This is one of the three best-known passages from Micah, although it is usually associated with Isaiah where almost the exact same words are found (Isaiah 2:2-4). Micah adds a verse (4:4) about how individuals, as well as nations, will be able to live in prosperity and without fear. Several questions are raised when the same words occur in more than one biblical book. Is one borrowing from the other? If so, which is the original? Or do they both borrow from another source? Or was this prophecy added to both books at a later time, after Isaiah and Micah? Scholars differ on their answers to these questions. Most likely, both books borrow this passage from another source, whether done by the prophets themselves or someone coming after them.
Zion and the God of Israel are put at the center. All nations will turn toward Jerusalem and submit to the authority of the Hebrew God. When they are able to do this, then weapons will no longer be necessary and there will no longer be wars.
This is an ideal that we may long for, but which seems impossible to achieve. In a world of many cultures and religions, it is a far-off vision that all will submit to the same God. Even Christians cannot agree on what God expects from us and what human authority represents God's presence on earth. The same is true for most other religions. Further, when wars are always happening, when one "enemy" is replaced by another, when the impulse to fight is always close to the surface, it is hard to imagine the elimination of all weapons of war. "If we give them up, how can we defend ourselves?" we wonder. This prophecy remains a vision, a hope, the way life should be. Whether it can ever happen in this world, it stands as God's goal for the future, which might, we hope with the prophets, influence our lives and actions in the present.
4In days to come
the mountain of the Lords 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 any more;
4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011