Advent Devotional Day 22: Micah 5.1-5
Christ Our Shepherd-King
Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops, siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth One for Me who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore He shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel, and He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace…(Isaiah 5.1-5)
Throughout this series, there has been an emphasis on the Seed of the woman/seed of the serpent dynamic in the history of God’s revelation. As history progresses, the people of God are constantly in conflict with those who are Satan’s. Often times the people of God find themselves overwhelmed and overcome by pagan forces who worship idols and are under the power of the devil. The prophet Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah’s, prophesied during a time when God was going to use the evil actions of the nations surrounding Israel and Judah to bring immense judgement on His people. This is a time of turbulence and distress. A time when God’s people would be lacking any shred of security and safety, and rightly so. However, in step with the pattern of prophesy in the Old Testament, God does not leave His Covenant-people to languish without hope. In the midst of turbulent waters and the upheaval of nations, promises of immense peace come from Yahweh to His people. This passage in Micah is One of those prophecies.
This is also one of the most remarkably specific prophesies regarding the coming of the Messiah. We have seen themes running throughout the Old Testament of the coming Davidic King who would reign over an eternal kingdom. (2 Sam. 7) We have also seen evidence replete throughout the Old Testament that this King would be Divine as well as human. (Isaiah 9.6) But in this text, we have both of these elements of Davidic Kingship and the Divine Nature as God-incarnate mixed with the specific foretelling of the birth-place of this King: Bethlehem.
We ought to meditate on the amount of sheer sovereignty of God manifested in the fulfillment of the Bethlehem prophecy. If you want proof that God reigns over everything that happens, and that history truly is HIS story, look no further. What did it take for this prophecy to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus? “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” (Luke 2.1-5) God is so sovereign over the events of history that he wields the decision of a pagan king to have the whole world registered in the place of their birth as a means of accomplishing what He had foretold by the prophet Micah.
We also ought to meditate on the specific portrayal of the Messiah that is presented in this passage. The One to be born in Bethlehem in “from of old, from Ancient Days.” (v. 2) If that phrase sounds familiar to you, that is good! In Daniel 7 the title is given to God who rules over all the nations, the One whom the Son of Man ascends up to and is presented before. He is the One who gives the Son of Man the eternal kingdom. “Ancient Days” is a title of Deity. The prophet Micah, along with the rest of the prophets who treat this subject, is foretelling one coming in flesh, to be born in Bethlehem who does not come into existence with His conception! In fact, the One to be born in Bethlehem never came into existence at all. He is the Ancient of Days Himself, the One who transcends time and all of creation. He has entered into His creation in Bethlehem. He is the One who is to be “ruler in Israel,” (v. 2) the One who reigns on the Davidic throne for eternity.
A unique aspect of the picture drawn in this aspect is that this Ruler, the Ancient of Days stepping into His creation in Bethlehem, brings immense peace to His people. He is the One who “shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure..” (v. 4) In Psalm 23 David famously says: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” It is also no coincidence that David, the man after God’s own heart and the chosen king of Israel himself is a shepherd by trade. It is to this shepherd that the Ultimate Shepherd of His people, Yahweh Himself promises an eternal kingdom with a throne with no end. It is just astounding that when we actually come to the portrait of this Eternal King Himself, He is pictured as the ultimate Shepherd of His people. He is the One who guides them into eternal peace and rest. He shepherds His flock as both Yahweh Himself and as David’s greater Son in One Person. He Himself is their peace (v. 5) because His kingdom extends over the whole earth.