The timing of prophecy
Note the statements of time in chapters 3 and 4.
The last days: The vision we have just described is for the last of the days (Micah 4:1). Notice the distinction between the phrase last of the days and the New Testament use of the phrase last days. The phrase last days refers to the entire period of time of the rejection of Christ until His coming in glory. However, when Micah is speaking of the last of the days, he is focusing on the events of the last of the last days - the final act in Gods providential dealings with this world, when His Son shall be reigning supreme.
In that day (v 6): This is quite simply a further elaboration of the last of the days described above. This shall be when the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion (Micah 4:7). Notice a further description of this time.
From henceforth even forever (Micah 4:7).
Literally in Hebrew this means, from NOW (Heb= atah) and to ETERNITY (Heb = olam). From Micah 4:7 down to Micah 5:5 we have this word Atah used several times. A study of this word indicates that it describes a period of time from the Babylonish captivity to the millennial reign of Christ. On each occasion it is used to pick out key landmark events in the long sad history of Israels estrangement from God. This is because Micah is providing vital words of encouragement for remnant believers during particularly trying crises within that long barren NOW period.
Key occurrences of the word Now
Now what dost thou cry aloud, is there no king in thee.?
Micah is considering the commencement of the now period with the carrying into captivity of Judah. Micah envisages a time when the nation would be without king and counselor. However, to Micah it is revealed that this situation shall come to an end after a time of travail. This is consistent with the prophecies of Revelation 12 where Israel is presented throughout the centuries as a woman in travail. Also note Isaiahs words in Is 26:17: Like as a woman with child draweth near the time of her delivery is in pain and crieth out in her pangs so have we been in Thy sight O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Zions travails, according to Micah, began in Babylon and will continue until the tribulation when, as Isaiah tells us, the barren one brings forth children (Isaiah 54:1), when the Jewish remnant of the tribulation is saved. These individuals are referred to in Revelation 12:17 as the remnant of her (the woman of Johns vision i.e. Israel) seed, i.e. the final results of Israels travail. It is worth noting that the travailing woman in Rev 12 brought forth a Man-Child long before the remnant of her seed - but in relation to the birth of the Man-Child, no mention is made of travail (Rev 12:4, 5). Micah 4:10 is looking at the early events of this now period, and considering it as a time of travail. Yet even here there are words of comfort to the faithful in Israel, where the faithfulness of God in preserving a remnant through the centuries is assured. Moreover, Micah was clearly told that the Babylonish captivity would come to an end. There thou shalt be delivered. There the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. Do not confuse the word delivered here with the deliverance of children in a time of travail i.e. childbirth! The word to deliver used in verse 10 is to do with the deliverance of captives, which happened in the reign of King Cyrus when a remnant returned from Babylon. This prospect must surely have been a great comfort to godly Jewish captives such as Daniel, who understood from books that the captivity was of a limited duration. No doubt included in Daniels books were Isaiah (Is 45:1), Micah, and Jeremiah (Jer 25:11).
"Now also many nations are gathered against thee that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion" (Micah 4:11).
Sadly, the deliverance from Babylon in the time of Cyrus would not bring to an end the travails of the nation or this now period! In Micah 4:11-13, the prophet is considering the final stages of the now period. In this section he is looking at how this will affect the ungodly nations. In verse 11, the prophet envisages a time when Israel would be surrounded by nations who expressly desire to defile Zion. This is a more serious threat than merely carrying the nation into captivity and destroying the temple. There is a hint here of ceremonially defiling the temple in Zion itself. Historically such an attempt was made by Antiochus Epiphanes and the struggle of the Maccabees with this prototype of the Beast of Rev 13 ended in the victory of the Jewish fighters over that evil heathen general (Daniel 11:30-32). However, the language in Micah 4:11-13 suggests a much more global assault on the nation of Israel and temple worship. Notice how Micah speaks of many nations being involved. It seems as if these nations have had their way as they gloat over their prey. Nevertheless, to Micah is given the final outcome of this international conspiracy. The remnant daughter of Zion shall arise and shall fight against this international corrupt system of worship installed in Mount Zion. The result of this final battle will be that they again will be devoted to the Lord of the whole earth, the rightful King. These events are clearly future in the end of the coming tribulation period. The inclusion of this small prophesy here is to encourage the godly Jews in Micahs day, and more specially in a coming day of great tribulation, that the Satanically empowered worship of the beast and his image on Mount Zion will be overthrown as the Lord returns to reign.
"Now gather thyself in troops O daughter of troops: he has laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek."
There are some who hold that the phrase, gather thyself in troops O daughter of troops: he has laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek, refers to the sieges of Jerusalem in either the time of Hezekiah or Zedekiah. They point to the resultant promise of the One born in Bethlehem as the divine promise that despite the captivity, the Messianic promise would be fulfilled. On the surface, this seems to be a very reasonable and safe interpretation. However, when we explore the meaning of the Hebrew phrase gather thyself in troops, some surprising facts emerge. This activity of gathering in troops is expressly forbidden in the law. It describes the idolatrous activity of heathen people trying to arouse the compassion of their false gods through self mutilating rituals. For example, in Deuteronomy 14:1 we read ye shall not cut yourselves nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. We get the same word used to describe the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel cutting themselves with stones in an attempt to get Baal to answer them (1 Kings 18:28). Micah is most certainly NOT recommending such activity! On the contrary he envisages a siege of Jerusalem when the city will be encompassed by armies and will be called upon to worship an idol for help, as foreshadowed by the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. This is a further elaboration of the heathen plot of temple desecration alluded to in Micah 4:11, especially as it affects Israel in that coming day. For all who refuse to worship this monstrosity, fierce persecution is assured. Many in Israel will succumb to the pressure. The Lords words will be fulfilled: Another will come in his own name and him they will receive. Micah must have wondered how such a dreadful circumstance would come about. Why such idolatry and such despair? Why would the nation be gathering itself in troops (heathen worship) under the threat of siege and persecution? The ensuing verses supply the explanation. In verse 3, the Lord has told Micah Therefore will He give them up. So that was why Israel had ended up in such a pitiful condition. But why would Jehovah give them up to such idolatry? Clearly the majority of the nation had fallen into irrecoverable apostasy. Watch as Micah unfolds the history of Israels tragic mistake.
To be continued.