Micah 5:1–5a; 7:18–20comment (0)
December 3, 2009
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh
Related Scripture: Micah 5:1–5a; 7:18–20
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, Samford University
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Micah 5:1–5a; 7:18–20
Sir James Young Simpson, the great discoverer of the anesthetic qualities of chloroform, was once asked, “What is the greatest discovery you ever made?” His answer must have astounded many of his hearers, as he replied, “The greatest discovery that I made was that although I was a great sinner — Jesus Christ is a great Savior!”
Down through the centuries, the words of the prophet Micah, which the early Church believed related to the coming of the Messiah, have brought a message of good news in the midst of human despair and doubt.
We Need Significance (5:1–3)
Micah prophesied toward the end of eighth century and into the seventh century B.C. in the context of the southern kingdom of Judah living under the threat of invasion by the Assyrian armies. The Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 and threatened Jerusalem in 701. In the midst of fear and despair, Micah brought a message of God’s deliverance, of a Messianic king who would emerge from the small town of Bethlehem. The chief priests and teachers of the law quoted Micah 5:2 in response to Herod’s question about where the Messiah will be born. Locating that place in David’s hometown reminds God’s people the events of Christmas are the fulfillment of His promises, promises that will never fail. In a time of defeat and coming disaster, Micah offered hope that through God’s intervention in the coming of the Messiah, God’s people can find significance in being the recipients of His care and attention.
We Need Shepherding (5:4–5a)
In describing the coming “ruler,” Micah spoke of the impact of his kingdom as being that of one who will “stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.” Shepherd was a common metaphor in the ancient Near East and was often used to speak of God’s love.
There is a wonderful combination here of power and meticulous care and concern, of the Shepherd caring, ceaseless in his activity of watching over wandering sheep. God’s care for us does not depend upon our faithfulness to Him — if it did, then we would have no hope — but it depends on His never-ending faithfulness to us. His covenant promises and all-controlling power are working toward our safety and security. Of course, in the New Testament, the picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd reminds us that He laid down His life for the sheep. When you consider that sheep are not the most agreeable of animals, smelly, recalcitrant, wanderers who take up a lot of time and effort, isn’t it wonderful that God should so love us that He considered us worthy of becoming a gift of love to His Son.
We Need Salvation (7:18–20)
Micah reminded God’s people although their immediate sense of need was physical deliverance from the Assyrian armies, their deepest need was to receive pardon and forgiveness. So he concluded his book with the reminder that at the heart of God’s eternal purpose is one who “pardons sin and forgives the transgression” of His people, because He “does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy.” God is righteous and does not tolerate sin. Biblical hope looks forward to the day when God will put things right, overthrow evil and establish His Kingdom of justice and peace. God will not abandon His standards of righteousness. Yet at the heart of God’s being, there is the mercy and grace of a God who sorrows over those who have rejected Him, watching and waiting for sinners to come to receive the embrace of His compassion. In the late 15th century, the Florentine sculptor Agostino d’Antonio began work on a huge block of marble, wanting to produce a spectacular sculpture. After a few attempts to make something out of it, he gave it up as hopeless. The block of marble — now badly disfigured — lay idle for 40 years. Then Michelangelo took an interest in it. He saw beyond the ugly block of marble to the magnificent sculpture he knew he could create. As a result, we have the celebrated “David” — widely regarded as one of the most outstanding artistic achievements of all time. God is doing a work of grace in our lives, and by grace, He is restoring us as His servants to the image of Christ.