:20
Zech. 12:10 gives us an idea of what that might be like—Israel “shall mourn for Him as for an only son and grieve for Him as for a firstborn.
[The remaining outline is breath-taking and hard to process from our perspective. Some will find it unbelievable. making it all the more important.]
- God will finally gather the nations to fight against Jerusalem. (Zech.12:3; 14:2). He initiates the showdown. The Prince of Peace (Isa.9:6) will bring peace, but not without bloodshed.
- The nations will be devastated and their wealth collected. Zech.14:14. “I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in and I will fill this house with splendor.” (Hag.2:7)
- Zion will become the international center.
“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you.” (Zech.2:11)
“Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.” (Zech.8:22)
“In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew saying 'let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'” Zech.8:23
- Christ will rule from Zion.
“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 for strong nations afar off.” Mic.4:2b–3
“...and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore“. Mic.4:7b
“...upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness.” Isa.9:7
- Christ will rule over the world’s nations. “To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Dan.7:14.
- The saints will be resurrected to rule with Him. “...they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Rev.20:4
Comment. As well as summarizing general principles, “The Nations” contains a complex of prophecy. As with all prophecy, we must try to sort what is past, present, and future. Revelation is thought to contain all three components. The “Day of the Lord” in the Minor Prophets is seen to be a series of events of mounting intensity, separated by decades and millennia. Jesus taught his disciples to be ready at all times. “Watch”.