Joel, Micah, & Zephaniah Lesson 7
Read Micah 4
Introduction: The eschatology of the Old Testament is different in structure from that of the New Testament. In the Old Testament God’s people were to occupy a territory and there live out God’s plan for His people’s lives; the people doing the expressed will of God and God responding with more blessings and more revelations of His will.
As the nations surrounding Israel (a united nation) saw God’s lifestyle lived out, they either asked to join with Israel in the covenant, or they rebelled and were destroyed; their geographical territory being then added to Israel’s until Israel occupied the whole earth.
In the midst of this process the Messiah would come, die, resurrect, go back to Heaven, and then shortly return to earth, here to set up His kingdom. Thus one would have in existence at one time a portion of the earth like unto Heaven, and a portion of the earth as of yet unrenewed. (For the study of this Old Testament eschatology read in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pp. 25-39.
Micah 4:1-8 is reflective of the eschatology of the Old Testament.
Why does Micah 4:1-5 follow Micah 3:12?
- Compare the results of Micah 3:6, 7, 9-11 as set forth in 3:12 with the results of 4:1-4 as expressed in 4:6-8.
- What does this cause and effect picture portray to be the function of a Christian’s works in his own life – in the life of his nation?
- Is this cause-and-effect portrayal parallel to God’s method of bringing about salvation, or to the divine basis of judgment? Consult Matthew 25:31-46.
- Why is 4:1-8 placed between 3:12 and 4:9, 10a, and 11?
Micah 4:9, 10a
- When is “now” in 4:9 and in 4:10a?
- What is the connection between 3:12 and 4:9, 10a?
- What is the story told by 4:9, 10a?
These clauses say, there you will be delivered, there the Lord will redeem you from the power of your enemies; where is there? Where was this promise historically fulfilled?
Who is “you” in 4:11?
- Who is “they” in 4:12a and 12b?
- Who is “them” in 4:12c?
- What is Israel’s role in 4:13?
- What is the message of 4:10c and 13?
- Do these events fulfill the prophecy in 4:1-8
Chapter 4 Answers
Speaking of the times of Isaiah and Micah and their associates Ellen White writes, “In this time of ‘trouble and darkness’ and ‘dimness of anguish’ (Isa. 8:22), the future was made bright by means of many precious communications to the church of God concerning her future triumph.” Ellen G. White in The Present Truth and Review & Harold Articles, vol. 6, p. 482.
Here Micah 3:12’s predictions of disaster are immediately followed by pictures of hope.
- Micah 3:6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12 shows that the continual and progressive sin by leaders and people result first in the loss of specific but ever widening blessings God would like to send, or has been sending, such losses finally culminating in complete destruction of that which the erring considered to be their source of strength; here – the temple and Jerusalem.
Micah 4:1-4 and 6-8 shows that God’s withdrawal of blessings in chapter 3, which culminated in 3:12, result in blessings to those who turn to God in their hour of need.
“He will punish those who misrepresent Him, but He will be gracious to all who sincerely repent. To those who call upon Him for strength for the development of Christian character, He will give all needed help.” Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, p. 590.
These verses also show us that the blessings God sends in response to His people’s acts result in blessing to other nations as well as repentant Israel – “And numerous nations will walk and they will say walk, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us from His ways and we will walk in His way. . . “
Finally, we see God not only the teacher and judge of His people, but their healer and Savior as well.
“Satan, by means of his success in turning man aside from the path of obedience, became ‘the god of this world.’ II Corinthians 4:4. The dominion that once was Adam’s passed to the usurper. But the Son of God proposed to come to this earth to pay the penalty of sin, and thus not only redeem man, but recover the dominion forfeited. It is of this restoration that Micah prophesied when he said, “O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion.’ Micah 4:8.” Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 682.
- These verses show that God, often, is limited in His blessing-giving to acts by Him directed to us that reveal the way He sees our acts accentuating our devaluing the work He is doing to bring about a restoration from the effects brought by sin.
The exceptions to these limitations are those times when He is acting for His own name sake.
This principle is true of God’s relation to nations as well as to individuals – as Micah 3:12 shows.
- This cause-and-effect portrayal is parallel to the divine basis for judgment – but not to God’s method of bringing about salvation.
Matthew 25:31-46 teaches that in the judgment we are rewarded on the basis of our works, while God’s method of salvation is for Him to respond to expressions of faith. Justification, sanctification, and new birth, etc., are God-produced results that come in association with decisions as acts of faith done by us.
Mrs. White writes that “Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul.
“But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin everyday with impunity regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone; and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful natures.
“The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those works which will be rewarded at His hands (RH Jan.20, 1895).” Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Jan 29, 1895 quoted B.C., v, 1122. (See also Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 637-641.)
- Micah 4:1-8 is placed after 3:12 to make a time of trouble and anguish be seen in the context of the future which was made bright by promises of future triumph; Israel was here assured that God never strikes a useless blow – those who endure His correcting would live in people – but the transformation had not yet been realized, therefore, Micah 4:9, 10a, and 11 served to call the people back to the present.
Micah 4:9, 10a
- “Now” is the day in which Micah addressed them. Judgment time had arrived.
- Micah 3:12 is a prophecy of doom for God’s people that does not have a stated time element; it simply states what will happen, while 4:9, is a prophecy of doom that is stated to be for the people Micah is speaking to. The present fulfillment of 4:9, 10a gives certainty to the future fulfillment of 3:12.
- Israel’s chosen gods and leaders are powerless to stop Israel’s suffering when God sends trouble.
“There” is in Babylon; God redeemed Israel when He caused them to experience that which turned them back to Him, and when He caused their captors to set them free at the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.
“You” is God’s professed followers.
- “They” in 4:12 is the many nations of 4:11 who are actively against God’s people.
- “Them” is the hostile nations – hostile to Israel – who don’t realize they are gathered by the Lord.
- Israel’s role in this verse is to bring about the judgment of God on the nations God has assembled (4:12), for the purpose of releasing to the Lord those nation’s unjust gain and wealth.
- God will rescue His people from the trouble He has arranged for them, when they have become – through their trials – the kind of people who can help Him with His work on this earth. This principle is eternal, therefore the secondary application of Micah 4:10-12 is to the church of God, “in the hour of her greatest peril” – “the great final scenes in the history of our world.” (Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 537, 538.)
- The prophecy of hope in 4:1-8 is not fulfilled by any of the other events described in chapter 4. The gathering of the nations described in the events of 4:9-13 is brought about by God for their judgment (4:13c), not for their peaceful coexistence with Israel in the service of the Lord.
“In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.” Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings pp. 499, 500.
“In the word of God only is this clearly set forth. Here it is shown that the strength of nations, as of individuals, is not found in the opportunities or facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God’s purpose.” Ibid, p. 502.