John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
INTRODUCTION TO MICAH 4
This chapter contains some gracious promises concerning the glory and happiness of the church of Christ in the last days; as of its stability, exaltation, and increase, and of the spread of the Gospel from it, Micah 4:1; and of the peace and security of it, and constant profession and exercise of religion in it, Micah 4:3; and of the deliverance of it from affliction and distress, and the ample and everlasting kingdom of Christ in it, Micah 4:6; and then follow some prophecies more particularly respecting the Jews; as that, though they should be in distress, and be carried captive into Babylon, they should be delivered from thence, Micah 4:9; and, though many people should be gathered against them, yet should not be able to prevail over them, but their attempts would issue in their own destruction, Micah 4:11.
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains,.... It appears by the adversative but, with which these words are introduced, that they have a dependence upon and a connection with the last of the preceding chapter; signifying, that though "the mountain of the house", on which the temple stood, should become desolate, yet "the mountain of the house of the Lord", which is not literally the same, but what that was typical of, the church of Christ, should be greatly exalted and enlarged; and which, according to this prophecy, would be "in the last days": that is, as Kimchi rightly interprets it, the days of the Messiah; and it should be observed, that all this will be in the last of his days, or of the Gospel dispensation: the first of these days were the days of Christ in the flesh, the times of his ministry, and of John the Baptist his forerunner, and of his disciples; and were indeed the last days of the Jewish world, or of their civil and church state; and when also it must be allowed the mountain of the Lord's house, or the temple literally taken, became glorious by the presence of Christ in it, by his doctrine and miracles there, and by the effusion of the Spirit on his disciples in that place, and the ministration of the Gospel; but then all this was before the destruction of the second temple; whereas this prophecy follows that, and is opposed to it, and supposes it; besides, in those times there was not such an exaltation and stability of the church of Christ; nor such a flow of nations to it; nor such a settled and universal peace and security as here promised: this prophecy therefore respects times yet to come, as Aben Ezra observes; the last of the days of the Messiah, or the last times of the Gospel dispensation, when the reign of antichrist will be at an end; he will be destroyed, and the kingdom of Christ set up, established, and enlarged in the world. The Prophet Isaiah predicts the same things, and much in the same words, Isaiah 2:2; these two prophets were contemporary, and might converse together, and communicate to each other what they had received from the Lord upon this subject; but it is needless to inquire which might have them from the other, since they were both holy men of God, and moved by his Spirit, and were inspired by the same Spirit, with the same things, and to speak the same language; yet there is a diversity in words, though an agreement in sentiment nor does it appear a clear case that they borrowed, much less that they stole, their words from one other, as the false prophets did; for they do not always use the same words to convey the same idea; and there are some words which Isaiah has that Micah has not and there are others that Micah uses that Isaiah has not; though in the whole there is a most beautiful harmony of sense in their diversity of expression. By "the mountain of the house of the Lord" is not meant the temple built on Mount Moriah, where the divine Majesty resided; where were the symbols of his presence, the ark and mercy seat, and where he was worshipped, which has been destroyed long ago, and will never be rebuilt more; for a third temple hereafter to be built at Jerusalem is a mere fiction of the Jews; nor indeed is any material building here intended, and still less any such building to be erected in such an absurd sense, literally taken, as if mountain was piled on mountain, and hill on hill, to raise it higher; but, mystically and spiritually, it designs the church of God, called so because it is built by him, and built for a habitation for him; where he will, at the time here referred to, more manifestly dwell in a spiritual manner; and by whom, and by which spiritual and gracious presence of his, it will be made very beautiful and glorious: and it is signified by a "mountain", to denote its visibility, immovableness, and perpetuity; and is said to be "established in the top of the mountains", with respect to the kingdoms of this world, and especially antichristian churches, which, because of their eminence, and largeness, and national establishment, may seem like mountains; but, in the latter day, the true church of Christ, which now may seem like a mole hill to them, will be above them, and will be in a settled state and condition, and not be fluctuating, and tossed to and fro, and removing here and there, as now; but be fixed and stable, and continue so until the second and personal coming of Christ:
and it shall be exalted above the hills: by "hills" may be meant petty kingdoms, inferior to greater monarchies; or religious states, not of Christ's constitution; and the "exaltation" of the church above them denotes her power over them, to enjoy the one, and crush the other: it may respect the glory of the church, both as to things temporal and spiritual; for now will the kingdoms under the whole heaven be given to the saints of the most High; civil government will come into their hands, the kings and princes of the earth being now members of Gospel churches; so that the church will be in a glorious and exalted state, having riches, power, and authority, a large extent everywhere, and a multitude of members, and those of the highest class and rank, as well as of the meaner and lower sort; and all of them possessed largely of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, and enjoying the Gospel and Gospel ordinances in their power and purity:
and the people shall flow unto it: in great abundance, in large numbers, in company like the flowing streams of a river; and may denote not only their numbers, but their swiftness and readiness to join themselves with the church of God, to hear the word, and partake of the ordinances, and of all the privileges of the house of the Lord. It may be rendered, "they shall look unto it", as the word is translated in Psalm 34:6; and so the Targum here,
"and the kingdoms shall look (or turn their faces) to serve upon it;'
and this sense is preferred by many learned Jewish writers
And many nations shall come, and say, come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob,.... In Isaiah 2:3; it is, "many people", &c. the sense is the same; See Gill on Isa 2:3;
and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; the teacher is the King Messiah, as Kimchi observes; the great Prophet of his people, the teacher sent from God; and will in the last days teach men by his Spirit and word, in a very plentiful manner, and with great success:
for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; these, according to Kimchi, are the words of the prophet, and not of the people, that encourage one another to go up to the house of the Lord; but the sense is much the same; for they contain a reason why the people of different nations would encourage one another to go to the house of the Lord, that they might learn his ways, and walk in his statutes, because here the word of the Lord is preached; the word which comes from God, and is concerning him, his love and grace to men; the word of peace and righteousness, of life and salvation, by Jesus Christ: and each of the doctrines of grace intended by the "law" or "doctrine" of the Lord; the doctrines of God's everlasting love, of election in Christ, and redemption by him; of justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, and satisfaction by his atonement; as well as of regeneration by the Spirit of God, and of perseverance in grace: in these, and others, now shall all the Lord's people be taught more clearly, distinctly, and comfortably; all shall know him, from the least to the greatest; and not only their light and knowledge, under such a teacher and such will be very great, but their practice will be answerable to it; as they will be instructed in all the ways of the Lord, and in the methods of his grace, so they will walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; See Gill on Isaiah 2:3.
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off,.... That are in the most distant parts of the world; not only the isles afar off, but the remotest parts of the continent, the American nations found out since. In Isaiah 2:4, it is, "and he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people"; that is, the King Messiah, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech. Some render it, "it shall judge", &c. and interpret it either of the Church, the mountain of the Lord's house; or of the word and doctrine of the Lord; or of the Lord in the church, by the ministry of the word, The phrase, "afar off", is not in Isaiah 2:4; which the Targum interprets "for ever", and the "strong nations" of strong kings; signifying that the kingdom of Christ should not only be to the ends or the earth, but should endure for ever, unto distant time, even till it shall be no more; as well as shall reach to distant lands, as to situation, and to the Gentiles afar off, as to state and condition; see Ephesians 2:14;
and they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more; which as yet has never been fulfilled; but will be the case when Christ's kingdom appears in its glory, and the kingdoms of this world become his, and all the enemies of the church are destroyed; See Gill on Isaiah 2:4. These words are by the Jews
But they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree,.... A proverbial phrase, expressive of the greatest tranquillity, security, and enjoyment of property; see 1 Kings 4:25; when persons need not keep within their walled towns and cities, and lack themselves up in their houses, but may sit down in their gardens, fields, and vineyards, and enjoy the fruit thereof; as the Targum interprets it,
"under the fruit of his vine, and under, the fruit of his fig tree.'
It was usual for persons in the eastern countries to sit under vines and fig trees to read, meditate, pray, or converse together, where they grow very large, as were their vines; and even with us they are frequently raised and carried over supporters, so as to be sat under; and of fig trees, we frequently read in Jewish writings of their being very large, and of their going up to them, and praying on the top of them; and of sitting under them, and studying in the law there. So one of the Rabbins says
and none shall make them afraid; the enemies of God's people will be no more, neither Turk nor pope, eastern or western antichrist, beast or, false prophet; wherefore, in those days of the Messiah, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, even all the spiritual Israel of God, Jews and Gentiles; there shall be none to hurt in the holy mountain of the Lord, or any violence and oppression, wasting and destruction, anywhere; see Jeremiah 23:5;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it; who speaks nothing but truth, and who is able and faithful to perform what he has spoken; and therefore all this may be depended on.
For all people will walk everyone in the name of his god,.... Till those times come before described; when many nations and people shall flock to the church, and there shall be such general peace and tranquillity as here promised; till then the nations of the earth shall retain their former religion, and the profession of it, with constancy, till they are otherwise instructed, as Aben Ezra; or till the Messiah shall turn them into the right way, as Kimchi; till that time comes, the Pagans will worship their idols, and continue in the idolatry of their ancestors; the Papists will retain their image worship, and hold to their lord god the pope, as they call him; the Mahometans will cleave to their prophet, and walk according to the rules he has left them to observe. Jarchi's note is,
"they shall go to destruction because of their idolatry;'
with which he says the Targum agrees, which is,
"all nations shall go according to the idols they have worshipped;'
or, as the king of Spain's Bible,
"they shall be guilty or condemned because they have worshipped idols:'
and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever; both in the mean while, and when those happy times shall come, and so through all generations as long as the world stands. This is the language of those that know the Lord, believe in him, and sincerely serve him; who determine in the strength of divine grace to continue in their profession of faith of him, in his worship and service, in his ways, truths, and ordinances, whatever others, do; and indeed are the more animated to it, when they observe how constant and steadfast idolaters, Pagans, Papists, and Mahometans, are in their false worship, both in the profession and practice of it. The Targum is,
"we will trust in the Word of the Lord our God for ever and ever;'
in Christ the essential Word; and so the phrase is expressive of faith, and a profession of faith in him; and of constant attendance upon his word and ordinances.
In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth,.... The Jews or Israelites so described; not from the halting of Jacob their father, as Abarbinel thinks; nor because of their halting between two opinions, worshipping both the true God and idols, as in the times of Elijah; for this will not suit with the Jews in their present state; but because they were like lame and maimed sheep, to which the allusion is; or because they were guilty of sins, which are sometimes expressed by halting, Jeremiah 20:10. The word signifies such that go sideways, and not uprightly; and fitly describes such who deviate from the ways of God, and walk not according to the divine word: now "in that day" or time before referred to, the last days of the Gospel dispensation, the Lord will convert the Jews; or "heal" these lame and maimed ones, so Jarchi interprets the word; or will gather them by his Spirit and grace to the Messiah, and assemble them into his church, and among his people, and bring them into the sheepfold, under the care of the one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ:
and I will gather her that is driven out; out of the land of Israel, and scattered among the nations of the world; even driven out by the Lord himself, because of their transgressions against him; see Jeremiah 16:15;
and her that I have afflicted; with various calamities, with famine and sword, with captivity and poverty; the Targum adds,
"for the sins of my people;'
the Israelites for their idolatry, and the Jews for the rejection of the Messiah, and other sins.
And I will make her that halted a remnant,.... That is, make a reserve of her, and not utterly cut her off for her halting or sinning; that there may be a seed, a posterity descending from her, that shall serve the Lord, and appear to be a remnant according to the election of grace; which will be the persons called and gathered in the latter day:
and her that was cast afar off a strong nation; Kimchi thinks this refers to the ten tribes that were carried far off into Media and other parts, 2 Kings 17:6; who shall now be a mighty and numerous people; and especially shall be strong in a spiritual sense in the Lord, and in the power of his might, in Christ and his grace, and in the faith of him; see Isaiah 60:22;
and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever; that is, Christ, who is Jehovah our righteousness, shall reign over the converted Jews and Israelites in the church of God, often signified by Mount Zion; where they shall be assembled, and shall acknowledge him as their King, and be subject to his word and ordinances, and never more depart from him; nor will his government over them ever cease more, Luke 1:32. This shows that this prophecy refers not to the that times of the Gospel; for then the Jews would not have him to reign over them; but to times yet to come, the last days of the Gospel dispensation.
And thou, O tower of the flock,.... The words "Migdal Eder" are left by some untranslated, and think that place to be intended so called, which was near to Bethlehem, Genesis 35:19; and perhaps is the same which Jerom
"O Christ of Israel:'
the church indeed is the "flock": the people of God are often compared to sheep for their harmlessness and innocence, and the church to a flock of them, which is Christ's flock he feeds like a shepherd; the flock of slaughter, a little one, consisting of persons separated from the world, and under his peculiar care; and he is the tower of this flock, in allusion to a shepherd's cottage, called a tower, as a cottage in a vineyard is in Isaiah 5:2; where the shepherds watch, and into which they bring the sick and lame, and take care of them; Christ is a high tower, where his people are safe out of the reach of their enemies; and a strong one, being the mighty God and mighty Saviour, who has all power and strength to defend his church and people, and may be well called their tower: and
the strong hold of the daughter of Zion; "the daughter of Zion" is the church, particularly the church of the converted Jews; Christ is the strong hold of it, into which, as prisoners of hope, they will be directed to turn, Zechariah 9:12; a strong refuge he is to flee unto from the avenger of blood, the justice of God; from the curses of the law; from the storm of divine wrath; from the temptations of Satan, and from the persecutions of men; a strong hold is he to dwell in, and where the saints dwell safely, pleasantly, at ease and peace, and very comfortably, and in great plenty; a strong hold for shelter from every enemy:
unto thee shall it come; not the kingdom, as follows, which our version leads to, and is the sense of Aben Ezra; for there is a considerable accent on the word "come", which makes a large stop; and that it refers, as Jarchi observes, to "her that halteth", &c. "it" or "she" that halteth shall come, being assembled and gathered, or converted by the grace of God unto the Messiah; as to her, or their tower and strong hold, where all blessings of grace, and the supplies of it, and all salvation and safety, are to be had and enjoyed. The promise respects the Jews coming to Christ upon their conversion, even such who have been the halt, the maimed, the lame, and the blind:
even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem; or rather, "and the first dominion shall come, the kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem": meaning, not the first notice of the Messiah's kingdom, given by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, to the Jews, in the first times of the Gospel; or the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom first to them; but rather he who has the first or principal dominion, and to whom the kingdom belongs, he shall come to the daughter of Zion, as in Zechariah 9:9; though it rather respects here his coming to them at the time of their conversion, when they shall come to him, Romans 11:26; and when the first, chief, and principal kingdom in the world, and which is preferable to all others, will come unto, and be placed among them, as in Micah 4:7; and when it shall be, as some interpret it, as at the beginning, in the days of David and Solomon, and much more abundantly.
Now why dost thou cry out aloud?.... Or "cry a cry"
"now why art thou joined to the people?'
and so Jarchi,
"thou hast no need to seek friends and lovers, the kings of Egypt and Assyria, for help.'
And which sense of the word as approved by Gussetius
Is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? he it so that they were; as was the case when Zedekiah was taken and carried captive, and his princes, nobles, and counsellors killed; yet God, their King and Counsellor, was with them, to keep and preserve them, counsel, instruct, and comfort them, and at last to deliver and save them; and the King Messiah would be raised up, and sent unto them in due time, who is the Wonderful Counsellor Isaiah had prophesied of:
for pangs have taken thee as a worn an in travail; which is often expressive of great sufferings and sorrows; and yet, as the pangs of a woman in travail do not continue always, but have an end, so would theirs, and therefore there was no reason for despair; and as, when she brings forth her issue, her sorrow is turned into joy, this would be their case.
Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion,
like a woman in travail,.... Bear thy troubles and calamities, sufferings and sorrows, patiently, and expect deliverance from them, as a woman in such circumstances does: or, as some render it in the future, "thou shalt be in pain", &c.
for now shalt thou go forth out of the city; the city of Jerusalem; either by flight, in a private and secret manner, as Zedekiah and his princes, and part of his army did; or by force, being taken and led out by the enemy:
and thou shalt dwell in the field; being turned out of their houses, they were obliged to lodge in the fields, while they were collected together, and in a body marched as captives to Babylon; and while on the road lay in the open fields, and not in houses, who had been used to dwell in a city, and in their panelled houses; but now even their city itself was ploughed like a field, as before predicted:
and thou shalt go even to Babylon; to the city of Babylon, as their king did, and many of them also; and others of them into various parts of that kingdom: this is a clear prophecy of the Babylonish captivity, which came to pass upwards of a hundred years after this:
there shalt thou be delivered; after seventy years captivity, by the hand of Cyrus; who taking the city of Babylon, and making himself master of the whole empire, delivered the Jews from their bondage, and gave them liberty to return to their own land:
there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies; the Chaldeans: and this was typical of the deliverance and redemption of all the Lord's people from the hand of all their spiritual enemies; from Satan and the world, law, death, and hell; by the blood of the great Redeemer, and near kinsman of his people, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now also many nations are gathered against thee,.... Which is to be understood, not of Sennacherib's army invading Judea, and besieging Jerusalem, in Hezekiah's time; for that was not threshed, as the phrase is afterwards used, or destroyed by the daughter of Zion, but by an angel from heaven: nor of the Babylonians or Chaldeans, since they succeeded in their attempt, and were the conquerors, and not conquered: rather this respects the times of the Maccabees, as the series of prophecy and history agreeing together shows; in which times many of the neighbouring nations of the Jews gave them a great deal of trouble, and especially Antiochus king of Syria; and many and mighty armies sent by him. The Jews, as Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and Abarbinel
that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion; either defiled with sin; so the Targum,
"that say, when will she sin, and our eye shall behold the fall of Zion?'
as the effect of her sin: or, as others, "let her play the hypocrite"
But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel,.... Which are very different from theirs: the thoughts and designs of the enemies of Zion, in the times of the Maccabees, were, to destroy utterly the people of God, and root them out of the earth, and abolish their religion and worship; but the intentions of God were to defeat them, and bring them to ruin: the views of the kings of the earth, being stirred up by unclean spirits to the battle of Almighty God, will be to extirpate the interest and kingdom of Christ; but the end of the Lord, in suffering them to be gathered together, will be utterly and totally to destroy them; and the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart, to all generations. Men know their own designs, but they do not know the designs of the Lord; they intend the ruin of others, but God intends to bring about theirs; and his intentions are never frustrated, but theirs are;
for he shall gather them as sheaves into the floor; as, when the harvest is ripe, it is cut down, and bound up in sheaves, and brought home, and these are laid in order upon the floor to be threshed; so, when the nations of the earth are fully ripe for ruin, God will put, or order to be put; in the sickle, and cut them down, and bind them in bundles, and lay them on his threshingfloor of wrath and vengeance, and utterly destroy them contrary to their views and expectations.
Arise, and thresh, O daughter of Zion,.... The nations gathered against her, and now laid together on the floor as sheaves to be threshed. Here the people of God are aroused, and called out of a low and weak estate, and are animated and encouraged to exert themselves, and fall upon their enemies, and destroy them; alluding to the threshing of grain on the floor, the metaphor being here carried on from Micah 4:12. The Targum is,
"arise, and kill, O congregation of Zion;'
for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass; signifying that the Lord would give them strength sufficient to such work, and such power their enemies should not be able to resist and overcome; and that they should into their hands, and be crushed, trod, and trampled on by them, and utterly subdued. The allusion is to oxen that have horns and hoofs; and it suggests that they should be as strong as they; have horns like them, that is, power to push down their enemies and hoofs to trample upon them: or as these creatures have a horny substance on their feet, or hoofs, which are strong, and fit for the purposes of treading out corn, for which they were used in the eastern countries, drawing after them iron wheels, or planks stuck with flints; so horses and oxen that have strong feet, and hard hoofs, are said to have feet of brass
"I will make the people in them strong as iron, and their remnant firm as brass;'
which was true of, and accomplished in, Judas Maccabeus and his brethren; and will be more clearly fulfilled in the Christian kings and princes in the latter day, when engaged with the antichristian states;
and thou shalt beat in pieces many people; as the Maccabees did subdue many people and nations, as all Palestine, Moab, Idumea, Samaria, and Iturea, as Josephus
and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth; that is, to Christ, who in the last day will appear to be King and Lord of the whole earth; and all the riches of the antichristian nations, Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan, will be devolved to, and employed in, his interest and service; see Revelation 21:24; these are the words of God the Father, with respect to his Son Jesus Christ; who will now have a dominion, glory, and kingdom given him, by the ancient of days, that so all people, nations, and languages, shall serve him, Daniel 7:14; of which there might be some type and shadow in the times of the Maccabees.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Micah 4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25