« Prev Lecture eighty eighth Next »

Lecture Eighty-eighth

We began yesterday to explain the prophecy, in which Micah promises the restoration of the Church. We have said that this promise cannot be understood except of Christ’s kingdom, for it refers to the last days. And it was also added, that the superiority and eminence of mount Zion, of which he speaks, cannot be otherwise understood than of God’s spiritual kingdom; for the explanation follows, when he says, that many nations would come to be taught in the ways of the Lord. We hence see that an earthly empire is not what is here predicted, but what exists through the word and celestial doctrine. But each particular ought to be considered by us. We yesterday said, that in the distinct mention made of many nations, there is to be understood a contrast; for till that time God was only known by one people. Since God then had chosen the race of Abraham alone, there is here pointed out a future change, when he shall gather his Church from various nations, so as to do away with the difference between the Gentiles and the Jews.

It now follows, They shall say, Come, and let us ascend to the mount of Jehovah The Prophet shows in these words that not only each one would be obedient to God, when called, but that they would also encourage one another: and this ardor is what is justly required in the faithful; they ought to animate and stir on one another; for it is not enough for each of us himself to obey God, but this zeal ought to be added, by which we may strive to produce a mutual benefit. This concern then is what the Prophet now refers to, when he says, “Come, that we may ascend to the mountain of the Lord.” He might have said, that people would come, and there close his sentence; but he wished to join the two clauses, — that they, who had before despised the God of Israel, would come from all parts, — and also that they would become exhorters to one another. Come then that we may ascend. But the manner of the exhortation deserves to be noticed; for each one offers himself as a companion in the journey. We indeed see that many are prompt enough, when others are to be stimulated in their duty; but they at the same time lie still; their whole fervor is consumed in sending others, and they themselves move not, no, not a finger; so far are they from running with alacrity in company with others. The Prophet shows here, that the faithful will be so solicitous about the salvation of their brethren that they will strenuously run themselves, and that they will prescribe nothing to others but what they themselves perform. Come then that we may ascend; they say not, “Go, ascend to the mount of Jehovah;” but, Let us go together.” It is then the right way of encouraging, when we really show that we require nothing from our brethren but what we desire to do ourselves.

The circumstance of time must now be noticed; for what the Prophet says respecting the nations coming into mount Zion, as it was to be reduced to a waste, might have appeared a fable; for what had he shortly before predicted? That Zion would be plowed as a field, and that trees would grow there, that it would become a wild forest. How then could it be, that many nations would flow to it as to a most renowned place, as it was to be reduced to a dreadful desolation? But the Prophet here extols the wonderful power of God, — that in this wild and desert place there would at length be raised a noble and a celebrated temple, where God would show mercy to his own people. Hence he promises what this mount of Jehovah would be, which was for a time to be forsaken; and that there would be, as formerly, a noble temple in the place, where desolation had for a season existed.

It afterwards follows, And he will teach us of his ways. 120120     Both Newcome and Henderson render the ו, vau, here, that, “that he may teach us,” etc.: but it is better to retrain the most common meaning as a simple copulative, as it is done in our version, and by Calvin, and by Lowth in Isaiah. The passage thus runs better, and more emphatically expresses the language of faith. — Ed. Here the Prophet in a few words defines the legitimate worship of God: for it would not be sufficient for the nations to come together into one place to profess the one true God, unless true obedience followed, which rests on faith, as faith does on the word. It ought then to be especially noticed, that the Prophet sets here the word of God before us, in order to show that true religion is founded on the obedience of faith, and that God cannot be truly worshipped, except when he himself teaches his people, and prescribes to them what is necessary to be done. Hence when the will of God is revealed to us, we then can truly worship him. When the word is again taken away, there will indeed be some form of divine worship; but there will be no genuine religion, such as is pleasing to God. And hence we also learn, that there is no other way of raising up the Church of God than by the light of the word, in which God himself, by his own voice, points out the way of salvation. Until then the truth shines, men cannot be united together, so as to form a true Church.

Since it is so, it follows, that where the truth is either corrupted or despised, there is no religion, at least such as is approved by God. Men may indeed boast of the name with their lips: but there is no true religion before God, except it be formed according to the rule of his word. It hence also follows, that there is no Church, except it be obedient to the word of God, and be guided by it: for the prophet defines here what true religion is, and also how God collects a Church for himself. He will then teach us of his ways And a third particular may be added, — that God is robbed of his right and of his honor, when mortals assume to themselves the authority to teach; for it is to God alone that this office of teaching his people can strictly be ascribed. (proprie tribuitur.) There were then priests and prophets, yet Micah here brings them down to their proper state, and shows that the right and the office of teaching would be in the power of the only true God. We hence see that God claims this office for himself, that we may not be tossed to and fro, and led astray by various teachers, but continue in simple obedience to his word, so that he alone may be the Supreme. In short, God is not the God and Head of the Church, except he be the chief and the only Teacher.

Wheat he now says, “He will teach us of his ways,” ought to be thus understood. He will teach us what his ways are; as though the Prophet had said, that the perfect wisdom of men is to understand what pleases God, and what is his will: for there is nothing farther to be learnt.

It follows, And we will walk in his paths. By this clause we are reminded, that the truth of God is not, as they say, speculative, but full of energizing power. God then not only speaks to the end that every one may acknowledge that to be true which proceeds from him, but at the same time he demands obedience. Hence we shall then only be the disciples of God, when we walk in his ways: for if we only nod with our ears, as asses are wont to do, and assent to what God says with our mouth and lips, it is extremely vain and absurd. It is therefore then only that men really profit under the teaching of God, when they form their life according to his doctrine, and be prepared with their feet to walk, and to follow whithersoever be may call them. We will then walk in his paths

Micah had hitherto related only what the faithful would do; he now himself confirms the same truth, For from Zion shall go forth a law, 121121     So Newcome renders it; Lowth and Henderson read the same with our version, “the law.” The absence of the definite article is certainly no objection, as it is but seldom used in Hebrew. But “a law” is better except we render the copulative before “word,” even; and then we shall destroy the distinct character of the line. It appears that, according to the usual style of the Prophets, what the first line states indefinitely, is in the second specified, as being the “word of Jehovah.”
   The word תורה, law, in Hebrew, is more comprehensive than the word law, in our language. It is derived from the Hiphil of ירה, which means to direct, to appoint, to instruct, to teach. Hence the noun, תורה, may be rendered, directory, institution, law, teaching, or doctrine. “It doth,” says Leigh, “not only signify strictly what is to be done, but it denoteth largely any heavenly doctrine, whether it be promise or precept.” It means often the whole of God’s revealed word, as in Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:174, etc. See Joshua 1:8. — Ed.
and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Here is a reason given why many nations would come to the temple of the Lord; and that is, because a doctrine would be then promulgated, which had been before heard only in one place. We indeed know that the Jews came to the temple, not only to worship, but also to be instructed in the Law of God. The Law then had at that time, as it were, its habitation in Zion: there was the sanctuary of celestial wisdom. But what does our Prophet say? A law shall go forth from Zion, that is, it shall be proclaimed far and wide: the Lord will show, not only in one corner, what true religion is, and how he seeks to be worshipped, but he will send forth his voice to the extreme limits of the earth. A law then shall go forth from Zion, according to what is said in Psalm 110,

‘the scepter of thy power the Lord will send forth from Zion.’

In that passage the doctrine of Christ is metaphorically called a scepter, or is compared to a royal scepter; for Christ does not otherwise rule among us, than by the doctrine of his Gospel: and there David declares, that this scepter would be sent far abroad by God the Father, that Christ might have under his rule all those nations which had been previously aliens. Such is the meaning in this place, A law from Zion shall go forth Then it follows, The word of Jehovah from Jerusalem This is a repetition of the same sentiment, which is often the case. Then by תורה, ture, the Prophet means no other thing than doctrine: but, by another term, he confirms the same thing, that is that God would be heard not only at Jerusalem and in Judea, but that he would make his word to be proclaimed everywhere. It now follows —

« Prev Lecture eighty eighth Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection