Micah Chapter 4:1-4; 5:1-4 Sunday School Notes

These are some of my notes for Sunday, May 24, 2009 in the Lifeway Explore the Bible series.

Books referenced in these notes are:

1. The Minor Prophets, Micah by Waltke, edited by McComiskey

2. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: New American Commentary, Micah by Barker of Barker and Bailey

3. Hosea, Amos, Micah: NIV Application Commentary by Gary V. Smith

Mic 4:1-4
This is an eschatological oracle of salvation. Rather than contradicting Mic 3:12 it promises a further future of an even greater Zion. On the other hand, Waltke mentions no less than four contrasts and five reversals between the promises of this paragraph and the dire predictions of Mic 3:1-12.

Changes:
1.Change from oracle of doom to promise of hope
2.Change of speakers, from Micah in 3:8-9 to God, 4:4
3.Change of addressees, from Jerusalem’s evil leaders to the faithful remnant 4:5
4.Change of rhetorical features

Reversals:

1.Zion laid low to Zion raised high
2.temple mount a wilderness to a gathering place for the world
3.wicked heads of Jerusalem traded for Zion at head of mountains
4.Jacob building Zion by bloodshed versus God establishing Zion as source of world peace and justice
5.Wicked Jerusalem leaders policies versus God’s restorative, peacemaking teaching and judging.(Barker, Waltke)

Is 2:2-5 is an almost exact copy pf Mic 4:1-4. Some think Micah copied Isaiah. Waltke thinks Isaiah copied Micah. Some think both borrowed from a common source. A few think God simply gave both the same revelation. There is no simple answer to the question. Waltke lists fourteen differences between Micah 4:1-5 and Is 2:2-5 and views them as different versions of the same text.(Barker, Smith)

This paragraph is a vision of the world experiencing God in a radical new way, when God enters space-time and brings about His original purpose for mankind. The prominence of the temple mount seems to symbolize the joining of heaven and earth. Endless people stream to Jerusalem to hear the word of God, to learn to live in God’s ways. This change will extend to nations which will be under God’s rule and will settle their differences peacefully, under God’s leadership. War will be forgotten, weapons transformed to tools, rather than the other way around as usual, and no one will study the ways of war anymore. Instead each person will have all his needs met, and be peacefully secure. And this will truly happen, because God Himself has said it will be.(Smith)

Mic 4:1
Set in “the last days”, typically defined as the time of the Messiah.

“Mountain of the LORD’s house” equals the temple hill, aka Mt. Zion or Mt. Moriah. Exalted as the home of the temple, eventually it would become even more exalted by being universally recognized.

Temples in the ANE had multiple symbolisms:

1.Deity presence among its people
2.Deity’s victory over chaos
3.A gateway into the deity’s presence
4.Deity’s rule over a territory(Waltke)

These prophecies find their fulfillment in Christ and the church (Lk 24:44; Acts 3:24; 1 Pet 1:10)(Waltke)

OT worship is a symbol of heavenly realities(Ex 25:9; Heb 9:5), thus the things spoken of here are less exact predictions than cultural expressions of future reality of God’s reign on Earth through His Messiah.(Waltke)

“Raised above the hills” is obviously metaphoric for “supremely important”, but many see it as a literal prediction as well.(Barker)

“Stream” is the same Hebrew root, nahar, as that for “river”, thus the image here is of a constant flow of people to the temple mount, like water along a river bed.(Barker)

Mic 4:2
Similar to prophecies in Zech 8:20-23, 14:16-19(Barker)

The nations are portrayed as eager to learn God’s ways so they may follow them. This seems a fulfillment of Gen 12:3, where the nations become part of God’s chosen people (Gal 3:26-29), under the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Is 42:6; Ezek 36:24-31) (Waltke)

“Instruction… out of Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” seems a double fulfillment prophecy, in that it likely refers both to the endtime and also a hint of the coming of Christianity, which left Jerusalem for the world through the Apostles.(Barker)

Mic 4:3
“To settle disputes… and provide arbitration for strong nations” is a royal function of judgment. Thus this depicts a time when God is truly, openly king of the whole Earth. (Is 11:3-4 a messianic tie to this)(Barker)

“Swords into plows, and…spears into pruning knives”shows a world where war is gone, and instead people practice farming. No one trains for war anymore, because God settles all disputes. Plainly this is indeed the Messianic age.

Some scholars see these verses as a reversal of the story of the Tower of Babel, where nations also encouraged each other, and ascending was a sign of rebellion from God. Here ascending the temple mount is in contrast a move toward God. (Waltke)

Mic 4:4
Grapevine and fig tree are pictures of the peace and prosperity of God’s kingdom (Zec 3:10; Is 11:6-10, 65:20-25). Fig trees provide both fruit and shade.(Waltke)

With non one to frighten him: This might not only include other men, but also the predatory animals, as spoken of in Lev. 26:6; Ezek 34:28; and Is 11:6-9. (Waltke)

This peaceful Utopian future is a sure thing because Yahweh Sabaoth (LORD of Hosts) has promised it.

When will the events of Mic 4:1-4 take place? Three ideas:

1.This is an exaggerated picture of the restored Jerusalem and Judah after the Babylonian exile is ended.
2.Partly already happening after Christ’s coming, but waiting for full fulfillment in the Messianic age.
3.A depiction of the Messianic age itself.(Barker)

Mic. 5:1 This starts off describing a siege “now” about to start. But the Hebrew of the first phrase here is ambiguous. There are three suggested readings, based on verb gdd:

1.Marshal your troops, o city (lit. “daughter”) of troops. Marshal = gadad in Hebrew.
2.Strengthen your walls, O walled city. Strengthen= gadar in Hebrew
3.Now cut yourself, daughter of marauder Cut = gdd in Hebrew. Cutting oneself is a sign of mourning among non-Jewish peoples of the ANE.

Siege: Is this a reference to Sennacherib’s Assyrians in 701 BC, or more likely, Nebuchadnezzar’s Neo-Babylonians of 588-6 BC?
If 586 BC, then the ruler struck can be interpreted in a double meaning:

1.Zedekiah, who was blinded (2 Kgs 25:7; Jer 39:6-7, 52:10-11) and put in chains by Nebuchadnezzar.
2.Jesus Christ, struck on the head (Mark 15:19) and face (John 19:3) during his Passion.

It is simpler to relate this to Zedekiah, for Jesus was not struck by enemy troops during a siege of Jerusalem, and “Now” of 5:1 seems to refer to a near future event, not one seven hundred years off.(Barker, Smith)

Mic 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah Bethlehem= Heb. “house of bread, food”. Ephrathah= Heb. “fruitfulness”, and might be another name for Bethlehem or the wider district Bethlehem was in. It is also called Bethlehem of Judah, because it is in the tribal allotment of Judah. It sits some five miles SSW of Jerusalem, and is best known in OT as birthplace of King David.(Barker)

“Clans, thousands”: Heb. elep, apparently used first simply for the number 1000. This changed over time to a 1000 man military company, then a shorthand for a clan, to the home city of a clan, to a term for the leader of a clan. Here either “clans” or “cities” seems the most appropriate translation.(Barker)

“Ruler”, Heb. Mosel. Some have stressed the lack of the use of “king”, Heb. “melek” here. That’s a bit over specifying language, though, and it is possible that the implication of the word use is that this one rules under authority of King God. Who is this ruler? It is nearly unanimous in all traditions that he is the Messiah. (2 Sam 7:4-17; Ps 2; 89; 132)(Barker, Waltke)

“Origin is from antiquity” is one possible interpretation of the Heb. mime olam. Another is “goings out from old”. The first interpretation refers to the messiah’s origin in the line of David, even perhaps back to Abraham. “Goings out” is used by interpreters to stress the teral existence of the messiah. The Davidic interpretation is probably the better, and the deity and eternity of the Messiah are taught elsewhere in the NT (John 1:1-3, 8:5; and Is 9:6 as well)(Barker)

Mic 5:3
“He will abandon them” God will punish and thus prepare His people for the coming messiah by leaving them in the hands of their enemies. God will not save save Judah from the current disaster.(Barker, Smith)

“She who is in labor” has three possible interpretations:

1.Is the mother of the coming ruler, the Messiah
2.Is Bethlehem, mother city of the Messiah
3.Is Israel, or more specifically, Jerusalem.(Barker)

“Rest of his brothers” is seen as fulfilled in both Pentecost’s conversion of Diaspora Jews to Christianity (Acts 2) and also the inclusion of Gentiles in the Christian assembly (Matt 12:50; Gal 3:26-29; Eph 2:12-22; 1 Pet 2:9-10) (Waltke)

Mic 5:4
“He” is almost certainly the messiah.

“Will stand” = rule, be installed as king. An alternate interpretation is rule forever, for the Hebrew can also mean firm, immovable.(Barker, Waltke)

“Shepherd”= be the ideal king, who rules people with the thoughtful care of shepherd gives sheep, who are frequently too stupid to look after themselves.

Majestic Name= the royal power and authority of God Himself.

His God= emphasis on the messiah’s close relationship with God.

Live securely= Heb. yashab, for “sit, dwell, live”. “Securely” is an addition to bring out the implication, that the messiah’s rule of the whole world will allow people to live peacefully and without fear.

“Greatness… to the ends of the earth” The messiah will rule the whole world. This is also a partly now, partly later prophecy, as seen in Jesus’ own words: Mat 28:18 NET. Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me….” (Barker)

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One response to “Micah Chapter 4:1-4; 5:1-4 Sunday School Notes

  1. My comments is on Micah 5:2 “…whose origin is from of old”. The messiah’s origin in the line of David goes as far back as Seth. (Lk 3:38). Why? Lukes genealogy points to Seth as the seed of the woman who will bruise the head of the serpent. “and you shall bruise his heel”. (Gen 3:15).‘his’ in Genesis 3:15 is represented by Seth in Luke 3:38. I would humbly suggest that the origin goes as far back to Seth. Besides there is close affinity between Eve and her son Seth and Mary and her son Jesus.

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