As we continue our study of Micah chapter 4, we will examine the promise of Israel’s future restoration. Micah wrote, “As for you, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come—even the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem” (Mic 4:8). The tower of the flock symbolizes Mount Zion, the place where God will restore Israel from exile. Israel’s former dominion, which points to the reigns of David and Solomon, called here “the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem,” will return at that time.
God’s clear promise of Israel’s restoration is in view here, and only by openly spiritualizing the meaning of “the daughter of Jerusalem” to mean the church can one depart from the true literal meaning. When Micah refers to the restoration of the former glory of the kingdom, he predicts the re-establishment of the Davidic kingdom under Jesus—Yeshua.
In Micah 4:9, the prophet, speaking for the Lord, says to those Israelites who would go into captivity: “Now, why do you cry out loudly? Is there no king among you, or has your counselor perished, that agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth?” Micah is prophesying about the future Israel, who would be in exile and without a king. This prophecy includes both the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. The loss of Israel’s king represents the loss of God’s blessing and grace upon the people.
The picture Micah presents is that the Israelites would be leaving Jerusalem in a painful way, similar to a woman in labor. They will have to “dwell in the field” (v. 10) temporarily until they arrive in Babylon, but the Lord will eventually rescue and redeem them from Babylon. He would deliver them from captivity and return them to their homeland. This particular prophecy is one of the earliest references to the Babylonian captivity in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Prediction of captivity in Babylon was not obvious in Micah’s day, around 735 bce, because during that time, Assyria was the great threat to the Israelites. The Babylonian captivity would come more than a century later. In Micah’s day, Babylon was part of the Assyrian Empire. Babylon represented spiritual darkness, a place riddled with horrific idolatry, and from this dark place God would ultimately redeem Israel.
As seemingly in every generation, Micah 4:11 reads, “And now many nations have been assembled against you who say, ‘Let her be polluted, and let our eyes gloat over Zion.’” The expectation is God would punish Israel for her disobedience, and therefore her enemies would gloat over her plight. However, verse 12 tells us that her foes do not understand God’s purposes for Israel or for themselves. The nations who are against Israel fail to see He would gather them in a way similar to a farmer gathering sheaves of grain on a threshing floor in preparation for judgment.
I agree with those who believe that, in verses 11 and 12, Micah has a different siege in mind from that of verse nine. Micah is likely thinking of the last great attack of the nations of the world against Israel. Those events appear in Zechariah chapters 12 and 14, Ezekiel 38 and 39, and other prophetic portions of the Hebrew Scriptures.
In the last verse of chapter 4, Micah tells us that, in the future, Israel would be the Lord’s instrument to thresh the nations. This prophecy is a picture of God’s judgment upon those nations who will come against Israel. God will strengthen Israel to overcome her enemies and pulverize them. Finally, Israel will devote the nations’ “unjust gain” (v. 13) to the Lord, who ultimately subjects the nations to Himself. Clearly, Israel has not yet done this, so the fulfillment of this prophecy remains in the future, when Jesus the Messiah will return to reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:1–9).