Category: Book of Micah

Micah 5:2 predicts, “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.” The verse clearly speaks of a coming king in Israel, but does it predict the coming of the Messiah?

Micah 5:2 makes a couple of predictions. First, the birthplace of this future “ruler of Israel” would be Bethlehem Ephrathah. Since there were two locations known as Bethlehem at the time of Micah’s writing, the addition of Ephrathah is significant. It specifies the Bethlehem in Judah, the portion of Israel in which the capital, Jerusalem, was located. Bethlehem was considered “little,” or insignificant, among the cities of Judah, yet would serve as the birthplace of this future ruler.

Second, the coming ruler of Jewish background was one “whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.” What else could this refer to other than the Messiah? Only the Messiah fits the description of a ruler in Israel whose origin was from times past. In fact, “from ancient days” is sometimes synonymous with “eternal” (as in Habakkuk 1:12). Only the Jewish Messiah could be a ruler in Israel from eternity past.

This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that the Jewish religious leaders in the first century identified Micah 5:2 as a Messianic prophecy. In Matthew 2, wise men from the East visited King Herod in Jerusalem and asked where the king of the Jews had been born. Herod assembled all the chief priests and scribes, and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’” basing their answer on Micah 5:2.

Only Jesus Christ fits the Messianic claims of Micah 5:2. He was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Matthew 2; Luke 2:1-20). Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the ruler of Israel (John 4:25-26). He also fits the description as being “from ancient times” or eternal (John 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17). No other ruler in Israel fits these requirements. Dozens of other direct prophecies in the Old Testament (some scholars cite hundreds) fit Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death.

Jesus told the Jews that the Law and the Prophets provided a clear witness that He was who He claimed to be. “These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” He said (John 5:39). Still today, those who investigate the prophecy of Micah 5:2 and other Messianic passages find compelling evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Author: The author of the Book of Micah was the Prophet Micah  (Micah  1:1).

Date of Writing: The Book of Micah was likely  written between 735 and 700 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The  message of the Book of Micah is a complex mixture of judgment and hope. On  the one hand, the prophecies announce judgment upon Israel for social evils,  corrupt leadership and idolatry. This judgment was expected to culminate in  the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem. On the other hand, the book  proclaims not merely the restoration of the nation, but the transformation and  exaltation of Israel and Jerusalem. The messages of hope and doom are not  necessarily contradictory, however, since restoration and transformation take  place only after judgment.

Key Verses: Micah 1:2, “Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth  and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the Lord  from His holy temple.”

Micah 5:2,  “But 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.”

Micah 6:8, “He  has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To  act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 7:18-19, “Who is a  God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of  His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You  will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all  our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

Brief Summary:  The prophet condemns the rulers, priests, and prophets of Israel who  exploit and mislead the people. It is because of their deeds that Jerusalem  will be destroyed. The prophet Micah proclaims the deliverance of the  people who will go from Jerusalem to Babylon and concludes with an exhortation  for Jerusalem to destroy the nations who have gathered against her. The ideal  ruler would come from Bethlehem to defend the nation, and the prophet proclaims  the triumph of the remnant of Jacob and foresees a day when Yahweh will purge  the nation of idolatry and reliance on military might. The prophet sets  forth a powerful and concise summary of Yahweh’s requirement for justice and  loyalty and announces judgment upon those who have followed the ways of Omri and  Ahab. The book closes with a prophetic liturgy comprising elements of a  lament. Israel confesses its sin and is assured of deliverance through  Yahweh’s mighty acts.

Foreshadowings: Micah 5:2 is a Messianic prophecy quoted when the magi  were searching for the king born in Bethlehem (Matthew  2:6). These kings from the East were told that from the tiny village of  Bethlehem would come forth the Prince of Peace, the Light of the world. Micah’s  message of sin, repentance and restoration finds its ultimate fulfillment in  Jesus Christ who is the propitiation for our sins (Romans  3:24-25) and the only way to God (John  14:6).

Practical Application: God gives warnings so  we will not have to suffer His wrath. Judgment is certain if God’s warnings are  not heeded and His provision for sin in the sacrifice of His Son is rejected.  For the believer in Christ, God will discipline us—not from hate—but because He  loves us. He knows that sin destroys and He wants us to be whole. This wholeness  which is the promise of restoration awaits those who remain obedient to Him.