The Messiah Will Come From Bethlehem

Micah Five


          The sin of Israel had caused the nation to fall into disgrace. The enemies would now come and it would do no good for Israel to gather her troops because God had departed from her. The enemies would prevail and smite Israel. When they were taken into captivity the leaders of Israel would be treated shamefully. Their idolatry, dishonesty, acceptance of bribes and disregard for the poor would be punished severely. Lest the people should feel "total despair" for the nation the Lord promised the coming of the Messiah. God promised, "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, From everlasting." (Micah 5:2)


          Jesus existed in eternity as a member of the Godhead. He came to this earth as the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16) The psalmist wrote of Jesus, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90:2) Jesus existed even before Abraham. (John 8:58) He came to the earth as Savior of the world. (Matthew 1:21) He is head of His church, the spiritual kingdom or spiritual Israel. (Ephesians 1:22-23) Bethlehem signifies or means the house of bread. No place could be more fitting for the birth of "the bread of life" than this place. (John 6:48) At the fullness of time the Lord Jesus was born of a woman at Bethlehem. God provided spiritual restoration through the Messiah. The Messiah would bring peace, but more than that He is peace. (Ephesians 2:14)


          Micah also pictured a time when Israel would go into captivity in Assyria. This captivity by the Assyrians would come shortly. At the end of seventy years a remnant of Israel would be restored to their homeland with God's blessings. At the end of the captivity God would raise up strong leaders to bring His people home. When God decided to bring the remnant home it would be a wide spread deliverance, like dew upon the ground or like rain upon the grass. His deliverance would not only be wide spread but it would also be strong, like a lion. When He delivered His people God would execute vengeance upon the nations that refused to hear His message. As the Jews were restored to their homeland God would cut off things that had separated his people from Him in the beginning. The Jews would not bring back idolatry with them as they returned from captivity. 


          Promises concerning the Messiah -- Micah 5:1-4: Zedekiah was the last king of the separate kingdom of Judah. He had been placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had even changed his name from Mattaniah to Zedekiah. Zedekiah constantly rebelled against Babylonian power. Jeremiah, speaking on behalf of the LORD, rebuked him because God had brought the Babylonian invasion because of the sins of the Israelites. (Jeremiah 32:3) Nebuchadnezzar personally led his army against Jerusalem. Jeremiah repeatedly communicated the Lord's message that resistance would result in disaster. Jeremiah was right. The city, its walls, the Temple and the great buildings were all destroyed. Everything of value and the best of the people were taken to Babylon. Zedekiah's sons and best friends were killed, right before his eyes and then his eyes were put out. He was taken to Babylon to die of old age in prison. There he fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 12:13 that said that he would go to Babylon and die there, but never see it. Seventy years later the people would return as God preserved the nation through whom the Messiah would be born.


          In a time when things seemed hopeless God gave the people renewed expectation by again promising the coming of the Messiah. What would happen to physical Israel was horrible. Destruction would come. However, what would happen for spiritual Israel was beautiful, the Savior would come. He would be born at Bethlehem Ephratah. Micah 5:2 is a prediction of the birth of Jesus. (Matthew 2:6) Just as deliverance would come for spiritual Israel when the time was right for the Savior to be born, likewise deliverance would come to Israel from Babylonian captivity when the time was right. The number that returned was "forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore." (Ezra 2:64) The Messiah would lead His people to salvation. Likewise God would raise up leaders to bring the remnant back from captivity. They were to do this in the name of the Lord or by His power.


Protection for God's people -- Micah 5:5-7: The children of Israel would spend seventy years in captivity as promised by the Almighty. God promised that He would raise up, "seven shepherds and eight princes among men." This is a prediction that the Lord would not allow His people to be retained forever in exile by the Assyrians. He would raise up men to lead Israel back home. Among those leaders were Ezra and Nehemiah. The name Nimrod appears in connection with Assyria because the nations can be traced back to him. (Genesis 10:9-11) God's people would be taken into this horrible captivity, but when the time was right He would deliver them and preserve the nation through which the Messiah would be born.


          A few of Jacob's descendants would survive being carried into captivity. They would be scattered among the nations. God said that they would cover the earth like dew and rain. Sunshine, dew and rain all come through the bounty of God. The dew is a small thing and the gentle rain is a small thing but the influence of both is great. The remnant that would be brought back would also be small but because of the Messiah descending through them their influence would be great.


       Power belongs to God's people -- Micah 5:8-10: Micah used a very vivid illustration to show the power of God among the nations. His people were not to be violent like a wild and strong lion among the nations. However, the remnant was likened to a lion in a flock of sheep to show the power of God among His people and among the nations. The enemies of God's people would be destroyed. He said, "Your hand will be lifted up above your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off." (Micah 5:9) Israel's worst enemies were those that led them into idolatry. The seventy terrible years in captivity cured the problem of idolatry among God's people.


       Before their captivity the Jews had reached a point where they felt no need for God. They depended on their cavalry instead of God. God said, "I will cut off your horses on which you depend from among you and will destroy your chariots." In days of old God had warned, "But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way." (Deuteronomy 17:16) They would have no need of a cavalry or army because God would fight for them.


       Purposing to remove iniquity -- Micah 5:11-15: God told them that they would not have nor need their fortified cities. It was not that cities were wrong but that those cities had been places where they had devoted themselves to the service of idolatry. It was also in those cities that the people decided that they did not need God to control their lives. Instead they felt that they were doing quite well on their own. God, not some fortified city, would be their protection. He would be their single focus for worship and service. God's desire was that the people seek help only at His hand. So we have the promise that He would cut off witchcrafts and sorceries and that there would be no more soothsayers.


       God also told the people that idolatry would be cut off. The idea of serving a thing as a god that was made by your own hand is the height of nonsense. The people had not been content to worship the true and living God. He was invisible. They wanted gods that they could see so they made gods of wood, stone and metal. Isaiah wrote, "I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin." (Isaiah 1:25) Obviously a grove of trees is not wrong but they even took certain groves and turned them into places of idolatrous worship. Their groves were symbols of false gods. Both the cities and the groves that had been used for idolatrous worship would be destroyed. God promised furious revenge to be poured out upon the nations that refused to obey Him and that led His people into idolatry.


          Let us arise with hearts filled with appreciation for God sending the Savior. The most important thing in your life is to be­come a child of God and stand strong in the faith. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30) Confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized to be saved. (1 Peter 3:21) After baptism be strong in the service of the Lord! (Matthew 10:22)