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The Future Role of the Remnant


Then the remnant of Jacob,

surrounded by many peoples,

shall be like dew from the Lord,

like showers on the grass,

which do not depend upon people

or wait for any mortal.

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Micah promises here two things as to the future state of the Church, — that God shall defend it without the help and aid of men, — and that he will supply it with strength, so that it will become superior to all enemies. In the first place, to show that the preservation of the Church depends on the mere favor of God, and that there is no need of any earthly aids, he makes use of a most suitable similitude; he says, that the people of God are like a dewy meadow. The Prophet speaks not what is strictly correct; for what he says of the rain and dew is to be applied to the grass or the meadow. 151151     There seems to be no necessity for this supposed inaccuracy in this comparison; it indeed changes the obvious meaning of the passage. The Jews are compared to the dew and rain, through which the grass grows; and then it is said, that the growth of the grass, not the dew or the rain, is not dependent on man, but on the dew or rain. The comparison is thus in every way suitable. — Ed. The residue of Jacob, he says, shall be as dew from Jehovah, and drops of rain on the grass. This cannot be applied according to the design of the Prophet, except you take the dew, as I have already said, for the dewy meadows or for the grass, which draws moisture and vigor from the rains. The sense indeed is by no means obscure, which is, — that God will make his people to grow like the grass, which is fed only by celestial dew, without any culture or labor on the part of men: and this is also what the Prophet expressly mentions; for he says, that the grass of which he speaks waits not for men, nor grows through men’s care, but grows through the dew of heaven.

But that we may better understand the Prophet’s intention, I shall briefly notice the words. There shall be, he says, the residue of Jacob He shows here that the whole people would not he preserved; for he had before spoken of their destruction. We hence see that this promise is to be confined to the seed, which God had wonderfully preserved in the calamitous state of the Church, yea, even in its almost total destruction. Then this promise belongs not to the whole body of the people, but to a small number; and hence he uses as before, the word שארית, sharit, a remnant or residue. There shall then be the residue of Jacob; 152152     We have the residue or remnant of Joseph in Amos 5:15,—the remnant of Israel in Micah 2:12, — and here in the following verse, the remnant of Jacob. — Ed. that is, though the people shall nearly all perish, yet there shall be some residue.

He then adds, Among great or many nations There is here a contrast between the remnants and great nations: and the Prophet has not unnecessarily added the expression בקרב, bekoreb, in the midst. There are then three things to be observed here, — that God does not promise deliverance to the whole people, but to a residue only, — and then, that he promises this deliverance among powerful or many nations, as though he said, — “Though the Church of God shall not excel in number, nay, so great may be the number of its enemies, as to be sufficient to overwhelm it, yet God will cause it to grow and to propagate: in a word, its enemies, though many in number, and strong in force and power, shall not yet hinder the Lord, that he should not increase his Church more and more;” — and the third particular is what the expression, in the midst, intimates, and that is, that the people of God shall be besieged on every side. When enemies come upon us only from one part, it is not so very distressing, but when they surround us, being in front, and behind, and on both sides, then our condition seems miserable indeed; for when they thus press on us on all sides, they hardly allow us time to draw our breath. But the Prophet declares, that though surrounded on all sides by enemies, yet the Church would be safe.

He now adds, כטל מאת יהוה, cathel meat Ieve, As a dew from Jehovah; that is, it shall be, as I have said, as the grass, which is nourished and grows by means of dew from heaven, and as grass, which flourishes, not through the culture or labor of men, but which God himself makes to grow. He might have merely said, as the dew, but he adds, from Jehovah, that he might make a distinction between God and man, and show that the power of God is alone sufficient to support and sustain the Church, though men brought no assistance. And this is expressed more clearly in the next clause, when he says, As drops of rain on the grass, which waits not for man, nor tarries for the sons of men. We now then see that the faithful have their attention called to God alone, that they may understand that they are to be safe through his favor, that if all helps on earth failed, they ought not to fear, since they can be effectually sustained by the power of God alone: for God makes grass to grow on mountains and in meadows without the help and labor of man; and thus he can defend his Church without any foreign aid, but by his own hidden, and, so to speak, his own intrinsic power.