Swords into Plowshares (Micah 4:1-5)

Intro: What lies ahead for America? Although we may be able to see trends or project the outcome of certain events, we do not know specifically. There are no specific references to America in the pages of the Bible. As a nation, we are not God’s chosen people or the specific target of His prophecies. But Israel of the O.T. was both. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit the prophets spoke of God’s plans for the future of Israel. These prophecies Peter said, “were not a matter of private interpretation, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1). What a wonderful blessing this was for the people of that generation. Micah 4 & 5 contain some of the most notable prophecies concerning the coming of God’s Kingdom and the future of Israel.

  • Micah 4:1-5: Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. 2 Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. 4 But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. 5 For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God Forever and ever.

note: You may recognize that these are the words of Isaiah, the propeht as well (2:1-4) Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries, and the Lord gave them the same message to reveal.

I. A Prophecy of Hope in a Time of Judgment. Before we investigate the fulfillment of these words (as it applies to the Lord’s church) consider the obvious contrast it provided to the people of Israel. In the midst of a clear message of their coming judgment there is this word of hope. In the previous chapter (3) Micah denounced the injustice and hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders:

  • Mic 3:2 – You who hate good and love evil; v. 5the prophets Who make my people stray; v. 7So the seers shall be ashamed, And the diviners abashed; Indeed they shall all cover their lips; For there is no answer from God.” v. 9-12 – Now hear this, You heads of the house of Jacob And rulers of the house of Israel, Who abhor justice And pervert all equity, 10 Who build up Zion with bloodshed And Jerusalem with iniquity: 11 Her heads judge for a bribe, Her priests teach for pay, And her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest.

A. Against this backdrop of coming calamity and judgment is a picture of restoration and peace. The nation of Israel was going to experience a time of domination by its neighboring nations. How little Israel will appear in the eyes of the nations of the world when this happens! But Micah describes a time to come when the nations of the world will come to Zion (Jerusalem) for instruction on how to live, and they will learn to live in peace. This Zion will be the center of worship and stronghold for all nations as they worship the true God. Micah tells unfaithful Israel that there is coming a time when even the Gentiles will want to know what the Lord says.

B. He goes on to tell them that the Messiah will judge between many peoples and render decisions for other distant nations. (4:3). Those who had lived by violence and war will learn the ways of peace, and live in harmony with each other. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. Can you imagine the impact that this message had in Micah’s day?

1. No more concern about enemy invasions, but peace, security and prosperity… And each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:4) This was a familiar image of peace and security. Micah’s words referenced the previous description of Solomon’s peaceful reign over the nation in 1 Kings 4:24-25For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River from Tiphsah even to Gaza, namely over all the kings on this side of the River; and he had peace on every side all around him. 25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

C. What happened to this beautiful picture? There is no physical evidence of this in our world. Jerusalem is still despised and insignificant. The physical temple in Zion no longer exists. The nations have little interest in what the God of Israel says. There is hostility and conflict all around us.

    • Have the words of God through Micah failed?
    • Has there been or is there yet to be a reality that fulfills these sublime pictures? Are we to expect these prophecies to be fulfilled by a millennial kingdom as the pre-millenialists teach? Or in an earthly paradise yet to be created as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach? Or is there another solution?

II. The Fulfillment of Micah’s Prophecy: Let’s consider the particulars in view of the N.T. teaching. Shortly before His ascension, Jesus gave the apostles a crash course on OT prophecy. “Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:44-47) Now what possible OT passage would have prompted Jesus to make this statement other than the prophecy of Micah 4 (and its parallel in Isaiah 2)? Couched in the language of the old reality, Micah speaks of a new reality—the kingdom or church of Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of Micah’s words would come through the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… and it would begin in Jerusalem (Zion). Let’s connect some dots…

A. “In the latter days” – (variously translated “in the issue of the days,” “at the end of the days, “the last days,”) Hailey says “when used by the prophets, always refers to the time of the Messiah. It points to the end of the Jewish age and the introduction of the new era under the spiritual ruler, the Messiah.” Peter connects the “last days” of Joel’s prophecy to the time of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2:16ff). The write of Hebrews connects it to the time of the last revelation of God’s word through Christ. (Heb. 1:1-2)

B. the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains” This is not describing a literal mountain (although Mt. Moriah would certainly have come to their mind as the mountain of the Lord’s house, or temple). The word mountain has the prophetic connation of power or authority. Daniel 2 depicts the authority of the Messiah’s eternal kingdom as a small stone that becomes and mountain and crushes all other authority. (Dan 2:35, 45)

1. Thus, what is established on top of the mountains is the authority of the Kingdom of Christ, the Messiah. This coincides again with Peter’s words recorded in Acts 2, at the first preaching of the gospel: Acts 2:32-36This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” What was clearly established in the resurrection of Christ was His authority over all other authority (enemies are His footstool). This mountain of the Lord’s house, which began through the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, is not the old Jerusalem, but the new Zion.

C. “And peoples shall flow to it.” – the term peoples (nations in Isaiah) is all inclusive. It looks beyond Israel to all the nations of the world. People from every place will come. Their motivation for coming and urging others to come, is to be taught His ways, and to learn to walk in His paths; for out of Zion (Jerusalem) will go forth the law, and the word“. This prophecy is profound when we contemplate its fulfillment. A few connections:

1. This again corresponds to the events of Acts 2. Peter, and the other apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, made known the gospel message. They proclaimed the words Jesus sent them to proclaim, and thus taught, His ways, His paths, His law, and His word. This was the beginning of the kingdom of the Messiah, and from Jerusalem, the gospel went to all the world. Jesus’ marching orders to the apostles outlines the fulfillment of this prophecy. Acts 1:8you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

D. “He shall judge between many peoples…” (v. 3) What is clear in this new Zion is that the Lord is the arbiter of all things. Those who seek His words will respect His judgments and will look to Him to decide all questions. John 5:26-27 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man… v. 30I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. It is the “words” and “law” that went forth from Jerusalem that produces this arbitration and hope. Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Col 3:17 – And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

E. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks…” instruments of war into tools of agriculture. Again this is not to be seen as literal (men do not fight much with swords and spears anymore), but is a metaphorical description of the nature and character of the kingdom of Christ. I like what Homer Hailey says here as well, The prophet is here describing the nature and character of the kingdom ruled from this spiritual Zion. The kingdom of “the latter days” would not be established, defended, or extended by carnal weapons and means. Force can have no place in a spiritual kingdom. Jesus made this clear when He said, “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). When the nations come to the new Zion to learn of the ways of the Lord, they will learn peace, real peace, not war. “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18)

1. Micah’s promise clearly points to the time of Christ and is now fulfilled in Him, rather than some future time. The N.T. points this out.

a. Heb 12:22-24But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

          • The saints of this day had come to the New Mount Zion, the City of the living God..
          • They had come to the judge of all; to New covenant that its beginning in the apostolic preaching at Jerusalem; and the blood that brought true peace.
          • He goes on to say that the things of the old order were being shaken and removed and the new order remained. These saints were receiving a kingdom that could not be, and has not been, shaken (Heb. 12:28). This was the mountain of the Lord’s house of Micah’s prophecy.
          • Micah did not foresee a future time when God would dominate and control the world by force, or when all the political regimes of the day would live at peace on the earth. What he saw would come through the influence and power of Jesus the Christ. His rulership in the hearts of men would bring peace.

Conclusion: The Israelites of Micah’s day had to marvel at his words. Only God could make such promises and predictions. How could they possibly see a day when they would be able to sit under their own vine and fig tree and be unafraid? Only because “the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (Mic 4:4) Our faith in real peace and security comes from that same spoken word.

  • Matt 11:28-30Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  • Matt 28:18-20And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.