December 14, 2022
Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival and for receiving this weekly devotional. How good it is to know that we have a God who cares about us!
The message of the prophet Micah was just that: we have a God who cares. While judgment was coming because of His people's hell-bent willfulness, He loved them and had plans to restore them through the coming Messiah.
The meaning of Micah’s name is a question, “Who is like Yahweh?” Just as God was developing His own characteristics in this prophet, He is doing the same with us. He is making us more like Himself.
The only answer to the dilemma of Israel’s problems (and ours) was summed up in the prophecy of Micah, as he looks forward to the coming Deliverer (Micah 5:1-4):
Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
In Micah 5:1, the nation is under siege. It is a present plight that will not end well. Their ruler, probably King Zedekiah, was surrounded by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops. To strike someone on the cheek is a saying that means to humiliate that person (2 Kings 24-25).
Despite the present problem, Micah turns the eyes of the people to a future day of deliverance and victory, to a person of God’s choosing.
He starts by identifying an insignificant town about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Jerusalem in the hills of Judah called Bethlehem. It is a precious weaving of divine sovereignty, because this is the town in which King David was born. It was David’s kingly line from which the Messiah would come.
Interestingly, the meaning of the word ”Bethlehem” is House of Bread. How beautiful! The Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as the Bread of Life. “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
The town of Bethlehem is specifically identified as Ephrathah, to distinguish it from other towns with the same name. Ephrathah means fruitfulness or abundance.
Our hearts are hungry, and so often we seek to fill them with the empty things of this world. We were made for God and He alone can truly satisfy our longings.
The other notable word in this text is the word “small.” God chose Bethlehem in its smallness over the large prominent cities of Israel, like Jerusalem, for His Son to be born. A subtle reminder of the humble character of our God and Savior.
Micah goes on to say, “From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). The One coming forth is identified as coming “for me.” The coming of Christ was a divine mission.
As we consider our lives and think about the coming of Christ, we are made aware that we are a part of a great movement of God. This should encourage us to reach out to the needy and continue to touch the hurting lives of those around us.
The Savior is called “Ruler” in this text, which brings us back to the ancient prophecy of Joseph. “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor” (Genesis 49:10).
That little baby in the Mary’s arms was the ruler of the universe, the ruler of God’s kingdom. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The phrase, “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days,” tells us of His origin (Micah 5:2). The NIV translation is really fitting “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times,” since the Hebrew is literally saying “days of immeasurable time” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary).
Our Savior is the one who comes from the place of immeasurable time and He is the eternal One who spans the small frame of our lives.
In closing, the text brings out the character of our divine Ruler, “And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God” (Micah 5:4).
This was the text used by the wise men as they told the worried King Herod about the birth of Jesus. “They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel”’” (Matthew 2:5-6).
The nature of the Ruler is that of a shepherd, one who will care for, tend to, and protect His flock.
Maybe in the chaos of life you need some tending to or you need some protecting or caring for? He is your Shepherd. He has limitless resources, and He is available for you today.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel