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Peace on Earth at Last

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Micah 3–7

Micah reminds us that biblical prophecy is not designed to entertain or fascinate us. It is given to glorify the God of prophecy, alert us to the truly important things in life, and move us to greater faithfulness in serving Him.


Peace on Earth at Last

Micah 3–7


Without a doubt, our lives are impacted and even shaped to some degree by our past. The decisions our parents made determined where we would grow up and go to school and whether or not we heard the gospel as a child.

Recently, I was rummaging through a box of memorabilia my mother had stored in the attic for decades. It included my report cards from elementary school. Even in the first grade my teacher had written, “Stephen probably will need extra help in math.” She could not have been more correct about that. It struck me, though, because I remembered that teacher and the quiet influence she had in my life as a child.

The Bible records so much history because the past can instruct us and encourage us today. But another unique emphasis of Scripture is that we should live our lives in light of the future. The future judgment, the return of Christ, and the completion of God’s eternal plan are revealed in Scripture to mold us and motivate us to walk with God.

This is part of Micah’s prophetic mission. In this little book of prophecy, he preaches three sermons to the divided nation—Israel and Judah. The first sermon, in chapters 1 and 2, dealt with the sins of Israel and Judah and the judgment that is coming as a result. The next two sermons will follow the same pattern.

In chapter 3, Micah begins delivering his second discourse, as verse 1 begins, “Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel!”

Micah then returns to the theme of judgment. First, God’s judgment is coming upon Judah’s leaders. The Lord asks here in verse 1, “Is it not for you to know justice?” They knew better than to be corrupt and unjust leaders. But verse 2 describes them as those who “hate the good and love the evil.” They turned everything upside down in order to pervert the truth and take advantage of people. So, God tells them judgment is coming. It is coming in the form of the Babylonian army.

Having warned these corrupt leaders, the Lord now condemns the false prophets. He says in verse 5, “[They] lead my people astray” by promising peace.

Micah concludes the chapter by summing up the corruption of his culture:

Its [leaders] give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.” Therefore . . . Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins. (verses 11-12)

Chapter 4 then moves immediately to the “latter days” and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. In spite of the nation’s disobedient history, the Lord promises He will never abandon them.

This chapter describes the conditions of the millennial kingdom of Christ, after Jesus returns to earth to set up His kingdom, with Jerusalem as His international headquarters. Verse 1 tells us the temple will be rebuilt and at the center of His kingdom. Then look at verse 3:

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.

By the way, this verse, which matches exactly Isaiah 2:4, is carved into the plaza just across the street from the United Nations General Assembly building. The purpose of the United Nations is to keep war from breaking out; and like every attempt of man to create peace, it has failed time and time again.

But this monument in a public park across the street from the United Nations, meant to highlight the work of that peacemaking body with this biblical verse, omits the surrounding verses, which reveal what will make world peace possible one day. For example, look at verse 7: “The Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion”—that is, Jerusalem. There will be no peace on earth, until the Prince of Peace reigns on His kingdom throne one day.

Now in chapter 5 is a remarkable prophecy about this coming King, given 700 years before Jesus was born. Listen to verse 2:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

The King is going to be born in Bethlehem, just a few miles from Jerusalem.

The chief priests and scribes at the time of Jesus’ birth knew this prophecy well and expected their Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. But they ignored the news when it happened.

Because of their rejection of Him, Micah also prophecies in verse 3 that the Messiah will “give them up” for a time. But eventually, Israel will be regathered and restored as a nation and converted to their Messiah who will return one day. Micah says, “He shall stand and shepherd his flock . . . and he shall be their peace” (verses 4-5).

Israel’s enemies and all idolatry will be destroyed when Christ returns (verses 12-14). What a kingdom that is going to be, when peace on earth finally arrives in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

The final sermon in Micah begins in verse 1 of chapter 6 with “Hear what the Lord says.” And once again, Micah condemns the people’s sin and speaks of coming judgment.

The people respond in verse 7 by asking what kind of sacrifice they can bring to appease God. They think they can stall God’s judgment with a little religious activity.

Micah answers in verse 8:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The problem is, nobody in Judah is interested in walking humbly with God. A little religion maybe—burning a few candles, saying a few prayers—is fine, but honest, genuine repentance for their sin is something they are not interested in, much like so many people today.

Micah describes his generation with these tragic words in chapter 7: “The godly has perished from the earth and there is no one upright among mankind” (verse 2).

You cannot trust anybody in Judah—not neighbors or friends (verse 5), not even family members (verse 6). Everyone is out for himself.

You might be wondering, then, how a believer lives for God in this kind of culture. Well, Micah gives us the answer in verse 7: “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”

With that advice, Micah wraps up his book of prophecy by pointing ahead to that future kingdom when he says people will come “from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain” to Jerusalem to worship the Lord (verse 12). Once again, Micah turns his listeners’ attention to that great future hope and that coming day when all who believe in Christ as their Messiah will enter the kingdom and live with Him.

That is our hope too, and on what is that hope based? Micah gives us the answer as he records a thanksgiving prayer of the redeemed. Let me combine a couple of Bible versions to give you my rendering of verses 18 and 19:

Who is a God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, passing over transgressions of His people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. . . . You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the sea.

How can we have this sure hope for the future? Because God has forgiven all of our past!

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