Micah 4:3
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) The name of the Messiah is the Prince of Peace; and we still look into the dim future out of a present life, rife with wars and rumours of wars, for the full realisation of His reign of peace. And we are sure that the time will come, for “the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

They shall beat their swords . . .—See Note on Joel 3:10.

4:1-8 The nations have not yet so submitted to the Prince of Peace, as to beat their swords into ploughshares, nor has war ceased. But very precious promises these are, relating to the gospel church, which will be more and more fulfilled, for He is faithful that has promised. There shall be a glorious church for God set up in the world, in the last days, in the days of the Messiah. Christ himself will build it upon a rock. The Gentiles worshipped their idol gods; but in the period spoken of, the people will cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and delight in doing his will. The word halteth, describes those who walk not according to the Divine word. The collecting the captives from Babylon was an earnest of healing, purifying, and prospering the church; and the reign of Christ shall continue till succeeded by the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Let us stir up each other to attend the ordinances of God, that we may learn his holy ways, and walk in them, receiving the law from his hands, which, being written in our hearts by his Spirit, may show our interest in the Redeemer's righteousness.And He shall judge among many people and rebuke strong nations afar off - Hitherto, they had walked each in their own ways Isaiah 53:6; now, they sought to be taught in the ways of God. Before, they had been lords of the world; now they should own a Judge higher than themselves. They were no common, but mighty nations, such as had heretofore been the oppressors of Israel. They were to be many, and those mighty, nations. He should , "not only command, but "rebuke," not weak or petty nations only, but mighty, and those not only near but afar." Mohammed had moral strength through what he stole from the law and the Gospel, and by his owning Christ as the Word of God. He was a heretic, rather than a pagan. Fearful scourge as he was, and as his successors have been, all is now decayed, and no mighty nation is left upon earth, which does not profess the Name of Christ.

He shall rebuke them - For it was an office of the Holy Ghost "to reprove the world as to its sin, the righteousness of Christ, the judgment of the prince of this world" John 16:8-11. The Gospel conquered the world, not by compromises or concordants, but by convicting it. It alone could "rebuke" with power; for it was, like its Author, all-holy. It could rebuke with efficacy; for it was the word of Him who knew what is in man. It could rebuke with awe; for it knew the secrets of eternal Judgment. It could rebuke winningly; for it knew "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" Ephesians 3:19. Its martyrs suffered and rebuked their judges; and the world was amazed at the impotence of power and the might of suffering. It rebuked the enthroned idolatry of centuries; it set in rebellion by its rebukes every sinful passion of man, and it subdued them. Tyrants, whom no human power could reach, trembled before its censures. Then only is it powerless, if its corrupted or timid or paralyzed ministers forfeit in themselves the power of rebuke.

And they shall beat their spears into plowshares - "All things are made new in Christ." As the inward disquiet of evil men makes them restless, and vents itself toward others in envy, hatred, maliciousness, wrong, so the inward peace whereof He saith, My peace I give unto you, shall, wherever it reacheth, spread out abroad and, by the power of grace, bring to "all nations unity, peace, and concord." All, being brought under the one empire of Christ, shall be in harmony, one with the other. As far as in it lies, the Gospel is a Gospel of peace, and makes peace. Christians, as far as they obey Christ, are at peace, both in themselves and with one another. And this is what is here prophesied. The peace follows from His rule. Where He judges and rebukes, there even the mighty "beat their swords into plowshares." The universal peace, amid which our Lord was born in the flesh, the first which there had been since the foundation of the Roman empire, was, in God's Providence, a fruit of His kingdom.

It was no chance coincidence, since nothing is by chance. God willed that they should be contemporaneous. It was fitting that the world should be still, when its Lord, the Prince of peace, was born in it. That outward cessation of public strife, though but for a brief time, was an image how His peace spread backward as well as forward, and of the peace which through Him, our Peace, was dawning on the world. : "First, according to the letter, before That Child was born to us, "on whose shoulder the government is" Isaiah 1, the whole world was full of blood; people fought against people, kings against kings, nations against nations. Lastly, the Roman state itself was torn by civil wars, in whose battles all kingdoms shed blood. But after that, at the time of the Empire of Christ, Rome gained an undivided empire, the world was laid open to the journeys of Apostles, and the gates of cities were open to them, and, for the preaching of the One God, one single empire was formed.

It may too be understood as an image, that, on receiving the faith of Christ, anger and unrestrained revilings were laid aside, so that each putteth his hand to the plow and looketh not back, and, breaking in pieces the shafts of contumelies, seeketh to reap spiritual fruit, so that, others laboriing, we enter into their labors; and of us it is said, "They shall come with joy, bringing their sheaves" Psalm 126:6. Now no one fighteth; for we read "Blessed are the peacemakers" Matthew 5:9; no one learneth to "strive, to the subverting of the hearers" 2 Timothy 2:14. And every one shall rest under his vine, so as to press out that "Wine which gladdeneth the heart of man" Psalm 104:15, under that "Vine," whereof the "Father is the Husbandman" John 15:1; and under his fig tree, gathering the sweet "fruits of the Holy Spirit love, joy, peace, and the rest" Galatians 5:22.

The fathers had indeed a joy, which we have not, that wars were not between Christians; for although "just wars are lawful," war cannot be on both sides just; very few wars have not, on both sides, what is against the spirit of the Gospel. For, except where there is exceeding wickedness on one side, or peril of further evil, the words of our Lord would hold good, in public as in private, "I say unto you, that ye resist not evil" Matthew 5:39.

This prophecy then is fulfilled:

(1) in the character of the Gospel. Ribera: "The law of the Gospel worketh and preserveth peace. For it plucketh up altogether the roots of all war, avarice, ambition, injustice, wrath. Then, it teacheth to bear injuries, and, so far from requiting them, willeth that we be prepared to receive fresh wrongs. He saith, "If anyone smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also ..." Matthew 5:39-42. "I say unto you, Love your enemies ..." Matthew 5:44-48. For neither did the old law give these counsels, nor did it explain so clearly the precept implied in them, nor had it that wonderful and most efficacious example of the and love of Christ, nor did it supply whereby peace could be preserved; whereas now the first fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness."

(2) The prophecy has been fulfilled within and without, among individuals or bodies of men, in body or mind, in temper or in deed, as far as the Gospel has prevailed. "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one mind" Acts 4:32; one, through One indwelling Spirit; one, though a great multitude, through one bond of love. : "See how these Christians love one another;" "see how ready they are to die for one another," was, in the third century, a pagan proverb as to Christian love. : "They love one another, almost before they know one another." : "Their first lawgiver has persuaded them that they are all brethren." "We (which grieves you,)" the Christian answered , "so love one another, because we know not how to hate. We call ourselves 'brethren' which you take ill, as men who have one Father, God, and are sharers in one faith, in one hope, coheirs."

For centuries too, there was, for the most part, public peace of Christians among themselves. Christian soldiers fought only, as constrained by the civil law, or against Barbarian invaders, to defend life, wife, children, not for ambition, anger, or pride. Christians could then appeal, in fulfillment of the prophecy, to this outward, the fruit of the inward, peace. "We," says an early martyr, , "who formerly stained ourselves with mutual slaughter, not only do not wage war with foes, but even, in order not to lie and deceive those who consume us, willingly professing Christ, meet death." "From the coming of the Lord," says another martyr, . "the New Testament, reconciling unto peace, and a life-giving law, went forth into all lands. If then another law and word, going forth from Jerusalem, produced such peace among the nations which received it, and thereby reproved much people of want of wisdom, then it would follow that the prophets spake of some other. But if the law of liberty, that is, the law of God preached by the Apostles, which went forth out of Jerusalem to all the world, worked such a transformation, that swords and spears of war He wrought into plow-shares and pruning-hooks, instruments of peace, and now men know not how to fight, but, when smitten, yield the other cheek, then the prophets spake of no other, but of Him who brought it to pass." "Even from this," says Tertullian , "you may know that Christ was promised, not as one mighty in war, but as a peace-bringer. Either deny that these things were prophesied, since they are plain to see; or, since they are written, deny that they are fulfilled. But if thou mayest deny neither, thou must own that they are fulfilled in Him, of whom they are prophesied." "Of old" , says Athanasius, "Greeks and Barbarians, being idolaters, warred with one another, and were fierce toward those akin. For through their implacable warfare no one might pass land or sea, unarmed. Their whole life was passed in arms; the sword was to them for staff and stay. They worshiped idols, sacrificed to demons, and yet from their reverence for idols they could gain no help to correct their minds. But when they passed into the school of Christ, then, of a truth, pricked in mind, they wondrously laid aside their savage slaughters, and now think no more of things of war; for now all peace and friendship are alone their mind's delight. who then did this, who blended in peace those who hated one another, save the Beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Christ Jesus, who, through His love, endured all things for our salvation?

For of old too, the peace which should hold sway from Him was prophesied, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares." Nor is this incredible, since now too, the Barbarians with innate savageness, while they yet sacrifice to their idols, are mad with one another, and cannot for one hour part with their swords. But when they have received the teaching of Christ, immediately forever they turn to husbandry; and, in lieu of arming their hands with swords, stretch them out to prayer. And altogether, instead of warring with one another, they arm themselves against the devil and demons, warring against them with modesty and virtue of soul. This is a token of the Godhead of the Saviour. For what men could not learn among idols, this they have learned from Him. Christ's disciples, having no war with one another, array themselves against demons by their life and deeds of virtue, chase them and mock their captain the devil, chaste in youth, enduring in temptation, strong in toils, tranquil when insulted, unconcerned when despoiled."

And yet later, Chrysostom says , "Before the Coming of Christ, all men armed themselves and no one was exempt from this service, and cities fought with cities, and everywhere were men trained to war. But now most of the world is in peace; all engage in mechanical art or agriculture or commerce, and few are employed in military service for all. And of this too the occasion would cease, if we acted as we ought and did not need to be reminded by afflictions." : "After the Sun of righteousness dawned, so far are all cities and nations from living in such perils, that they know not even how to take in hand any affairs of war. - Or if there be still any war, it is far off at the extremity of the Roman Empire, not in each city and country, as heretofore. For then, in any one nation, there were countless seditions and multiform wars. But now the whole earth which the sun surveys from the Tigris to the British isles, and therewith Lybia too and Egypt and Palestine, yea, all beneath the Roman rule, - ye know how all enjoy complete security, and learn of war only by hearsay."

Cyril (on Isaiah 2 and here) and Theodoret (on Isaiah 2 and here) carry on this account into the fifth century after our Lord's Coming. Christians then during those four centuries could point to a present fulfillment of prophecy, when we, for our sins, can only speak of the past Isaiah 59:1-2. The Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save: neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but our iniquities have separated between us, and our God, and our sins have hid His Face from us, that He will not hear. Those first Christians could urge against the Jews the fulfillment of their prophecies herein, where the Jews can now urge upon us their seeming non-fulfillment; : "In the time of King Messiah, after the wars of Gog and Magog, there shall be peace and tranquillity in all the world, and the sons of men shall have no need of weapons, but these promises were not fulfilled."

The prophecy is fulfilled, in that the Gospel is a Gospel of peace and makes peace. Christians, as far as they obey Christ, are at peace both in themselves and with one another. The promises of God are perfect on His part: He is faithful to them. But He so wills to be freely loved by His intelligent creatures whom He formed for His love, that He does not force our free-agency. We can fall short of His promises, if we will. To those only who will it, the Gospel brings peace, stilling the passions, quelling disputes, banishing contentions, removing errors, calming concupiscence, soothing and repressing anger, in individuals, nations, the Church; giving oneness of belief, harmony of soul, contentment with our own, love of others as ourselves; so that whatever is contrary to this has its origin in something which is not of Christ nor of His Gospel.

3. rebuke—convict of sin (Joh 16:8, 9); and subdue with judgments (Ps 2:5, 9; 110:5, 6; Re 2:27; 12:5).

many people … strong nations afar off—In Isa 2:4 it is "the nations … many people."

And he; God, by those governors, high priests, and prophets (taking his word for their rule) set up of God, types and servants of the Messiah, who in due time and in a fuller accomplishment of this prophecy shall by himself, during the days of his dwelling in flesh, and by his Spirit, and word, and officers he hath appointed, unto the end of the world.

Judge; rule persons, determine controversies, appoint ordinances, enlighten minds, convince sinners, and convert them, as Psalm 2:8.

Among many people; as the knowledge of God, and the worship of God, after the restitution of the captivity, was somewhat more extended by the coming in of many proselytes, as is noted Micah 4:1,2, and this as a type prefiguring the largeness of the kingdom of the Messiah or the gospel church, so when Christ set up his visible kingdom, and commissioned his apostles, it was to teach all nations, Matthew 28:18,19.

Rebuke strong nations afar off; by the captive Jews he did convince some of those mighty nations among whom the Jews did live seventy years; and though they were far off from God, his law, his temple, and true worship, he brought them over, they were made proselytes to the true God; so now much more is this fulfilled in the turning the mighty nations, the Roman empire and many other nations, from dumb idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10.

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; all that do heartily embrace the gospel shall be of a peaceable disposition both in their private and public capacities, and shall, as much as in them is, follow peace with all men. They shall gladly see wars cease, and turn their weapons of war and slaughter into instruments of husbandry, Isaiah 2:4.

Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation; those which receive and obey the gospel shall not, unless necessitated to it, enter into a course of war and bloodshed.

Neither shall they learn war any more, to make it the employment of their life for their maintenance, or the chosen way to riches and honour.

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 (o) applied to the days of the Messiah.

(o) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1.

And he shall judge among many people, and {d} rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into {e} pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they {f} learn war any more.

(d) By his corrections and threatenings he will bring the people into subjection who are in the utmost corners of the world.

(e) They will abstain from all evil doing, and exercise themselves in godliness and in well doing to others.

(f) Read Isa 2:4

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. among many people] Rather, between many peoples.

rebuke] Rather, be umpire for. How remarkable, the constant reiteration in the prophets of the ultimate extinction of war, to which this passage adds the substitution of arbitration!

they shall beat their swords …] In Joel 3:10 we have the same image reversed. Comp. also Micah 5:9, Hosea 2:18, Zechariah 9:10.

Verse 3. - The effect of this reception of true religion shall be universal peace. He shall judge among many people; or better, between many peoples. The Lord shall be the Arbiter to whom all disputes shall be referred, as in the next clause. When his reign is acknowledged and his Law obeyed, all war and all causes of war shall cease. The gospel is a gospel of peace and love, and when "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ" (Revelation 11:15), peace and love shall everywhere abound. (For the phrase in the text, comp. Judges 11:27; 1 Samuel 24:12, 15.) Rebuke strong nations afar off. The word rendered '"rebuke" means here "decide concerning," "act as umpire for." The arbitration of the sword shall no more be resorted to. The words "afar off" are omitted in the similar passage of Isaiah. Beat their swords into ploughshares; i.e. they shall practise the arts of peace instead of war. Literally, the short broad sword of the Israelites might readily be converted into a share, and the spear forged into a pruning hook (comp. Hosea 2:18; Zechariah 9:10). Martial has an epigram entitled, "Falx ex ense" (14:34) -

"Pax me certa ducis placidos curvavit in usus:
Agricolae nunc sum, militis ante fui."
The reverse process is seen in Joel 3:10, where ploughshares are beaten into swords. Thus Virgil, 'Georg.,' 1:508 -

"El curvae rigidum falces conflantur in ensem."

(Comp. Ovid, 'Fast.,' 1:699, etc.) Micah 4:3The promise of salvation opens, in closest connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, with a picture of the glory awaiting in the remotest future the temple mountain, which has now become a wild forest-height. Micah 4:1. "And it comes to pass at the end of the days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house will be established on the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and nations stream to it. Micah 4:2. And many nations go, and say, Up, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us of His ways, and we may walk in His paths: for from Zion will law go forth, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Micah 4:3. And He will judge between many nations, and pronounce sentence on strong nations afar off; and they forge their swords into coulters, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war any more. Micah 4:4. And they will sit, every one under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and no one will make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it."

(Note: This promise is placed by Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2-4) at the head of his prophecy of Zion's way through judgment from the false glory to the true. The originality of the passage in Micah is open to no question. Delitzsch acknowledges this, and has given the principal arguments in its favour in the Commentary on Isaiah. For still more elaborate proofs, see Caspari's Micha, pp. 444-5.)

By the phrase "at the end of the days," which always denotes the Messianic era when used by the prophets (see at Hosea 3:5), the predicted exaltation of the temple mountain is assigned to the period of the completion of the kingdom of God. The mountain of the house of Jehovah is the temple mountain, strictly speaking, Moriah, as the distinction made between the mountain of the house and Zion in Micah 3:12 clearly shows; but as a subordinate peak of Zion, it is embraced along with Zion in what follows (compare Micah 4:2 with Micah 4:7) as the seat of Jehovah's rule, from which the law proceeds. נכון does not mean placed or set up, but established, founded. By connecting the participle with יהיה, the founding is designated as a permanent one. בּראשׁ ההרים, upon (not at) the top of the mountains, as in Judges 9:7; 1 Samuel 26:13; Psalm 72:16; whereas such passages as Micah 2:13; Amos 6:7, and 1 Kings 21:9 are of a different character, and have no bearing upon the point. The temple mountain, or Zion, will be so exalted above all the mountains and hills, that it will appear to be founded upon the top of the mountains. This exaltation is of course not a physical one, as Hofmann, Drechsler, and several of the Rabbins suppose, but a spiritual (ethical) elevation above all the mountains. This is obvious from Micah 4:2, according to which Zion will tower above all the mountains, because the law of the Lord issues from it. The assumption of a physical elevation cannot be established from Ezekiel 40:2 and Revelation 21:10, for in the visions described in both these passages the earthly elevation is a symbol of a spiritual one. "Through a new revelation of the Lord, which is made upon it, and which leaves the older revelations far behind, whether made upon Sinai or upon itself, Zion becomes the greatest and loftiest mountain in the world" (Caspari), and the mountain seen from afar, to which "nations" stream, and not merely the one nation of Israel.

עמּים is more precisely defined in Micah 4:2 as גּוים רבּים. The attractive power which this mountain exerts upon the nations, so that they call upon one another to go up to it (Micah 4:2), does not reside in its height, which towers above that of all other mountains, but in the fact that the house of the God of Jacob stands upon it, i.e., that Jehovah is enthroned there, and teacher how to walk in His ways. הורה מן, to teach out of the ways, so that the ways of God form the material from which they derive continual instruction. The desire for salvation, therefore, is the motive which prompts them to this pilgrimage; for they desire instruction in the ways of the Lord, that they may walk in them. The ways of Jehovah are the ways which God takes in His dealing with men, and by which men are led by Him; in reality, therefore, the ordinances of salvation which He has revealed in His word, the knowledge and observance of which secure life and blessedness. The words "for the law goes forth from Zion," etc., are words spoken not by the nations, but by the prophet, and assign the reason why the heathen go with such zeal to the mountain of Jehovah. The accent is laid upon מצּיון (from Zion), which stands at the head, and מירוּשׁלם (from Jerusalem), which is parallel to it. Thence does tōrâh, i.e., instruction in the ways of God, proceed, - in other words, the law as the rule of a godly life, and debhar Yehōvâh (the word of Jehovah), or the word of revelation as the source of salvation. It is evident from this that the mountain of the house of God is not thought of here as the place of worship, but as the scene of divine revelation, the centre of the kingdom of God. Zion is the source of the law and word of the Lord, from which the nations draw instruction how to walk in the ways of God, to make it their own, take it to their homes, and walk according to it. The fruit of this adoption of the word of the Lord will be, that they will not longer fight out their disputes with weapons of war, but let Jehovah judge and settle them, and thus acknowledge Him as their King and Judge. שׁפם signifies to act as judge; הוכיה (lit., to set right), to settle and put a stop to a dispute. "Many nations," in contrast with the one nation, which formerly was alone in acknowledge Jehovah as its King and Judge. This is strengthened still further by the parallel "strong, mighty nations afar off." In consequence of this they will turn their weapons into instruments of peaceful agriculture, and wage no more war; in fact, they will learn war no more, no longer exercise themselves in the use of arms. For the words וכתּתוּ וגו compare Joel 3:10, where the summons to the nations to a decisive conflict with the kingdom of God is described as turning the instruments of agriculture into weapons of war. With the cessation of war, universal peace will ensue, and Israel will have no further enemies to fear, so that every one will have undisturbed enjoyment of the blessings of peace, of which Israel had had a foretaste during the peaceful reign of Solomon. The words "sit under his vine" are taken from 1 Kings 5:5 (cf. Zechariah 3:10), and אין מחריד from the promise in Leviticus 26:6. All this, however incredible it might appear, not only for the Israel of that time, but even now under the Christian dispensation, will assuredly take place, for the mouth of Jehovah the true God has spoken it.

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