1 - Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
2 - But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
3 - Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
4 - And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.
5 - And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
6 - And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
7 - And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
8 - And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
9 - Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
10 - And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:
11 - And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:
12 - And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
13 - Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
14 - And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.
15 - And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
The Bethlehem Prophecy
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. – Micah 5:2
I was recently asked this question by a Christian friend, "Why do the Jews refuse to believe that Jesus is the Messiah?"
To those of us that have received Him as Lord, and have understood the Old Testament Scriptures and prophecies concerning His arrival, it is difficult to comprehend how those who have been chosen to be the womb through which Jesus would come, could reject Him in spite of the overwhelming evidence to support the truth.
I answered my friend this way; -
There are many prophecies that proclaim that when the Messiah comes we will have a perfect world. The wolf will lie down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6, 65:25) and we will turn our instruments of war into farming tools (Micah 4:3). The Jews look at the world we live in now, with its wars and tribulations and assume that because these particular prophecies have not as yet been fulfilled, then Jesus could not have been the prophesied Messiah. They ignore the fact that Jesus fulfilled over three hundred prophecies, including the ones which state very clearly that before we have this perfect world, some other things that Jesus fulfilled must happen first.
When God paints a picture in prophecy, He uses different instruments; a variety of prophets and events. These individual paintings have been designed to fit together into one masterpiece that evolves over time. Some parts of this work of God have been completed, others have not. We have to look at the whole picture in order to understand what God is doing and this is something that the Jews have not done.
They say that when the Messiah comes we will have a perfect world, yet many of them believe in the prophecy that declares the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, (Matthew 2:1, 6). The Messiah has fulfilled this prophecy; but they overlook the fact that when the Messiah comes in this prophecy, we are not immediately promised a perfect world, but instead we are shown that the Messiah "gives them up."
Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel – Micah 5:3.
“Therefore He will give them up,” – The Anointed One is born and then He gives up His people. Why? Because they have rejected Him fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah fifty-three –
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him: He was despised and we esteemed Him not – Isaiah 53:3.
The Messiah gives up His people “Until the time that she which travails has brought forth” (given birth). The travailing indicates a time of intense pain preceding a time of fulfillment and joy.
In the previous chapter of Micah’s prophecy, the prophet speaks of another time of travailing that precedes the advent of the Messiah. –
Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail – Micah 4:10.
Micah is prophesizing of the coming Babylonian captivity and the destruction of the temple –
For now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field – (She shall experience a period of homelessness) and thou shalt go even to Babylon.
This time of travailing, of great pain, is followed by a promise –
There you shall be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah that the captivity would last seventy years before this deliverance would occur. The temple would again be rebuilt in Zion.
And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years - Jeremiah 25:11.
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place – Jeremiah
Yet, Messiah would come at a time when God’s people would not have judicial power -
The scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come – Genesis 49:10.
Even during the Babylonian captivity the Jews were permitted to exercise capital punishments among their own people. It was much later after the temple had been rebuilt and the Jews came under Roman rule that they were forbidden to govern their own and instigate the death penalty. This is why the religious leadership had to petition Pilate for Jesus’ execution. Their scepter had been removed.
Jesus came to them in this season, fulfilling this prophecy concerning His arrival. Then Messiah would be “cut off” according to Daniel’s prophecy –
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off- Daniel 9:26 …and the prophet Isaiah tells us why; the Messiah has been ordained to die, to be “cut off” for the sins of the people. –
For He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people was He stricken- Isaiah 53:8
– Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand – Isaiah 53:10
And Daniel foretells that after Messiah is killed Jerusalem would be destroyed. –
And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary – Daniel 9:26
This prophecy was fulfilled forty years later (seventy years from Jesus' birth) after Jesus stood on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and mourned her coming destruction; this time of great travail she would endure because she had rejected her true King. –
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate – Matthew 23:37,38.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down - Matthew 24:1,2.
Her Messiah has come, yet she is still far away from this perfect world. She still must be given up for a season “Until she travails” and brings forth a second time- and becomes a nation fulfilling the prophecies that one day she would be given her own soil.
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers – Deuteronomy 30:3, 5.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive – Jeremiah 29:13,14.
Israel became a nation in 1948 and this prophecy of the budding fig tree is taken to mean that the world is approaching the time when Messiah would return a second time. -
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors – Matthew 24:32, 33.
In the meanwhile – “The remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel”
When Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were waiting to speak to Him He said, that His brethren were those who did the will of God.
Then one said unto Him, Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
- But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!- Matthew 12:47-49.
And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it – Luke 8:20, 21.
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother- Matthew 12:50.
The will of God is that we believe on the One whom He has sent and receive the Gospel of our salvation –
And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day – John 6:40.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life – John 3:16.
For both He (Messiah Jesus)that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren., saying "I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee- Hebrews 2:11,12, Psalm 22:22.
Therefore, Messiah's brethren are believers in Messiah Jesus, both Messianic Jews and Christians, and these believers return to the children of Israel and there is a time of evangelism –
..then the remnant of His (Messiah’s) brethren shall return unto the children of Israel - Micah 5:3.
And He (Messiah) shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord - Micah 5:4.
There is a time of “feeding”, when the remnant of His brethren, which Jesus views as Himself – (And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me. – Matthew 25:40) are operating in the power and strength of God because the Lord is in them through His Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit comes into a believer Jesus comes -
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you –
When Jesus’ Spirit comes, so does the Father –
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him. – John 14:23 - just as God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself- 11 Corinthians 5:19.
Messiah has come and instead of a perfect world, we are shown He must be killed, Jerusalem is to be destroyed and Israel would be restored to her own land. She would have opportunity to hear the Gospel within her own borders and then there would be an additional period when she would experience persecution from the Assyrians.
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land (Israel is a nation) and when he shall tread in our palaces, then we shall raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men.
When an Assyrian attacks, what does he do? He kills you. The point of the Gospel is that God has made a provision through Messiah Jesus to save the soul from death. One of the early Christians has said – “You can kill us, but you can’t do us any real harm.”
Thus the Messiah will be the peace, giving us eternal life – “and they shall abide”
- “for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth.” - The Gospel of Jesus has encompassed the entire world and multitudes of people have come to know Him. – “And this man shall be the peace,” The Messiah is the Peace when the enemy of death comes to destroy. Jeremiah 33:14-16: "In those days and at that time will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem (the church, His people) shall dwell safely without fear of death) and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness." God imparts His righteousness through our Messiah who is our High Priest.
This aspect of our deliverance must be accomplished first, before any physical deliverance from physical enemies can happen. We are only going to live on this planet for so long. The average lifespan of a human being is only seventy years. If there is no provision for your soul’s life, then what’s the point? God is taking care of the most important aspect first – thus the Assyrian’s threat is defeated – the enemy of death they represent has been vanquished by the “Sword” which is used symbolically throughout the scriptures as representative of God’s Word.
The Gospel has been preached by in many nations. Jesus has fulfilled all the many prophecies stating that He would be a “Light” to the Gentiles. -
And the Gentiles shall come to Thy Light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising - Isaiah 60:3.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles - Isaiah 42:1.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. – Isaiah 11:10.
Jesus brings peace to all that know Him. We have been delivered from our earthly enemy of death, through the fulfillment of His death and resurrection from the dead.
As we study this masterpiece that God has painted throughout His word, we can see the events that have been fulfilled and also anticipate the finished work, the perfect world that God has promised His people – those who have not rejected His Messiah. We are shown through the apostle and prophet John, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies when Jesus returns the second time in Revelation nineteen and twenty and the world experiences one thousand years of an unprecedented time of world peace under Jesus’ reign.
This is the fulfillment of the time prophesized in Zechariah when the Ancient of Days returns in His Son, (Who is the image of the invisible God,- Colossians 1:15) after an intense time of persecution –
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom - Daniel 7:21.
The physical enemies of Israel will be destroyed at this time – fulfilling the later part of the Bethlehem prophecy when the Assyrians will be banished from Israel, but not before God allows her to be attacked, -
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city - Zechariah 14:2. Then the Lord defends her -
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle – Zechariah 14:3.
- and the Lord stands on the Mount of Olives at the time of the end – And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south – Zechariah 14:4.
And they shall look upon Me (The Father) whom they have pierced, (God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself – II Corinthians 5:19) and mourn for Him (the Son) as one mourns for his only son, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn – Zechariah - 12:10.
God delivers her from her enemies at His return and she looks upon the one she has “thrust through” and mourns for Him as if He was her son. She will realize her error of rejecting the Messiah and there will be a time of great mourning, as recorded by the prophet Zechariah.
- In that day there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem – Zechariah 12:11.
It is also a time of restoration to God of His people who had previously rejected their Messiah Jesus.
When the Lord returns then “all Israel shall be saved” – fulfilling the Apostle Paul’s Prophecy. -
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: - Romans 11:25-26.
As we step back to look at the finished masterpiece, I hope you can see all the minute details that have been so skillfully incorporated into its intricate design.
The colors are brilliant and encouraging. It is a landscape of hope, and if you look carefully you will see that it is a masterfully rendered portrait of the Messiah Jesus from the beginning to its victorious finale.
Messiah has come, He is coming again, and yes, someday the wolf will lie down with the lamb and there will be no more war, for this Man, our high priest, Yeshua, is now and will be the Peace.
And nation shall not lift up a sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore – Micah 4:3.
copyright 2010 by H.D. Shively
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