Prophesies of apocalyptic doom are not new. One example came from Harold Camping who was the owner of Family Radio. He predicted that Jesus Christ would come on May 21, 2011, and then the world would end. But May 21 came and went without anything happening. Then he said that he had made a mistake and the date was really October 21, 2011. That date came and went. It is obvious that he was wrong one more time. Harold Camping was not just wrong. He was a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:19-22).
A second major announcement of apocalyptic doom was given by the followers of the Mayan apocalypse that was predicted to occur on December 21, 2012. It is reported that a Reuters Poll, conducted in twenty-one different countries, discovered that ten percent of the people of the world believed that the earth was going to come to an end December 21, 2012. As a result, 150,000 people gathered in Southern Mexico, waiting for the end of the world. At one of the Mayan pyramids, ten thousand people gathered and waited for the end of the world. They waited expectantly but nothing happened.
Others gathered at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The police reported that the streets were jammed, crowded and overrun with people who were thinking the world was coming to an end.
In France there were many people who gathered at a mountain that was believed to actually house an alien space ship. They believed the mountain would burst open and reveal the alien space ship. Then all of the faithful believers who were near the mountain would be rescued and taken away.
One Chinese man spent $160,000 to build a boat to take care of his family and his friends in order to help them escape the end of the world. Some believed that Planet X was going to collide and annihilate the earth. Others believed that a bunch of zombies were going to appear and kill everybody in the world. Others believed that the earth’s magnetic pole was going to shift, and as a result would destroy the world and everything on it. These were some of the strange ideas that people had about the Mayan prediction.
It is amazing to find that there are so many movies about future apocalypses. There are numerous websites that have advocated or critiqued the predictions about some apocalypse that was going to happen, or wasn’t going to happen. Countless magazine articles have been published and TV specials have been created, each one hyping the end of the world, according to the Mayan prediction.
The hysteria started when someone discovered that the Mayan long count calendar stopped or ended on December 21, 2012. People drew the conclusion that the world was going to come to an end because the Mayan calendar ran out on Friday, December 21, 2012. What they missed was that other Mayan artifacts showed that there were future dates past Friday, December 21, 2012, which suggested that the Mayans did not believe that the world would end on that date. This was completely ignored. As a result, the sensational was hyped and people around the world believed it. The hype generated billions of dollars for TV producers, TV channels, magazines and newspapers. The hype was successful, but nothing happened.
Prophesies In The Bible
In sharp contrast, the Bible contains a total of 1,817 prophecies: 1,239 in the Old Testament and 578 in the New Testament. Three hundred of them are about Jesus Christ. Forty percent of the 1,817 have already been fulfilled. Sixty percent of them are waiting to be fulfilled. They will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming. It is just amazing to think about the sharp contrast between the Mayan hype and the reality of the fulfilled biblical prophecies. Prophecy after prophecy has been fulfilled. The gospel of Matthew refers to five specific prophecies about Jesus Christ in chapters 1 and 2.
The Prophecy In Micah 5
In this study we will look at one of the 1,817 prophecies. What is especially important about this one prophecy is that even the ancient Jewish rabbis believed the prophecy referred to the Messiah.[1,2] However, today rabbis reject that understanding because they reject Jesus Christ.
Announcement of Coming Judgment
We will start with Micah 5:1.
Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops;
They have laid siege against us;
With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.
Micah 5:1 (NASB)
This verse should not be the first verse in chapter 5. It is actually the concluding verse of chapter 4. You will see why that is true in just a minute. But first notice what verse 1 says.
Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops . . .
When Micah says “muster,” he means to gather together – gather the troops together. When Micah says “daughter of troops,” he refers to the troops of the southern kingdom of Israel which was Judah. This is a prophecy that the Babylonian army would lay a siege against the city of Jerusalem.
Now before I go farther, I want to back up and describe the first four chapters of Micah because I want you to look for a pattern in those chapters.
In Micah 1:2 God started with a warning. It was a warning to Judah and to Israel. Jerusalem was included since it was a significant city within Judah. In verse 2 God said the following,
Hear, O peoples, all of you;
Listen, O earth and all it contains,
And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,
The Lord from His holy temple.
Micah 1:2 (NASB)
Here the Lord is pictured as coming from His holy temple. It is a reminder that our holy God is in His temple.
Verse 3 tells us that God will descend from heaven. He is coming as a judge.
For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. Micah 1:3 (NASB)
We are told that the Lord God would come from heaven and destroy high places. The high places were places where people worshiped false gods, not the true God. The unbelievers of that day would go there to worship their false gods—idols or demons.
In verse 4 the judgment of God is described.
The mountains will melt under Him
And the valleys will be split,
Like wax before the fire,
Like water poured down a steep place.
Micah 1:4 (NASB)
Verse 5 tells us why God came to judge not only Israel but Judah too! If you recall, Israel was north of Judah. In Jesus’ time, that would have been Galilee and Samaria. Verse 5 states,
All this is for the rebellion of Jacob
And for the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the rebellion of Jacob?
Is it not Samaria?
What is the high place of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?
Micah 1:5 (NASB)
It is interesting that God called out Jerusalem as being a high place. It was up on a mountain. God was rebuking them. Why? Because they had rejected God. Even though they were worshiping in Jerusalem, they were not worshiping from their heart. They were not worshiping the true God. So God says, “Judgment is coming.” Why? Because they were rebellious as a result of rejecting God.
When we come to chapter 2, God rebuked the oppressors. The pronouncement of judgment is continuing. Verse 1 says,
Woe to those who scheme iniquity,
Who work out evil on their beds!
When morning comes, they do it,
For it is in the power of their hands.
Micah 2:1 (NASB)
The message is that the oppressors lie on their bed at night, dreaming, scheming, and thinking. When they get up in the morning, they make their schemes to happen – wicked people. They did not care. What did they do? The answer is given in verse 2.
They covet fields and then seize them,
And houses, and take them away.
They rob a man and his house,
A man and his inheritance.
Micah 2:2 (NASB)
What did they do? They exploited the poor, the middle class and the elderly. They stole inheritances and houses. They took advantage of people. We see this in our own culture. We see exploitation in our own community. It happens again and again: people taking advantage of people.
In verse 3 we discover the Lord reveals His plans.
Therefore thus says the LORD,
“Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity
From which you cannot remove your necks . . .
Micah 2:3a (NASB)
God says, “I’m planning to judge you. I am planning to make you pay for your sins.”
Announcement of Coming Victory
The message has been that God would judge Israel. Then in verses 12-13, all of a sudden there is a promise of blessing. Judgment was announced in chapter 1. Judgment was announced in the first of chapter 2. But all of a sudden, blessing is announced in verses 12-13.
I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob,
I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.
I will put them together like sheep in the fold;
Like a flock in the midst of its pasture
They will be noisy with men.
The breaker goes up before them;
They break out, pass through the gate and go out by it.
So their king goes on before them,
And the LORD at their head
Micah 2:12-13 (NASB)
The Lord is the Messiah. Verses 12 and 13 is a prophecy that promises the coming of the Messiah. This is about the second coming of Christ, His second advent.
Announcement Of Judgment Is Resumed
Micah 3:1 resumes the announcement of coming judgment, and this time the rulers are denounced.
And I said,
“Hear now, heads of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel.
Is it not for you to know justice?
You who hate good and love evil . . .”
Micah 3:1-2a (NASB)
Don’t we see that in our country? Our citizens hate the good and love the evil. Today, abortion is considered a good thing by many.
You who hate good and love evil,
Who tear off their skin from them
And their flesh from their bones,
Who eat the flesh of my people . . .
Micah 3:2b-3 (NASB)
This prophecy describes a similar event that occurred in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when mothers and fathers actually ate their babies in order to survive.
Verse 12 continues describing the coming horrors of military conquest.
Therefore, on account of you
Zion will be plowed as a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.
Micah 3:12 (NASB)
Micah 3:12 makes it very clear that Zion was going to be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins. That was God’s plan.
Announcement of The Millennial Kingdom
So far, Micah 1 and 2 have announced judgment that ended with a promise of the second coming or second advent of Christ. Chapter 3 announced judgment. Now in chapter 4, we have a promise of the second coming of Christ again.
And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.
Micah 4:1 (NASB)
You might ask, “What is this mountain?” The answer is found in Daniel 2:35, 44-45 where a mountain was a term that symbolized a kingdom. When it says, “the mountain of the House of the Lord,” it is referring to God’s kingdom. When we are told the chief of the mountains will be raised above the hills, this prophesies that the other kingdoms will be smaller. Therefore, God’s kingdom will be the greatest kingdom over all other kingdoms.
Micah 4:2 adds,
Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the house of the God of Jacob . . .
Micah 4:2a (NASB)
Now we are told that the peoples will stream to the mountain or kingdom of the Lord. Then we are told that war no longer exists among men.
And to the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks . . .
Micah 4:2b-3a (NASB)
The rest of the verse announces great news!
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.
Micah 4:3b (NASB)
Then the prophet continues through verse 8 describing the kingdom of the Lord. This chapter is about a promise of blessing in the millennial kingdom–the future millennial kingdom. God warns them that judgment is coming, and then He says, “Oh, by the way, blessing is coming. There will be judgment, but a blessing is coming also!” The Messiah is coming. The millennial kingdom is coming.
In verse 9 God resumes the announcement of judgment from Micah 3:12. Micah 4:1-8 was a parenthesis. Verse 9-10 says,
“Now, why do you cry out loudly?
Is there no king among you,
Or has your counselor perished,
That agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth?
Writhe and labor to give birth,
Daughter of Zion,
Like a woman in childbirth . . .
Micah 4:9-10a (NASB)
In verses 11-13 the prophet leaps forward in time to the Battle of Armageddon in these two verses before returning to the war with the Babylonian Empire. This is fitting since Israel will be in war after war until their Messiah comes and reigns. The Battle of Armageddon is the last major battle before the millennial kingdom.
There should not be a break between chapters 4 and 5 since Micah 5:1 resumes the description of the war with the Babylonian Empire.
Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops;
They have laid siege against us;
With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.
Micah 5:1 (NASB)
The message was simple. Get your army together, daughter of troops. They have laid siege against you. With a rod they are going to smite the judge of Judah on the cheek.
In the ancient times, getting slapped on the cheek was a serious insult. That is exactly what God announced. The king was going to be slapped on the cheek. Micah is describing a huge insult to the king of Israel. The announcement was against the southern kingdom of Israel or Judah. The king’s name was Zedekiah (2 Kings 24-25).
Announcement Of The Coming Messiah
What have we discovered? We have discovered that there is a pattern where judgment is pronounced that is followed by future blessing, followed by more judgment and another future blessing. Chapter 4 ended with announcements of judgment that continue into chapter 5. What should we expect to occur in chapter 5? Look at Micah 5:2.
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
Micah 5:2 (NASB)
This verse is definitely a shift that is about blessing. Now, there are four important observations we want to study. The first key observation is that in the darkness of Israel’s trials, God promised them that good things were coming. Put it in another way, God promises good gifts will follow our darkest trials.
May I ask, “Are you going through a difficult trial? Is there a problem that you are struggling with?” If so, did you know that there is a divine principle in Micah? Remember James 1? It says,
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that . . . James 1:2a (NASB)
James goes on to say that spiritual blessings will follow.
Do you remember Job and how he lost everything that he had except for his wife? He lost his children and possessions. He lost everything, and what did God do? In Job 38 God gave him a spiritual blessing. Then in Job 42 God gave him a physical blessing—he was given two times everything that he had possessed before.
Do you remember Noah? There was a flood and everything was destroyed. What did God do? God gave him the promise of a rainbow. It was a blessing.
Do you remember Joseph? He was a slave. From Joseph’s perspective, that was a terrible! He was a slave in Egypt for a long time. Then Joseph was promoted to the second position in the kingdom. At the end of the book of Genesis, we are told, “God meant it for good.” That was great!
Do you remember Romans 8:28? That verse says,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God . . . Romans 8:28a (NASB)
Our first observation is that you may be going through a very difficult trial, but God grants His children blessings.
I thought it was fabulous what God did for Israel. He told them that judgment is coming and then He gave them encouragement to help them go through their problem or trial. If you are going through a deep time in your life, just hang on because good times will come to believers.
Verse 2 is a promise of good things to come for Israel,
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah . . . Micah 5:2a (NASB)
The Hebrew word for Bethlehem means “house of bread.” The word Ephrathah is important. It is important because there were two cities called Bethlehem. One was in the southern part of Judah five miles southwest of Jerusalem. The other Bethlehem was in Zebulon. Joshua 19:15 refers to that Bethlehem. This Bethlehem is in the region known today as Galilee. One Jerusalem was in the north, and the other was in the south. The one called Bethlehem Ephrathah was in the south, five miles southwest of Jerusalem.
We should ask, “Why did Micah add Ephrathah to the name Bethlehem?” Micah is being very specific as to which Bethlehem. Then he adds, “and too little among the clans of Judah.” Now that is very important because Bethlehem had less than a thousand people. The message is that the city was insignificant. In fact, this city was so insignificant that it was not even included in the list of cities in Joshua 15. Micah said it was too little among the clans of Judah.
Too little to be among the clans of Judah . . . Micah 5:2a (NASB)
The Announcement That God Is Coming
Next Micah prophesied,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel . . . Micah 5:2a (NASB)
Now who is the “Me” in this passage? The answer is God. God is talking. So we could just leave that part out and say, “From you, one will go forth to be ruler of Israel.” This is a promise of a ruler for Israel who was going to come from Bethlehem and one day would rule Israel. Micah is talking about the Messiah.
It is rather fascinating. In the Jewish document, Targum Jonathan it says,
And you, O Bethlehem Ephrath, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me the Messiah, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned from before, from the days of creation.
This Jewish document refers to Micah 5:2 and clearly states that the person being spoken of here is the Messiah. The Targum Palestine reads like this,
Out of thee Bethlehem shall Messiah go forth before me to exercise dominion over Israel.
So what does that tell us? It reveals the Jews believed this passage was talking about the coming Messiah. It is not just Christians who think that this verse refers to the Messiah. Even the Jewish rabbis believed that this referred to the Messiah. But today they ignore the last part of the verse. Look at the last part of the verse. It says,
His goings forth are from long ago . . . Micah 5:2b (NASB)
I like that phrase “long ago.” The Hebrew word actually has the idea of antiquity. It was a long time ago. Isaiah 48:3 refers to someone who was from long ago. Now watch this. If you think the Messiah is human, if you think the Messiah is a person like you or I, flesh and bone, just a human born of a mom and a dad, how is he from long ago? How is he from antiquity? If we look at the last part of the verse we are told,
From the days of eternity. Micah 5:2b (NASB)
The word “eternity” in the Hebrew is olam, and it is translated as “everlasting, forever, perpetual, eternal and ancient.” It really refers to an unlimited duration of time. Now what human do you know who has been in existence for an unlimited duration of time? No one! I do not know anyone but … who? … God! The Messiah qualifies as deity. This is a statement alluding to deity, and the Jewish rabbis missed it. They ignored it. They ignore the obvious. The prophet Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah and he writes this in Isaiah 9:6.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
Doesn’t that sound like Micah? Micah 5:2 says,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler . . .
Micah was written in about 700 B.C. or seven hundred years before Christ. Isaiah wrote about the same time. Remember in Isaiah 7:14 we are told,
For a child will be born …
The verse refers to the fact that a child will be virgin born. In Isaiah 7:14 we are told a virgin will give birth to a child. Then in chapter 9 the prophet says a child will be a king and will be God. These verses sound like Micah 5:2. That is the whole point. All three passages are telling us the Messiah would be God.
God Uses The Humble
Another important observation is to notice that God uses the unimportant and humble to accomplish His purposes. May I ask if you feel unimportant and humble, or that God cannot use you for some reason? Notice that the Prophet Micah calls out Bethlehem Ephrathah. It was small, unimportant, and insignificant. No one cared about this town, and what did God do? God says, “Oh! from this unimportant place someone is going to become your ruler.”
I couldn’t help thinking about Paul. He was the chief of sinners, yet he was used tremendously by God. He was the apostle to the Gentiles. Then I thought of Moses. We know he was the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land, but he did not start that way. He started as a murderer who fled Egypt because he was afraid he was going to be killed for having committed a homicide. He was a Jew! They made Jews slaves in that day. He was insignificant and unimportant at that point.
Or how about the donkey that spoke to a prophet? God used a donkey! How did the prophet feel? How about Joseph? He started as a slave who was later falsely accused of attempted rape, and God used him tremendously. How about Gideon’s troops? I have always loved the account of the victory won by Gideon’s troops. Do you remember how Gideon prepared his men for battle? God told Gideon to pick some men and then some of them were eliminated who failed a test given by God. Then God eliminated more through another test and the process continued until God removed all the good men. Only the poorer quality soldiers were left. God picked the least prepared soldiers to fight for Israel and they won. What did God do? God used the unimportant and those whom we would reject. God will use you if you are humble.
I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul said,
Strength is perfected in weakness.
May I suggest that if you think you are really a hot and important person, who is valuable to God, then that makes you totally unusable by Him. Why? The answer is because He is looking for someone who is humble.
Remember Jonah? He thought he was hot stuff. He was too good to go to the Ninevites and preach the gospel and call them to repentance. Therefore, he decided he would run away from God. He thought he was too good. But God chased him down, humbled him and let a great fish swallow him for dinner. In Jonah 2 the prophet Jonah is pleading, begging, talking about all of his problems, and when he finally humbled himself, then God had the fish spit him out. At that point he was usable by God, and his ministry brought the entire city to repentance. What does God do? God uses the unimportant and the humble to accomplish His purposes. That means God can use you, and God can use me. The worst thing we can do is think that we have something to contribute to God.
Israel’s Future and Our Future
Then Micah continues and in verse 3 he says,
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child . . .
Micah 5:3a (NASB)
When he says, “give them up until the time,” the “he” refers to the Messiah. He says, “The Messiah will give them up until the time.” The last part of verse 3 says,
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
Micah 5:3b (NASB)
What is that talking about? It is talking about the remnant of Israel returning to the land of Israel. Now let me explain verse 3. Micah prophesied that after the Messiah is born, Israel would be in labor or be in pain and agony. If we look at history, that is exactly what happened after Jesus died on a cross and was resurrected. In A.D. 70, the Romans invaded and conquered Israel. All of the Jews have not been regathered to the nation yet. Partial fulfillment occurred in 1948. But when does all Israel return to the land? It occurs in the millennial kingdom after they go through the tribulation period. Now look at verse 4.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
Micah 5:4 (NASB)
This speaks of Christ the Messiah. He is going to be great to the ends of the earth. That is during the millennial kingdom. Then the first part of verse 5 says the Messiah will be our peace.
This one will be our peace . . . Micah 5:5a (NASB)
That is the message of Isaiah 9:6. He will be the “Prince of Peace.”
You might ask, “What is this all about?” The answer is that Micah 5:2-5a prophesies two advents of the Messiah. The first one is that He would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah which occurs in verse 2 through the first part of verse 3. The second advent occurs when He returns to set up His kingdom. This is prophesied in the last half of verse 3 through the first part of verse 5. Those are the two advents. This is a tremendous prophecy in Micah. The last part of the prophecy will be fulfilled in the future.
Micah 5:2-5 – A Prophecy About Christ
Matthew 2:6 is about the coming of the Magi. It happened roughly two years after the birth of Christ. In verse 1 we are told that the Magi came from the East and arrived in Jerusalem. In verse 2 they asked,
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? Matthew 2:2a (NASB)
Now watch this. They were correct. They knew about the prophecy of Daniel but not the prophecy in Micah. They say,
For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:2b (NASB)
We are told that Herod and Jerusalem were disturbed and so Herod asked where the Messiah was to born?
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. Matthew 2:3-4 (NASB)
The wise men did not know in which city or town the Messiah was to born or they would have gone directly to Bethlehem. Verse 5-6 says,
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
Matthew 2:5-6 (NASB)
The chief priests and scribes quoted part of Micah 5:2 and missed verses 3-5. Notice that the chief priests and scribes did not include Ephrathah from Micah 5:2. This was consistent with rabbinic tradition to change, amplify, or to clarify a prophecy in the Old Testament scripture.
Again the chief priests and scribes followed rabbinic freedom and changed the prophecy a little bit to make the point that Bethlehem was no longer insignificant. It was now very significant. “For out of you shall come forth a ruler” refers us back to Micah and connects with Luke chapter 2 where we read,
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 (NASB)
So what did we discover? We discovered a great prophecy. It was about the Messiah and so it refers to Jesus Christ. It was written 700 years before the birth occurred, and it was about One who would be deity in human flesh. He would be the ruler of Israel and all the world. Luke tells us that He is the Savior. Therefore, Jesus Christ is God, Messiah, our king and our Savior. That is why He came and was born in human flesh. This tremendous prophecy points to Jesus Christ at His first coming. We are waiting for His Second Coming.
Micah is one of the few passages in the Old Testament where we see both advents described together. The Jewish leaders just missed it and as a result murdered Jesus. As a result, our sins can now be forgiven and we can go to heaven. God had planned everything to be this way. The events were according to His purposes.
1. Targum Jonathan on Micah 5:1.
2. y. Ber.2.4. Jerusalem Talmud
3. Huckel, T. (1998). The Rabbinic Messiah (Mic 5:2 Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). Philadelphia: Hananeel House.