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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. THE PROPHECY AND ITS CONTEXT.—The prophet’s second discourse begins with ch. 3 and extends to ch. 5. In ch. 3 the inspired author speaks first against the unfaithful princes (3:1–4), then against the false prophets (vv. 5–8), and thirdly against princes, priests, and false prophets, adding in express terms the description of the punishment: the royal palace, the city, and the temple shall be destroyed (9–12). In the following chapter the prophet announces a triple restoration corresponding to the triple destruction: the temple-mount will be restored (4:1–5), the city will be rebuilt, and the royal dignity brought back to its original splendor (4:6–8). But before this time of restoration, the Israelites will have to undergo most severe afflictions, which are described by the prophet under three different symbols, each being followed by a promise of future liberation (4:9, 10; 11–13; 5:1–3). Then follows a description of the Messianic kingdom (5:4–8), and, finally, Micheas again insists on the manner in which all this will be brought about (5:9–14).

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. We may infer the Messianic nature of the prophet’s predictions in the first place from the time, “in the last days,” when the prophecy is to be fulfilled. It is true that this phrase is employed in Gen. 49:1; Deut. 31:29; Num. 24:14, of a time that does not, at first sight, appear to be necessarily Messianic. But in all these instances the Messianic days are, at any rate, part of the time at which the predictions will be accomplished. It is, however, generally granted that, at least in the prophetic writings, the phrase applies to the times of the Messias (Os. 3:5; Joel 2:28; Is. 2:2; Jer. 30:24; 48:47; 49:39; Ez. 38:8–16, etc.). This usage is confirmed by the writings of the Rabbis, who distinguish between “this age” [world] and “the age [world] to come,” applying the latter term to the days of the Messias. Another confirmation of the same manner of speaking we find in the New Testament (Heb. 9:11; 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:5, 20; 2 Pet. 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jud. 18).

b. In the second place, the Messianic character of the prophecy is plain from the text itself. The mountain of the house of the Lord is understood by most Christian commentators as symbolizing the Church of Christ (cf. Cyril, Theodoret, Rupertus, Ribera, Sanchez, a Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus, Calmet, etc.; cf. Ps. 47:2; 68:16, 17; Ezech. 17:22, 23), and by some as signifying the person of Jesus Christ himself (Jerome; cf. Reinke, Messian. Weissag. iii. p. 257). This proof may be seen more fully developed in Knabenbauer, “Erklārung des Propheten Is.,” p. 62. The opinion of St. Ephrem, who applies the literal meaning of the prophecy to the restoration of the temple after the Babylonian captivity and its typical meaning to Christ, and the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia, who refers the prediction only to the restoration after the Babylonian exile, are both unsatisfactory, since the events after the exile do not completely fulfil the words of the prophet (cf. Is. 2:2; 2 Kings 7:26; 3 Kings 2:45, etc.). The words “he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” also refer to the time of the Messias. For the teaching of the law on the part of God, and its observance by the people, is commonly attributed to the Messianic period (cf. Is. 54:13; Jer. 31:33; Ezech. 36:25; Os. 2:19; and all the passages that refer to the holiness of the New Jerusalem, e.g., Is. 54:10; 60:15; 61:7; 62:8; Jer. 3:15; 33:15; Os. 14:5 f.). Finally, the general peace promised by Micheas is generally considered by the prophets as characteristic of the Messianic age (cf., e.g., Is. 9:6; 11, etc.). See also the chapter on “The Prince of Peace.” Concerning the Messianic reference of the clause “tower of the flock,” see the commentary.

c. The references to the patristic testimonies in favor of the Messianic nature of the prophecy may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica (2d ed., vol. i. p. 499).

d. Finally, a word about the interpretation which the Synagogue gave of the prophecy: The Talmud (Shabbath, fol. 63, col. 1) has the following words about verse 3: “Rabbi Eliezer said: In the time of the Messias will not be found any arms, because they will not be needed, for it is said, nation shall not take sword against nation.” Verse 5 has a Messianic explanation in Shemoth R. 15. The Targum on verse 8 reads: “And thou, O Messias of Israel, who art hidden by reason of the sins of the congregation of Sion, the kingdom is to come to thee hereafter.”

MICH. 4:1–8

And it shall come to pass: In the last days,

That the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared

In the top of mountains

And high above the hills,

And people shall flow to it,

And many nations shall come in haste

And say: Come, 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 out of Sion,

And the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among many peoples

And rebuke strong nations afar off;

And they shall beat their swords into plow-shares,

And their spears into spades;

Nation shall not take sword against nation,

Neither shall they learn war any more.

And every man shall sit under his vine and under his fig-tree, and there shall be none to make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all peoples will walk every one in the name of his god; but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

In that day, saith the Lord, I will gather up her that halteth, and her that I had cast out I will gather up, and her whom I had afflicted. And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that had been afflicted a mighty nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Sion, from this time now and for ever. And thou, O cloudy tower of the flock, of the daughter of Sion, unto thee shall it come; yea the first power shall come, the kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem.”

1. We may infer from this prophecy the unity of the Church, since the mountain of the house of the Lord is the centre of the Messianic theocracy to which all shall be gathered.

2. From this prophecy we deduce the sanctity of the Church, since the nations exhort one another: “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (cf. Gal. 3:19; 1 Cor. 15:56; Rom. 5:20; 7:5; Acts. 15:10).

3. From the same prophecy follows the catholicity of the Church, since “many nations shall come in haste” and “people shall flow to” the mountain of the Lord (Is. 2:2).

4. In the same passage the apostolicity of the Church is, at least, implied, since all the nations are about to ally themselves to the God of David’s and Jacob’s family, i.e., they are going to group around a certain religious centre. This foreshows, though not explicitly, the future grouping of all the faithful around the apostolic college.

5. The visibility of the Church is foretold by the prophet in unmistakable figures, since the mountain of the house of God cannot be hidden, and especially since all nations flow unto it (Is. 2:2 ff.).

6. The indefectibility of the Church also is clearly foretold by the prophet, because the figure of the mountain and of the flock-tower does not allow us to suppose any possibility of destruction in the Messianic theocracy.

7. Finally, the conversion of both the Gentiles and the Jews to the Messianic theocracy is so clearly foretold that in this regard we may look upon Micheas as the forerunner of St. Paul who has unfolded, in his epistle to the Romans, the special providence of God concerning the Gentiles and the Jews in such plain terms that he appears to write history rather than prophecy (11:25 f.): “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part hath happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in, and so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”








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