The Mountain of the Lord

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 18 Feb 2010.


“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 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” (Micah 4:1-3).

The book of Micah contains three sermons  (Mic 1-2; 3-5; 6-7) on the theme of the justice and holiness of God. Each of these sermons begin with a call to hear:

·   Mic 1:2— “Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is…”

·   Mic 3:1—“Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel…”

·   Mic 6:1—“Hear ye now what the LORD saith…”

Each of these sermons has two parts. The first part is mostly condemnatory. The second part contains a message of hope in the form of prophecy or promise.

So really, we would be, as it were, spoilt for choice, if we have to pick just one promise to represent the book. In this book, for example, are the famous promises that Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2); and that God will cast our sin into the depth of the sea (Mic 7:19).

However, after some considerations, I thought it best for us to consider the comforting promise that begins the words of hope in Micah’s second sermon.

Micah’s second sermon is from chapter 3 to 5. In the first part of this sermon, Micah condemns the leaders of the God’s people for lawlessness, men-pleasing and hypocrisy. Leaders who lead the people astray are like cannibals eating the people says Micah.

That first part of the sermon paints a very bleak picture of the church in Micah’s days. What could be worst than having cannibals for leaders?

And the days ahead looked very bleak. As a prophet of God, Micah was like a watchman standing on watchtower, looking towards the horizon to see what was coming on.

What did Micah see? He saw what God allowed him to see. He saw judgement in the immediate future. He saw the destruction of Samaria 722 BC. He saw the destruction of the cities in Judah around the same time. He saw the razing of Jerusalem in 586 BC. He saw that all these were because of the sin of the princes, the priests and the people. The future looked very bleak.

But wait! That was not all that Micah saw. As he lifted up his eyes far beyond 586 BC, he caught sight of beautiful scene.

This scene is hard to describe because it is faraway and indistinct to Micah.

Have you ever been on top of a mountain? Can you see clearly what is a great distance away? Even if you can see clearly, it will be difficult for you to distinguish what is nearer and what is further away. A great distance away, everything becomes a blur. The things that are spread out over a few kilometres may appear to close to one another. Two cities which are a few kilometres apart may appear to merge into one city from a distance.

This was the case with Micah’s vision. What was going to happen in the immediate future was quite clear. But what was going to happen in the distant future was quite indistinct.

Micah was looking into the future. It was a glorious vision. He describes it for us in chapters 4 and 5.

The things that he sees would happen in the last days (Mic 4:1). The last days are the days between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in the last days. Micah was seeing the events in the last days. But do not expect him to tell us step by step what would happen.

We do not know how long the last days will last. It has already lasted 2,000 years. But Micah saw the whole period of the last days in one vision of 3 parts. In this study we shall only have time to look at the first part of his vision. What did Micah see? He saw 3 things:

·   First, he saw a mountain exalted (v. 1);

·   Secondly, he saw people flowing to the mountain (v. 2); and

·   Thirdly, he saw the peace and comfort of the people who lived under the shadow of the mountain (v. 3-5)


1. The Mountain Exalted

1But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills;…

What is this mountain? Jerusalem is built upon a mount, known as Mount Zion. This mount has two peaks one on the east and one on the west. The eastern peak is known as Mount Moriah. The temple was built on Mount Moriah (2 Chr 3:1). But as Mount Moriah is part of Mount Zion, the temple is also seen as being built upon Mount Zion.

Was Micah referring to this literal mount on which the temple of the LORD was built? No, no; that mount has not risen in height. It is still in Jerusalem burdened under two huge mosques (The Dome of the Rock and the al-Masjid al-Aqsa).

In the vision of Micah, the “mountain of the house of the LORD” rose above the other mountains. It stood out from the rest of the mountains. This is not the case with the literal mount where the temple was located and the two mosques now sit.

No, no, Mount Zion on which the temple of the LORD sat during Old Testament days was but a shadow of a New Testament reality. ‘The mountain of the house of the LORD,’ that Micah saw in his vision was the reality, not the shadows. What Micah saw was essentially the Church!

In the New Testament, Mount Zion and the Temple of the LORD all point to the church. The writer of Hebrews seeking to encourage the Jewish converts in the first century told them:

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Heb 12:22).

Micah was looking at this spiritual Zion and Spiritual Jerusalem. Spiritual Zion and Spiritual Jerusalem is the Church. The House of God upon the mount is a picture of the Church.

The apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that the Church as a whole is the temple of God with Christ as the “chief corner stone” (Eph 2:20).

So Peter says:

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:5; cf 1 Cor 3:16-17).

It is clear isn’t it, that Micah must have been referring to the exaltation of the Church of Christ in the last days. There is no reason whatsoever for us to believe the false interpretation that a literal temple will be rebuilt.

There are many people who believe that. So they are looking forward to the day when the two mosques would be destroyed and the temple rebuilt.

But to hold to that view would be to deny the teaching of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The temple of stone and mortar is no more. The temple was a photo of the Church for the church underage. The Church has matured. The photo has no more use.

But what is the meaning of the Mountain of the House of the LORD rising above the other mountains?

Well, this simply means that the church of Christ would rise in prominence. It would rise in prominence in the world, unlike during Old Testament days. During Old Testament Days, the people of God were often mocked.

They were mocked not only by the people in the surrounding nations. They were ridiculed also by the Assyrians and the Babylonians who came to conquer them. But in the last days, the Church would be established in the world. She would not just be in Palestine. She would be in the world. Her members would be found in every nation.

The church would be well-known and respected. The world will hate the church because it hates Christ. But the world can no longer ignore the church. Though the number of true believers may be small, yet the church is the body that has had the greatest positive influence in the world throughout history.

Pause for a moment to think: Which kingdom, body or movement in the world has most greatly shaped the contours of human history for good? Is it Hinduism? Is it Buddhism? Is it Islam? Is it the United Nations? Is it the scientific world?

Think again. There is absolutely no doubt that the church and Christians had the greatest contribution on the positive advancements of the modern world.

Think of the areas of education, medicine, science, social development, art… today many secular people are taking the lead in these areas. But the footprint and fingerprint of the church cannot be erased. The kingdom of Christ has been shining more brightly than any of the kingdoms, bodies or movement in the world ever did. It is a city on a hill, which cannot be hid (Mt 5:14). It has risen above all the mountains in the world.

But more importantly, in the last days, the church would draw many unto herself. For Micah also saw…


2. The People Flowing into the Mountain of the Lord

1b …and people shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The church would be like a magnet drawing people from all nations, tribes and tongues. Christ has His sheep in all nations, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

And Christ himself says:

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (Jn 10:16).

The sheep of Christ are the elect in Him. These will be drawn to the Church by the providential power of God, and they would be drawn to Christ irresistibly by His Spirit.

Thousands were drawn into the church and therefore unto Christ in the first few months after Christ poured out His Spirit. And hundred of thousands have continued to flock into the church for the last two millennium.

These are attracted to the church. Why would they be attracted to the church? Not for the glamour. Not for the fellowship. Not only to worship the Lord, But to be instructed in the way of the LORD.

2b Come, [they say] and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths…

The Lord Jesus himself is “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him]” (Jn 14:6). He is the way because He laid down His life for His sheep. But our Lord would also teaches his sheep which way they should walk in order that they may please their heavenly Father.

How would our Lord teach his sheep? He would teach them by giving them His Spirit to change their heart and to illuminate their minds so that they may receive the Word of Truth (1Jn 2:27). But He would also teach them by appointing undershepherds to feed the flock. This is the reason why he appoints ministers and elders. Ministers and elders are Christ’s undershepherds. They must feed the flock. If they fail in their duty, God will require the blood of the sheep upon their heads.

The church must instruct and guide the flock of Christ on the truth. This is why the apostle Paul calls the church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

This same truth is reflected in the words of Micah (last part of verse 2):

 …for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The church must instruct, or she is not doing what Christ appointed her to do. Preachers are not called to motivate by exciting the passions. Preachers ought to persuade and ought to denounce the sin of the people. But they ought to do so only as the herald of Christ, preaching what the word of God teaches. In other words, they must instruct the people with the Word of God.

Thank God that in these last days, more than ever before in the history of the Church from the days of Adam, God’s Word is being preach and Christ’s sheep and lambs are being fed. Christ’s sheep and lambs that are sincerely hungering and thirsting after God’s Word need not starve. There are sound churches they can attend if they are sincerely seeking. And if all else fails there are today books and sermon audio!

But what is the result of being instructed in the Word of God? One of the most important results is peace and comfort in Christ!


3. The Peace Enjoyed by the People

 3 And he [i.e. the LORD] 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.

What does this mean? Some think that this means that there will in future be one thousand years when Christ will rule from Jerusalem and there will be peace on earth. But no, this cannot be, for look at verse 5—

5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.

This does not seem to be a Millennium of peace with Christ ruling from Jerusalem. Will Christ tolerate false religion while He is ruling over the world directly with a rod of iron?

Moreover, Micah speaks about the people of God walking in the name of the LORD forever and ever. There will be peace forever and ever. Micah is not speaking about a peace that last 1,000 years, which will be ended by a massive rebellion against the rule of Christ!

No, no; Micah is speaking about spiritual realities. He is speaking about what would go on in the lives of God’s people through the power of the Gospel. These are things that would begin to happen in the lives of God’s people while they are on earth, but will be perfected when they are in heaven.

Micah’s vision, we must remember, does not only span history, but span heaven and earth. That is Micah is not only seeing what was future upon the earth, but also what would happen in heaven. The church of Christ, after all comprise not only of believers on this earth, but just man made perfect.

In Hebrews 12:22, the apostle to the Hebrews is speaking to the Jewish converts about their new citizenship in the kingdom of Christ. Notice how he puts it:

22 But ye are [or have] come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…” (Heb 12:22-23)

Notice how mount Zion includes saints not yet perfected and saints already perfected.

This must be what Micah is seeing. He is seeing the church as a whole. Think of the church as a mountain.

The top of the mountain is above the clouds. The base of the mountain is under the clouds. But the mountain as a whole is rising. It is rising above the clouds.

Micah is seeing what happens at the top of the mountain that has broken the cloud cover. But he is also seeing that what is happening to the part of the mountain which remains under the cloud.

He is seeing how the church is perfected in heaven. But he is also seeing how the church is advancing in grace while on earth. He is seeing how people are drawn to the church and lives are changed through the preaching of the Gospel.

The Gospel would be preached in all the world. Where the Gospel is preached, then Christ judges among the people. “[the LORD] shall judge among many people” (v. 3), says Micah. Christ, after all, has been appointed to be the judge. And He himself says, “For judgment I am come into this world” (Jn 9:39).

He judges, in the first instance, by the preaching of the Gospel which is accompanied by the power of His Holy Spirit. He himself says: “And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn 16:8)

He rebukes strong nations in the same way: by the Gospel. By the preaching of the Gospel, Christ is galloping ahead on His white horse, conquering and to conquer.

How would his sheep respond to His Conquest? “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” (v. 3).

What does this mean, but that the people of Christ shall enjoy peace? Where Christ conquers with His word, He brings peace.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (Jn 14:27). Says our Lord.

God’s children are by nature children of wrath and enemies of God. We were enemies in our minds by wicked works (Col 1:21). We hated God and were ready to do battle with Him from our birth.

But by the Gospel and the Spirit of Christ, we have been transformed. Our enmity against God is erased. Our nature of anger and hatred have been replace with a spirit of meekness and love. Not only do we no longer war against God, we ceased to war against one another. As the apostle Paul puts it in Titus 3:3:

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”

But all these have changed. Where before we would never suffer wrong, now for by God’s grace, we take no revenge even against our enemies who wrong us. We forgive one another even as God has forgiven us in Christ. We have been enabled to dwell with one another in peace and love.

We may be of different nationalities. We may be traditional enemies with one another as Arab and Jews; or Pakistanis and Indians; or Tamils and Singhalese; or Serbs and Albanians. But when we are converted, we can dwell together with one another in love and unity. they shall [as it were] beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.

This happens whenever the Gospel prevails. This was the case in the early church when the people were all of one heart and of one soul (Acts 4:32). They shared their possession with one another in such away that no want lacked anything.

There was peace within the church. Of course, due to the remnant of corruption, there will not be perfect peace in the heart of believers in this life. Perfect peace will come in heaven. But it will come! Micah was seeing that too.

We shall in that day cease altogether to do battle. Today we still have to do spiritual battle, but in that day, we will have perfect peace and perfect rest.


Conclusion

What do we say to these things?

What shall we say but to thank God for the privilege of being the direct recipients of the blessings promised through Micah? Thank God for the Gospel privileges and the peace that He has given us in Christ Jesus. Thank God for peace with Him and peace with one another. Thank God for the assurance of perfect peace in heaven.

The world today is far from peaceful. Many people want to have peace but they do not have it. They do not have peace in Iraq or Afghanistan. But neither do Singaporeans without Christ have peace. There can be no peace without Christ.

Thank God that He has given us peace, a peace that the world does not understand, even a peace that surpasses understanding.

Beloved brethren and children, are you still a stranger to this peace? You will be a stranger to this peace if Christ is still a stranger to you. There can be no peace without Christ. The world will know no peace. Only those who know Christ will know peace.

Millions have already found rest and peace in Christ. Will you not join the multitude and say:

Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. Amen. Ω