a survey of the third and closing discourse of the prophet
We shall now, in conclusion, give a survey of the third and closing discourse of the prophet. After an introduction in vi.1, 2, where the mountains serve only to give greater solemnity to the scene (in the fundamental passages Deut. xxxii.1, and in Is.1, 2, "heaven and earth" are mentioned for the same purposes, inasmuch as they are the most venerable parts of creation; "contend with the mountains" by taking them in and applying to [Pg 522] them as hearers), the prophet reminds the people of the benefits which they have repaid with ingratitude, vers.3-5. (In ver.5 those facts also which served as a proof of its truth, are considered as part of Balaam's answer.) He then, in vers.6-8, shows the fallacy of the imagination that they could satisfy the Lord by the observance of the mere outward forms of worship, though such should be increased to the utmost, and performed in a manner totally different from that in which it was in the present, and points out the spiritual demands already made even by the law, and especially by Deut. x.12, a compliance with which could alone be pleasing to the Lord. From vi.9-vii.6, he shows to how limited an extent these demands are complied with by the people, -- how true and cordial piety and justice have disappeared from the midst of them, -- and how, therefore, the threatenings of the law must, and shall be fulfilled upon them. The reproof and threatening are then followed by the announcement of salvation, which refers indeed to the Messianic times, but without any mention in it of the person of the Messiah, the brightness of which meets us only in the main body of the prophecy. The main thought here also is the entirely altered position of Israel in their relation to the heathen world. "A day is coming" -- so it is said in ver.11 -- "to build thy walls; in that day shall the law be far removed." [Hebrew: gdr] is used especially of the walls and fences of vineyards; and under the image of a vineyard, Israel appears as early as in the Song of Solomon. The wall around the vineyard of Israel is the protection against the heathen world; Is. v.5. The "law" is, according to the context, in which the heathen oppressors are spoken of, that which is imposed by them upon the people of God; Ps. xciv.20. Ver.12. "A day it is when they shall come to thee from Asshur, and from the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the river, and to sea from sea, and to mountain from mountain." It is not enough that the people of God are freed from the servitude of the world. They shall become the objects of the longing of the nations, even the most powerful and hostile. They become the magnet which attracts them; compare iv.1, 2. From among the heathen nations Asshur and Egypt are first specially mentioned, as the two principal representatives of hostility against the kingdom of God in the present and past, and, at the same time, as the two most powerful empires at the time of the prophet [Pg 523] -- the latter quality being indicated by the circumstance of Egypt's appearing under the name [Hebrew: mcvr], "fortress." But then, by the expressions "from sea to sea," "from mountain to mountain," which are equivalent to "from every sea to every sea," etc., all barriers in general are completely removed; compare in v.3 (4) the words: "He shall be great unto the ends of the earth." (The subject in [Hebrew: ibva] can only be the inhabitants of these countries themselves, not the Jews living there. If the latter had been intended, a more distinct indication of it would have been required. The Masculine Suffix [Hebrew: ediK] "to thee," i.e., not to Zion but to Israel, is opposed to such a reference. This shows clearly that they who come are different from Israel. In entire harmony with this prophecy is Is. xix.18-25.) But, before such glory can be bestowed upon the people of God, the irrevocable judgment must first have done its fearful work, ver.13; compare the fundamental passage Lev. xxvi.33, and Is. i.7. In ver.14 the announcement of salvation takes a new start. Vers.18-20 form the sublime close, not only of the last discourse, but also of the whole book, as is clearly indicated by the coincidence of the words, "Who is, O God, like unto Thee?" ver.18, with the mention of Micah's name in the inscription. The name of the prophet, by which he is dedicated to the incomparable God, has been confirmed by the contents of his prophecy. The New Testament parallel passage is Rom. xi.33-36: "Who is, O God, like unto Thee; pardoning iniquity, and remitting transgression to the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy." "Who is, O God, like unto Thee?" so the people once already sang after the redemption from Egypt. Thus it resounds still more loudly in the view of the antitypal redemption, by which the fundamental definition of the divine nature in Exod. xxxiv.6, 7, and David's praise of divine mercy in Ps. ciii., are fully realized. "He will return and have compassion upon us (according to the promise in Deut. xxx.3), will overcome our iniquities (which, like a cruel tyrant, like Pharaoh of old, subjected us to their power, Ps. xix.14), and cast all their sins into the depth of the sea," as once He cast the proud Egyptians, Exod. xv.5-10. "Thou wilt give truth to Jacob, and mercy to Abraham, as Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old."

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the quotation in matt ii
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