Our reading today begins with a prophecy about our final salvation. We are told what will come to pass “in the latter days” (4:1). The mountain of the house of the Lord is a reference to the Temple Mount as the dwelling place of God. In the latter days, it will be the highest mountain, and “all peoples” will come to that mountain. This is the salvation that breaks the physical boundaries of a physical people. In verse 2, we see this reinforced because “many nations” will desire to come to the mountain of the Lord. This mountain pictures where heaven meets earth (as in Eden, Sinai, the Temple Mount, etc.). In the here and now (which is part of the latter days) this is the church. From us (Zion and Jerusalem) goes the preaching of the Word of the Lord.
At this final salvation, God will judge justly (v. 3). Wars will cease. Everyone will be provided for (v. 4). There will be no more fear. The peoples in verse 5 are the unsaved – those who worship other gods. They will be together in eternal punishment. But we will be with YHWH for ever. In “that day” (always the final judgment/salvation event), God will call the remnant for a final time, and our sufferings will end, and we will be with Him forever (vv. 6-7). The tower of the flock and the hill of the daughter of Zion is the church (v. 8). Salvation will come to us and we will reign with Christ (see 2 Tim 2:11-12).
Verses 9-10 speak immediately to the true spiritual people of God that will share in the captivity with the wicked. However, their suffering will be but labor pains that result in life. They will be saved from Babylon. Ultimately, this speaks of the church. We are in “Babylon” (a picture of the world system) among the wicked. We suffer in this world. But we will be redeemed by YHWH. Verses 11-13 continue this double fulfillment. Though physical Judah will be assailed by a foreign nation, God is in control, and the nations don’t understand His plan. He has gathered them to thresh them (v. 12), that is, He will purify them by removing the chaff from among them. The same is true of the church now. God purifies us through our suffering for the day of redemption (see 1 Cor 3:12-13).
Chapter 5 predicts the ruler that is to come. Famously, 5:2 is attributed to Christ in Matthew 2:6. He has “given us up” (sent us into the world). The church is the woman in labor (v. 3). At the end, we and all Christ’s brethren will return (as the remnant) as the true Israel. And He will be our Shepherd and we His flock (v. 4). We will be safe and secure and His name will be great to the ends of the earth (which is the mission of the church! – see Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8). In verse 5, Micah speaks of the nearer Assyrian invasion, but speaks of ultimate victory over them through the Messiah (the “he” of verse 6). Nimrod (v. 6) is the founder of Assyria (see Gen 10:8-12).
Verse 7 speaks of the remnant of Judah. Note that in verse 8, the remnant of Jacob is “among the nations” and “in the midst of many peoples.” These are those that will be given ultimate victory (v. 9). And then there are those that will be defeated. In verse 10, we see that “in that day” there will be destruction. Earthly power will be overpowered (vv. 10-11). All dark arts and false worship will come to an end (v. 12), along with idolatry in all its forms (vv. 13-14). This is all worship of false gods. Those that do this will be judged (v. 15).
Chapter 6 begins with an indictment against Israel (6:1-2). We are in the courtroom similar to Isaiah’s prophecy (see Isa 41:1). God asks what wrong He has done to Israel and Judah (v. 3). He then pleads His case: He saved them in the Exodus (v. 4). He provided godly leadership. He preserved then during the wilderness wanderings (v. 5). So how should His people respond? With outward acts of worship (v. 6)? Even with extravagant outward acts (v. 7)? No. God has told His people what He requires: justice, hesed love, and to humbly walk with Him (v. 8).
But Judah has not offered to God what He requires. So God’s patience is reaching its end (v. 10). Can the just Judge forgive wickedness (v. 11) and deceit (v. 12)? No. God must punish sin (v. 13)! God will take away all they’ve worked for and give it to Babylon (vv. 14-15). This also pictures the final judgment when the wicked are removed from God’s presence and the righteous inherit the earth (see 4:13). And why are they judged? They have walked in the idolatry of Israel (v. 16 – see 2 Chr 21:13).
Chapter 7 begins with a lament for Judah. Judah has been laid bare like trees at harvest (7:1). There are none righteous to be found (v, 2), only evil-doers (v. 3). The best of them are no good, so punishment has come upon them (v. 4). The wickedness of the people is pictured as the lack of trustworthiness between friends and lovers (v. 5) and war within one’s own family (v. 6). Jesus quotes this as fulfilled in the division between the saved and the unsaved (see Matt 10:34-36).
And even in the midst of this, Micah (and the righteous) look to God and wait for His salvation (v. 7). This is what the church is to do in here and now. Though we fall in this life, God will raise us up (v. 8). Though we live in a world of darkness, God will be our light. Though we suffer and are chastised in this world, and even though we are sinners, God will plead our case for us and vindicate us (provide justification! – v. 9). God will vindicate us and all the world will see (v. 10 – a reference to our resurrection)!
In verse 11, God tells Judah that her boundaries will be extended (see Isa 26:15). To God’s dwelling will come the nations, even Israel’s enemies (pictured in Egypt nd Assyria – v. 12). And those who do not will be judged (v. 13). Verse 14 speaks of God’s presence with His people. He is our Shepherd and we are His flock. We dwell in a garden – a reference to Eden where God first dwelt with man.1 Verse 15 speaks of God’s presence with us in salvation. Verses 16 speaks of our final vindication in the sight of the wicked, who in verse 17 are compared with Satan, the first sinner of creation that was expelled from God’s presence (see Gen 3:14-15).
Micah ends with praise to God. He is the only God that pardons the sin of the remnant and who delights in showing us hesed love (v. 18). Even though we are in captivity (physically speaking of the remnant of Judah, spiritually speaking of us before God saved us) God will have compassion and remove our sin from us (v. 19). He is faithful to the true Israel (see Gal 6:16), to the true offspring of Abraham (v. 20 – see Gal 3:29). This was promised from the very beginning (again, see Gen 3:15).
1 While I would not die on this hill (no pun intended), I think it is very possible that Eden was located on Mount Hermon in Bashan, where man lived with God “in the days of old.”