Micah 5 – A Ruler from Bethlehem
A. The birth and the work of the Ruler from Bethlehem.
1. (1-2) From the lowly and humble in Israel comes a Ruler.
Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us;
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
a. He has laid siege against us: Micah announced that Israel will be humbled by foreign powers, and even her judges will bear insults.
b. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah…out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel: In the coming time of humiliation under foreign powers, God would raise up a great Ruler from a humble place – Bethlehem.
i. Bethlehem was well known as the hometown of David, Israel’s greatest king, yet it was never a great or influential city. It was truly little among the thousands of Judah. Yet God chose it as the birthplace of the Messiah, the Ruler in Israel.
ii. This passage from Micah 5 was quoted by the chief priests and teachers of the law when Herod asked about the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 2:5-6).
iii. Bethlehem means House of Bread, and Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35). “And now for that word Ephrathah. That was the old name of the place which the Jews retained and loved. The meaning of it is, ‘fruitfulness,’ or ‘abundance.’ Ah! well was Jesus born in the house of fruitfulness; for whence cometh my fruitfulness and thy fruitfulness, my brother, but from Bethlehem? Our poor barren hearts never produced one fruit or flower, till they were watered with the Saviour’s blood.” (Spurgeon)
c. Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting: This glorious promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and Micah’s prophetic voice declared that though Jesus came from Bethlehem, He did not begin there. His goings forth are from before the foundation of the world.
i. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). This means from the very beginning, Jesus was there. There was never a time when Jesus did not exist.
ii. Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He existed as the Second Person of the Trinity (John 17:5, 17:24). These passages tell us that there was a relationship of love, fellowship, and shared glory that the Father and the Son shared before the creation of all things. The name “Jesus” was not known as a name for the Second Person of the Trinity until the angel Gabriel announced it to Mary (Luke 1:31). But the eternal Son existed before He revealed Himself as “Jesus.”
iii. Before Bethlehem, Jesus was the creator of all things (Colossians 1:16-17, John 1:1-3). “He was before all things. As he is the Creator of all things, so he is the Eternal, and no part of what was created. [Every] being but God has been created. Whatever has not been created is God. But Jesus is the Creator of all things; therefore he is God; for he cannot be a part of his own work.” (Clarke)
iv. In the Old Testament, Jesus appeared as God made visible or the Angel of the LORD. There are many instances in the Old Testament where individuals are shown to have had a face-to-face encounter with the LORD (Genesis 16:7-13, Genesis 18, Genesis 32:24-32, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11-24, Judges 13:8-24, Daniel 3). In each situation, the Person is given different titles, but in all cases the person is plainly referred to as the LORD Himself but appearing in a human form.
v. From before the creation of all things, God’s plan of the ages included Jesus (1 Peter 1:20, Ephesians 1:4).
vi. Knowing that Jesus’ goings forth are from of old, from everlasting shows us some important things:
· It shows us the glory of Jesus, that He is far more than a man.
· It shows us the love of Jesus, that He would leave the glory of heaven for us.
· It shows us the nature of Jesus, that He would add humanity to His deity.
· It shows us the sympathy of Jesus, that He remains fully man and fully God.
2. (3-5a) The Ruler serves His flock.
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
And this One shall be peace.
a. He shall give them up, until the time: Micah anticipated a future time, one that was partially fulfilled in the Babylonian exile and return, but will be ultimately fulfilled in the great tribulation and restoration of Israel. In both those eras, the LORD will seem distant from Israel until the time for restoration is ready.
b. Then the remnant of His brethren shall return…. He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD: After the time of Israel’s trial, the LORD will restore gloriously. The Ruler born in Bethlehem will tenderly care for His flock in the strength of the LORD.
c. They shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth: The greatness of the Ruler from Bethlehem guarantees the standing of His people. They abide because of His greatness.
d. This One shall be peace: It isn’t just that the Ruler from Bethlehem brings peace; He is peace. As Paul wrote of Jesus in Ephesians 2:14, He Himself is our peace.
3. (5b-6) The Ruler delivers Jacob from Assyria.
When the Assyrian comes into our land,
And when he treads in our palaces,
Then we will raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight princely men.
They shall waste with the sword the land of Assyria,
And the land of Nimrod at its entrances;
Thus He shall deliver us from the Assyrian,
When he comes into our land
And when he treads within our borders.
a. When the Assyrian comes into our land: After the pattern of the prophets, Micah blended near and distant ages in his prophecy. The threat of the Assyrian would come against both kingdoms shortly, but Micah also used the idea of the Assyrian for any pagan nation or empire set against God’s people.
b. We will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princely men: Though the enemies of God’s people would come against them, under God’s blessing leaders will raise against them mighty men. God often works this way to deliver us from our enemies.
B. The triumph of the remnant of Jacob.
1. (7-9) The remnant is large and triumphant.
Then the remnant of Jacob
Shall be in the midst of many peoples,
Like dew from the LORD,
Like showers on the grass,
That tarry for no man
Nor wait for the sons of men.
And the remnant of Jacob
Shall be among the Gentiles,
In the midst of many peoples,
Like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
Like a young lion among flocks of sheep,
Who, if he passes through,
Both treads down and tears in pieces,
And none can deliver.
Your hand shall be lifted against your adversaries,
And all your enemies shall be cut off.
a. The remnant of Jacob shall be…like dew from the LORD: When God delivers Zion it won’t be a small deliverance. It will spread as wide as the dew and showers on the grass.
b. Like a young lion among flocks of sheep: When God delivers Zion, it won’t be a weak deliverance. It will strengthen Israel so that she will triumph over her enemies like a lion against sheep. This has its ultimate fulfillment in the millennial earth, when it is said that the lion will lie down with the lamb – but still, it’s better to be the lion!
2. (10-15) The LORD is exalted among the remnant.
“And it shall be in that day,” says the LORD,
“That I will cut off your horses from your midst
And destroy your chariots.
I will cut off the cities of your land
And throw down all your strongholds.
I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
And you shall have no soothsayers.
Your carved images I will also cut off,
And your sacred pillars from your midst;
You shall no more worship the work of your hands;
I will pluck your wooden images from your midst;
Thus I will destroy your cities.
And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury
On the nations that have not heard.”
a. I will cut off your horses…. the cities of your land…your strongholds…. sorceries…. your carved images…your sacred pillars: In restored Zion, the LORD will not allow any of the idolatries Israel once indulged in. Instead, He will cut off all of those things, whether they are basically good (horses or cities) or fundamentally evil (sorceries or sacred pillars).
b. I will execute vengeance…on the nations that have not heard: God will not only look after Israel’s purity; in the millennial earth the nations will also need to walk in purity before Him.