Click here for the reading: Micah 5:2-5.
Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, and the threat of a coming siege places this prophecy in the days of Hezekiah. In his fourteenth year, around the year 701 B.C., Sennacherib laid siege to the cities of Judah and even Jerusalem itself. This was indeed a slap on the cheek of the king, a deep insult as the example of Micaiah in 1 Kings 22:24 shows. He seemed powerless to stand before Assyria. What are some examples of this complete powerlessness in the lives of your hearers? How do they approach those situations? How do the Psalms deal with such a situation, such as Psalm 28?
Yet the Lord would provide help for His people in the face of certain defeat. From Bethlehem in the region of Ephrathah would come deliverance. How odd this seemed, since Bethlehem was tiny and insignificant! It was too small to be counted among Joshua’s conquests. It was too small to even be considered a good levy of troops. Yet from the middle of nowhere would come a king over all Israel, just like David. Does God send help from unexpected places in our lives? Why do we tend to look toward the “obvious” places even when looking for help from God? Consider Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 and how it talks about God’s help in trouble.
God promised to send a ruler, one whose coming forth was from old. This made him like David, since it had been a long time since David’s time and David himself came from Bethlehem. Even though Hezekiah was better than most, there had been no king like David. The Lord thus promised not only deliverance, but restoration. The formerly good days would return and be better than ever. Why does God exceed our expectations when giving us help? Why do we tend to set our expectations so low? Why does God say that David will rule over Israel in Ezekiel 34:11-24?
When Israel returned from her exile, this ruler would shepherd God’s people. They would find the security and peace they sought. Even though they feared that Sennacherib would take everything from them, this ruler like David would restore everything in abundance. How does Jesus fulfill these promises, especially the promises of a worldly peace? How does Jesus give us comfort even in very worldly concerns? How does Paul speak about worldly concerns in Romans 8?
By the time Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Matthew 2, the Assyrian empire had crumbled into dust. No less than three other empires had risen and fallen within that time period. Yet this prophecy gave Israel hope in the days of Assyria, for God promised here that Sennacherib would fall. Little Bethlehem stood against mighty Assyria. How do God’s future promises comfort us in present troubles? Why should we not spiritualize or generalize these promises? What does Jesus mean in Matthew 13:17?