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Micah 5:1-6: The Coming Ruler Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 December 2006

The themes of judgment and redemption are often closely connected in the Scriptures.  Whenever we see judgment in the Scriptures, we normally see redemption as well.  For example, think of the judgment that fell on Adam and Eve when they sinned in the garden.  Even in the midst of Godís judgment, we read of the redemption that will come through the one who will bruise the head of the serpent (see Genesis 3:15).  Or consider the judgment of the flood.  Noah and his family are brought safely through this judgment as evidence of Godís plan to redeem a people for Himself. 

Micah has spoken harshly against the leaders in Judah who were currently reigning.  He has criticized them for their unfaithful rule, for taking bribes, for taking land that did not belong to them, and for abandoning the charge given to them by God.  In the last couple of weeks, we have also seen Micah talk about a coming restoration of Godís people, a raising up of a remnant, and deliverance from their enemies.

Yet, in our passage this morning, in contrast to the unfaithful leaders in Judah, Micah tells us of a coming ruler who will reign faithfully over the Lordís people.  He continues to tell Judah that they must face a time of judgment (see verse 1), but he wants to encourage them by telling them of a coming ruler who will not lead them away from the Lord (as those currently were doing), but One who will restore their relationship with God.  In our passage, Micah tells us some specifics about this coming Ruler.  I want us to begin by considering these specifics this morning.

First, He will be born in Bethlehem (v. 2a).

Micah tells us exactly where this ruler will be born.  Look at verse 2a.  The truth of the Ruler being born in Bethlehem is loaded with meaning.  First, we know from Israelís history that Bethlehem was the birth-place of great King David.  Thus, Bethlehem reminds Micahís readers of Israelís greatest King to this point and gives them hope that the former glory under David will be restored in Israel.  So we see the significance of Bethlehem.  Yet, what about Micahís description of Bethlehem: who are too little to be among the clans of Judah.  Micah is pointing out that Bethlehem is in fact insignificant in Judah.  But if the Lord can bring a King like David from Bethlehem, then surely He can raise another faithful King from such a humble place.  And so it is with the Lord.  He does not adhere to manís wisdom or manís plans.  He exalts the humble and tramples down the pride of man.  Men would not have their King born in Bethlehem.  But this is not the plan of men, it is the sovereign plan of Almighty God.  The coming Ruler will be born in humble Bethlehem.  And just as David, the humble shepherd-boy, was exalted, so will the coming King be raised to rule over Israel.

Second, His origin is from old (v. 2b).

Micah goes on in verse 2 to speak of the coming ruler as being from of old.  Look at verse 2b.  Again, it seems that Micah is referring to at least the days of David.  He is encouraging the people by telling them that this coming Ruler was not an afterthought in the mind of God.  In fact, the restoration of Godís people has always been part of the plan, even from of old.  God has planned from ancient days to send this One to rule faithfully over His people.  The remnant will not be ruled by greedy, unfaithful leaders.  Rather, God has planned to send a King to rule them faithfully.

Third, His appearing will come after difficult days (v. 1, 3).

Micah knows that judgment is going to come to Judah.  He speaks of it in verse 1.  Look at that verse with me.  This is probably a reference to the Sennacherib crisis, when the Assyrian King would threaten to capture Jerusalem, for it is Sennacherib who will lay siege against them (see 2 Kings 18-19).   Micah also writes of the difficult days to come in verse 3.  Look at that verse with me.  It is only after Judah is given up for a time that the Ruler will come.  Those days, as Micah has said before (see 4:10), will be like a woman in labor.  They will be difficult and hard, but they will be followed with joy at the coming of the One.  On that day, the remnant of Israel will return.  Micah continues the theme of encouraging the people as they go through a time of judgment by telling them of the coming redemption.

Fourth, He will rule and shepherd the flock of God faithfully, even being their peace and delivering them from their enemies (v. 4-6).

In verses 4-6 we see the stark contrast between Judahís current leaders and the Ruler that is to come.  Look at those verses with me.  Micah says that the coming ruler will stand, a reference to his strength and stability.  He also says that he will shepherd his flock.  A shepherd must provide for and protect the sheep under his care and this is what Micah is saying that the coming Ruler will do.  He goes on to say that the people shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.  His flock will not fear because His reign will extend to the ends of the earth.  And He, himself, shall be their peace.

In verses 5-6, Micah says that the coming Ruler will deliver the people from Assyria.  Assyria was the threat at the time of Micahís writing.  Thus, Micah wants to encourage his readers by telling them that even mighty Assyria will be no threat to the reign of the coming Ruler.  By providing faithful under-shepherds and leaders, this coming Ruler will deliver Judah from all her enemies.  We see a partial fulfillment of this prophecy when the Lord delivers Jerusalem from Sennacherib.  Yet, the greater fulfillment will come later.

Fifth, and finally, He will bring glory to God (v. 4a).

Look at verse 4 with me again.  As we mentioned earlier, the coming Ruler will stand and shepherd his flock.  Yet, notice how that will be done.  He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  Thus, this coming Ruler will bring honor and glory to God, for He will rule in the Lordís strength, drawing attention to the Lordís majesty and the Lordís name.  Judahís current rulers trust in their own strength and in the strength of their armies (see 5:10-11), but the coming Ruler will trust in the Lord, bringing Him glory for all of His victories.

So these are the specifics concerning this coming Ruler that God will raise up to lead His people.  Of course, there is one obvious question that remains: who is this coming Ruler?  Are we still awaiting His appearance?  No, we know His name: Jesus Christ.  It will do us good to consider just how Jesus fulfills all of this.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7, Matthew 2:1).

Look at Luke 2:4-7 with me.  Joseph was required to go to Bethlehem because that is where he was from and Caesar Augustus had issued a census be taken.  Indeed, how amazing is Godís plan.  He tells Micah that the coming Ruler will be born in humble Bethlehem, but Joseph is residing in Nazareth.  Yet, in the Lordís sovereignty, He used wicked Augustus to bring about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.  And there, in a lowly manger, the King of Kings became a man, and humble Bethlehem was exalted to the birthplace of not just King David, but King Davidís King as well, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Jesusí origin is from of Old (John 1:1-2).

Micah wrote that the coming Rulerís origin was from of Old, even ancient days.  Yet, John tells us that Jesusí origin did not just extend to the time of David, but to eternity past.  Look at John 1:1-2.  Jesus was there in the beginning.  He is the ancient of Days.  And Godís plan to send Him to free His people was laid even before the foundations of the world (see Ephesians 1:3ff).

Jesus came after difficult days in Israel (Matthew 1:17).

Micahís prophecies about difficult days in Israel indeed came to pass.  The King of Assyria indeed laid siege to the holy city.  The King of Babylon carried off Judah into Exile.  And following the last of the Old Testament prophets, God was silent for 400 years in Israel.  Yet, after all of this, Christ came.  At the end of Matthewís genealogy of Christ, he writes: So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.  Yes, the days were difficult, like a woman in labor, but Christ came, bringing joy to Israel and joy to the ends of the earth.

Jesus rules and shepherds the flock of God faithfully, having become our peace and destroying our enemies (John 10:11-18, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Romans 5:1ff).

Jesus in John 10, the passage we read as our call to worship, tells us very plainly that He is the Good Shepherd.  Not only that, but He tells us why He is the Good Shepherd: The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  Christ, in laying down His life through His death on the cross, has defeated all of our enemies, namely sin, Satan, and death, and has given us peace with God (see Romans 5:1ff).  Thus, even though Micahís prophecy was partially fulfilled in the defeating of Assyria, it ultimately pointed to the victory of Christ at Calvary.  Because Christ was raised and the grave could not hold Him, we know that we have victory over our enemies and peace with Almighty God.  He is now ruling His Church as her Head, even providing under-shepherds to care for her (see 1 Peter 5:1-4), until He returns to gather her to Himself.

Finally, Jesus brings glory to the Father (John 17:1-4).

Jesus prays in John 17, knowing that He will soon face the cross and suffer under the wrath of God, for the Father to be glorified.  Listen to how He begins his prayer.  Christ, through His complete obedience to the Fatherís will, brought glory to God in His life, death, and resurrection.  He came and walked in the strength of the Lord and brought glory and majesty to the name of God. 

If you are looking for a reason to worship the Child that was born in the manger, if you are looking for a reason to bow the knee to the Word who became flesh, if you are looking for a reason repent of your sins and believe in Christ as your Savior, then look no further.  He is the coming Ruler, the promised Messiah, our Prophet, Priest, and King.  May we offer our bodies as living sacrifices to the only One who is worthy of all praise and all glory.  O come let us adore Him indeed.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 31 December 2006 )

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