”But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
And this One shall be peace.”
Bethlehem at the time of Jesus was a sleepy little humble town, but the prophet Micah wrote around 750 B.C. to 670 B.C. In verse two, Micah described the ruler who would come as the ONE who would be everlasting.
He describes a woman in labor in verse three, and he spoke about a remnant that would come back. Micah prophesied about the same time as Isaiah and Hosea when Israel fell to the Assyrian Empire. (https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/micah).
It’s important to note that the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) following the death of King Solomon in 931 B.C. The Kingdom of Israel had no good kings and when they were conquered by the Assyrians, they were transported and never allowed to return to Israel. They assimilated into other cultures. For example, the Samaritans (who were despised by Jews at the time of Jesus) were part Hebrew, part Assyrian.
The kingdom of Judah HAD a few good kings and even though they were conquered by the Babylonians, they were allowed to return to Israel. Micah also prophecies that a remnant would return.
Verse four describes the child the woman in verse three gave birth to:
*HE will feed His flock in the strength and majesty of the Lord
*THEY will abide (together)
*HE will be great all over the earth
What is interesting to note is that at the time the prophesy was written (and for several hundred years after that) it reads like the child the woman gave birth to would be a Shepherd. And he was...but He did not lead sheep.
He said THEY would abide together, and they did. God the Father and God the Son were/are one. Jesus DOES abide with us when we turn to Him.
“He would be great to the ends of the earth.” At the time the prophet wrote this, and at the time of Jesus they thought the ends of the earth encompassed their world, as far as they eye could see. No one hearing the prophecy dreamed the earth was round and east meets west. More than likely then what the prophet “saw” was eternity that never ends.
What the prophet wrote about was incomprehensible to the hearer. They could not have imagined what eternity encompassed.
Lastly, in verse 5 when the prophet wrote “the one who came would BE peace”, the end result of the prophecy was far greater than we could have imagined. THE Prince of peace, wasn’t a governmental prince. Even at the end of Jesus’ life on earth, some of His disciples thought he would take over the government. They had no way of imagining that the peace Micah (and Jesus) promised was a feeling of perfect internal peace. The prophet knew because the Spirit of God enveloped him in perfect peace.
In the last ten years of my dad’s life he talked about peace often. He died at 60, and I am 67, so I now understand the importance of God’s peace. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by the Spirit in God’s perfect peace. It’s impossible to describe, even though my dad tried really hard to describe what it was like. I was 34 years old when he died. I had four children, ages 12 to 4. Nothing in my life was peaceful. I tried to listen but I didn’t understand.
Today I do.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Receive God’s Peace
Sit quietly in a comfortable position. I’ve read and been told by some that you need to sit in a chair, but I’m not comfortable sitting that way (when you’re as short as I am your feet don’t touch the floor and they go to sleep). The point is, get into any comfortable position and ask God to give you His peace. It’s a wonderful gift!