No one likes to talk about
their pain. And even fewer like to say
they learned something from their pain.
Maybe I’m weird (that’s a pretty attested fact…), but I know in my own
life I learned more from the pain of my own stupidity than nearly anything
else. “Pain”, it is said, “is a
wonderful teacher.” When we find
ourselves getting exactly what we deserved from our own sinfulness, we can
either learn the lesson and look for our deliverer or get mad at God for
letting us get what our actions deserved.
I would suggest the former—it makes the pain a lot easier.
This is a similar position
Judah found themselves in with one exception: they were on the edge of their
punishment, not in it (yet). Much of
Micah’s prophecies remind them that their punishment is set for their own
stupidity in living lives apart from Almighty God and turning to other gods. There would be no turning away from the
punishment in front of them but they could accept it and look for the
deliverer. They could choose to learn
the lesson God is trying to teach them or they could choose to lash out at
your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will
strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.
you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of
you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from
of old, from ancient times.”
Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty
of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his
greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
The southern kingdom of
Judah faced many tyrants and enemies. In
its context, this passage is most likely speaking prophetically with the siege
by King Nebuchadnezzar in 588-586 B.C.
The ruler of Israel would then be Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. The southern kingdom was often simply called
“Israel” because they had, more than the northern kingdom, stayed faithful as
the “true Israel”. It can make it a
challenge to determine when the prophet is speaking of the “people of God
called Israel” or the northern/southern kingdoms of Israel/Judah, respectively.
We know Zedekiah was struck
on the cheek both literally and figuratively.
Literally, he was blinded by the Neo-Babylonian army. Figuratively, he was shamed by the loss of
his authority and the nation. You can
read this sad end to Judah in 2 Kings 25:1-21 which ends with the sad
fulfillment of the prophecies, “So Judah went into captivity, away from
her land” (2 Kings 25:21b).
Verse 1 of Micah 5
prophesied what 2 Kings 25:21 summarized.
But the Lord wasn’t prepared to wash His hands of His people. The sun would rise again on the Lord’s people
and it would rise at the hands of their ultimate ruler, the Messiah. Unlike the weak and powerless nation of
Judah, the Messiah would rise with strength and power. Instead of coming from the magnificent
buildings and great walls of Jerusalem, the Ruler would come from Bethlehem
Ephrathah…the tiny clan and the quiet little town of virtually no consequence.
Regardless, this little
town would produce a HUGE Ruler—a King—“whose
origins are from eternity”. That’s a
literal rendering of the end of verse 2.
And notice the descriptions of this Ruler, the Messiah found in verse 4:
“He will stand…in strength” as opposed to the shame in which the last rulers of
Israel and Judah stood.
- He will “shepherd
his flock”–the Lord’s people.
- He will represent the
father (“…in the majesty of the
name of the Lord his God”)
- He will protect his people (“…and they will live securely”)
- He will be famous (“…his greatness will reach
to the ends of the earth”)
Even in the midst of their
punishment for their offense against the Father, He had devised the plan for
their salvation. Ultimately, this
passage is referring to Jesus. When
Herod asked the Jewish leaders where the Messiah would be born, they quoted
this passage. They knew exactly where
the Messiah would be born. And you read
it here first.
Deliverance seemed like a
long way off as they faced their certain destruction but God had a plan. He still has a plan. Maybe you have found yourself on the painful
side of God’s holy two by four labeled “spiritual discipline”, but our King is
waiting to pick you up and put you on your way.
Learn the lessons He’s teaching you well but don’t lose heart.
With our Lord Jesus, we are
Share the Father’s love
Shield each other from the
Shout His praises to the
ends of the earth.
The indwelling of our King
allows us to join in with the Psalmist David in 4:6-8: “Many
are asking, “Who can show us any good?”
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. 7 You have
filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8I
will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in
Learn the lesson God is
teaching you—and learn it well—then look up to Him for deliverance and be
amazed at how our Redeemer works.