This week, I would like you to read the following Scripture:
Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:39-45 ( 46-55 ); Hebrews 10:5-10
The eve of Emmanuel! O dear God, precious savior, we fidget and fret
with impatience. We want peace in our world dropped in our laps. We want
justice for all the fall from the sky. But we aren’t willing to do your
legwork. We act as though either you haven’t called us to love our
neighbors or we don’t really believe that you are coming again. We punch
our tickets with an embarrassed response to an altar call, and then sit
on our hands. God, forgive us for our lazy, simplistic answers to the
world’s woes. Give us the heart of Christmas, not only during this
season of festivity and celebration, but every day of the year. Give us
a new heart. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Micah 1:1 tells us that he was a prophet in Judah, sometime around
742-687 B.C.E. He lived at the time of Isaiah and Hosea. He came from
Moresheth, a small village outside Jerusalem. He was from among common
folk. He was an advocate of the pure worship of God and for social
justice. Within his prophecy, there are words of judgment and promised
hope of restoration.
It may be helpful in studying this passage to look at the complete
pronouncement from Micah 4:6-5:9. Prior to verse 5:2, there is a siege.
The people of God are walled in; they are surrounded. There is an urgent
need for help. Someone must come to the rescue. In the midst of the
siege, the prophet speaks a word of hope, although his audience probably
didn’t hear it as such. In verse 2, the prophet reclaims the promises of
the past by proclaiming that a shepherd king will come from Bethlehem to
rule Israel, just like David. Matthew 2:6 quotes this verse to show
Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Verse 3 is not a happy verse to hear when one is under siege. It refers
to the time of exile. God will give up God’s people until this new ruler
comes. Look at Micah 4:10: “Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a
woman in labor…you shall go to Babylon. There you will be rescued…” The
image of labor is the suffering and pain the people must go through
until the coming of the new ruler. In 5:4, the prophet uses shepherd
imagery. The new ruler will protect and provide for God’s people. None
of the messianic prophecies speak of the Messiah to come as the
incarnation of God. This prophecy, does, however, come close to
declaring that he will care for the people in God’s strength and
Verse 5 also gives a unique characteristic of the ruler to come. He will
come as one of peace. This is contrary to the expected military messiah
of the Old Testament and even during the time of Jesus.
It may be tempting to look at the Micah passage simply as a prophecy
that was fulfilled in Jesus’ coming. The New Testament confirms this
interpretation. However, don’t forget the original historical context of
these verses. If we use the imagery of the woman in labor, then we see
the exiles had a time of waiting ahead of them, just as there is a time
of waiting and suffering for a woman in labor. Then think of the great
anticipation and joy that occurs after the labor is over and the woman
Hearing these words while they were under siege, the people were
probably neither happy nor hopeful. “Yes, but how long must we wait?”
was probably the question uppermost in their minds and on their tongues.
They must have thought this prophet Micah had a great imagination to
dream of such a messiah coming and restoring them. No Davidic king had
saved them from such great powers before. What a wonderful, unbelievable
dream this was! The prophet had no way of knowing it would be another
seven hundred years before it came to pass that this wonderful dream
came true in Jesus.
God’s people still find themselves waiting. We are in the “between
time”. The Messiah has come and reigns as our Savior, Jesus Christ. In
the present time there is suffering and sin, but the shepherd king Jesus
has redeemed his people and brings wholeness and renewal in the midst of
pain and struggle. In Jesus, we find hope, for the final fulfillment of
God’s promise is anticipated as we wait for the Second Coming.