Micah 4, John 1: 1 – 18
Many Bible passages, particularly those in non historical books such as the prophets and Revelation have more than one layer of meaning. A prophecy may appear to have an application to the nation of Israel concerning its historical and political future, while at the same time an inference may be drawn concerning the people of the Kingdom of God (all believers) at some future time.
This is often the case when the term “Zion” is used. Zion was the name that was given to the hill where David established his initial fort as he took over the city of Jerusalem. It became synonymous with Jerusalem itself and eventually the nation of Israel. Revelation describes a “new Jerusalem”, a spiritual kingdom composed of all believers in Christ; in fact “the Lamb” is described in chapter 14 standing on Mount Zion. So it is not unreasonable to take Zion as a symbol of the kingdom of heaven encompassing all believers.
Indeed this passage describes a time when “Daughter Zion” will have to leave the city and “go to Babylon”, before being rescued and restored to a time of peace, prosperity and tolerance. (V5): “All the nations will walk in the name of their gods but we will walk in the name of The Lord (Yahweh) our God forever and ever.” Now a fairly obvious inference is that Micah is speaking prophetically about the nation of Israel being exiled to Babylon and then restored to their homeland again.
But what is the implication for us today? Is there a modern prophecy for Christians in the modern world. Christianity has until recently been associated with first world countries in Europe and the Americas where it has stood side by side with wealth and social progress. Are we at a turning point where the historical centre of Christianity is shifting from the old world to the new in Africa and Asia? After 2 world wars we have experienced a time of relative peace in Christendom with war focused on the Middle East and Asia (Vietnam, Afghanistan). With the rise of China and the waning economy of America, God’s word is heeded less and less in formerly Christian societies and we may have to “go to Babylon”. That is society will become corrupt and evil like the whore of Babylon referred to in Revelation 17 and 18 (remember that this is written post the Babylonian exile so it is definitely prophetic.) But according to Micah and Revelation God will rescue his remnant and restore his people. A great exhortation to stay faithful in the face of any adversity.
Now I don’t want to be glib here; I don’t want to marginalise or trivialise the pain of many of God’s people who are suffering in the trials of this life. But, this is a great promise by God. He will gather the lame, those brought to grief and those exiled and make them a strong nation. This is a promise by God laying out his plan for the future. The problem may not be solved the way you or I want or the way we expect; It may not happen in our lifetime; but God promises things will be made right for His people. Once again we see the spiritual parallel of the Bible narrative. The passage in Revelation 17 and 18 is quite clear. In a future spiritual kingdom, evil will be defeated and “kingship will come to daughter Jerusalem! Even though social and political structures will change, nations will rise and fall, good and bad events will befall us, God has a plan for his people in a spiritual kingdom.
John 1 : 1 – 18
In this familiar passage, many of the basic tenets of orthodox Christianity are quite clearly established:
- The Word (Jesus) was God and shared in the creation.
- God is more than 1 person (at least the Father and the son).
- Jesus reveals to us the nature of God (v 18).
- To those who receive Jesus and believe in his name is given the right to be the children of God.
- We receive God’s gift by grace and not by adherence to the law – we don’t earn salvation.
Jesus is described as “the light” and and in allowing us to become “children of God” we are told that we are born “not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor of a husbands will but born of God.”
Straight away in chapter 1, John places the story in the spiritual world. Of course our earthly bodies are of natural descent; of course we have been mostly brought about by human decision; of course husbands actions are involved. So John is not talking of us as earthly beings but rather as spiritual beings. It is our spiritual nature that is born of God. It is hard to escape the notion that the Bible, both OT and NT, is constantly alluding to a spiritual existence that is paralleled by our lives.
Fact: Israel was conquered by Babylon, exiled and restored.
Meaning: God will rescue his people from all kinds of (spiritual) calamities and all will be made right in heaven.
Fact: Jesus was born, attested to by John and came to preach about the kingdom of heaven.
Meaning: God reached out to us through Jesus (not the other way round), offering spiritual restoration and forgiveness. Best of all, this was done by the grace of God and not by anything we might do or have done.
What a wonderful God we have as our Father!