In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2 and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
Micah 4: 1-3
The prophet Micah is classified as one of the minor prophets. However, just because Micah is supposedly a “minor” prophet does not mean he should be discounted. The difference between Micah and the other minor prophets and the “Major” prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel is simply the length of their books. God speaks to us just as much through the minor prophets, as he does through the major prophets. It is equivalent to the way in which God can work through any size church, small or large. God does not look at the mere numbers of people He can use, but rather at the hearts of those people.
Micah ministered during a time when things were falling apart for his people, the Israelites. They had long been divided and were declining in stature, importance, and moral authority. Nonetheless, Micah preached about the eventual redemption of his people. This is one of those passages.
Micah envisions a time when the mountain of the Lord shall be raised above all other mountains, symbolizing the surpassing importance of the Lord. People will come streaming to this mountain, from every place on the earth! Their hearts will be open to learn the will of the Lord and His ways.
Conflicts will be resolved in a novel way: the peoples of the earth will let God decide. Instead of nation fighting nation, people will simply ask the Lord to make judgments for them. Wow, what a peaceful and reassuring vision!
Since the people will have given up fighting and armed conflict, they will no longer need swords, or other implements of war. Consequently, we have this startling vision from Micah. Swords are beaten on anvils, and turned into plowshares. Likewise, spears become pruning hooks! Instead of devoting energies into war, the peoples will give their energy towards living in peace.
Learning about the art of war will become a thing of the past. Instead, all people will sit under their own vines, and their own fig trees. It is an idyllic scene, and it has inspired the United Nations to commission a statue, honoring Micah’s vision of swords being beaten into plowshares.
These passages are not a fairy tale, or an unrealistic dream. They are God’s plan, spoken and promised through the prophet Micah. God desires to move us to that time of peace. I believe we all wish to strive towards that same goal. Individually, we may not have the ability to achieve this world wide goal. Yet in our own lives, we do have the ability to strive towards such peace with those around us.
Rather than stand with our fists in the air in a fighting position, God calls for us to unclench our fists. Let us put down our fighting weapons, and strive towards peace. This is not an easy thing to envision, for most of us feel that we are right, and must stand our ground. Is that ground you are standing on worth the separation that will occur between two different fractions? Who will be the first to take this step towards peace?
This passage informs the lyrics for the Spiritual, “Down By the Riverside”, also known as “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More”. Here are the lyrics for the song:
Gonna lay down my sleepy head
Down by the riverside (3×)
Gonna lay down my burden
Down by the riverside
With the chorus:
I ain't gonna study war no more
Study war no more
Ain't gonna study war no more
Other lines that can appear in stanzas, in place of "Gonna lay down my burden", include:
• Gonna lay down my heavy load
• Gonna lay down my sword and shield
• Gonna stick my sword in the golden sand
• Gonna try on my long white robe
• Gonna try on my starry crown
• Gonna put on my golden shoes
• Gonna talk with the Prince of Peace
• Gonna shake hands around the world
• Gonna cross the river Jordan
• Gonna climb upon that mountain
• Gonna climb the road to heaven
May we be ready to pursue Micah’s vision for peace: a vision pursued by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Remember His promise to the disciples: He said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20: 21)
Lord, we come to you with the desire for peace in our lives, and in our world. We may feel small in our ability to make a difference. Yet help us to realize that with you, we can conquer even the unimaginable. Forgive us when we forget to allow you into our lives, where you work the miracle of peace. Be with us Lord, and help us to become the vessels which pass on the peace you desire to all the world. We pray this prayer in the name of the Prince of Peace, Your son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen